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The Best Holiday Events in Orlando for 2021

Shutterstock | Dean Drobot

There’s no place like home for the holidays. Welcome in the new year at these local events for the whole family:

The Santa Workshop Experience
November 5–December 24

Santa’s favorite stop in town is ICON Park! The entertainment hub is magically transformed into the North Pole. Beyond taking beautiful holiday photos and meeting the jolly old elf, families can also ride on the fan-favorite Pearl Express train, which is decked out in its holiday best.

Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild
November 19–January 16
Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens
The festival features more than 30 larger-than-life, hand-constructed lanterns lit by more than 10,000 LED lights. These glowing orbs will be featured on a ¾ mile trek throughout the property resulting in a spectacular display of color, light and sound that celebrates the art, culture and beauty of traditional Asian lantern festivals.

Christmas at Gaylord Palms Resort
November 19–January 2
Gaylord Palms Resort Orlando
Gaylord Palms is bursting with cheer right now. With classic holiday activities like photos with Santa, spectacular shows like Cirque: Spirit of Christmas, thrilling experiences like ice tubing, and the all-new Mission: Save Christmas featuring Elf™, there is truly something for everyone.

Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
November 13–January 2
Universal Studios Resort
Celebrate the magic of the season with your fellow wizards! No matter your house, you and yours will delight in the dazzling lights at Hogwarts™ Castle and enjoy joyous laughter through Diagon Alley™. Not only are there special holiday treats and drinks (the hot Butterbeer is a must!), but the atmosphere is brimming with excitement that includes a special show Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees have prepared just for the occasion.

November 13–January 2
Universal Studios Resort
Seuss Landing™ is decorated with the holiday charm and cheer of Dr. Seuss’s Who-ville. Your heart might grow three sizes as you delight in the hilarious hijinks of The Grinchmas™ Who-liday Spectacular, a live retelling of the classic tale starring the Grinch™ — you may even have the opportunity to meet the maven of mischief himself!

SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration
November 12–January 2
SeaWorld Orlando
SeaWorld is overflowing with good tide-ings this year. View over 3 million lights, learn about animal friends, watch enchanting ice-skating performances and even meet Santa in the Wild Artic.  PLAY TIP: It’s the perfect place to celebrate New Year’s Eve with a bang! Their spectacular musical celebration and bold fireworks display will send a wave of welcome to the New Year ahead.

Holidays at LEGOLAND
November 26–28, December 4–5, 11–12, 18–19 & 24–31
LEGOLAND Florida Resort
Celebrate the LEGOLAND way! This jolly time of year features a combination of seasonal shows and treats, special LEGO characters, twinkling lights and fireworks.

Night of a Million Lights
November 12–January 2
Give Kids the World Village
Stroll the Avenue of Angels that’s aglow with more than 3 million lights, savor delicious treats and enjoy the accessible rides and storybook attractions at this can’t-miss celebration that benefits critically ill children and their families from around the world.

International Festival of Holidays
November 26–December 30 

Travel around the world to see how different countries ring in the season. While you’re there, taste-test an array of sweet treats by partaking in the Holiday Cookie Stroll, set off on a merry quest with Olaf’s Holiday Tradition Expedition Scavenger Hunt and take a peaceful cruise through Living with the Land’s special sparkling boat tour.   

Holiday Events at Crane’s Roost Park
• Holiday Light Displays: Nov. 25-Jan. 2 at Dusk
• Holiday Fountain Show: Nov. 25-Jan. 2 at 6, 7, 8, & 9 p.m.
• Holiday Concerts: December 3, 10 & 17 from 7-9 p.m.
• Light Up the Holidays: December 4 from 5-9 p.m.
Watch as the park comes alive with spectacular holiday displays featuring 200 thousand lights and a 6-foot tree decorated with thousands of ornaments and over a mile of garland!
• Santa Tuesdays: December 7, 14 & 21 from 6 – 8 p.m.
• Holiday Characters: December 8, 15 & 22 from 7 – 9 p.m.
• Holiday Movie Nights: December 9 & 16 at 7 p.m.

Winter Wonderland
December 1–January 1
Wekiva Island
From a larger-than-life Christmas tree forest to river sleigh rides, snow flurries and more, make Wekiva Island your go-to this season. Don’t miss out on special events like visits with Santa & Mrs. Claus and The Grinch with the Whoville Whos, holiday movies on the lawn, Breakfast with Santa and more. 

Dazzling Nights 
November 19–January 9
Harry P. Leu Gardens

Leu Gardens will transform once again into a stunning winter fantasy featuring a million dazzling lights, shining forests, magical displays, music and beautiful sculptures. This family-friendly adventure is truly unforgettable. 

Light Up the Holidays
December 4, 5–9 p.m.
Cranes Roost Park, Altamonte Springs

The City of Altamonte Springs is bringing back the tradition of lighting up Cranes Roost Park. Watch as the park comes alive with spectacular holiday displays featuring 200,000 lights and a 60-foot tree decorated with thousands of ornaments and over a mile of garland. There will also be a fireworks show, ice skating, live music & dance performances, photos with Santa & Mrs. Claus and kids’ activities. Admission is free.

Orlando Ballet Presents “The Nutcracker” 
December 4 & 18
Dr. Phillips Center

It isn’t the holidays without Clara and her sugarplum fairies. These special sensory-friendly performances are tailored to your little toy soldier’s attention span and only last an hour. 

Letters to Santa featuring “The Grinch”
December 5
The Enzian 

The Grinch comes down from Mount Crumpet for this celebratory shindig at the Enzian that includes a family-friendly screening (with holiday cookies and hot cocoa) and a special letter writing kit so kids can mail a note to the big man in red.  

Winter on the Avenue
December 3
Central Park, Winter Park
A lively family-friendly holiday party featuring their annual Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony.

Ye Old Hometown Christmas Parade
December 4
Park Avenue, Winter Park
Enjoy the longest running holiday parade in Central Florida!

Family Holiday Snaps
Beginning December 1
Museum of Illusions Orlando
Central Florida’s newest mind-bending “edutainment” destination, has been transformed for the holidays offering a fun backdrop to capture Holiday memories.

I Drive District Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony
December 1
Kick off the merriest month of the year with a tree lighting at ICON Park. Marvel at the 50-foot holiday tree decorated from top to bottom. 

Check out our roundup of the Best Holiday Lights in Central Florida for 2021.

Written by
Wendy Meyer

Wendy Meyer is a Winter Park mom to son, Beckett, a self-proclaimed #Disnerd and an integral collaborator at PLAYGROUND Magazine. She currently holds the titles of social media manager, events editor and writer. (That's what happens when you're good at everything they throw at ya!) You can read her single-mom musings on her blog: Mommy’s Little Rebel.

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Written by Wendy Meyer


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