Choosing which holiday events to attend can be a daunting task, especially when there are so many to choose from. To take away some of the stress of decision making, we've curated this guide to the best holiday events in Orlando to fuel your holiday date nights.
Check out our bucket list of must-do experiences, view some holiday lights, find our picks for FREE events, watch a classic Christmas movie, celebrate the holidays in Orlando theme parks, or attend holiday performances. Our guide has it all!
Our holiday events guide is organized into the following sections to help you easily find the type of event you're looking for:
- Christmas Events Bucket List
- Best Christmas Lights in Orlando
- Free Holiday Events
- Where to Watch Christmas Movies
- Theme Park Christmas Events
- Holiday Performances and Entertainment
If you're up for a day trip, check out this roundup of Holiday Events in Tampa Bay from our sister publication, Tampa Bay Date Night Guide.
Christmas Events Bucket List for 2022
Looking for an overview of our top picks for celebrating the holidays in Orlando? This is your section! Below you can skim our curated list of the must-do holiday events and experiences.
Check out a Holiday Lights Display
New for 2022 is Christmas Nights in Lights Immersive Light Show at Dezerland.
Returning this year, Dazzling Nights at Leu Gardens, which runs from November 25, 2022 – January 1, 2023, takes you on a 3/4-mile journey through multiple holiday lights experiences. Check out our Christmas lights section below for more ideas.
Bonus idea – The incredible Asian Lantern Festival at Central Florida Zoo runs from November 18, 2022 to January 15, 2023.
If you want to avoid crowds and extend the holiday season then head here in January.
Sip Festive Libations
Conduct your own holiday cocktail crawl all around Orlando! Follow our Disney Springs holiday pub crawl for even more festive fun. And Sunset Walk at Margaritaville Orlando Resort is another fun place to do a pub crawl, and many of the venues have holiday drinks.
Eden Bar offers festive cocktails each night during Enzian Theater's 12 Days of Christmas.
Make a Gingerbread House
Gingerbread House Party
Tuesday, December 13, 2022 7pm
Ivanhoe Park Brewing
Adult Only Gingerbread House making. Pick from our huge candy selection!
Learn from the best as you craft a gingerbread house alongside the pastry team at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes. Gingerbread School invites you to piece together gingerbread panels and adorn them with candy and edible decorations to make a one of a kind gingerbread house. The cost is $195 per family (4 guests max), so make it a double date!
Snuggle Up in a Horse Drawn Carriage
See Downtown Winter Garden’s seasonal decor and holiday lights on a holiday horse drawn carriage tour. SOUL Haven Ranch offers this magical experience throughout December for $115.
The carriage fits up to four adults, or two adults and three kids. Available dates are December 4-7, 11-14, 18-21, 25-28, 2022 between 5:30 and 9:30pm.
Tours begin at the Winter Garden Downtown Pavillion (104 S Lakeview Ave). Reservations are required and can be booked online.
Play in the Snow
We’re miles from real snow but a few creative locals have crafted a suitable substitute. Find nightly “flurries” falling hourly at Celebration Town Center from 6-9pm November 26, 2022 – December 31, 2022.
The perfect touch of winter in Florida can be found with snowfall hourly from 6- 9pm, and at Wekiva Island's Winter Wonderland.
Now's the time to watch all your favorite holiday flicks on the big screen! Upcoming movies include:
- Jingle All the Way on November 25, 2022 at Ivanhoe Park Brewing Company (FREE)
- The Santa Clause on December 8, 2022 at Crane's Roost Park (FREE)
- The Grinch (live action) December 18, 2022 at Wekiva Island ($2 admission fee)
Check out our holiday movie section further down or check out the full holiday movie lineup this year.
Cut your own Christmas tree
Orlando may not be the frosty north, but you can actually cut your own Christmas tree without the travel. In Eustis, not too far from Orlando, you can cut your own tree at Santa's Christmas Tree Forest. This is an actual working tree farm and you'll be able to cut your own tree. They provide the saw too!
These Florida Christmas trees are smaller than their northern cousins. Choose from sand pine, red cedar, or Arizona cypress. If you prefer a pre-cut traditional type of tree, please select Fresh Cut Northern Trees from the menu on Santa's Christmas Tree Forest's website.
