Orlando Christmas: Magic, Cheer, and Joy Abound

Orlando Christmas: All the Info You Need to Know

I love Orlando. And I love Orlando at the holidays even more! If you’ve never experienced it, an Orlando Christmas is something special. Although we often travel during the holidays, we also love having time to explore all of the many holiday events my hometown has to offer. Central Florida is bursting with Christmas cheer! And thanks to Visit Orlando, I have the opportunity to share the many Orlando Christmas events that you really don’t want to miss. So whether you are local or visiting, you’ll want to see how many of these you can check off!

Orlando Christmas

So Many Options for Holiday Cheer

Orlando has an incredible lineup of more than 20 holiday celebrations to enjoy festive cheer. So it’s no wonder Orlando is the most booked for the 2021 holiday season! Can you believe that? In fact, more people want to visit Orlando than any other destination for the holidays!

There are so many exciting theme park happenings! For example, these include the new Disney Very Merriest After Hours at Magic Kingdom Park and fan favorites at Universal Orlando Resort including Grinchmas and Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Beyond the parks, visitors can enjoy a variety of local festivities. And these range from artist-decorated Christmas tree displays to unique holiday performances and events in charming historic neighborhoods. And visitors will find even more magic with value-added hotel packages. For example, these include money-saving add-ons like free theme park admission. And some also include complimentary shopping and dining gift cards. 

“New theme park events, unique local neighborhood experiences and special hotel deals gives visitors the opportunity to celebrate the holiday season throughout November and December,” said Casandra Matej, president and CEO of Visit Orlando. “Visitors can also give their loved ones the ‘gift of travel’ for a future trip to make up for missed vacations over the past few years.” 

Festive Theme Park Options for an Orlando Christmas

You know how much we love theme parks! And each of them have some festive options to enjoy this holiday season.

Walt Disney World Resort Select nights starting Nov. 12 

  • Firstly, Disney Very Merriest After Hours at Magic Kingdom Park runs for 24 select nights from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. And this all new separately ticketed, after-hours holiday event will bring festive food and beverage offerings, dance parties, nighttime spectaculars and “Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade.” 
  • Secondly, the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays takes guests on a global holiday celebration with costumed performances, seasonal food throughout 11 World Showcase nations, along with sights, sounds and flavors of the season celebrated by cultures near and far. 
  • Thirdly, at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, guests can dine with Minnie and friends at Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine. And you can catch a glimpse of old St. Nick as he cruises in his candy-apple red convertible down Hollywood Boulevard and experience a captivating projection show on the Hollywood Tower Hotel. 
  • Finally, Disney’s Animal Kingdom brings a holiday twist to the magic of nature with festive flotillas featuring Chip n’ Dale, Donald Duck, holiday percussionists and Santa sailing down the Discovery River. As nighttime falls, a holiday edition of the Tree of Life Awakening will begin accompanied by a heartwarming musical score. 

Universal Orlando Resort. Nov. 13 – Jan. 2 

  • Firstly, Grinchmas™ at Universal’s Islands of Adventure brings holiday charm to Seuss Landing with The Grinchmas™ Who-liday Spectacular. In fact, this is a live retelling of the classic tale starring the Grinch™.
  • Secondly, Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ features festive decor in both Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida. And guests can cap off their evening in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade to enjoy “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle” – a spectacular transformation of Hogwarts castle with a stunning projection. 
  • Finally, Universal’s Holiday Experience featuring Macy’s Balloons offers guests a walk-through experience of larger-than-life Macy’s balloons and colorful Christmas floats, including characters from Shrek, Madagascar and Despicable Me, along with Santa. 
holidays at Universal

SeaWorld Orlando Nov. 12 – Jan. 2 

  • During SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration, over 3 million sparkling lights will shine throughout the park. In addition, festivities include live performances, seasonal food and meet-and-greets with Santa Claus and Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer. And new for 2021: the littlest guests can sing and dance with their favorite Sesame Street characters during Elmo’s Christmas Wish Show and Holiday Reflections: Fireworks and Fountains Finale. This will feature soaring fountains, dazzling lights and fireworks. 

LEGOLAND Florida Weekends Nov. 26 – Dec. 31 

  • Holidays at LEGOLAND® will feature a giant LEGO Christmas tree. And there will also be seasonal shows, holiday characters, special treats, LEGO® activities, twinkling lights and more. 
Legoland Orlando Christmas
WINTER HAVEN — November 29, 2012 — LEGOLAND Florida celebrates Christmas Bricktacular. (PHOTO / LEGOLAND Florida, Chip Litherland, Merlin Entertainments Group)

Holiday Fun Beyond the Theme Parks

Celebrate the magic of the holidays throughout Orlando with numerous opportunities to get in the Christmas spirit. For example, there will be tree-lighting ceremonies and long-running holiday traditions infused with arts and culture. 

