It’s that time of year again, and Orlando families are excited for cooler temperatures so they can wear the long sleeve shirts and scarves they have tucked in the back of their closet and never get to wear and get into the Christmas spirit. After the past few years, it seems like everyone is excited to get back to holiday traditions, including exploring the many different light displays around town. If you’re starting to fill your calendar with holiday events, make sure these get added to the list:
The Big Ones
Orlando is known for its theme parks, and the three biggest theme parks in Orlando know how to get their guests into the holiday spirit. Here are a few things you should know how to see all of the lights and holiday events at the theme parks:
Annual pass holders countdown the days until they can stroll the magical streets of Disney and experience Christmas in a way that only Mickey Mouse can offer. Each Disney theme park is decked out for the holidays, and there are holiday shows to watch, Christmas-themed treats to eat, holidays concerts to jam out to, and themed fireworks to end your night.
But not everyone can splurge on Disney passes during the Christmas season, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have a very Disney Christmas. Walking through all of the Disney hotels to marvel at the light displays and giant Christmas trees is free, and so is strolling the shops and restaurants in Disney Springs, both of which will be decorated with millions of tiny Christmas lights.
Universal Studios and SeaWorld also have their versions of holiday magic, and guests can stroll through rows of Christmas trees, watch holiday-themed shows, meet their favorite characters, and experience the excitement of the theme parks with a holiday twist.
The One’s Locals Love:
If theme parks aren’t your thing, or you’re looking for a way to experience the Christmas lights like the locals, check out some of these hidden gems throughout Orlando:
Located in Altamonte Springs, Cranes Roost Park is a beautiful park that glows at night thanks to 20,000 Christmas lights. There are kids’ activities, live music, photos with Santa, and a nightly fireworks display. It’s free to attend and all ages are welcome. The fun starts on December 4th and runs every night from 5-9 pm throughout the Christmas season.
Floridians don’t get a white Christmas, but Celebration’s Winter Wonderland is the next best thing. The charming town of Celebration, with its beautiful homes behind white picket fences, sprawling green spaces, and a picture waterfront downtown district, is a must-see during the holidays. The downtown streets glow with Christmas lights, Christmas music plays through the town, and every night “snow” falls from the sky creating a magical, Florida-winter wonderland.
While you’re in Celebration, drive down to The Lights On Jeater Bend Drive. This residential street doesn’t play around when it comes to synchronized light displays. There are 11 dreamy Celebration homes in a row decked with holiday lights that dance to music. Drive slowly, roll your windows down, and get a 360 degree Christmas light experience.
Leu Gardens is a breathtaking display of natural beauty all year long, but from November 19-January 9th every tree, shrub, and garden is aglow with Christmas lights. Walk down garden pathways and take in the music, lights, and interactive exhibits designed to immerse you in the holiday spirit. Parking is $12 and tickets range from $22-$25 a person.
USA Today named Night of A Million Lights as the “Number One Thing To Do In December In Orlando ” when it debuted in 2020. It is truly one-of-a-kind and allows families to be fully immersed in a glowing Christmas light experience. The exhibit runs November 12, 2021 – January 2, 2022, at Give Kids The World Village, walk the glistening Christmas Tree trail, dance to festive music, and devour holiday treats.
Tired of walking? Take the tram ride through the adorable Storybook Village and shop at the holiday marketplace. Tickets range from $25-40 for adults and $15-$20 for kids and tickets include a two (2)-hour Night of a Million Lights experience (you can choose your timeframe.)
As you stroll through the streets of downtown Winter Garden, you get the feeling that you stepped back in time. This Historic downtown district features locally-owned shops, Charming boutiques, old-fashioned ice cream stores, and a bubbling fountain right in the middle. This family-friendly community is a hidden gem in Orlando, and locals look forward to the light show every year. Each night between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. holiday projections dance across City Hall and music fills the air.
Worth the Drive:
If you have the time, there are a few Christmas light displays that are an hour or two outside of Orlando but definitely worth the drive.
Daytona may be known for beaches and bikers for most of the year, but at Christmas time the busy city lights up in an unforgettable way. For this holiday experience, you stay in your car and slowly Weave your way past holiday scenes and characters, brightly decorated houses, Christmas palm trees, and more. Tickets range from $20-$60, and each ticket is per carload. There is also a limo/party bus option so you can host a Daytona Beach-style Christmas party!
One of Florida’s oldest cities, St Augustine knows a thing or two about Christmas lights. For the last 28 years, St Augustine has been a city of lights on the water, creating a festive and memorable holiday tradition for thousands of people. Stroll through the brick streets of St Augustine under rows and rows of Christmas lights, stop by each shop and restaurant and admire their glowing handiwork, or jump on the free shuttle to see all of the lights and make an evening out of it. Another reason to make the drive out to St. Augustine? National Geographic has listed Nights of Lights as one of the top ten holiday light displays in the world!
It’s been a while since we’ve had a normal holiday season, which is all the more reason to get out in the next few weeks and see what gorgeous light displays Orlando and its surrounding cities have to offer. From sparkling castles and glowing gardens to drive-through light displays and Florida snow, there’s no better place to celebrate the holidays than Orlando.