Go PLAY for the Holidays

SeaWorld Christmas Celebration

SeaWorld Christmas Celebration

Don’t wait until Santa lands on your rooftop to celebrate the season.
Words by Anna Karasik

Theme Parks & Resorts

  • Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
    Select dates November 7 to December 22, 7 p.m. to Midnight
    Disney’s Magic Kingdom

    Join Mickey and friends in a holiday celebration as the Magic Kingdom transforms into a winter wonderland. Our favorite parts are the faux snow on Main Street and oh-so-jolly holiday parade. Special event tickets start at $86. disneyworld.disney.go.com
  • Christmas at Gaylord Palms
    November 18, 2016 to January 1, 2017
    Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center

    This resort’s iconic atrium becomes an oasis of holiday fun, featuring an all-new light show, a 60-foot-tall Christmas tree and tons of exciting activities, including ICE! Featuring A Charlie Brown Christmas – a beautiful display of hand-carved ice portraying the Peanuts gang, including Snoopy, of course! Alpine Rush Snow Tubing lets you zoom down a chilly hill covered in real snow! christmasatgaylordpalms.com
  • Holidays Around the World & Celebrity Candlelight Processional
    November 25 to December 30
    Disney’s EPCOT

    Experience holiday traditions from around the world as you stroll through the World Showcase experiencing how different cultures celebrate the holidays. disneyworld.disney.go.com
  • Santa’s Favorite Resort
    Select dates November 25 to December 25
    Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort

    Join Santa and Mrs. Claus at their favorite vacation spot. The merry couple leads the evening tree-lighting ceremony and meet-and-greets at their Tiki hut. Other activities include cookie decorating, crafts and Santa’s Dancing Lights Spectacular. SantasFavoriteResort.com
  • LEGOLAND Christmas Bricktacular

    LEGOLAND Christmas Bricktacular


  • SeaWorld Christmas Celebration
    Select dates November 25 to December 31
    SeaWorld Orlando

    Enjoy a wet winter wonderland of sparkling lights, live holiday performances and festive food. New this year—Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and friends are making spirits bright with their SeaWorld debut! seaworldorlando.com
  • LEGOLAND Christmas Bricktacular
    Select dates December 17 to December 30
    LEGOLAND Florida Resort

    Build your best holiday the LEGO way. Meet LEGO Santa and other exclusive characters, make holiday projects with Master Model Builders and watch a nightly fireworks spectacular. It’s all included with park admission. legoland.com/florida
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  • Grinchmas
    December 3, 2016 to January 1, 2017
    Universal’s Islands of Adventure

    Celebrate the snarky way with the Grinch! Seuss Landing will become home to the ever-festive Whos of Whoville, who love to spread holiday cheer. For an intimate experience, grab a table at a Grinch character breakfast ($21 for kids, $35 for adults.) The rest of the festivities are included with park admission! universalorlando.com

Christmas Culture

Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!) Presented by Orlando Shakes

Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!)

  • Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!)
    Select dates November 30 to December 30
    Orlando Shakespeare Theater

    At first you think you’re watching a classic production of A Christmas Carol, but this comedic show soon dissolves into everything from the story of Frosty the Snowman to the adventures of Charlie Brown and the Peanuts! Tickets start at $25. orlandoshakes.org
  • Harry Connick Jr.’s The Happy Elf
    November 7 to December 18, Saturdays & Sundays at 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
    Orlando Repertory Theatre

    Watch talented young performers play out this new jazz musical. It tells the story Eubie, the happiest elf of all, who tries to restore joy to the town of Bluesville! Tickets start at $14 for kids and $20 for adults. orlandorep.com
  • Once Upon a Time on Ice
    December 3 and 4 at 5 p.m.
    RDV Sportsplex

    Enjoy a beautiful ice show featuring RDV figure skaters and those in the Learn to Skate programs. Recommended for ages 3 and up. Tickets cost $9.
    mvpsportsclubs.com/florida-orlando-rdv-sportsplex-ice-den
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    Orlando Ballet Presents The Nutcracker

    Orlando Ballet Presents The Nutcracker

  • Orlando Ballet Presents: The Nutcracker
    December 8 to 11; Family Performance December 10 at 11 a.m.
    Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

    Watch the amazing dancers at Orlando Ballet bring to life the classic Christmas tale of Clara and her nutcracker soldier. If you have young kids who can’t sit through a whole ballet, check out the shortened family performance on December 10. Tickets start at $25 for the family show, $29 for all other shows. orlandoballet.org
  • “Holidaze” Presented by Central Florida Sounds of Freedom Band and Colorguard
    Saturday, December 17 at 7 p.m.
    Orlando Repertory Theatre

    Orlando’s own LGBT+ concert and marching band presents a fun holiday concert for the whole family! Holidaze is hosted at Orlando Repertory Theater, and features uplifting holiday music from Halloween to New Year’s Eve. Kids under 12 get in for free! centralfloridasoundsoffreedom.com
  • Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra Family Concert
    Sunday, December 18 from Noon to 3 p.m.
    Central Park in Winter Park

    Mr. Richard and the Pound Hounds will kick things off; then, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra will play holiday favorites. It’s all topped off with a performance of Peter and the Wolf featuring Orlando Repertory Theatre actor and narrator Timothy Pappas. orlandophil.org
  • Amahl & the Night Visitors
    Sunday, December 18 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
    Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

