Discover 10 unforgettable ways to enjoy the holidays in Orlando, including theme park events, unique celebrations, open-air adventures and much more (Sea of Trees at SeaWorld® Orlando pictured).
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! Our theme parks, attractions, hotels, restaurants and other businesses are also working hard to keep you and your family safe with enhanced health and safety measures, which means you can frolic with confidence.
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. For even more Orlando holiday ideas, follow #LoveOrlando 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 or closed. Learn more about healthy travel and what’s open in Orlando, and check with your favorite attractions for their current status.
Attend Holiday Events at Orlando’s Theme Parks
Walt Disney World® Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld® Orlando and LEGOLAND® Florida Resort have announced how they’re decking the halls this holiday season, with more details about festivities coming soon — and you’re invited to the parties!
Holidays at Walt Disney World® Resort (Nov. 6 – Dec. 30, 2020)
To all who have been longing for this happy place, Walt Disney World Resort is thrilled to say: Magic is here. Magic is seeing the beautiful decorations on Main Street, U.S.A.® at Magic Kingdom® Park, the scent of gingerbread, the sound of a trolley bell, and that first glimpse of Cinderella Castle lit up in green and red. Magic is Mickey and Minnie, dancing reindeer, and the unforgettable sound of marching toy soldiers.
Save on discount tickets: Walt Disney World Resort
Magic is also merry strolls around World Showcase at EPCOT®, surprise celebrations down Discovery River at Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park, and incredible thrills and visiting a galaxy far, far away at Disney’s Hollywood Studios®. Your Disney Holiday dreams can become a reality. Magic is here!
Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort (Nov. 14, 2020 – Jan. 3, 2021)
Plenty of merry and all kinds of mayhem will take over Universal Orlando Resort as it unwraps its 2020 holiday celebration. Celebrate the most wonderful time of the year as Universal’s most beloved holiday traditions and characters come to life in reimagined ways that align with the destination’s enhanced health and safety procedures — from Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™, to the all-new Universal’s Holiday Experience featuring Macy’s Balloons, to character celebrations and appearances around the parks — and it’s all included in theme park admission.
SeaWorld® Orlando’s Christmas Celebration (Nov. 14 – Dec. 31, 2020)
SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration at SeaWorld Orlando is where holiday traditions are made, with delicious food, stunning live shows, delightful holiday shopping, joyous entertainment and the famous Sea of Trees (featured at the top of this blog) — all designed with enhanced health and safety measures in mind, including limited capacity to create plenty of space for social distancing. Enjoy family fun and holiday traditions at SeaWorld!
Save on discount tickets: SeaWorld Orlando
Holidays at LEGOLAND® Florida Resort (Nov. 27 – Dec. 31, 2020)
Celebrate your holidays the LEGOLAND way! 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
Stay Like Royalty at a Deluxe Resort
Throughout Orlando, hotels and resorts for every budget are open — including numerous full-service, amenity-packed choices for those seeking a well-deserved, high-end holiday staycation. In addition to unbelievable resort pools (more on those in a bit!), 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 holiday celebrations, too.
Learn more: Top Orlando Hotels & Resorts
Wherever you choose to stay, you can do so with confidence thanks to robust cleanliness procedures that adhere to current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, including enhanced programs from numerous top hotel brands.
Dive Into Refreshing Water
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
See Santa Claus
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, Santa will be the guest of honor at special events throughout the destination — and Mrs. Claus will join him at times, too. You can even take advantage of socially distanced photo sessions with the Jolly Old Elf, including those at ICON Park®, The Mall at Millenia and Wall Crawl Orlando.
Learn more: Holiday Events in Orlando
Enjoy Holiday Arts
The holidays are a great time to experience Orlando’s arts community — particularly special events that are dedicated to the season. For instance, Orlando Ballet is presenting The Nutcracker at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Orlando, with performances on Dec. 4-6, 11-12 and 18-19, 2020.
Learn more: Orlando Arts & Culture
Also downtown, the 8th Annual Violectric Holiday Show delivers a mix of traditional holiday songs and classic rock tunes for a fun-filled, energetic and highly unique holiday performance unlike anything you’ve seen or heard before. It’s set to take place at the Walt Disney Amphitheater at Lake Eola Park on Dec. 5, 2020.
Join Our Community Celebrations
The Orlando area hosts numerous holiday festivals throughout the joyous season. Some of the most notable for 2020 include Give Kids the World Village: Night of a Million Lights (Nov. 13, 2020 – Jan. 3, 2021) close to Walt Disney World, Dazzling Nights at Harry P. Leu Gardens (Dec. 1, 2020 – Jan. 3, 2021) near downtown Orlando, Orlando Winterfest & Holiday Market (Dec. 3-6, 2020) at the Orange County Convention Center, and the Winter Park Christmas Parade (Dec. 5, 2020) in its namesake city. Like the rest of the destination, these events will also be prioritizing your safety.
Marvel at Holiday Decorations
One of the best free — and socially distanced — 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. Near downtown Orlando, some of the best include Thornton Park, College Park and Ivanhoe Village. Just 15 minutes away, the city of Winter Park is also worth a holiday visit.
Learn more: Orlando Neighborhoods
Close to Orlando International Airport, our Lake Nona neighborhood hosts Lake Nona Lights (Nov. 26 – Dec. 31, 2020), featuring beautiful homes decked out with dancing lights synchronized to music. It’s available from 6-10 p.m. Sunday – Thursday and 6-11 p.m. Friday – Saturday.
Near downtown Celebration, minutes from Walt Disney World Resort, Lights on Jeater Bend is a collective of homes 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!
Eat, Drink & Be Merry
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: Orlando Dining
Orlando’s tourism district has more amazing eats for every foodie, including restaurants at Disney Springs®, Universal CityWalk, Restaurant Row and International Drive. The delectable dining in downtown Orlando and Winter Park isn’t to be missed, either. Plus, many of our hotels and resorts are hosting bountiful holiday buffets with traditional dishes and imaginative surprises.
In addition to enhanced safety procedures, many of our restaurants are offering open-air seating, as well as takeout and/or delivery. Make your reservations early to ensure a never-ending feast filled with delicious holiday meals while you’re here!
Learn more: Christmas Dining in Orlando
Get Your Holiday Shopping Done
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. 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. And don’t skip the shopping at Disney Springs, Universal CityWalk, Pointe Orlando and ICON Park®, either!
Embark on Outdoor Adventures
Although you won’t find Santa or holiday decorations in Orlando’s great outdoors, ecotourism is a great way to spread out and get away from it all — and the holiday season’s cooler temperatures provide one of the best times of year to do 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.
Learn more: Orlando Ecotourism
Speaking of outdoor experiences, nature-lovers won’t want to miss the North Shore Birding Festival, taking place Dec. 3-7, 2020. It’s held at beautiful Lake Apopka, about 30 minutes north of our tourism district.
In short, Orlando 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!
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