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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
TREE LIGHTING CEREMONIES & PARADES
39th Annual Light Up Mount Dora
Saturday, November 30, 4:30pm – 6:30pm
Donnelly Park, Mount Dora
FREE to watch as more than 2 million lights are turned on for the season. Live music, performances, and traditional Christmas songs.
Celebration’s Tree Lighting
Sunday, November 30 at 5:30pm
FREE event to kick off the town’s annual SNOW event that features Florida “snow” falling nightly, carolers and performances.
Light Up SODO District
Sunday, December 1, 4pm – 8pm
SoDo Shopping Center
FREE family event, but RSVP. Enjoy face painting, Santa, train rides, bounce houses, and more. $2 donation for kids’ zone.
41st Annual Christmas in the Park
Thursday, December 5 at 6pm
Central Park, Winter Park
FREE. The signature turn-of-the-century Tiffany glass windows of The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art serve as a beautiful backdrop as the Bach Festival Choir fills the air with Christmas carols
Oviedo Tree Lighting, Food Trucks & Santa
Thursday, December 5, 5pm – 9pm
Center Lake Park, Oviedo
FREE event with a tree lighting, reindeer, Santa, storytime with Mrs. Claus, carolers, food trucks and more.
Light Up Baldwin Park
Friday, December 6, 5:30pm – 9:30pm
FREE event with food trucks, music, art, and Santa photos. Tree lighting at 7:30pm.
Sanford Christmas in the Square
Friday, December 6, 6pm – 8pm
Downtown Sanford, Magnolia Square on First Street
FREE event with live entertainment, tree lighting, face painters, balloon artists and more.
32nd Annual Light Up Winter Garden
Friday, December 6, 6pm – 9pm
Downtown Winter Garden, Plant Street
FREE evening of holiday lights, live entertainment, shopping and kids’ activities.
Downtown Orlando Tree Lighting Celebration
Friday, December 6, 5pm – 9pm
Lake Eola Park, Orlando
FREE to attend Mayor Buddy Dyer’s official lighting of the 72-foot-tall Christmas tree in downtown. Live entertainment, holiday performances and the Daily City’s Food Truck Bazaar.
“Winter on the Avenue” in Winter Park
Friday, December 6, 5pm – 10pm
FREE holiday street party with snow slides, s’mores and a tree lighting ceremony at dusk.
Apopka Tree Lighting & Winter Wonderland
Friday, December 6, 6pm – 8pm
Kit Land Nelson Park, Apopka
FREE event with “Florida snow,” performances, train rides and appearances by Santa.
Lake Mary Holiday in the Park
Friday, December 6, 6pm – 9pm
FREE event featuring the lighting of a 32-foot holiday tree, dancing light shows, snow zone, a visit from Santa & Mrs. Claus, and much more. Visit City Hall throughout the month of December to enjoy thousands of colorful lights synchronized to music.
You might also be interested in: Where to see Christmas lights in Orlando
The Grove’s Winter Wonderland
Saturday, December 7, 11am – 2pm
The Grove Drive, Windermere
FREE event with real snow, stilt walkers, face painting, train rides and more.
Winter Springs Winter Wonderland
Saturday, December 7, 4:30pm – 9pm
Winter Springs Town Center
FREE event with live entertainment, a kids’ playland, and a holiday parade at 4:30pm. Tree lighting celebration and a visit from Santa Claus in the evening.
Longwood Christmas Parade
Saturday, December 7, 3pm – 5pm
Ronald Reagan Blvd., Longwood
FREE community parade with decked out cars, characters, bands and local talent.
Altamonte Springs Light Up the Holidays
Saturday, December 7, 5pm – 9pm
Cranes Roost Park, Altamonte Springs
FREE event with 200,000 holiday lights, a 60-foot Christmas tree, live music, train rides and appearances by Santa and Mrs. Claus. Food and beverages available for purchase.
Mount Dora’s 59th Annual Christmas Parade
Saturday, December 7 at 10am
FREE Christmas parade along the streets of downtown Mount Dora.
Casselberry Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony
Saturday, December 7, 5pm – 8pm
Lake Concord Park
FREE outdoor event with a tree lighting and local singers. Bring your own chairs and blankets.
Mount Dora’s Lighted Boat Parade
Saturday, December 7 at 7:30pm
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 7 at 6pm
FREE to find a spot along the Halifax River and watch the festive boats float by.
Winter Park’s 67th Annual “Ye Olde Hometown” Christmas Parade
Saturday, December 7, 9am – 10:30am
FREE parade along beautiful Park Avenue in downtown Winter Park.
