Discover 10 unforgettable ways to enjoy the holidays in Orlando, including theme park events like the EPCOT® International Festival of the Holidays at Walt Disney World® Resort (pictured, ©Disney), joyous live arts, gourmet dining, ecotourism adventures, and much more.
Updated December 1, 2021
Spending the holidays in Orlando? From our open-air theme parks to downtown and all through the area, you’re in for a wondrous time filled with incredible experiences you’ll never forget! To help you have the best holiday season possible, we’ve made a list (and checked it twice) with 10 things you’ll want to do while you’re here.
Learn more: Holiday Season Events in Orlando
For even more Orlando holiday ideas, follow #VisitOrlando on social media — no matter if you’re naughty or nice!
Please note: Depending on the timing of your visit, some experiences may be temporarily modified. Learn more about healthy travel in Orlando, and check with your favorite theme parks, attractions and other businesses for their current status.
- Holiday Events
- Deluxe Resorts
- Cool Pools
- See Santa
- Holiday Arts
- Holiday Decorations
- Holiday Dining
- Holiday Shopping
- Outdoor Adventures
- Theme Park Celebrations
- Events Map
The Orlando area hosts numerous holiday festivals and events during the joyous season — including at all of our theme parks (more on those in a bit!). For 2021, some of the most notable holiday events beyond the parks include:
- Nov. 5 – Dec. 24, 2021: Santa Workshop Experience at ICON Park®
- Nov. 10 – Dec. 24, 2021: Santa Photos at The Mall at Millenia
- Nov. 12, 2021 – Jan. 2, 2022: Night of a Million Lights at Give Kids the World Village close to Walt Disney World® Resort
- Nov. 12, 2021 – Jan. 6, 2022: Downtown for the Holidays
- Nov. 13 – 21, 2021: 35th Annual Festival of Trees at Orlando Museum of Art in downtown Orlando’s Loch Haven Cultural Park
- Nov. 19, 2021 – Jan. 9, 2022: Creative City Project’s Dazzling Nights at Harry P. Leu Gardens near downtown Orlando
- Nov. 20 – Jan. 3, 2022: Colorful Christmas at Crayola Experience
- Nov. 26, 2021 – Jan. 2, 2022: Oh, What Fun! in Lake Nona
- Dec. 4, 2021: 69th Annual Winter Park Christmas Parade in its namesake city
Throughout Orlando, you’ll find hotels and resorts for every budget, including pet-friendly accommodations and properties with family suites — not to mention full-service, amenity-packed choices for those seeking a well-deserved, high-end holiday staycation! In addition to unbelievable resort pools (we’ll get to those soon!), our most popular properties offer expansive outdoor areas with plenty of room to spread out, plus exceptional service and other enticing extras. They’ll also be decorated for the holidays, with several hosting special seasonal celebrations, too.
Learn more: Top Orlando Hotels & Resorts
Wherever you choose to stay, you can do so with confidence thanks to robust cleanliness procedures, including enhanced programs from numerous top hotel brands designed to give you and your family peace of mind.
Don’t just stay at one of Orlando’s incredible resorts — dive into their amazing pools while you’re at it! Many of them offer mind-blowing extras such as lazy rivers, waterslides, gorgeous scenery, secluded grottos, underwater sound systems and kid-friendly fun. And yes, most have heated water in case temperatures get chilly!
Learn more: Orlando’s Top Resort Pools
Want to see the man of the season while you’re celebrating the holidays in Orlando? You won’t have trouble finding him! In addition to appearing at most of our theme parks, the jolly old elf will be the guest of honor at special events throughout the destination, including the Winter Park Christmas Parade, the Santa Workshop Experience at ICON Park and Santa Photos at The Mall at Millenia — and Mrs. Claus will join him at times, too.
Learn more: Orlando Events
The holidays are a wondrous time to experience Orlando’s arts community — particularly live performances that are dedicated to the season. Some of this year’s most anticipated holiday productions and their venues include:
- Select Dates, Nov. 12 – Dec. 18, 2021: Christmas My Way: A Sinatra Holiday Bash (The Winter Park Playhouse, Winter Park)
- Nov. 27, 2021: Clare and the Chocolate Nutcracker (Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, Downtown Orlando’s City District)
- Select Dates, Dec. 1 – 24, 2021): A Christmas Carol (Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Downtown Orlando’s Loch Haven Cultural Park)
- Select Dates, Dec. 3 – 19, 2021: The Nutcracker (Orlando Ballet at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, Downtown Orlando’s City District)
- Dec. 4 – 5, 2021: Holly Jolly Sounds of the Season (Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra at The Plaza Live, Downtown Orlando’s Milk District)
- Dec. 18, 2021: Trans-Siberian Orchestra (Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, Downtown Orlando’s City District)
Click each event’s name for complete details, including how to get tickets, and refer to our Christmas Events page for even more artistic ways to celebrate the season!
