Discover 10 unforgettable ways to celebrate the season in Orlando, including festive holiday events, luminous decorations, joyous live arts, gourmet dining, and much more (Lake Eola Park in downtown Orlando pictured).
Updated Nov. 20, 2023
There’s no place like Orlando for the holidays, with vibrant events, neighborhood celebrations and more festive fun just waiting to be unwrapped. 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.
Discover: Holiday Season Events in Orlando
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Celebrate the season with ongoing holiday events and festivals that you won’t find anywhere else, including dazzling light shows, wondrous wintertime activities and beloved theme park events — more on those in a moment. Beyond the theme parks, some of our most joyous 2023 holiday events include:
- Holiday Nights at Island H2O Live! (Select Dates, Nov. 8 – Dec. 31)
- Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild at the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens (Select Dates, Nov. 17 – Jan. 14)
- Dazzling Nights by Creative City Project at Harry P. Leu Gardens (Select Dates, Nov. 17 – Jan. 6)
- Holinights Celebration at Promenade at Sunset Walk (Select Dates, Nov. 17 – Dec. 25)
- Magic of Lights at Daytona International Speedway (Nov. 17 – Dec. 13)
- Colorful Christmas by Crayola Experience at The Florida Mall® (Nov. 18 – Jan. 7)
- Now Snowing at Celebration Town Center (Nov. 25 – Dec. 31)
- Gatorland’s Holiday Ho Ho Ho-Down at Gatorland (Select Dates, Dec. 2 – 17)
- Oh, What Fun!® Holiday Festival in Lake Nona (Dec. 7 – 23)
- Holidays in Space at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (Dec. 15 – 24 & 26 – 30)
The ultimate snowbird, Santa Claus himself will be in Orlando throughout the holiday season, spreading joy and cheer ahead of the big day. 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.
Discover: Top Places to See Santa in Orlando
Catch a dazzling holiday performance of at some of Orlando’s most beloved performing arts venues, including the award-winning Steinmetz Hall at the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts. Some of this year’s most anticipated holiday productions include:
- Junie B. in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells! (Select Dates, Nov. 13 – Dec. 23, 2023)
- Moonshine & Mistletoe: An Appalachian Christmas Tale (Select Dates, Nov. 24 – Dec. 23, 2023)
- Clare and the Chocolate Nutcracker (Nov. 25, 2023)
- A Christmas Carol (Select Dates, Nov. 29 – Dec. 24, 2023)
- The Office Holiday Party Musical Extravaganza Show (Select Dates, Nov. 30 – Dec. 23, 2023)
- The Nutcracker (Select Dates, Dec. 8 – 24, 2023)
- Phantasmagoria’s A Most Haunted Victorian Christmas (Dec. 9 – 10, 2023)
- The Illusionists: Magic of the Holidays (Dec. 15, 2023)
- A Swingin’ Christmas: The Holiday Music of Tony Bennett (Select Dates, Nov. 9 – Dec. 16, 2023)
- Pops Series: Home for the Holidays (Nov. 25, 2023)
- Handel’s Messiah (Nov. 26, 2023)
- A Voctave Christmas (Nov. 26, 2023)
- Andrea del Principe: An Italian Christmas Night (Nov. 28, 2023)
- Darren Criss: A Very Darren Chrissmas (Nov. 29, 2023)
- A Christmas Carol the Musical (Dec. 1 – 2, 2023)
- Holiday Pops: Winter Park (Dec. 3, 2023)
- UCF’s Knights Season of Joy (Dec. 3, 2023)
- Candlelight: Holiday Special Featuring ‘The Nutcracker’ and More (Dec. 6, 13 & 20, 2023)
- Christmas at the Movies: A Very Merry Sequel (Dec. 7 – 8, 2023)
- A Classic Christmas (Dec. 9 – 10, 2023)
- Holiday Pops: Apopka Amphitheater (Dec. 9, 2023)
- Symphony Storytime Series: Holly Jolly Sounds of the Season (Dec. 9 – 10, 2023)
- Pentatonix: The Most Wonderful Tour of the Year (Dec. 13, 2023)
- Sarah Brightman: A Christmas Symphony (Dec. 13, 2023)
- Chase Padgett: Six Strings Christmas (Select Dates, Dec. 14 – 23, 2023)
- Sugar Plum Fairy’s Winter Tale (Dec. 15, 2023)
- Zachary Bartholomew Trio Presents: ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Music of Vince Guaraldi’ (Dec. 15, 2023)
- Mark Tremonti Sings Frank Sinatra: Christmas Special (Dec. 16, 2023)
- Orlando Jazz Orchestra Presents: The Nutcracker Suite (Dec. 17, 2023)
- LeAnn Rimes: Joy — The Holiday Tour (Dec. 20, 2023)
- Trans-Siberian Orchestra: The Ghosts of Christmas Eve — The Best of TSO and More (Dec. 22, 2023)
More Holiday Arts
- Classic Movie Series: It’s a Wonderful Life (Nov. 28, 2023)
- Art Adventures: Holiday Photo Hanger (Dec. 1, 2023)
- Classic Movie Series: Elf (Dec. 5, 2023)
- Classic Movie Series: The Nightmare Before Christmas (Dec. 12, 2023)
- Art Night Out: Artful Ornaments With Maria Coville (Dec. 13, 2023)
The holidays are best spent with family, good tidings and incredible food. Treat yourself to dinner at one of Orlando’s award-winning restaurants, from MICHELIN Guide dining to restaurants helmed by celebrity chefs and local James Beard Award honorees.