Celebrate the Holidays in the Theme Parks
From the return of the EPCOT Candlelight Processional to holiday magic in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Orlando's theme parks are touched with an extra dose of magic during the holidays. We've got a guide to celebrating the holidays at Disney and also at Universal to help you plan your holiday date nights.
Snap a Christmas Couples' Selfie
Find loads of holiday vignettes at Wall Crawl (and get photos captured by pro photographers!) including photos with Santa on select dates. Score photos with Santa at Wall Crawl on select dates.
Or snap some selfies in front of some gorgeous, jaw-dropping trees…
Festival of Trees: Gifts of the Season
November 11 – 20, 2022
Orlando Museum of Art
During Festival of Trees, visitors can see more than 50 designer-inspired decorated trees, all available for purchase, exceptional gingerbread houses, wreaths, and more. In addition, there will be a holiday shopping experience, pop-up shops and live entertainment.
Take the Kids to Santa's Workshop at ICON Park
The Santa Workshop Experience returns to ICON Park
Packages include a ride on The Wheel, Carousel on The Promenade
Once again, ICON Park will be transformed into the magical winter wonderland that has delighted thousands of children over the past few years. This Santa experience is second only to a visit to the North Pole. Families can partake in the annual tradition of taking holiday pictures together and the kiddos can meet Old St. Nick.
Each child that participates in The Santa Workshop Experience will receive a free ride on the new Carousel on The Promenade. They’ll also be provided a complimentary ride on The Wheel in a holiday-decorated capsule and access to the VIP no-wait line. Guests accompanying the child can get 50 percent off their ticket tickets to The Wheel.
To register for The Santa Workshop Experience, click here.
Packages start at $30
If you enjoy kid-friendly ideas get ready for OrlandoParenting.com – launching soon!
See the Lake Eola Christmas Tree
It just wouldn’t be the holidays without a walk around Lake Eola Park culminating in a visit to the iconic Christmas tree. Animated lights bring the tree to life during a synchronized light and music show each night. The city's official tree lighting ceremony will take place on December 2, 2022.
Ring in the New Year
Close out the holiday season by waving goodbye to 2022 and hello to 2023! Refer to our NYE guide for the best parties, dinners, and celebrations. We'll be updating our guides dates for 2022 are confirmed, but here's a sneak peek at a few NYE events in Orlando:
Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach Hard Rockers & High Rollers NYE
8pm – 1am
A Casino Royale themed event featuring live entertainment, casino games, party favors, and a midnight Champagne toast. Upgrade your New Year's Eve experience and purchase tickets to the VIP Sky Lounge on the Wave Terrace. The VIP Sky Lounge will give you guaranteed seating all night, access to the Avalon Ballroom & Terrace entertainment, VIP Buffet, Premium open Bar until 11:30 pm, and champagne toast @ midnight!
$175 – $300
Enzian Theater's James Bond New Year's Eve Party
8pm – 1am
Come in your most impressive Bond fit and you could win a prize. Enjoy some bubbly, light hors d’oeuvres and special NYE cocktails while dancing your way into the new year!
$99 general admission; $330 VIP table for two; $660 VIP table for four
Best Christmas Lights in Orlando
Nothing says Christmas quite like strolling around hand in hand to “oooh” and “ahhhh” at holiday lights. Below are a few of our favorite Christmas lights displays in Orlando.
The weather forecast this Christmas at Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee calls for a high of 9 degrees, with a 100% chance of ICE! In ICE! featuring Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, guests step into an arctic attraction – kept at a frosty 9 degrees – into a wondrous world of larger-than-life, hand-carved ice sculptures. After experiencing frozen fun inside ICE!, guests can enjoy a sleigh-full of live shows, immersive family events, millions of sparkling lights, a 60-foot-tall Christmas tree that comes to life in a kaleidoscope of color, and more all across the resort's 64-acre winter wonderland.