  • ICON Park transforms into a magical winter wonderland becoming home to The Santa Workshop Experience from Nov. 5 – Dec. 24. In fact, kids can ride on the Pearl Express Train. And this includes meeting a jolly old elf. Every child who participates will receive a free ticket to ride The Wheel, ICON Park’s signature attraction (adult guests receive 50% off). To kick off the celebration, ICON Park will host its first tree-lighting ceremony on Dec. 1 with a 40-foot-tall Christmas tree visible from International Drive. 
  • The Night of a Million Lights at Give Kids the World Village holiday spectacular, takes place Nov. 12 – Jan. 2. And this will immerse guests in a sparkling wonderland of millions of lights including a sparkling tree trail; larger-than-life holiday displays; photo opportunities at one-of-a-kind step-in frames and backdrops; and a guided storytelling tour of 100 magnificently lit villas from the comfort of a tram. 
  • The Dazzling Nights outdoor holiday event at Harry P. Leu Gardens, runs Nov. 19 –Jan. 9. And this will feature a three-quarter-mile interactive holiday experience with epic lighting installations, themed photo moments, live entertainment and more. 
  • Crayola Experience’s Colorful Christmas, taking place Nov. 20 – Jan. 3, includes meeting animatronic Christmas characters and listening to them tell stories to solve their riddles; diving into a life-sized snow globe, complete with falling snow; and crafting unique gifts throughout the attraction. 

Orlando Christmas in Downtown Orlando

Downtown Orlando offers a plethora of seasonal events as well as trendy restaurants, bustling nightlife and arts and cultural performances. 

  • The 35th annual Festival of Trees transforms a local museum! The Orlando Museum of Art turns into a glittering wonderland. It will be filled with sparkling trees, gingerbread houses, vignettes and stunning decor for visitors of all ages. In addition, the festival, taking place Nov. 13-2, will also host daily musical performances and fun family entertainment. 
Orlando Christmas festival of trees
Festival of Trees
  • The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts will host holiday-themed performances during its FrontYard Festival, an outdoor, socially distanced opportunity to appreciate the arts while enjoying food and drinks delivered from on-site restaurants. And this year’s special holiday performances include Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s Wild & Swingin’ Holiday Party. And it also includes the Big Band Holidays tradition by Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. 
  • Throughout the entire month of December, there are several free events. This is all part of Downtown for the Holidays. Visitors can watch The Nutcracker by the Russian Ballet of Orlando; stroll around Eola Wonderland to see the dazzling holiday décor and lights – including the Eola Wonderland Christmas Tree; or grab a blanket and enjoy a holiday movie on the Lake Eola lawn. 

Winter Park Holidays

The charming, historic neighborhood of Winter Park is a short drive from the theme parks and features long-running holiday traditions. For example, this area is infused with arts and culture. And there are plenty of opportunities for Christmas shopping along tree-lined Park Avenue. 

  • The Winter Park Playhouse will show Christmas My Way – A Sinatra Holiday Bash, a swingin’ musical featuring classic tunes by Frank Sinatra, including ‘Fly Me to the Moon,’ ‘and ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas’ running Nov. 12-21 and Dec. 1-18. 
  • The signature turn-of-the-century Tiffany glass windows at The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art serve as a beautiful backdrop as the Bach Festival Choir and Brass Ensemble fills the air with Christmas carols for the 43rd Annual Christmas in the Park on Dec. 2. 
  • Winter on the Avenue, a lively holiday street party taking place Dec. 3, features family friendly activities, strolling carolers and the annual Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony
  • Now in its 69th year, Winter Park’s Ye Old Hometown Christmas Parade is the longest-running parade in Central Florida, taking place Dec. 4 at 9 a.m. 

Accommodations for an Orlando Christmas

Visitors coming to experience the magic of the holidays in Orlando will find even more magic with incredible hotel deals happening throughout the season. 

  • SeaWorld Orlando’s Christmas Celebration Package includes the choice of hotel accommodations at one of 13 select area hotels (plus one free night), unlimited visits to SeaWorld Orlando for the entire length of visit. And this will also include reserved seating at all of SeaWorld’s Signature and Christmas Shows, a $25 merchandise gift card to use inside the park and free SeaWorld theme park parking. 
  • Rosen Shingle Creek Orlando’s Christmas Stay Package, valid for stays Dec. 18-27, includes a daily buffet breakfast for two; 25% discount at the spa, golf course and select restaurants; 50% discount on self-parking; complimentary Wi-Fi. And is also includes free scheduled shuttle service to Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and Aquatica. 
  • The Alfond Inn’s Holiday Escape Package, starting at $299 per night, includes a two-night hotel stay, special boutique offers from Park Avenue shopping merchants, chauffeured transportation to and from The Mall at Millenia and a $100 gift card to dine at The Capital Grille. 
  • Margaritaville Resort Orlando’s Holidays in Flip-Flops package includes a $75 resort credit, valid on 3-night+ stays when booked by Dec. 31 for stays Nov. 26, 2021 through Jan. 3, 2022, using code FLIPFLOP. 
Margaritaville Resort Orlando’s Holidays in Flip-Flops

In conclusion, the holiday spirit is glowing in Orlando! There are so many opportunities for Christmas cheer. And from theme parks to quaint downtowns, there’s something for everyone.

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