Planning a family vacation this holiday season? Why not visit the most magical of places during the most magical time of year! City Beautiful has everything you could ask for. Nature, theme parks, culinary wonders, and mesmerizing holiday celebrations. There are plenty of things to do in Orlando around Christmas time and in December, no matter your age.
While most other places around the country are freezing cold in December, sub-tropical Orlando prides itself on its sunny days and chilly evenings. We recommend carrying a light to medium jacket, socks, and rain protection in your travel bag along with your lightweight summer dresses.
Although it is undeniable that Orlando, Florida in December is both one of the most crowded and costliest periods to visit the traditional theme park festivals, it is also the most beautiful- with stellar weather and seasonal spirits, it’s an experience of a lifetime that you should definitely check off your bucket list.
Having said that, a little planning in advance can go a long way. Moreover, Orlando offers an array of fun and economical activities. Whether you’re traveling with babies, toddlers, school-goers, or teens, you will find enjoyable events to do in Orlando in December on our comprehensive, well-curated list. Keep reading and you’ll have yourself the perfect itinerary for Christmas in Orlando in no time!
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a special Christmas event that runs on select nights from mid-November through December just before Christmas.
The event hosts a Christmas parade with all your kids’ favorite Disney characters out in their best Christmas costumes and spreading some of that jolly cheer with Santa himself. Watch Christmas-themed shows put on by Mickey and Minnie and get mesmerized as the sky explodes with dazzling fireworks over the Cinderella Castle.
Listen to your favorite Christmas carols, dance with your loved ones at Club Tinsel Dance party, or enjoy some rides which will have shorter wait times during the eve
Epcot International Festival of the Holidays in Orlando in December
Often referred to as “Epcot Food & Wine Festival Lite” as a joke, many fans view this festival as just a seasonal extension of the popular Disney Epcot event. However, the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays is about more than just food. If you were to only focus on the food, you would miss out on many of the best parts of the event!
The event starts at the end of November, continues until just before New Year, and has loads of things for families with kids to do
Start your adventure by participating in Holiday Storytellers, a narrative journey of the various holiday and winter traditions from around the world accompanied by highly entertaining performances. Learning about the different versions of Santa Claus around Europe is always surprising, and the origin stories of Hanukkah and Kwanzaa will prove to be both educational and fun. Visitors rave about the stories about Mexico and Norway in particular.
Another fun activity for the whole family is Chip and Dale’s Christmas Tree Spree. Grab a map and some stickers from one of the merchandise locations and make your way through the park finding Christmas ornaments to help Chip and Dale out. Those who complete the challenge win a festive prize!
End your day at Epcot with a Candlelight Processional, an event that features a celebrity narrator retelling the story of Christmas with a backdrop of a mass choir and a 50-piece live orchestra. It occurs every night from Thanksgiving till the 30th of December to kick off the rest of the performances of the evening.
Disney Springs Christmas Tree Stroll
The Disney Springs Christmas Tree Stroll features 20 extravagantly decorated trees displayed all throughout the 120-acre park complex. Guests get to pick up maps and check off trees dedicated to all their favorite Disney characters, from Beauty and the Beast and Coco to Spiderman. Those who complete the map earn a special button!
If you start to feel inspired by the ornaments and décor, pick some up for your tree back home. It’s also the perfect opportunity to get both your loved ones and yourself some Disney-themed Christmas gifts.
For entertainment, stop by the Waterside Stage to catch the DJ spinning holiday tunes, and keep your eyes peeled for roaming entertainers like stilt-walking soldiers and snowflake skaters! Amorette’s Patisserie, The Ganachery, and The Polite Pig are some places to check out for some seasonal specials that will satisfy your sweet tooth cravings.
Oh, What Fun! Festival Takes Place in Orlando in December
Every year, Lake Nona turns into Peppermint Square, a winter wonderland, to usher in Christmas with some festive magic. The Oh, What Fun! Holiday Festival runs from after Thanksgiving all the way until after New Year and is one of the best events for families looking to get their Christmas cheer on!