November 11, 2022 – January 1, 2023, 6pm – 11pm
A dazzling drive-thru light show fully synchronized to popular holiday classics tuned directly to each vehicle’s car stereo on a private radio frequency. The all-new seasonal attraction will take guests through a showcase of holiday displays and more than 1.5 million “dancing” lights. Guests never have to exit their cars; they can simply sit back, relax, and take in the spectacle of the synchronized light show before them.
$45 per vehicle (not per person)
November 25, 2022 – January 1, 2023
A 3/4 mile journey of awe-inspiring light experiences.
A few snapshots of the all-new, totally redesigned 2022 adventure include:
- A brand-new, redesigned show
- A million lights that bring Leu Gardens to life
- Meet-and-greet characters in the Ice Castle
- A new yeti play area for kids and families
- 40′ diameter snow dome with swirling snow
- 70′ long candy cane vortex light tunnel
- Walk through a forest with giant, neon flowers
- A brand-new laser light show with live singers
- Expanded food and beverage options
- And so much more!
$22 – $25
November 24, 2022 - January 1, 2023
Enjoy over 200,000 lights on more than 100 holiday displays at Cranes Roost Park in Altamonte Springs. The lights are turned on each night at dusk. There is also a fountain show nightly at 6, 7, 8 and 9pm. A crowd favorite, the Plaza fountain features special shows with dancing water and dazzling lights choreographed to classic holiday tunes.
December 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 23, 2022, 6-9pm
Enjoy a very merry light show at Winter Garden’s City Hall. Plus, there will be a Winter Wonderland area for children at City Hall on the nights of the light show. The entire downtown Winter Garden area will be festive and decorated.
December 3, 2022
Lights and decorations through December 26, 2022 beginning at dusk
Lake Concord Park, Casselberry
Stroll through Lake Concord Park to enjoy charming vignettes of holiday displays and brilliant lights. This small community park is perfect for a simple evening of enjoying light displays and a lakeside park.
Read our guide to Where to Find Orlando's Best Holiday Lights for even MORE ideas!
FREE Holiday Events
A holiday date night doesn't have to cost a dime. Partake in free festive celebrations throughout Orlando including tree lightings, festive parades, and so much more.
December 3, 2022, 5-9pm – fireworks at 6:30pm
Cranes Roost Park
Watch as the park comes alive with spectacular holiday displays featuring 200,000 lights and a 60-foot tree decorated with thousands of ornaments and over a mile of garland. Plus, fireworks, ice skating, and Mr. and Mrs. Claus.
November 24, 2022 - January 1, 2023
Shows run nightly at 6, 7, 8 and 9pm
Cranes Roost Park, Altamonte Springs
A crowd favorite, the Plaza fountain features special shows with dancing water and dazzling lights choreographed to classic holiday tunes.
Tree lighting: December 1, 2022, 6pm
Holiday tree on display through January 1, 2022
Kick of the holiday season with the I-Drive District at ICON Park! Check out how I-Drive Dazzles with a glittering lighting ceremony of the 50-ft Holiday Tree. Special performances by the I-Ride Trolley Chords, Dr. Phillips High School Dance In Motion Company & Orlando Ballet. Make a reservation at The Santa Workshop Experience to meet and take holiday photos with Santa and the Jolly old elf! Children participating in The Santa Workshop Experience will receive a FREE ticket to ride the the Wheel at ICON Park. The Holiday Tree will be present for viewing at ICON Park through New Year’s Day.
Light Up Ceremony on December 3, 2022, 7pm
Nightly light show December 3 – 23, 2022 6-9pm (except Sundays)
Citrus Tower, Clermont
November 26, 2022 – December 31, 2022
Nightly snowfall hourly from 6- 9pm
Celebration Town Center
Celebration Town Center offers “Now Snowing-Celebration’s Winter Wonderland”, a family-friendly holiday experience with some of the best “snow” you can find in Central Florida. Festive music, decorations, and adorable shops make this a great holiday tradition.
December 2 – December 25, 2022
Nightly snow flurries plus extra entertainment and activities are offered on select days and evenings, including outdoor movies and visits from Santa Claus. Be sure to check out Wekiva Island’s website for more details. *Note: a nominal $2 admission fee applies.
December 3, 2022, starts at 9am
This festive event along Park Avenue in Winter Park has been held each December for more than 60 years, making it the oldest continuous holiday parade in Central Florida.
