Celebrate The Holidays in Orlando

ORLANDO – Whether you’re an Orlando native, recently moved here or plan to vacation here over the holidays, here’s some great news: Orlando is the place to be over the holidays, with tropical weather, no freezing cold — and lots of holiday activities for the entire family.

As the city noted in a news release, “The most wonderful time of the year is here in Orlando. Throughout November and December, the city invites Central Florida residents and guests to celebrate the holidays with family-friendly holiday events and activities for all ages to enjoy, furthering the city’s continued commitment to providing a wide variety of entertainment and festivities for everyone.”

Across the region, there are plenty of free events as well. Here’s a look at what’s coming up.

 What Holiday Activities Are Coming Up in Orlando?

Now through Jan. 3, 2024 at dusk every evening, head over to  Luminary Green Park at Creative Village, 437 N. Terry Ave., to see the area lit up for the holidays, and to check out the art installation, “Loop.” There will be a holiday light show segment.

“At dusk, visitors can enter 8-foot-tall circular cars and bring animated images to life through flickering strobe effects and music to create a unique experience,” the city notes. 

At Lake Eola Park, check out the city’s Wonderland Christmas tree, which will be installed and decorated through Wednesday. Lake Eola Park is at 195 B. Rosalind Ave. “The 64-foot tree will be adorned with close to 2,000 ornaments and 200 pounds of lights, which will musically sync with the lights on the Lake Eola fountain and will provide animation during the shows. The Eola Wonderland Christmas Tree Show will run every night starting at 5:45 p.m., 6:45 p.m., 7:45 p.m., 8:45 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. from Friday, Dec. 1 through Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024,” the city added. 

You can also go to Eola House at the park, 512 Eola Parkway, and enjoy snow falling for 15 minutes on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings starting at 6:15 p.m., 7:15 p.m., 8:15 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. 

At Church Street Plaza, 54 W. Church St., there’s another holiday tree to check out, while the Jack Kazanza Star will be installed today in downtown Orlando at the intersection of Orange Avenue and Central Boulevard.The star will be hung 50 feet above downtown Orlando and is a 50-year tradition in Orlando.

Enjoy Holidays at Harry P. Leu Gardens, 1920 N. Forest Ave., from Friday, Nov. 24 through Jan. 7. “The 3rd annual Holiday at Leu Gardens returns featuring thousands of festive and vibrant poinsettias along with seasonal flowers and foliage to create a holiday themed garden. Additionally, guests can explore inside the historic Leu House where there will be a number of traditional holiday decorations adorning the home, as well as a special garden gnome scavenger hunt for the kids,” the city noted.

Leu Gardens will also be the scene of Dazzling Lights through Jan. 6, when the gardens will “transform once again into a stunning, winter wonderland featuring a million dazzling lights, shining forests, magical displays, music and beautiful sculptures during Dazzling Nights. This family-friendly adventure gives guests an opportunity to enjoy interactive holiday experience with new lighting installations, meet and greet characters, a kids’ play area and a 30-foot tree with thousands of shimmering gold sequins.” 

Additional upcoming events include:

Saturday Dec. 2 at 2 p.m.

Curry Ford West’s Picture-Perfect Holidays Kickoff , Justin Bauknight State Farm Office, 2507 Curry Ford Ro

Curry Ford West Main Street District invites residents to join them for their annual Picture-Perfect Holidays Kickoff featuring themed photography sets located throughout the district, plus holiday vendors, music and more. 

Saturday, Dec. 2 at 4 p.m. – Baldwin Park Winter Wonderland Extravaganza 
The Village Center, along New Broad Street 

This family-friendly event begins with a holiday festival featuring live holiday performances, artists, vendors, food, shopping, stilt-walkers, balloon artists and photos with Santa. In the evening, there will be an illuminated parade along with the annual lighting of the holiday tree. 

Sunday, December 3, 2023
2 p.m. – Light Up SoDo 

SoDo Shopping Center, 35 West Crystal Lake Street 

The SoDo Main Street District’s annual holiday event will feature several activities including an appearance from Santa Claus, face painting, train rides, holiday market, live wreath making, beer garden and the lighting of the SoDo Christmas tree. 

Thursday , December 7, 2023
5 p.m. – Holiday on the Drive Parade 

College Park, along Edgewater Drive 

The College Park Main Street District invites families and friends to the Holiday on the Drive parade featuring live music, Santa Claus in Albert Park and other holiday festivities. 

Thursday , December 7, 2023
7 p.m. – Violectric Holiday Show 

Walt Disney Amphitheater at Lake Eola Park, 195 North Rosalind Avenue 

This live concert features local electric string quintet band Violetric for the 10th Annual Violectric Holiday Show. The 90-minute free concert presented by the City of Orlando’s Department of Families, Parks and Recreation will feature traditional holiday songs mashed-up with classic rock tunes and modern hits to deliver a fun-filled, energetic and highly unique holiday show, which will also be simulcasted throughout Lake Eola Park. 