    Bring the whole family out to enjoy this funny and inspiring twist on nativity story, presented by Opera Orlando. Follow the adventures of a shepherd boy who sees an amazing star, and meets three kings who are looking for a wondrous child. Tickets start at $19. drphillipscenter.org

Holiday Films

  • The Santa Clause
    Friday, December 2 at 7 p.m.
    Central Park in Winter Park

    This is part of the free monthly Popcorn Flicks in the Park series.
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas & Letters to Santa
    Sunday, December 11 at Noon
    Enzian Theater

    Watch the live-action version of Dr. Seuss’s quirky Christmas tale. Enjoy a menu of holiday treats. Children can write a wish list for Santa during the movie. After it’s over, Santa will pick up the letters and pose for pictures. Tickets are $11 for non-members.
  • It’s a Wonderful Life
    Saturday, December 10 at Noon
    Enzian Theater

    This is part of the Saturday Matinee Classics series. Tickets are $8 for non-members.
  • A Christmas Story
    Tuesday, December 13 at 9:30 p.m.
    Enzian Theater

    This is part of the Cult Classics series. Tickets are $8 for non-members. enzian.org

Parties, Parades, and Snow

lightup-logo-e1477684802771Light Up UCF
November 18, 2016 to January 7, 2017
CFE Arena – University of Central Florida

UCF’s huge holiday bash is perhaps best known for its ice tubing. Try it as many times as you want; it’s all included with the purchase of a wristband. Try out the ice rink, too! The ferris wheel is back and bigger than ever, and there is a new thrilling ride that will leave you reeling! For smaller ride-goers, there’s always the kiddie train. Snap a picture with Santa before you leave! cfearena.com

  • Winter in the Park
    November 18, 2016 to January 8, 2017
    Central Park in Winter Park

    Skate away the holiday in beautiful Central Park. All-day general admission and a pair of rental skates is $12. cityofwinterpark.org
  • “Now Snowing” At Celebration
    November 26 to December 31 – Snowfall at 6, 7, 8, and 9 p.m.
    Celebration Town Center

    Nightly snowfall graces the Celebration Town Center every night of the holiday season. Skate around in an ice rink, take a ride in a horse drawn carriage or ride the Celebration Express train. celebrationtowncenter.com
  • Holiday on the Drive
    December 1 from 5 to 9 p.m.
    Edgewater Drive, College Park

    Get a jump on your holiday shopping in a snowy winter wonderland! The shops and restaurants on Edgewater Drive will stay open, and Santa will come to bring some early holiday cheer! collegeparkpartnership.com
  • Light Up Winter Garden
  • December 2 from 6 to 9 p.m.
    Downtown Winter Garden

    Twinkling lights will keep Plant Street aglow while you explore the vendors and kids activities. Watch the dazzling street lighting ceremony at 6:15 p.m. cwgdn.com

  • Winter Garden Christmas Parade
    Saturday, December 3 at 10 a.m.
    South Dillard Street & Plant Street

    Find a prime spot on the curb to catch this festive procession of local organizations. cwgdn.com
  • Macy’s Holiday Parade
    Select nights December 3, 2016 to January 1, 2017
    Universal Studios

    The larger-than-life balloons from this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade get the spotlight once again at Universal Studios here in Florida. In addition to the balloons, parade-goers will see marching bands, clowns, and Santa Claus himself! Stick around afterwards for a spectacular tree-lighting ceremony. universalorlando.com
  • SNOWFEST
    Saturday, December 17 from 2 to 6 p.m.
    RDV Sportsplex

    If you thought the Ice Den was as chilly as it could be, think again: for one day only, real snow will fall at the RDV! Throw a few snowballs, ride down a snow slide, or do some good old fashion ice skating! Just outside, you’ll find bounce houses, live DJs, face painting and more. Admission is $15 for ages 3 & up.
    mvpsportsclubs.com/florida-orlando-rdv-sportsplex-ice-den
  • Meet Santa

    Free photo with Santa at tugboat & the bird

    Free photo with Santa at tugboat & the bird


    • Save the Date, Skip the Wait for Santa
      November 11-December 24, by appointment
      Oviedo Mall

      No need to wait in a long line to meet Santa because now you can make a reservation for your Santa visit at the Oviedo Mall. Bonus: Drop off the kids at Mad Science Laboratory (Kids Night Out, every Friday from 6-10 p.m.) or O2B Kids (members only) to get some holiday shopping done! myoviedomall.com
    • Free Photo with Santa at tugboat & the bird
      December 10 from 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
      tugboat & the bird

      Stop by tugboat & the bird win Winter Park for complimentary pictures with Santa Claus himself! Characters from The Nutcracker will also be around to take photos. tugboatandthebird.com
    • Breakfast (or Brunch) with Santa
      Saturday, December 10 at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.
      Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens

      Sit down for a meal with Santa himself, and then explore a wild winter wonderland with holiday activities and close-up animal encounters. Zookeepers will also be giving the animals special holiday gifts! Admission for non-members is $22 for ages 3 & up, $27 for adults. Reservations are required. centralfloridazoo.org

    Stay up-to-date on all of the latest family events in & around Orlando with our Online Calendar!


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