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‘Tis the Season: Holiday Event Guide

Your guide to the finest in holiday celebrations throughout Greater Orlando.

December 1
Songs of the Season
The community is invited to share an evening of song, dance and entertainment at this annual holiday spectacular put on by Full Sail University and the Rollins College music department outside on the Dr. Phillip Center’s Seneff Arts Plaza. Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, 7 p.m. free, Orlando, DrPhillipsCenter.org, (844) 513-2014

December 1
Ocoee Christmas Parade
The parade will start at the intersection of Maguire Road and Enterprise Street. It will end at Municipal Lakefront Park at Ocoee City Hall. Downtown Ocoee, 1 p.m., free, Ocoee, (407) 905-3140

December 1
Sanford Christmas Tour of Homes
This self-guided walking tour features a mix of local businesses and private homes that are decorated for the holiday season. There will be live entertainment and light refreshments. Begins at Historic Sanford Welcome Center or All Souls Catholic Church, 3-9 p.m., $30, Sanford, SanfordHistoricTrust.org, (407) 688-5145

December 1
Succulent Holiday Wreath Workshop
Create your own succulent wreath for the holidays. All supplies will be provided. Bok Tower Gardens, 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., $50 for members, $57 nonmembers, Lake Wales, BokTowersGardens.org, (863) 676-1408

December 1 & 2
Mount Dora Christmas Tour of Homes
This is a self-guided tour of beautifully decorated homes for the holidays. Proceeds got to fund scholarships for students pursuing careers in the arts. Begins at Country Club of Mount Dora, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., $20, Mount Dora, WCFAMountDora.com, (352) 720-3939

December 1-23
Miracle on 34th Street: The Musical
Based on the holiday classic movie, this musical tells the story of a nice old man, claiming to be Santa Claus and a young lawyer who decides to defend him in court by arguing that he is the real thing. Osceola Arts Main Theater, times vary, $19–$22, Kissimmee, OsceolaArts.org, (407) 447-1700

December 1-30
A Christmas Carol
Celebrate the holidays with Dickens’ classic ghost tale. Nine actors tell the story of one sleepless night, in which the spirits reveal cruel realities and a chance to change for the better. Orlando Shakes Margeson Theater, times vary, $18–$55, Orlando, OrlandoShakes.org, (407) 447-1700

December 1 & 9
Symphony Storytime: ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
The Orlando Philharmonic brass family is pleased to present one of the most iconic poems of all time. The Plaza Live, times vary, $10, Orlando, OrlandoPhil.org, (407) 770-0071

December 1, 7, 8, 15 & 22
A Merry Winter Garden Light Show
Enjoy a spectacular animated light show projected onto the front facade of the Winter Garden City Hall. Winter Garden City Hall, 6–9 p.m., free, Winter Garden, CWGDN.com, (407) 656-4111

December 2
A Holiday Festival
The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra presents a festive program featuring instrumentals of “Carol of the Bells” and “Sleigh Ride,” as well as vocal selections featuring Natalie Cordone and Shawn Kilgore. Central Park, 4 p.m., free, Winter Park, OrlandoPhil.org, (407) 770-0071

December 2
Light Up SoDo
This family-friendly event will feature face painting, writing letters to Santa, stilt walkers, train rides, stilt walkers, ornament making and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus. S. Orange Ave. and W. Grant St., 2–6 p.m., free, Orlando, SoDoDistrict.org, (407) 715-3315

December 2
Orlando Rep’s 6th Annual Holiday Celebration
Enjoy holiday treats, an exclusive multi-item chance drawing, decorate cookies with Mrs. Claus, take photos with Santa, and watch a private performance of Elf The Musical. Orlando Repertory Theatre, 3:30 p.m., $65 adults, $35 children, Orlando, OrlandoRep.com, (407) 770-0071

December 6
40th Annual Christmas in the Park
Celebrate the beginning of the holiday season with the annual lighting of the Morse Museum Tiffany windows and a performance from the Bach Festival Choir and Brass Ensemble.
Central Park, 6:15–8:30 p.m., free, Winter Park, MorseMuseum.org, (407) 645-5311

December 6
Holiday on the Drive
Edgewater Drive will be shut down and transformed into a winter wonderland. Edgewater Drive between Smith and Clayton Streets, 5–9 p.m., free, College Park, CollegeParkMainStreet.com, (407) 392-1717