You can expect shows, nightly snowfalls, tons of photo spots, live entertainment, plenty of magical encounters, and a whole lot of merrymaking.
Your first stop should be Mr. and Mrs. Claus’ creatively decorated winter cottage. Watch your kids’ faces light up and take some classic Christmas photos to memorialize the moment. The festival also features a built photo wall and a 24-foot-tall Christmas tree as a centerpiece which serves as a wonderful backdrop for your holiday-themed cards.
If you like the look of what you see and would like a real Christmas tree that is just as beautiful in your own home, pick one up at the Peppermint Forest Christmas tree lot next to Boxi Park.
For some live entertainment, the Starlight Stage in front of “The Beacon” is where you want to be. Take part in one of Peppermint Penguin’s dance parties, sign your kids up for some fun at the arts and crafts station, and drop by Boxi Park to participate in a costume contest, trivia, and more wholesome celebration. Classic holiday movies are also played here, so check out what’s being screened and bring a couple of snacks.
When you’re feeling all puckered out and famished, walk over to Peppermint Square to decide where you want to eat. The various holiday-themed pop-up food stands will ensure that it’s a feast of all things festive whether you’re in the mood for something sweet or savory.
Christmas Celebration at SeaWorld Orlando in December
Visit SeaWorld Orlando in December to see the theme park lit up with over 3 million lights and transformed into a winter-water-wonderland! Taking place from December till the start of January, this festival is set against a backdrop of more than 100 decorated trees as well as a 70-foot-tall giant one that sparkles and shimmers over the water.
Popular fan-favorite events and activities that your kids will not want to miss include The Sesame Street Christmas Parade, meeting and taking pictures with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in ChristmasTown, ice skating, and watching SeaWorld’s showstopper, an ice skating show called Winter Wonderland on Ice.
After all the excitement of playing, shopping, and frolicking, let your grumbling tummy lead you to the Christmas Market, which you will find tucked away along Bayside Pathway. The market offers a myriad of colorful and festive tasty treats for every palate.
Grab some grub and settle down next to the fire pit or near the gazebo to sway to some holiday tunes. Some popular drinks include the park’s holiday craft brew for the adults and luscious Butterscotch Hot Chocolate for the kids.
Seasons Greetings at Universal Orlando Resort in December
A list of Orlando activities would simply be incomplete without Universal Studios. A wide range of festive attractions awaits you at Universal Orlando Resort during the holiday season. These include everything from elaborate decorations adorning the theme park as well as its hotels, holiday-themed shows, concerts, character meet-and-greets, Universal’s Holiday Tour, and more.
Kick-off your holiday festivities with Universal’s Holiday Parade that features Macy’s, complete with giant balloons of all your kids’ favorite characters, lively street performers, and, of course, Santa himself! Be sure to get there early to get the best spots along the route.
Afterwards, pay a visit to everyone’s favorite wizarding school to add an extra dash of magic to your experience. Hogwart’s winter makeover makes it look like a Christmas card. Plus, is anything better than washing it all down with a steaming glass of butterbeer?
Other must-see attractions at Universal include the famous Grinchmas Show at Seuss Landing, as well as Mannheim Steamroller in concert. Overall, it’s the Christmas extravaganza you don’t want to miss!
Located only 45 minutes from Orlando city limits, Legoland, Florida is a popular destination for tourists and locals throughout the year. But just like the rest of the locations on this list, this too receives an extra dose of magic and pizzazz during the holiday season!
Coming alive on all weekends in December as well as every day of Christmas week, Legoland brings you exciting holiday shows, festive LEGO activities as well as star-studded meet-and-greets with characters like Holiday Unikitty, LEGO Gingerbread, and LEGO Santa, just to name a few.