December 4, 2022, 2-6pm
This event is family-friendly and pet-friendly so grab the kids and your furry friends and head on down to the SoDo Shopping Center for a night full of holiday fun!
December 10, 2022, 6-7:30pm
A favorite annual tradition in historic downtown Sanford returns! This parade is special since it is held at night and most parade floats are illuminated. Grab an early dinner at one of the many wonderful restaurants or head to one of the breweries for a cup of Christmas cheer after the parade.
Through January 2, 2022
This year the Christmas Tree Trail is now a Stroll, with each tree at its own individual location to make social distancing possible. Maps for the Stroll can be obtained at House of Blues, 12 Days of Christmas Store, The Marketplace Co-Op, and The Welcome Center. Each tree is inspired by a Disney character or theme.
Check out our guide to 50+ Festive and Free Holiday Events in Orlando for the full scoop on the best free holiday events to attend.
It doesn't get more classic than cuddling up to watch holiday films together! From free outdoor movies to Christmas classics returning to the big screen, here's where to see holiday movies in Orlando this season.
Friday nights November 18 – December 23, 7pm
Ivanhoe Park Brewing Co.
Enjoy free outdoor screenings of Christmas classics plus onsite vendors.
- The Santa Clause – November 18
- Jingle All the Way – November 25
- Home Alone – December 2
- Nightmare Before Christmas – December 9
- The Grinch (live action) – December 16
- Elf – December 23
Select dates December 2 – December 28, 2022
Snuggling up and watching one of these feel-good films is the perfect way to get in the holiday spirit. And don’t forget to stop by Eden Bar to try special Holiday Cocktails.
Prices vary by film
- It's a Wonderful Life – December 2
- The Polar Express – December 4
- Home Alone – December 7
- White Christmas – December 10
- National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation – December 14
- Rare Exports – December 17
- Wizard of Oz, December 18
- A Christmas Story – December 21
- Elf – December 28
December 8, 15, and 22, 2022, 7:00 p.m.
Bring your chair and blankets to enjoy holiday movies in the Cranes Roost Park Plaza. Admission is free. Food and beverages are available for purchase.
December 8 – “The Santa Clause”
December 15 – “The Santa Clause 2”
December 22 – “Rise of the Guardians”
There are even more movies to see in our Guide to Holiday Movies in Orlando.
Theme Park Christmas Events
Celebrate in serious style by attending a holiday celebration at Tampa and Orlando attractions and theme parks.
November 11 – December 31, 2022
The holidays at Walt Disney World kick off in November 11, 2022 and run through early January 2022. EPCOT gets a later start on November 25, 2022.
If you plan to visit on Christmas or any dates close to it, book your Disney Park Pass Reservation as soon as you can. These will book to capacity very quickly.
Other things to know:
- Each theme park and Disney resort hotel is decorated
- Special holiday food and beverage is available at each Disney theme park
- Santa Claus appears at each of the four Disney theme parks and Disney Springs
- Most Disney resort hotels have special holiday treats
- Disney Springs has decorations and special treats
- Christmas week and New Year's week are two of the busiest weeks at Walt Disney World
November 11, 2022 – December 31, 2022
Head to SeaWorld Orlando to make new holiday memories with festive shopping, delicious food and dazzling live shows inspired by the natural world. Stroll the lakeside Christmas Market and pick out unique, artisan-crafted gifts. The Christmas Celebration is included with park admission
November 13, 2022 – January 2, 2023
Enjoy park-wide festive fun at this award-winning holiday event. The park becomes filled with holiday cheer and guests can enjoy holiday traditions with a twist. Ride the Holly Jolly Express train, view millions of twinkling lights from the top of a roller coaster, visit Santa in his workshop, and spend time with Rudolph and his friends from the classic holiday movie, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Guests can also enjoy festive live shows and take part in special holiday dining and shopping.
November 12, 2022 – January 1, 2023
Head to Universal Orlando Resort for the biggest, loudest, awesomest holiday celebration of the season! Celebrate with seasonal shows and decorations at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Sip on hot Butterbeer in Diagon Alley in Universal Studios and Hogsmeade in Universal Islands of Adventure as they come to life with magical lights and festive events. The Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s features larger-than-life balloons, with appearances by the Minions and characters from Shrek and Madagascar. Head over to Whoville for The Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular starring The Grinch himself.