Friday, December 8, 2023
7 p.m. – Holiday Movie at Lake Eola Park 

East Lawn at Lake Eola Park 

Pack your blankets, chairs and snacks for the whole family to enjoy the free holiday movie “The Polar Express” on the East Lawn. 

Saturday, December 9, 2023
7:30 p.m. – Approximately 12 Pubs of Christmas Pub Crawl 

Wally’s, 1001 North Mills Avenue or Ten10 Brewing, 1010 Virginia Drive 

Annually organized by the Mills 50 Main Street District, residents can get in the “spirit” of the season at the Approximately 12 Pubs of Christmas Pub Crawl. Buy a wristband at Wally’s or Ten10 Brewing, then enjoy food and drink specials at several bars and restaurants throughout the district. 

Friday, December 15, 2023
6 p.m. – The Milky Way Bar & Bites Crawl 

The Milk District, 2424 East Robinson Street 

The Milk District Main Street will host their Milky Way Bar & Bites Crawl with favorite bars and restaurants in the district offering specials for participants. 

Friday, December 15, 2023
7 p.m. – Holiday Movie in the Park 

Walt Disney Amphitheater at Lake Eola Park, 195 North Rosalind Avenue 

Pack your blankets, chairs and snacks for the whole family to enjoy the free holiday movie “Elf.”   

Wednesday, December 20, 2023
6 p.m. – Holiday Gift Market 

Thornton Park District, 707 East Washington Street 

Take care of your last-minute holiday shopping with Thornton Park Main Street District’s Holiday Gift Market with local vendors, festive crafts, seasonal foods, drinks and entertainment. 

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Celebrate The Holidays in Orlando

The most wonderful time of the year is here in Orlando. Throughout November and December, the city invites Central Florida residents and guests to celebrate the holidays with family-friendly holiday events and activities for all ages to enjoy, furthering the city’s continued commitment to providing a wide variety of entertainment and festivities for everyone.  

For more information on events visit orlando.gov/events and downtownorlando.com/holidays

WHEN & WHERE: 
Now – Wednesday, January 3, 2024
Begins at dusk each evening 

Luminary Green Park at Creative Village, 437 North Terry Avenue 

The city, in partnership with QDSi, will light up Luminary Green Park with captivating holiday activations, featuring a mesmerizing art installation, “Loop,” and a dazzling holiday light show segment. At dusk, visitors can enter 8-foot-tall circular cars and bring animated images to life through flickering strobe effects and music to create a unique experience. 

Thursday, November 16, 2023
6 p.m. – Deck the District: Annual Tree Lighting and Gingerbread Building Contest 

Church Street Plaza, 54 West Church Street 

Join City District Main Street for their annual tree lighting, plus other family-friendly activities including gingerbread house building, holiday carolers and vendors. 

Saturday, November 18, 2023 – Wednesday, November 22, 2023
6:30 a.m. – Installation of the Lake Eola Wonderland Christmas Tree 

Lake Eola Park, Washington Plaza, 195 North Rosalind Avenue 

The Lake Eola Wonderland Christmas tree will be installed at Lake Eola Park’s Washington Plaza over the course of four days. The 64-foot tree will be adorned with close to 2,000 ornaments and 200 pounds of lights, which will musically sync with the lights on the Lake Eola fountain and will provide animation during the shows. The Eola Wonderland Christmas Tree Show will run every night starting at 5:45 p.m., 6:45 p.m., 7:45 p.m., 8:45 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. from Friday, December 1, 2023 through Saturday, January 6, 2024. 

Saturday, November 18, 2023
4:30 p.m. – Jingle Eve at Ivanhoe Village  

Gaston Edwards Park, 1236 North Orange Avenue 

Annually organized by the Ivanhoe Village Main Street District, Jingle Eve is a family-friendly holiday celebration featuring a Santa’s Village, Christmas tree lighting, food trucks, local artists, vendors, arts and crafts, fireworks, a bubble show and live musical performances. 

Sunday, November 19, 2023
7 a.m. – Jack Kazanzas Star Installation 

**Raising of the star will take place between 8 – 10 a.m. 
Downtown Orlando, Intersection of Orange Avenue and Central Boulevard 

An Orlando holiday tradition, the raising of the Jack Kazanzas Star will be hung 50 feet above downtown Orlando on the morning of Sunday, November 19, 2023 at the intersection of Orange Avenue and Central Boulevard. The more than 50-year tradition of raising the 600-pound golden star started in the 1950s. Since then, the star has come to symbolize the start of the holiday season in Orlando. 

