With an incredible lineup of more than 20 holiday celebrations, it’s no wonder Orlando is one of the most booked destinations for the 2021 holiday season. Exciting theme park happenings complement local festivities ranging from dazzling immersive light displays to sparkling Christmas tree trails.
Here’s what to look out for:
Festive theme park celebaations
Walt Disney World Resort – select nights starting 12 November
Disney Very Merriest After Hours at Magic Kingdom Park runs for 24 select nights from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. The new separately ticketed, after-hours holiday event will bring festive food and beverage offerings, dance parties, nighttime spectaculars and Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade.
The Epcot International Festival of the Holidays takes guests on a global holiday celebration with costumed performances, seasonal food throughout 11 World Showcase nations, along with sights, sounds and flavors of the season celebrated by cultures near and far.
At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, guests can dine with Minnie and friends at Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine, catch a glimpse of old St. Nick as he cruises in his candy-apple red convertible down Hollywood Boulevard and experience a captivating projection show on the Hollywood Tower Hotel.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom brings a holiday twist to the magic of nature with festive flotillas featuring Chip n’ Dale, Donald Duck, holiday percussionists and Santa sailing down the Discovery River. As nighttime falls, a holiday edition of the Tree of Life Awakening will begin accompanied by a heartwarming musical score.
Universal Orlando Resort – 13 November to 2 January
Grinchmas™ at Universal’s Islands of Adventure brings holiday charm to Seuss Landing with The Grinchmas™ Who-liday Spectacular, a live retelling of the classic tale starring the Grinch™
Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ features festive decor in both Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida. Guests can cap off their evening in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade to enjoy “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle” – a spectacular transformation of Hogwarts castle with a stunning projection.
Universal’s Holiday Experience featuring Macy’s Balloons offers guests a walk-through experience of larger-than-life Macy’s balloons and colorful Christmas floats, including characters from Shrek, Madagascar and Despicable Me, along with Santa.
SeaWorld Orlando – 12 November to 2 January
New festivities at SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration include Elmo’s Christmas Wish Show and Holiday Reflections: Fireworks and Fountains Finale features soaring fountains, dazzling lights and fireworks.
LEGOLAND Florida – weekends from 26 November to 31 December
Holidays at LEGOLAND® will feature a giant LEGO Christmas tree, seasonal shows, holiday characters, special treats, LEGO® activities, twinkling lights and more.
Fun beyond the theme parks
The Santa Workshop Experience
ICON Park is home to The Santa Workshop Experience from 5 November to 24 December. Every child who participates receives a free ticket to ride The Wheel (adult guests receive 50% off). ICON Park hosts its first tree-lighting ceremony on Dec. 1 with a 40-foot-tall Christmas tree visible from International Drive.
The Night of a Million Lights
The Night of a Million Lights at Give Kids the World Village holiday spectacular, taking place Nov. 12 – Jan. 2, immerses guests in a sparkling wonderland of millions of lights including a sparkling tree trail, larger-than-life holiday displays and a guided storytelling tour of 100 magnificently lit villas from the comfort of a tram.
The Dazzling Nights
The Dazzling Nights outdoor holiday event at Harry P. Leu Gardens, running 19 November to 9 January, features a three-quarter-mile interactive holiday experience with epic lighting installations, themed photo moments, live entertainment and more.
Crayola Experience’s Colorful Christmas
Crayola Experience’s Colorful Christmas, taking place 20 November to 3 January, includes diving into a life-sized snow globe, complete with falling snow, and crafting unique gifts.
Downtown for the Holidays
Throughout the entire month of December, downtown Orlando is offering nine free holiday events as part of Downtown for the Holidays. Visitors can watch The Nutcracker by the Russian Ballet of Orlando; stroll around Eola Wonderland to see the dazzling holiday décor and lights – including the Eola Wonderland Christmas Tree; or grab a blanket and enjoy a holiday movie on the Lake Eola lawn.
The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts hosts holiday-themed performances during its outdoor, socially distanced FrontYard Festival. Holiday performances include Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s Wild & Swingin’ Holiday Party and the Big Band Holidays tradition by Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.