November 25, 7pm
Portofino Bay Resort, Universal Orlando
Kick off the holiday season on the Italian-inspired Harbor Piazza at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel with unlimited small plates and wine.
$75 and up
Select nights November – December 2022
Enjoy one of Tampa’s largest light displays as the zoo transforms into a seasonal wonderland. This year promises to be bigger, better, and brighter than ever. Enjoy six new illuminated zones of lights, festive entertainment, delectable holiday treats, and amazing wildlife. Wander over to Twinkle Town Marketplace where you can meet Santa.
Holiday Events: Performances and Entertainment
Get in the holiday spirit at these special performances including The Nutcracker, holiday concerts, and more.
November 26, 2022, 3:30 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.
Experience the joyful sounds of the season for the first time ever in Steinmetz Hall
Most Friday nights November 25 – December 30, 2022, 5-8pm
Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park
Receive free admission every Friday night! During the holidays, select Friday nights get a special twist with holiday performances to celebrate the season. Live music enhances the gallery experience.
November 30 – December 24, 2022, showtimes vary
The heartwarming Christmas classic comes to life onstage in an all-new adaptation by Artistic Director Jim Helsinger. The miserly and miserable Ebenezer Scrooge greets each Christmas with a “bah humbug,” until he is visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come.
Ticket prices vary
December 1, 2022, 6:15-8:30pm
Central Park, Winter Park
The City of Winter Park and The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art continue this beloved holiday tradition. Stroll through the park and enjoy the sounds of the Bach Festival Choir.
December 2-18, 2022, multiple showtimes
Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
Orlando Ballet’s enchanting annual favorite, The Nutcracker is a not-to-be-missed holiday tradition. The beloved story of a godfather’s Christmas Eve gift of a toy nutcracker that comes to life and transports Clara to a world of wonder. Patrons are carried along on a magical journey to a world of fantasy and fun complete with the Mouse King, Sugar Plum Fairy and Mother Ginger.
Ticket prices vary
December 9 & 16, 2022, 7-9pm
Find your groove with live holiday tunes from talented local artists. Admission is free. Food and beverages are available for purchase. Robert Harris Holiday Jazz – December 9.
December 4, 2022
Winter Park’s Central Park
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! This free concert is made possible by the Charlotte Julia Hollander Trust.
December 9, 16, and 23, 2022, 7-9pm
Downtown Winter Garden
Enjoy the classic sounds of holidays of old as live music serenades shoppers at the plaza of downtown Winter Garden.
December 10, 2022, 7pm
Walt Disney Amphitheatre at Lake Eola Park
Rock in the holidays with the popular strings super-group Violectric. Free and open to the public, the concert features traditional holiday songs mashed up with classic rock tunes and modern hits. Donations for the Pet Alliance will be accepted during the event.
December 17, 2022, 7:30pm
Lake Eola Park
The Russian Academy of Ballet presents a gift to the Orlando Community with a free performance of “The Nutcracker”.
December 20, 2022 7:30pm
Steinmetz Hall – Dr. Phillips Center
Experience the phenomenal sound of this world-class ensemble and enjoy the last stop on their national holiday tour as they perform with our own Bach Festival Orchestra conducted by John V. Sinclair.
Starting at $25
December 23 & 24, 2022, 7:30 p.m. & 2 p.m.
Steinmetz Hall – Dr. Phillips Center
Opera Orlando shares a message of camaraderie, hope, and peace this holiday season as it remounts its acclaimed 2019 production of All is Calm: the Christmas Truce of 1914. Set along the Western Front during World War I, this poignant and moving work relates the historic events of Christmas Eve in 1914 through actual soldiers’ letters and official military correspondence interwoven with old war songs and carols.
NEW YEAR'S EVE 2023 | DECEMBER 31
Looking for the Best New Year's Events in Orlando? Check our our guide to NYE! And we have the 411 on how to enjoy NYE fireworks too! Info for 2022 / 2023 coming soon