It’s definitely the best time of the year in Orlando! The weather is perfect and every town comes to life with exciting holiday events to celebrate the season. Fortunately, you don’t have to shell out a theme park ticket price to have an amazing Christmas experience. In fact, the best holiday events and things to do are absolutely FREE. From snow sledding to festive parades, get in the spirit with these free holiday happenings near Orlando.
FREE AND CHEAP HOLIDAY EVENTS IN ORLANDO
If there is a holiday event we’ve missed, please send: email@example.com. Updated: November 18, 2020.
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HOLIDAY LIGHTS, EVENTS, MUSIC & PARADES
Home for the Holidays: A Midnight Clear
November 28 at 3:30pm and 7pm
Festival Park, Orlando
$10 general admission tickets for an outdoor holiday concert by Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra.
Memories of Christmas in the Park
Thursday, December 3, 5pm to 8:30pm
Central Park Winter Park
FREE to stroll through the park and enjoy prerecorded sounds of the Bach Festival Choir during a 10-minute video loop. Two luminous Tiffany windows will grace the stage.
Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony & Winter on the Avenue
Friday, December 4, 5pm – 9pm
Central Park, Winter Park
FREE. Santa Claus, Popcorn Flicks in the Park, live music, take home crafts from the Parks & Recreation Family Fun Program, take home s’mores from the Winter Park Fire-Rescue Department, and so much more.
68th annual Winter Park “Ye Olde Hometown” Christmas Parade
Saturday, December 5, 9am – 10:30am
Downtown Winter Park
FREE to watch holiday-themed floats, Santa Claus, and well-known local figures as they make their way down the avenue. Reserve your socially distant parade pod by accessing the Chamber of Commerce’s website.
Holiday Pops by the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra
Sunday, December 6 at 5pm
Central Park, Winter Park
FREE. Bring your blanket and a picnic for a concert program of holiday favorites that will be sure to put everyone in the spirit of the season. Reserve your 10’x10′ socially distant pod for up to six family members via the Parks & Recreation Eventbrite page one week prior to the event.
Cranes Roost Holiday Lights
November 26, 2020 – January 3, 2021
Cranes Roost Park
FREE. More than 100 spectacular holiday displays featuring over 200,000 lights and a 60-foot tree decorated with 8,000 lights, 2,600 ornaments and over one mile of garland. Holiday Fountain Show with dazzling lights and dancing water 6pm-9pm every hour. Meet elves, stilt walkers, Santa and more! Check the schedule.
Live Holiday Music
December 4, 11 & 18, 7pm – 9pm
Cranes Roost Amphitheater
FREE. Artist information coming soon. Registration is required.
Celebrate the Season
Friday, December 4, 6:30pm – 9pm
Reiter Park, Longwood
Live entertainment, food trucks, a holiday shopping experience for kids and fireworks at 8:30pm.
Snow in Celebration
November 28 through December 31
FREE admission.The town transforms with holiday experiences throughout the month including snow falling, train rides, a synthetic ice rink, and photos with Santa.
Winter Garden’s ‘Tis the Season
Fridays & Saturdays in December
Downtown Winter Garden
Downtown Winter Garden will be aglow with festive lighting and decorations, holiday-themed photo stations, painted holiday mural wall, Santa’s Workshop, Winter Wonderland, and a host of outdoor seasonal activities for all ages! All activities are FREE except for the horse drawn carriage rides, which require reservations.
The 8th Annual Violectric Holiday Show
Saturday, December 12 at 7pm
Walt Disney Amphitheatre at Lake Eola Park
FREE family-friendly and pet-friendly 90-minute, live outdoor concert, featuring traditional holiday favorites mashed up with classic rock tunes and modern hits performed by Central Florida’s top strings rock group. Seating at the event will be limited to 50% but the concert will be simulcast around all of Lake Eola.
Lake Mary Holiday Lights
Starting November 23, 2020
City Hall: 152 N 4th St, Lake Mary, FL 32746
FREE. Close to a million lights dance to music in the park every evening in downtown Lake Mary. Music/lights synchronized shows every half hour, 6pm to 11pm.
Santa’s Christmas Tree Forest & Fun
November 21 & 22 (and select days in Nov. & Dec.)
Santa’s Farm, Eustis
$6 per person, 2 and under FREE. Make a reservation in advance to have fun on the farm. Purchase a pre-cut tree or cut down your own Florida Christmas tree.
Annual Festival of Trees
Now through December 5, 2020
Lake Mary Museum
FREE to stroll through trees decorated by the community. Décor, wreaths, and gifts available for purchase.