Sanford’s Jingle Jam
Saturday, December 7, 4pm – 10pm
FREE holiday street festival in downtown Sanford with live music and food trucks.
Maitland’s Season of Light
Saturday, December 7, 5:30pm – 8pm
Lake Lily Park, Maitland
FREE entertainment, fireworks show, food vendors and Santa appearances.
New Smyrna Beach Christmas Parade
Saturday, December 7, 4pm – 6:30pm
Flagler Ave. to Canal Street, New Smyrna Beach
FREE holiday parade.
Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra “Holiday Pops” Concert
Sunday, December 8 at 5pm
Central Park, Winter Park
FREE concert in the park.
College Park’s Holiday on the Drive
Thursday, December 12, 5pm – 9pm
Edgewater Drive, College Park
FREE celebration in the street with snow slides, train rides, horse-drawn wagon rides, kids’ activities, Santa and shopping.
Songs of the Season
Thursday, December 12, 7pm – 9pm
Dr. Phillips Center’s Seneff Arts Plaza
FREE evening of song and entertainment including a chance to sing along with holiday favorites like Jingle Bells and Silent Night.
Longwood’s Celebrate the Season
Friday, December 13, 6pm – 9pm
Reiter Park, Longwood
FREE annual tree lighting, games, a visit from Santa, $1 ice skating and 50 cent train rides.
City of Sanford Parade of Lights
Saturday, December 14 at 6pm
FREE parade in downtown Sanford. Arrive early to find parking and a good spot to watch.
Baldwin Park Winter Spark
Saturday December 14, 4pm – 8pm
FREE festival on New Broad Street, parade, performances and photos with Santa.
Saturday, December 14, 2pm – 6pm
RDV Sportsplex, Maitland
$20 each for ice skating, a real snow slide, bounces houses, face painting and more.
You might also want to check out: where to ice skate in Orlando
Winter Park Holiday Boat Parade
Saturday, December 14 at 5:30pm
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.
New Smyrna Boat Parade
Saturday, December 14 at 5pm
Riverfront Park, New Smyrna
FREE holiday boat parade along the Intercoastal Waterway.
Mount Dora – Children’s Christmas in the Park with Snow
Saturday, December 14, 5pm – 9pm
FREE snow sledding for the kids in Donnelly Park.
HOLIDAY EVENTS & ACTIVITIES ALL MONTH LONG
Wekiva Island has become a holiday destination with activities throughout the season including a real snow slide and snow flurries daily.
Santa and Mrs. Claus will visit every Friday, Saturday and Sunday until Christmas, and guests can also take boat “sleigh” rides down the river. Special characters, including The Grinch and Buddy the Elf, as well as holiday stilt walkers and face painters will also make appearances on select Saturdays and Sundays. There will be a free outdoor holiday movie on select Saturdays.
- Winter Wonderland is FREE all week long
- Tickets for the snow slide are $10 for unlimited rides on the weekends and $7 for unlimited rides during the week
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.
30 Days of Christmas in Downtown Orlando
Now through Dec. 31
Snow and light shows every night and every hour between 6pm and 9pm. Free horse drawn carriage rides Thursday and Friday evenings, 6pm – 10pm. Free live entertainment, Thursday – Sunday, 6pm – 9pm.
Snow in Celebration
November 30 through December 31
The town transforms with holiday experiences throughout the month including live performances, snow falling nightly every hour, train rides, a synthetic ice rink, and a Santa meet and greet.
- $10 for 30 minutes of ice skating on the synthetic rink (includes skates).
- $5 for train and wagon rides
FREE fun for all ages including a holiday light show, holiday market, performances and FREE film festival on select Friday and Saturday nights featuring holiday classic movies. On select nights, Santa will make a special appearance.
- Ice skating $12 (discounts available for students and military).
- $6.50 ice slide, $4.25 for rides; or buy an Ultimate Pass for $20.
Check out more places to go ice skating in Orlando.
Santa’s Winter Wonderland Village
Select days, December 6 – January 5
Waterford Lakes Town Center
FREE admission and parking. Christmas lights, holiday displays, a Santa’s Workshop and unique European amusement rides.
Holidays at Old Town
November 30 through December 25
Old Town, Kissimmee
FREE event with snow flurries, live music, twinkling lights and more.
Oh What Fun! Lake Nona Holiday Festival
November 29 through January 5
Lake Nona Town Center, Orlando
FREE parking and entry to event with ice skating, carolers, holiday music, holiday movies, Santa and more.
Free entry to Morse Museum
The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park
FREE admission to the museum with live music, tours, and art demonstrations. Thanksgiving weekend; Fridays, 4pm – 8pm; Christmas Eve.