December 7-22
The Nutcracker Ballet & Dance Showcases
On select Fridays, the Elizabeth Parsons School of Dance from The Windermere Community Theatre will put on a special presentation of The Nutcracker. On select Saturdays, the School of Dance Arts of Sanford will perform contemporary tap and ballet. Rosen Shingle Creek, 6:30–7:15 p.m., free, Orlando, RosenShingleCreek.com, (407) 996-3663

December 7, 15, 21
Holiday Movie at Lake Eola Park
Every week during the holiday season a movie will be screened in the park beginning with Polar Express, followed by The Santa Clause and then National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Walt Disney Amphitheater, 7 p.m., free, Orlando, CityofOrlando.net, (407) 246-2121

December 7-16
Orlando Ballet’s The Nutcracker
Follow Clara on a journey through waltzing snowflakes, mischievous mice and dancing confectionary in this this cherished holiday tradition. Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, times vary, tickets start at $19, Orlando, DrPhillipsCenter.org, (844) 513-2014

December 8
Old-Fashioned Hayride with Santa
Take a ride around Winter Garden with the one-and-only Santa Claus. Hayride departs every 30 minutes. Reservations can be made by calling City of Winter Garden. Winter Garden Downtown Pavilion, 6–9 p.m., free, Winter Garden, CWGDN.com, (407) 656-4111

December 8
Children’s Christmas in the Park
Families will find themselves in a winter wonderland complete with sledding, ice skating and Santa Claus. Donnelly Park, 5–9 p.m., free, Mount Dora, CityofMountDora.com, (352) 735-7183

December 8
Parade of Lights
This annual Christmas parade will once again light up Historic Downtown Sanford’s streets. Downtown Sanford, 6–8 p.m., free, Sanford, SanfordFL.gov, (407) 688-5120

December 8, 15, 22
Holiday Carriage Rides
View all the holiday decorations in Downtown Winter Garden on a horse drawn carriage. Starts at Winter Garden Downtown Pavilion, 5–9:30 p.m., $65, Winter Garden, CWGDN.com, (407) 656-4111

December 8
MetroWest Winter Fest
This family-friendly event will have a screening of Happy Feet, photos with Santa, a snow slide, face painting, an ice skating rink and more. MetroWest Golf Club, 4–8 p.m., free, MetroWest, MetroWestCommunity.com, (407) 601-5995

December 8
Winter Spark in Baldwin Park
Enjoy photos with Santa and Mrs. Clause, food trucks and holiday shopping. A holiday parade will commence at 7 p.m. Monetary and toy donations will be accepted at the Santa photo booth. Baldwin Park Village Center, 4–8 p.m., free, Orlando, BaldwinParkEvents.com, (407) 755-6430

December 8-28
Lake Nona Nighttime Holiday Festival
Running Thursday through Sunday each week, this event will have open-air skating rinks, live entertainment, occasional snow falls, food and drink options, and holiday movie screenings. Lake Nona Town Center, 3–10 p.m., free, Orlando, LakeNona.com, (407) 888-6500

December 9
Chanukah on the Park
The event will include a live performance by Shlock Rock, chassidic dancers, face painting, food and the lighting of the grand menorah. Central Park, 4:30 p.m., free, Winter Park, ChabadOrlando.org, (407) 644-2500

December 14
Violectric Holiday Show
Featuring traditional holiday songs like, “O Christmas Tree,” and “Hanukkah, O Hanukkah” mashed up with classic rock tunes, this annual holiday show is put on by an electric string quintet. Attendees who bring a pet supply donation for the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando will receive a pet photo opportunity with Santa. Walt Disney Amphitheatre at Lake Eola Park, 7–9 p.m., free but donations encouraged, Orlando, Violectric.net, (407) 434-1261

December 15
Snow Fest
Play with real snow, ice skate, enjoy music from a live DJ, have your face painted, and more at this family-friendly event. RDV Sportsplex Ice Den, 2–6 p.m., $20 for ages 3 and up, Maitland, RDVIceDen.com, (407) 916-2550

December 15
11th Annual Holiday Lights Ride
Bring your bike and take a holiday decorations tour on two wheels. This ride is kid friendly. Helmets and rear lights are required. Donations benefit the Audubon Park Garden District.
Starts at Bikes, Beans & Bordeaux Café, 6–9 p.m., $2 donation requested, Audubon Park, BikesBeansandBordeaux.com, (407) 427-1440