College Park’s Season of Sparkle
November 28, December 5, 12 & 19
Albert Park, College Park
FREE. Four Saturdays of celebrations with live music, vendors, activities and holiday decorations.
Apopka Tree Lighting & Farmers’ Market
Thursday, December 3, 5:30pm – 8pm
Kit Land Nelson Park, Apopka
FREE. At 6pm, the City will light up Kit Land Nelson Park for the holidays. While there, you can shop for the holidays at the market.
Winter Wonderland of Lights
December 4, 5, 11 & 12, 7pm – 9pm
Winter Springs Town Center
Drive through Central Winds Park and view holiday lights for FREE by the City and local businesses and organizations. In the middle of the route, wave to Santa at his workshop.
Mount Dora’s 60th Annual Christmas Parade
Saturday, December 5 at 10am
FREE Christmas parade along the streets of downtown Mount Dora.
Mount Dora’s Lighted Boat Parade
Saturday, December 5 at 7pm
FREE parade begins at Lighthouse on Grantham Point, Across from Gilbert Park on Tremain Street and Liberty Avenue, Downtown Mount Dora.
Daytona Beach Christmas Boat Parade
Saturday, December 5 at 6pm
FREE to find a spot along the Halifax River and watch the festive boats float by.
Light Up Sanford
December 11 – 20, 2020
Neighborhood streets in downtown Sanford
FREE. Hop in your car, jump on a bike, grab the golf cart or stroll the neighborhoods for this self-guided holiday lights tour.
Winter Park Holiday Boat Parade
Saturday, December 19, 6:30pm – 8pm
FREE parade. Find by Dinky Dock, or on the Rollins College campus behind the Cornell Fine Arts Museum to see the impressive boat and dock holiday decorations created by residents and local business sponsors.
Select dates December 4 – 20
Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
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HOLIDAY EVENTS & ACTIVITIES ALL MONTH LONG
Festival of Trees 2020
Now through November 29, 2020
Orlando Museum of Art
Tickets start $7-$15. The Orlando Museum of Art will be transformed into a holiday wonderland filled with stunning décor and holiday cheer. Experience the decorated halls, 25+ decked-out trees, exceptional gingerbread houses, pop up vendors and entertainment.
Santa’s Winter Wonderland Village
Select days, December 4, 2020 – January 3, 2021
Waterford Lakes Town Center
FREE admission and parking. Christmas lights, holiday displays, a Santa’s Workshop and unique European amusement rides.
December 1, 2020 – January 3, 2021, 5:30pm – 9:30pm
Leu Gardens: Harry P. Leu Gardens, 1920 North Forest Avenue, Orlando
Leu Gardens will transform into a magical wonderland featuring a million dazzling lights, shining forests, magical displays and beautiful sculptures.
- Timed entry. $22 per person and can be purchased at dazzlingorlando.com
- On-site parking is available for a small fee. Complimentary parking and a shuttle will be provided off-site at Blue Jacket Park
Night of a Million Lights
November 13, 2020 – January 3, 2021
Give Kids the World Village
For the first time ever, Give Kids the World Village is inviting the public to experience the wonder and magic they have provided to critically ill children for more than 34 years. The destination has transformed into a dazzling winter wonderland with more than 3 million lights, entertainment, rides and holiday treats.
- Tickets start at $25 per adult, $15 per kid and must be purchased in advance. Holiday and peak times are more expensive.
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Wekiva Island turns into a fun holiday destination along the river with activities throughout the season including special events like Breakfast with Santa and a VIP Winter Wonderland Party. Check out the full Winter Wonderland schedule here.
- $2 admission fee.
- “Snow” flurries will fall nightly from 6pm to 9pm and noon to 9 pm on weekends.
- Take a “sleigh” ride down the river on Saturdays and Sundays. $20 for adults and $10 for children.
- Mr. and Mrs. Claus will make a socially distanced appearance for photos on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
- Catch a FREE outdoor holiday movie every Sunday starting Dec. 6 (bring your own chair).
Gatorland’s Holiday Ho Ho Ho-Down
Select dates November 27 – December 20
An all-new holiday event with festive holiday carolers, a Very Merry Train ride and interactive holiday displays, all with enhanced social distancing.
Christmas at Gaylord Palms
November 16, 2020 – January 3, 2021
New this year, you can walk through your favorite Christmas movies in the “I Love Christmas Movies” immersive experience, including 13 scenes from holiday favorites such as “The Polar Express,” “A Christmas Story,” “Elf” and more.
Play in the “Florida snow” at the all-new Snow Factory, which features a hilly ice coaster and a snowball making machine, have breakfast with the Grinch, and enjoy live shows like Cirque Dreams Unwrapped and The Greatest Story.
Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail
Open daily through the holiday season
FREE admission and parking to walk through some of the best decorated Disney inspired Holiday Trees.
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Crayola’s Colorful Christmas!
November 21 – January 4
Crayola Experience, Florida Mall
New this year, guests can create a 3D gingerbread ornament, enjoy a musical light show and sing-along with reindeer friends and other life-sized animatronic characters. All activities are designed with enhanced cleaning, social distancing and reduced contact measures. Holiday activities included in admission price: $24.99 each when purchased online.
WHERE TO MEET SANTA
Check out our full list of where to meet Santa in Orlando.
- Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro
- The Santa Workshop Experience
- Santa Tuesdays at Cranes Roost
- Mall at Millenia Santa Experience
- Wall Crawl Orlando
- Wekiva Island’s Winter Wonderland
WHERE TO SEE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS IN ORLANDO
Check out our full list of the best Christmas lights in Orlando here.
- Dazzling Nights at Leu Gardens
- Night of a Million Lights at Give Kids the World Village
- Downtown Lake Mary
- Downtown Orlando
- Cranes Roost Park in Altamonte Springs
- Downtown Mount Dora
- Jeater Bend Drive in Clermont
- The Fye’s Crazy Christmas House
Here are a few places to check out Christmas lights that are totally worth the drive from the Orlando area.
Magic Lights of Daytona
November 13, 2020 – January 2, 2021
Daytona International Speedway
St. Augustine Nights of Lights
November 14, 2020 – January 1, 2021
FREE OUTDOOR HOLIDAY MOVIES
Snuggle up and bring your own snacks, chairs or blanket for a memorable night in Orlando.
Note: please make sure to check each website before you go because events are always subject to change. Reservations may be required.
Winter Park, Popcorn Flicks
Second Thursday of the month
Located a various parks in downtown Winter Park
FREE but advanced registration is required. Check back for the RSVP link to reserve your free, socially-distanced, 10’x10′ movie space. Up to 6 people per party.
- Dec. 4: Frosty’s Winter Wonderland & Polar Express
Altamonte Springs Cranes Roost Sunset Cinema
Select Saturday evenings
Cranes Roost Plaza in Altamonte Springs
FREE but advance registration required. First-come, first-served basis. Bring your own chairs and blankets.
- Dec. 10: A Charlie Brown Christmas & I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown
- Dec. 17: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer & Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town
Wekiva Island Winter Wonderland
Wekiva Island at 7pm
- Dec. 6: The Grinch
- Dec. 13: Elf
- Dec. 20: Rudolph & Mickeys Christmas Carol
Very Merry Movie: Elf!
Waterford Lakes Town Center at 7pm
FREE but advance registration required. Bring your own chairs and blankets.
- Dec. 4: Elf
HOLIDAYS AT ORLANDO THEME PARKS
Holidays at Walt Disney World Resort
November 6 – December 30
Guests can experience a reimagined holiday celebration as the parks celebrate while keeping health and safety measures in mind. Favorite characters wave in their holiday best with surprise appearances from Santa during character cavalcades. Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom Park displays all-new holiday projections, providing a colorful backdrop for holiday photos. At Epcot, get a taste of holiday dishes around the world during the International Festival of the Holidays presented by AdventHealth. At Hollywood Studios, join Anna and Elsa during a holiday edition of “For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration.”
Universal Orlando Resort
November 14 – January 3
Beloved holiday traditions and characters come to life in reimagined ways that align with the destination’s enhanced health and safety procedures. Festivities include the all-new “Universal’s Holiday Experience featuring Macy’s Balloons,” where guests can get up-close with larger-than-life parade balloons and floats like never before; decorations and musical performances along the streets of Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley; and character celebrations from fan-favorite, Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, the Minions and more.
Holidays LEGOLAND Florida Resort
November 27 – December 31
This cheerful holiday event features festive shows, including all-new musical stage show, The Very Merry Mix-Up. Kids can write letters to LEGO Santa from the all-new interactive post office, Holiday Village Postal Service, and safely snap photos with favorite characters including LEGO Santa himself at the park’s socially distanced selfie-spots. End the night with returning holiday favorite spectaculars, like the 30-foot-tall LEGO® Christmas tree coming to life with twinkling lights and festive sounds.
SeaWorld Orlando’s Christmas Celebration
November 21 – December 31
The park transforms into a winter wonderland sparkling with holiday cheer and over 3 million beautiful lights this holiday season. New this year is an increased focus on safety measures, including the opportunity to meet Santa from a distance; celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa with Sesame Street friends as they sing and dance to their favorite holiday songs; and an emphasis on open air experiences like outdoor ice skating (extra fee required).
MORE THINGS DO IN ORLANDO
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