15 Ways to Enjoy the 2016 Holidays in Central Florida

15 Ways to Enjoy the 2016 Holidays in Central Florida - Santa

Sunshine, sandy beaches, and temps in the 80s don’t invoke Christmas, but Orlando has a lot of ways to get into the holiday spirit. From theme parks to resort spectaculars to winter carnivals, Central Florida has plenty of ways to enjoy the holidays.

Here are our picks for the ten best ways to celebrate Christmas week in Central Florida:

Bok Tower Gardens, Lake Wales
Make a day of it with the Holiday Home Tour at Pinewood Estate, holiday blooms including a 15 ft Christmas tree, carillon concerts (Thursday through Sunday), and a winter walking tour. Price is $20 for adults/$6-$9 children, for visits through January 8, 2017.

Celebration – Town Center
Now Snowing returns to the heart of Celebration for the 18th year. Snow falls nightly at 6, 7, 8 and 9pm, and holiday offerings include strolling Charles Dickens Carolers, community performers, photos with Santa, horse drawn carriage rides, the Celebration Express train, and more. It’s free to attend and runs through December 31.

Central Park, Winter Park
Winter in the Park features ice skating, holiday music, games, carolers and more. All day admission is $12 (including skate rental) per person, through January 8, 2017.

CFE Arena at UCF
During the holidays, the plaza becomes a winter carnival known as Light Up UCF. Enjoy ice skating, rides, holiday lights, carriage rides, and free movies through January 7. Free to attend; prices for skating and rides start at $10.

Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center
Christmas at Gaylord Palms offers so much for the family to do during the holidays through January 1, 2017. ICE! featuring A Charlie Brown Christmas tells the Christmas classic via sculpted ice vignettes. Cirque Dreams Unwrapped offers a fantasy world of jugglers, acrobats, aerialists, and more. Alpine Rush offers indoor tube sliding on real snow. Prices start at $26.99; Cirque Dreams Unwrapped and the nightly tree lighting are free.

Harry P. Leu Gardens, Orlando
Local interior designers have decorated the 11-room Leu House with holiday trimmings, Christmas trees and decorations to create an enchanting Christmas for all to enjoy. Christmas at the Leu House is included with regular admission to Harry P. Leu Gardens through January 2, 2017.

Lake Eola Park, Orlando
Every night the Eola Wonderland 72-foot Christmas tree will come alive with a synchronized light and music show while the Lake Eola Park fountain displays red, green and gold lights. Performances are at 5:45pm, 6:45pm, 7:45pm, 8:45pm and 9:45pm through January 6, 2017, and are free to watch.

Families with younger kids will enjoy the park’s Christmas Bricktacular event through December 30. Highlights include a Christmas tree made with 270,000 LEGO and DUPLO bricks, a life-size LEGO Santa with reindeer and sleigh, holiday-themed scavenger hunts with prizes, and opportunities to build with LEGO alongside our Master Model Builders. End the evening with fireworks set to classic Christmas music. Holiday offerings are included with regular admission through December 30.

Lowndes Shakespeare Center, Orlando
Orlando Shakespeare Theater presents Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!) through December 31. What begins as an annual production of “A Christmas Carol” soon devolves into an irreverent look at all of our favorite “Beloved Holiday Classics” as the three actors send up everything from Dickens to Dr. Seuss. Tickets are $25-$50, with performances Tuesday through Sunday.

SeaWorld Orlando
The park’s Christmas Celebration includes Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and friends, Rudolph-themed attractions, holiday versions of popular shows, and the beautiful Sea of Trees. Holiday offerings are included with regular admission through December 31.

Universal Orlando – Islands of Adventure
Seuss Landing turns into a wintery wonderland called Grinchmas, featuring the mean green guy in photo ops, and as the star of the Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular, a live retelling of Dr. Seuss’ classic holiday tale. The holiday offerings are included with regular park admission.

Universal Orlando – Universal Studios
Shortly after the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York, select balloons make their way to Universal Orlando, where the Macy’s Holiday Parade makes its way through the park daily through January 1, 2017. The parade is included with regular park admission.

Walt Disney World – Disney Springs
The holidays are in full force at Disney’s new shopping and dining area through December 30. Enjoy the Christmas Tree Trail featuring trees decorated with Disney themes, the Starbright Holidays Show, a traveling piano bringing Christmas music to all parts of the Town Center area, and Santa’s Chalet hosting photo ops with Santa himself.

Walt Disney World – Epcot
Enjoy celebrations of the holidays in the different countries around the World Showcase, then take in one of three performances of the nightly Candlelight Processional featuring celebrity narrators such as actresses Ming-Na Wen and Jodi Benson, and baseball’s Cal RIpken, Jr, through December 30. Enjoy the holiday offerings with regular admission to the park.

Walt Disney World – Magic Kingdom
Starting December 23, enjoy twice daily showings of Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade during the day, as well as multiple showings of A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas and Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration. End your evening with nightly performances of A Frozen Holiday Wish (with the castle lighting), and Holiday Wishes – Celebrate the Spirit of the Season. Best of all, these holiday offerings are included with regular admission to the park.

Need more suggestions? Take a tour of the holiday displays at the Disney Epcot area resorts or the Monorail resorts, or take a look at our events calendar for more holiday fun.

How are you going to celebrate the holidays in Central Florida?

About Michelle Snow

Michelle is the owner and editor of CitySurfing Orlando. She also owns Zengrrl.com, is a freelance writer specializing in travel and entertainment, and has authored/co-authored four guidebooks on Orlando and Florida. She lives in Orlando near Disney, and hears Magic Kingdom fireworks every night.
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