Discover: 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.
Discover: Christmas Dining in Orlando
Marvel at holiday decorations hung with care throughout Orlando’s vibrant neighborhoods. You’ll find plenty of holiday cheer at Eola Winter Wonderland in downtown Orlando, from nightly synchronized tree light shows and weekend Christmas markets to a 12-minute holiday drone show on Dec. 23, featuring beautiful holiday-themed displays. For even more festive decor, take a holiday stroll from Lake Eola Park to downtown Orlando’s vibrant Central Business District, or enjoy a captivating holiday light show and art installation at Luminary Green Park in the Parramore District.
Discover: Orlando Neighborhoods
Many of our vibrant Orlando neighborhoods will also celebrate with festive decor and events, including College Park, Curry Ford West, The Milk District, Mills 50®, SODO and Thornton Park Main Street Districts. 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. You’ll also find gorgeous displays in Orlando’s Lake Nona district close to Orlando International Airport.
Have yourself a merry little getaway at some of Orlando’s top resorts. 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.
Discover: Top Orlando Hotels & Resorts
Best of all, many of our top resorts are decked out for the holidays, offering special dining, decor and themed activities to suit even the littlest elves.
Discover: Festive Orlando Hotels
Don’t just stay at one of Orlando’s incredible resorts — dive into their amazing pools. Many of Orlando’s top-rated resorts 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.
Discover: Orlando’s Top Resort Pools
Score some last-minute gifts for your loved ones — and maybe a few treats for yourself — at our acclaimed malls, outlet centers and locally owned shops. 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.
Discover: 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.
Discover: Unique Orlando Gifts With Local Flavor
Enjoy a moment of calm with stunning ecotourism activities in our beautiful neighborhoods, trails and surrounding parks. 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.
Discover: Orlando Ecotourism
The holiday season is also a great time to catch high-profile football games, including some key bowl competitions, at Camping World Stadium and Exploria Stadium in downtown Orlando’s Parramore District. For 2023, they include the Florida Blue Florida Classic (Nov. 18, 2023), the Pop-Tarts® Bowl (Dec. 28, 2023), and the 2024 Cheez-It® Citrus Bowl (Jan. 1, 2024).
Discover: College Football Season in Orlando
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.
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Holiday magic awaits at all four Walt Disney World® Resort theme parks, and then some.
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Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom® Park (Select Nights Through Dec. 22, 2023)
Get ready for a magical holiday gathering during the specially ticketed Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. When Mickey celebrates the season, Magic Kingdom® Park lights up with excitement for guests of all ages. Joyful music fills the air. Disney Characters don their most festive attire, and enchanting entertainment lies around almost every turn. Delight in the amazingly festive Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks show, then gather to watch Disney Characters give a yuletide nod to the season during Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade. Plus, discover holiday overlays for iconic attractions such as Space Mountain® and Jungle Cruise®, explore Magic Kingdom® Park searching for cookies and cocoa, and so much more.