It is also home to a quirky LEGO Christmas tree with a 360-degree light show as the main attraction, making for an eventful day trip with your children that they will absolutely love you for!
Night of a Million Lights- Give Kids The World Village
GKTW Village is a fantastical 89-acre non-profit resort that offers vacations to critically ill children and their families at no cost. Night of a Million Lights is a bright and beautiful outdoor event that provides the public with the rare chance to visit the grounds of the property that is otherwise only open to resort guests. The best part is that most of the proceeds go to charity.
Slightly misnomered (in the best way), the festival features more than 3 million lights for your viewing pleasure. Keep an eye on their website for actual dates and a link for donations. Every little bit helps!
The winter months, especially December, make for the ideal time for Manatee spotting in central Florida. The cold weather and water temperatures during these months force the warm-blooded giants to congregate in Florida’s freshwater springs which maintain a constant 72 degrees.
Blue Spring State Park and Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park are both great options for getting a peek at these sea cows. Both of them also offer other activities like hiking trails, and camping facilities, as well as kayaks and canoes for rent. Blue Springs even offers guided riverboat cruises and Homosassa Springs has an underwater “fishbowl” observatory at the headspring for an up close view of the manatees!
December through March is strawberry season in Florida, which is perfect for families visiting Orlando in December! Strawberry picking is one of the best and sweetest ways for families to enjoy the winter weather and make memories while connecting with nature.
Atwood Family Farms in Eustis, as well as Bekemeyer Family Farm in Winter Garden, are both great locations for a day out strawberry picking. We urge you to call or visit the websites of the farms in advance to confirm operating days and hours.
Pro tip: Remember to carry a cooler to preserve your picks. When visiting with a baby, we recommend bringing a baby carrier over a stroller to make your visit as hassle-free as possible.
Seeking cultural and artistic enrichment? Bok Tower Gardens is the place to be for an extra touch of sparkle that accompanies the holiday season. Keep an eye on their festive calendar for seasonal events that interest each age group.
A new theme every year showcases the garden’s gorgeous spectacle of evergreen poinsettias and begonias. Kicking off the season at the end of November around Thanksgiving, the gardens organize an array of events including but not limited to jazz concerts of holiday classics, ornament-making workshops, Christmas hunts and so much more.
Free Things To Do in Orlando in December
If you are looking to participate in the festivities and things to do in Orlando in December without spending all your savings for the year, we’ve got you covered!
Head over to Avalon Park to attend Avalon Aglow, a free community event featuring various performances, a bounce park beloved by toddlers, festive train rides, countless vendors, Santa pictures, and snow, with a finale of fireworks!
Leesburg’s annual Christmas on the Water is another event worth checking out. The almost-free event takes place on the first Sunday of December at the Venetian Gardens. A lighted boat parade, live entertainment along with many food stalls result in a beautiful and memorable outing.
If you’re visiting in mid-December instead, be sure to catch the Orlando Christmas Parade that traverses a mile-long route through the downtown area. Watch celebrities, floats, and marching bands over one and a half hours and feel the holiday cheer grow with the crowds!
Another extremely enjoyable event held in December is the annual Santa Bike Ride. Mostly held on the 3rd weekend of December and organized by Winter garden Wheel Works, this event involves Santa and his elves meeting and greeting families in the afternoon followed by a bike parade led by Santa himself. It’s an absolute treat to watch the participants caroling down the streets of Winter Garden.
Looking for something more low-key and away from the holiday frenzy? Peanut Butter Family Matinee is a kid-friendly event held at Enzian Theater on the fourth Sunday of each month.
Children under 12 can watch free movies like The Wizard of Oz, Enchanted, and Dolphin Tale. Adults, on the other hand, must pay a nominal price. If you want to watch a free movie as a family, visit Winter Park for Popcorn Flicks or Lake Eola for Movieola to catch an outdoor film and enjoy an evening of fun and laughter.
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