Learn more: Orlando Arts & Entertainment
One of the best free holiday activities is marveling at beautiful decorations hung with care. Orlando has no shortage of exquisite neighborhoods decked out for the season, each featuring unique architectural styles that perfectly complement the holiday greenery and lights. In the downtown Orlando area, some of the best include Thornton Park, College Park and Ivanhoe Village. You’ll also find gorgeous displays in Orlando’s Lake Nona district close to Orlando International Airport.
Learn more: Orlando Neighborhoods
Just north of downtown, lights-lovers won’t want to miss the city of Winter Park and its extravagant displays, while Plant Street in Winter Garden to the west of downtown always brings the holiday cheer. And minutes from Walt Disney World in Celebration, Lights on Jeater Bend is a collective of residences that create a must-see, street-wide light display. The 360-degree dose of Christmas is like nothing you’ve seen before, full of music, movie clips and falling snow flurries. Rumor has it that Santa even stops by to join in the fun!
The holidays are best spent with family, good tidings and incredible food. Be sure to treat yourself this holiday season before making a New Year’s resolution to work out more — starting with our celebrity chefs and local James Beard Award honorees!
Learn more: Eat & Drink in Orlando
Orlando’s tourism districts have amazing eats for every foodie, including restaurants at Disney Springs®, Universal CityWalk, Restaurant Row and International Drive. The delectable dining in downtown Orlando, Winter Park and surrounding areas isn’t to be missed, either. Plus, many of our hotels and resorts are hosting bountiful holiday buffets with traditional dishes and imaginative surprises. Make your reservations early to ensure a never-ending feast filled with delicious holiday meals while you’re here!
Did you make your list and check it twice? No worries if you forget anything, because Orlando has plenty of great options for holiday shopping, and all within 15 miles of our theme parks. If you’re seeking luxury brands, The Mall at Millenia is the place to go. Nearby, The Florida Mall® features more than 250 retailers that can cater to everyone on your “nice” list.
Learn more: Orlando Holiday Shopping Tips
Shopping on a budget? You’re in luck! Orlando has three world-class outlet centers, including Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores, Orlando International Premium Outlets® and Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets®. We also have no shortage of eclectic boutiques and other small neighborhood businesses, particularly in the downtown Orlando area and the neighboring city of Winter Park. Don’t skip the shopping at Disney Springs, Universal CityWalk, Pointe Orlando and ICON Park®, either!
Although you won’t find Santa or holiday decorations in Orlando’s great outdoors, ecotourism is perfect for spreading out and getting away from it all — and the holiday season’s cooler temperatures provide one of the best times of year to enjoy it. Options include kayaking, natural springs, nature trails and parks, wildlife and birding encounters, outdoor thrills, and other ways to play while you’re celebrating the holidays in Orlando. Speaking of outdoor experiences, nature-lovers won’t want to miss the North Shore Birding Festival (Dec. 2 – 6, 2021). It’s held at beautiful Lake Apopka, about 30 minutes north of our tourism districts.
Learn more: Orlando Ecotourism
The holiday season is also a great time to catch high-profile NCAA football games, including some key bowl competitions, at Camping World Stadium in downtown Orlando. For 2021, they include the Florida Blue Florida Classic (Nov. 20, 2021), the Cure Bowl (Dec. 17, 2021), the Cheez-It Bowl (Dec. 29, 2021), and the Vrbo Citrus Bowl (Jan. 1, 2022).
Anyone spending the holiday season in Orlando will definitely want to see how Walt Disney World® Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld® Orlando and LEGOLAND® Florida Resort are decking the halls. Needless to say, you’re invited to all of these parties!
Save on discount tickets: Orlando Theme Parks & Attractions
Holidays at Walt Disney World® Resort
Holiday magic awaits at all four Walt Disney World Resort theme parks — as does The World’s Most Magical Celebration, the gala 50th anniversary at Walt Disney World. Don’t miss your chance to be immersed in shimmering EARidescence and experience special touches during this incredible 18-month celebration, from embellishments on Cinderella Castle to decor throughout the theme parks and beyond!