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Disney Jollywood Nights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios® (Select Nights Through Dec. 20, 2023)
This festive season, Disney’s Hollywood Studios® will host a brand-new nighttime party, Disney Jollywood Nights, on 10 select evenings. The separately ticketed event, which runs from 8:30 p.m. – 12:30 a.m., invites you to experience a glamorous evening full of merry mashups, delicious tastes and sips, iconic throwback characters, and a holiday vibe full of glitz and sparkle.
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For an extra dose of cheer, the party wraps with the return of the nighttime spectacular, “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!” Other highlights include:
- Glimmering, festive entertainment inspired by different genres, with red-carpet moments and dapper decor;
- After-hours access to thrilling rides and coasters;
- The chance to pal around with your favorite Disney friends throughout Disney’s Hollywood Studios;
- Delicious holiday tastes and sips (available for purchase);
- And so much more.
Disney Jollywood Nights is a limited-capacity holiday party, so securing your tickets early is encouraged. You can also look forward to festive fun throughout the park during normal hours, including the Sunset Seasons Greetings projection show on Hollywood Tower Hotel, the Santa Claus Merry Motorcade, Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine, and more.
EPCOT® International Festival of the Holidays (Daily Through Dec. 30, 2023)
Surround yourself with seasonal sights, sounds and flavors during the EPCOT® International Festival of the Holidays, a beloved extravaganza boasting themed Holiday Kitchens and a scrumptious Holiday Cookie Stroll. Then, behold heartwarming performances around World Showcase, including Canadian Holiday Voyageurs, Las Posadas with Mariachi Cobre, the Chinese Lion Dance, and holiday storytellers. You can also hear the stirring story of Christmas presented by a celebrity narrator, accompanied by an orchestra and massed choir, as part of the famous Candlelight Processional. This joyous celebration is included with admission to EPCOT®, with food and beverages available for purchase.
Holidays at Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park (Daily Through Dec. 31, 2023)
At Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park, experience the magic of nature with a holiday twist. Delight in winter wonders as Discovery Island® springs to life with artisan-sculpted puppets of arctic animals — like penguins, reindeer, foxes and polar bears. See Santa Claus as he sails down the Discovery River to a jolly, world-beat holiday soundtrack, and wave hello to some of your favorite Disney Characters aboard decked-out flotillas. Plus, be sure to check out holiday-themed decor and Tree of Life® Awakenings — Holiday Edition, where the beloved tree shimmers and sparkles each evening, accompanied by a heartwarming musical score.
Holidays at Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park (Daily Through Dec. 31, 2023)
Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park will also have an enhanced holiday atmosphere. Discover new touches from the Walt Disney Animation Studios film, Frozen, plus enjoy limited-time holiday offerings that include holiday-themed treats, snowfall and festive inner tubes. Guests can even meet a tropical-dressed Santa for the ultimate Florida holiday experience.
SeaWorld® Orlando's Christmas Celebration (Select Dates Through Jan. 2, 2024)
SeaWorld® Orlando’s award-winning Christmas Celebration returns with the sights, sounds and flavors of the holiday season. Included with theme park admission, the event transforms SeaWorld Orlando into a winter wonderland with more than 3 million sparkling lights. Enjoy all the family-friendly holiday entertainment, from the iconic Sea of Trees that dance to music as they light up the central lagoon, to delicious holiday treats. Experience fan-favorite holiday shows and seasonal entertainment throughout the park. And be sure to stay late to finish your evening with an impressive holiday firework show.
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Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort (Daily Through December 31, 2023)
If you want to scream, laugh and shout your jingle bells off, you’ve got to awesome up your season with Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort. Join the celebration of Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™, see larger-than-life balloons float through the streets of Universal Studios Florida in Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s, and get together with the resident Whos in Universal’s Islands of Adventure, where you can enjoy the music and fun of The Grinchmas™ Who-liday Spectacular starring the Grinch™.
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WIZARDING WORLD and all related trademarks, characters, names, and indicia are © & ™ Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Publishing Rights © JKR. (s23)
Prices, times, dates, entertainment, event and/or experience details are subject to changes and/or cancellation without notice. Dr. Seuss properties TM & © 2023 Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade & Related Characters © 2023 Macy’s Inc. © 2023 DreamWorks Animation LLC. Universal elements and all related indicia TM & © 2023 Universal Studios. All rights reserved.
Holidays at LEGOLAND® Florida Resort Presented by Hallmark Channel (Select Dates Through Dec. 31, 2023)
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!
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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 2023.
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