December 15
Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s The Ghosts of Christmas Eve
A holiday tradition returns, this year with new stage design and fresh songs. Amway Center, 3 and 8 p.m., $43–$77, Orlando, AmwayCenter.com, (407) 440-7900

December 16
Home Alone: Interactive Film and Fun
Celebrate in style with fun Christmas-themed games before the movie begins and come dressed to participate in the ugly Christmas sweater contest. Garden Theatre, 7:30 p.m. (pre-show begins at 6:30 p.m.), $16, Winter Garden, GardenTheatre.org, (407) 877-4736

December 18
Cirque Musica Holiday Presents Wonderland
Audiences take a journey into a visual world of wonder with amazing acrobats, aerialists, hilarious hijinks and holiday cheer. Amway Center, 7:30 p.m., tickets start at $35, Orlando, AmwayCenter.com, (407) 440-7900

December 18-23
Irving Berlin’s White Christmas
Based on the 1954 movie, this musical tells the story of a song-and-dance team putting on a show in a magical Vermont inn and falling for a stunning sister act in the process. Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, times vary, tickets start at $39.25, Orlando, DrPhillipsCenter.org, (844) 513-2014

December 31
New Year’s Eve Gala
Mix and mingle in the hotel’s ballroom while listening to a live performance by The Buzzcatz. There will be an open bar, live streaming of the Times Square ball drop and a champagne toast at midnight. The Alfond Inn, 8 p.m.–12:15 a.m., $189, Winter Park, TheAlfondInn.com, (407) 513-4517

December 31
Thornton Park New Year’s Eve Street Party
Taking up two city blocks, this party will have multiple venues, live DJs and lots of drinks. Thornton Park District, 8 p.m.–2 a.m., $15 in advance, $30 at the door, VIP starts at $55, Orlando, ThorntonParkStreetParty.com, (407) 701-9382

December 31
Nouveau: A Glamorous New Year’s Eve
Ring in 2019 while touring the museums galleries and enjoying an open bar, hors d’oeuvres, live music and more. Orlando Museum of Art, 9:30 p.m. –1:30 a.m., general admission $125, Couples $225, VIP $180, Orlando, OMArt.org, (407) 896-4231

AT THE PARKS
Christmas In The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter
Bask in a pint of Butterbeer and enjoy seasonal treats while taking in the snowscape that Hogsmeade has to offer at Universal Studios’ Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The halls of Hogwarts have been decked with holly and there will be special performances including frog choirs and holiday busking by Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees at Kings Cross Station. This event runs nightly through Sunday, Jan. 6.

Epcot International Festival Of The Holidays
Appreciate what makes us different this holiday season at Epcot’s International Festival of The Holidays. Enjoy the joyous Holiday Traditions of the 11 World Showcase Nations and surround yourself in the seasonal feeling from around the world. Take part in yuletide food and beverage, a candlelit processional, live musical productions and more. This events runs during normal park hours through Sunday, December 30.

Eve At Universal Citywalk
Say sayonara to 2018 at the party we’ve been waiting for all year. EVE at Universal CityWalk is the New Year’s destination with six CityWalk clubs, pyrotechnics, unlimited gourmet cuisine and the biggest outdoor dance floor in Orlando. Signature drink specials are topped off with a midnight champagne toast. This is a separately ticketed event for ages 21 and up and will take place on Monday, December 31.

Grinchmas At Universal’s Islands Of Adventure
The Mean One has ventured down from Mount Crumpit for a retelling of Seuss’ classic tale. The Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular is a live retelling of the classic holiday tale featuring music recorded by Mannheim Steamroller. After the show guests can meet Mr. Grinch, take a photo with him and get an autograph, too. This event runs nightly through Sunday, Jan. 6.

Holidays At Disney Springs
Admire the lights and atmosphere as you wander through the decked-out waterside promenade during Holidays at Disney Springs. Seasonal food and beverages will put you in the spirit while you shop at one of the most magical places on earth. Have the kids help Stitch with his Holiday Gift Hunt or follow the Christmas Tree Trail, a winter wonderland of holiday music, falling snow and seasonally themed trees. These events are free to the public and will take place on select days and nights now through Tuesday, December 25.

Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam! At Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Disney’s Hollywood Studios transforms into a scene of holiday magic this December. Each evening, you can catch the Nighttime Spectacular, a larger-than-life fireworks, special effects and dazzling state-of-the-art projections show. Get to the show early and help find Kris Kringle in a festive scavenger hunt before the fireworks. This event runs nightly through Sunday, Jan. 6.

Legoland Christmas Bricktacular
Enjoy a holiday experience that is unique to Orlando at Legoland’s Christmas Bricktacular. Meet Lego Santa and Toy Soldier before building your own Lego Christmas ornament. Don’t miss the dancing lights of the 30-foot tall Lego Christmas tree at Christmas Tree Spectacular. With Elf mini shows and Storytime with Mrs. Clause Legoland is the perfect place to build holiday memories. This event is included with regular park admission and runs select nights from Sunday December 2 through Tuesday, December 25.

Legoland Kids’ NYE Party
Dance until the Giant Lego brick drops—at a kid-friendly hour. Ring in the New Year with Lego inspired fireworks, building games, a scavenger hunt and unforgettable memories. There will be dance parties galore, plenty of activities for the kids and a fireworks show. This event is included with regular park admission and will take place on Monday, December 31.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
Magic Kingdom and all of its characters transform this holiday season. The park, as always, will be covered head to toe in garland, holly and, of course, jolly good cheer. Characters like Jack Skellington, Scrooge McDuck and even Santa will stop by to appreciate the holiday treats and specialty eats. Tickets for the holiday celebration start at $89. This event runs nightly through Friday, December 21.

Holidays At Old Town
This time of year Old Town becomes a spectacular display of festive decorations and colorful twinkling lights. The shopping and dining destination will of course have its iconic Christmas Tree on display and every weekend on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, white, fluffy snow will fall from above. This event runs through Tuesday, December 25.

Rock ’Til The Drop Nye Party
Rock and roll into 2019 with all of your family and friends at the Rock ’til The Drop New Year’s Eve Party taking place at the Hard Rock Live Orlando. This open-to-all-ages party will be playing classic hits all night long. Tickets for the event start at $65 with a buffet dinner and unlimited non-alcoholic beverages included. This is a separately ticketed event and will take place on Monday, December 31.

SeaWorld Orlando Christmas Celebration
Three million lights twinkle over SeaWorld during the holiday season when this park transforms into a winter wonderland. Watch Shamu and his friends soar through the air to your favorite holiday hits and don’t forget to check out Rudolph’s Christmas Town to meet Santa, Rudolph and all their friends. This event is included with regular park admission and runs select nights through Monday, December 31.

SeaWorld Orlando New Year’s Eve
This New Year’s Eve, join in on park-wide festivities at SeaWorld Orlando. This aquatic night will have you sea-ing fireworks fill the night sky, while experiencing Christmas miracles with Shamu. With the return of the Clyde and Seamore show, the deal is sealed for you and your family to have a great time. This event is included with regular park admission and will take place on Monday, December 31.

Sunset Seasons Greetings At Hollywood Studios
Go to infinity and beyond in Toy Story Land with Woody and Buzz, or enjoy the holiday decorated Sunset Boulevard that will have games, festivities, and desserts, all at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You are in for an experience with enhanced décor, lighting and projections. Dine with Minnie or take pictures with Santa—just don’t forget to Jingle Jam your way over to the holiday party. This event runs nightly through Monday, December 31.

The Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast
Guests are in for a delightful breakfast with a side of malarkey as the Grinch makes his way down the mountain to feast with guests (and probably steal their silverware) at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. The mischievous green monster will make visit each table, giving guests the opportunity to take a selfie and revel in a Grinchmas experience. This event is included with regular park admission. Reservations must be made. Runs select mornings through Saturday, December 22.

Universal Studios Holiday Parade Featuring Macy’s
The Minions are back this year to help Santa Claus bring cheer (and maybe get into a bit of mischief) on the streets of Universal Studios during this annual parade that includes a runway of familiar faces like Shrek and characters from Madagascar. Spectators will get an up-close preview of who makes the naughty or nice list in this exciting family affair. This event runs daily through Sunday, Jan. 6.

This article originally appeared in Orlando Family Magazine’s December 2018 issue.