Save on discount tickets: Walt Disney World Resort
Disney Very Merriest After Hours at Magic Kingdom® Park (Select Nights, Nov. 8 – Dec. 21, 2021)
Come celebrate endless holiday joy during Disney Very Merriest After Hours at Magic Kingdom® Park! It’s everything from a magical Christmastime parade to Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks and even enjoying shorter wait times on over 20 attractions. Best of all, you picked the absolute perfect time to join the festivities — during the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration!
Save on discount tickets: Disney Very Merriest After Hours
EPCOT® International Festival of the Holidays (Daily, Nov. 26 – Dec. 30, 2021)
During EPCOT® International Festival of the Holidays presented by AdventHealth, you’ll be surrounded by the wondrous sights, sounds and flavors of the season, including treasured recipes from around the globe and a sweet Holiday Cookie Stroll. Festively dressed performers will also bring time-honored traditions to life, and the beloved Candlelight Processional will once again grace the America Gardens Theatre. What’s more, the event is included with admission to EPCOT!
Holidays at Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios® (Starting Nov. 12, 2021)
At Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park, festive decor and decked-out flotillas with some of your favorite Disney Characters (and Santa) await. And when the evening comes, Beacons of Magic and Holiday Awakenings will alternate on the Tree of Life®.
At Disney’s Hollywood Studios®, get swept up in Yuletide adventures like Sunset Seasons Greetings on The Hollywood Tower Hotel, including an intermix with Beacons of Magic at the top of each night. You can also catch the Santa Claus Merry Motorcade and wave to the jolly old elf himself! Festivities at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios are included with park admission.
SeaWorld® Orlando’s Christmas Celebration™ (Nov. 13, 2021 – Jan. 2, 2022)
Gather your family and join all of your festive friends at SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration. SeaWorld Orlando transforms into a winter wonderland sparkling with holiday cheer, excitement and over 3 million beautiful lights. Experience award-winning entertainment like the showstopping ice-skating extravaganza, Winter Wonderland on Ice. Meet Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or head to Wild Arctic® and visit with Santa himself.
Save on discount tickets: SeaWorld Orlando
Create unforgettable holiday memories with a magical Christmas celebration you can only find at SeaWorld, all included with park admission!
Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort (Nov. 13, 2021 – Jan. 2, 2022)
Anyone can “Ho-ho-ho” and “Fa-la-la” for the holidays. But if you want to scream and laugh your jingle bells off, you’ve got to awesome up your season with Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort, where they do the holidays big time.
Join the celebration of Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ with festivities in both lands. Catch the larger-than-life balloons of Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s at Universal Studios Florida. Enjoy The Grinchmas™ Who-liday Spectacular starring The Grinch™ at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. And top it off with a stay at one of Universal Orlando’s spectacular hotels.
From the parks to the hotels to Universal CityWalk, there’s themed entertainment, food and fun around every corner. It’s the biggest, loudest, awesomest holiday celebration of the season, and it’s included with park admission at Universal Orlando Resort.
WIZARDING WORLD and all related trademarks, characters, names, and indicia are © & ™ Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Publishing Rights © JKR. (s21)
Prices, times, dates, entertainment, event and/or experience details are subject to changes and/or cancellation without notice. Dr. Seuss properties TM & © 2021 Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P. All rights reserved. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade & Related Characters © 2021 Macy’s Inc. All rights reserved. Universal elements and all related indicia TM &© 2021 Universal Studios. All rights reserved.
Holidays at LEGOLAND® Florida Resort (Select Dates, Nov. 26 – Dec. 31, 2021)
At LEGOLAND® Florida Resort, this jolly time of year features a giant LEGO® Christmas tree, unforgettable seasonal shows, holiday characters, special treats, LEGO activities, twinkling lights and more during Holidays at LEGOLAND. An extra special gift for you: This festive event is included in general admission!
Save on discount tickets: LEGOLAND Florida Resort
In short, the Theme Park Capital of the World is the next best thing to a trip to the North Pole when it comes to celebrating the holidays. Get ready to ho-ho-ho in Orlando!
Use this interactive map to deck the halls at all of Orlando’s holiday celebrations in 2021. (Click here if you found us via Google and don’t see a map or images!)
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