November – January 5
Crayola Experience, Florida Mall
Experience the holidays Crayola-style with nine new winter-themed activities including themed adventures, carols with colorful characters, and a musical light show.
- Holiday activities included in admission price: $21.99 each when purchased online.
WHERE TO MEET SANTA
Meet Santa at the Eola House
December 6 – 22, Friday – Sunday evenings
Eola House, Downtown Orlando
FREE to meet Santa, take photos and share your wishlist.
Santa Tuesdays at Cranes Roost
December 10 & 17, 6pm – 8pm
Cranes Roost Park, Altamonte Springs
FREE. Bring your camera and wish list to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus at the Plaza Tower. Food and beverages are available for purchase.
Mall at Millenia Santa Experience
November 8 – December 24
For a $10 donation to Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital, you can meet Santa and take a photo (3 photos max) using your own device. Or you can choose a professional package.
- Keep in mind, Mall at Millenia is one of the most popular local spots to take photos with Santa. Be prepared to wait.
- Once the wait time reaches 1 hour, they will give you reservation time and send a text when it’s your time to come back.
Wekiva Island’s Winter Wonderland
Starting November 29
Wekiva Island, Longwood
FREE entry during the weekend and $1 on weekends. Santa and Mrs. Claus will visit every Friday, Saturday and Sunday until Christmas.
Fun Spot America
The Santa Workshop Experience is now open at Fun Spot.
- Make your reservation online for $20 (cost is applied to any photo package you purchase).
- With your reservation, you’ll get free parking, a carousel ride, train ride, and as many cell phone photos you want to take with Santa.
Wall Crawl Orlando
Santa appearances: November 29, December 1 & 22
FREE photo (4×6 print) with Santa when you pay the normal admission fee ($25 adults, $12.50 kids). Wall Crawl Orlando is like your own personal photo studio. Select your time online and then go to pose in front of a variety of fun and festive backdrops.
You might also be interested in: Polar Express train ride in Eustis.
WHERE TO SEE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS IN ORLANDO
Check out our full list of the best Christmas lights in Orlando here.
- Downtown Lake Mary
- Downtown Orlando
- Cranes Roost Park in Altamonte Springs
- Downtown Mount Dora
- Jeater Bend Drive in Clermont
- Johanessen Lights
- 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 22 – January 1
Daytona International Speedway
St. Augustine Nights of Lights
November 23 – January 31
NEW Enchant Christmas – St. Petersburg
November 22 – December 29
Tropicana Field: 1 Tropicana Drive St. Petersburg, FL 33705
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.
Holiday Movies at Lake Eola Park
Walt Disney Amphitheater at Lake Eola Park, 7pm
Dec. 13: Elf
Dec. 20: How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Dec. 27: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Holiday Movie Night at Cranes Roost
Cranes Roost, Plaza Tower in Altamonte Springs, 7pm
Bring your blankets or chairs and enjoy holiday movies on the Plaza lawn. Food and beverages available for purchase.
Dec. 14: Elf
Dec. 21: The Grinch
Dec. 28: Norm of the North
Wekiva Island Winter Wonderland
Wekiva Island at 7pm
Nov. 30: The Polar Express
Dec. 7: The Grinch
Dec. 14: Elf
Family Movie Night Old Town
Old Town in Kissimmee
Every Sunday night a FREE movie begins at dusk
Dec. 1: The Grinch (2018)
Dec. 8: Christmas Vacation
Dec. 15: Elf
Dec. 22: A Christmas Story
Dec. 29: The Polar Express
Light Up UCF Holiday Film Festival
Addition Financial Arena
Select Friday and Saturday nights
UCF transforms into a winter fun zone with free light shows, FREE outdoor holiday movies, rides and attractions including ice-skating, an ice slide and photos with Santa.
Nov. 26: A Christmas Carol & How The Grinch Stole Christmas
Dec. 6: Home Alone & The Santa Claus
Dec. 23: The Polar Express & Elf
Outdoor Movie Night at Leu Gardens
Harry P. Leu Gardens, 7:30 p.m.
$6 for adults, $3 for kids (4-17)
December 6: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
À La Cart Monday Movie Nights
Mondays, 6:30pm – 9:30pm
À La Cart: 609 Irvington Ave, Orlando, FL 32803
Dec. 2: Die Hard
Dec. 9: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Dec. 23: Elf
Check out our full list of free & cheap holiday movies here.
MORE THINGS DO IN ORLANDO
- Gaylord Palms ICE discounts
- Where to see Christmas lights in Orlando
- Where to go ice skating in Orlando
- Polar Express train ride in Eustis