Friday, November 24, 2023 – Sunday, January 7, 2024
9 a.m. – 4 p.m. – Holidays at Leu Gardens  

Harry P. Leu Gardens, 1920 North Forest Avenue 

The 3rd annual Holiday at Leu Gardens returns featuring thousands of festive and vibrant poinsettias along with seasonal flowers and foliage to create a holiday themed garden. Additionally, guests can explore inside the historic Leu House where there will be a number of traditional holiday decorations adorning the home, as well as a special garden gnome scavenger hunt for the kids.  

Friday, November 24, 2023 – Saturday, January 6, 2024
5:30 p.m. – Dazzling Nights at Harry P. Leu Gardens 

Harry P. Leu Gardens, 1920 North Forest Avenue 

Orlando’s 50-acre Harry P. Leu Gardens will transform once again into a stunning, winter wonderland featuring a million dazzling lights, shining forests, magical displays, music and beautiful sculptures during Dazzling Nights. This family-friendly adventure gives guests an opportunity to enjoy interactive holiday experience with new lighting installations, meet and greet characters, a kids’ play area and a 30-foot tree with thousands of shimmering gold sequins. 

Saturday, November 25, 2023
All Day – Small Business Saturday 

Small Business Saturday provides a unique holiday shopping experience and encourages residents to support many of the independent, family-owned retailers and restaurants throughout the City of Orlando, including Downtown and in Orlando’s 12 Main Street Districts. 

Friday, December 1, 2023
City of Orlando Annual Tree Lighting Celebration
5 p.m. – Festivities Begin 
8 p.m. – Tree Lighting Ceremony

Lake Eola Park, Washington Plaza, 195 North Rosalind Avenue 

Kickoff the holiday season at the City of Orlando’s annual Tree Lighting Celebration at Lake Eola Park. The highlight of the event is the lighting of the 64-foot Christmas tree featuring 88,000 animated lights. The event will include holiday performances at the Walt Disney Amphitheater, food trucks and a holiday market on International Plaza at Lake Eola Park.    

Friday, December 1, 2023 – Saturday, December 23, 2023
Eola Wonderland Snowfall 

Eola House, 512 Eola Parkway, near the intersection of East Washington Street and North Eola Drive 

Experience a Florida snowfall in downtown Orlando near the Eola House. Snow will fall for 15 minutes on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings starting at 6:15 p.m., 7:15 p.m., 8:15 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. 

Friday, December 1, 2023 – Saturday, December 23, 2023
Downtown Orlando Merry Market 

Lake Eola Park, 512 East Washington Street  

Support local businesses this season during downtown’s Merry Market where shoppers will find the best in arts and crafts and more. The market will be located on the east side of Lake Eola Park on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 5:30 – 9:30 p.m. 

Friday, December 1, 2023 – Saturday, December 23, 2023
Santa Claus at the Eola House 

Eola House, 512 Eola Parkway 

Santa Claus is coming to the City of Orlando and he’s not camera shy. Parents have festive picture-taking opportunities for their children with Santa at the Eola House every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm. 

Saturday, December 2, 2022
2 p.m. – Curry Ford West’s Picture-Perfect Holidays Kickoff 

Justin Bauknight State Farm Office, 2507 Curry Ford Road 

Curry Ford West Main Street District invites residents to join them for their annual Picture-Perfect Holidays Kickoff featuring themed photography sets located throughout the district, plus holiday vendors, music and more. 

Saturday, December 2, 2023
4 p.m. – Baldwin Park Winter Wonderland Extravaganza 

The Village Center, along New Broad Street 

This family-friendly event begins with a holiday festival featuring live holiday performances, artists, vendors, food, shopping, stilt-walkers, balloon artists and photos with Santa. In the evening, there will be an illuminated parade along with the annual lighting of the holiday tree. 

Sunday, December 3, 2023
2 p.m. – Light Up SoDo 

SoDo Shopping Center, 35 West Crystal Lake Street 

The SoDo Main Street District’s annual holiday event will feature several activities including an appearance from Santa Claus, face painting, train rides, holiday market, live wreath making, beer garden and the lighting of the SoDo Christmas tree. 

Thursday , December 7, 2023
5 p.m. – Holiday on the Drive Parade 

College Park, along Edgewater Drive 

The College Park Main Street District invites families and friends to the Holiday on the Drive parade featuring live music, Santa Claus in Albert Park and other holiday festivities. 

Thursday , December 7, 2023
7 p.m. – Violectric Holiday Show 

Walt Disney Amphitheater at Lake Eola Park, 195 North Rosalind Avenue 

This live concert features local electric string quintet band Violetric for the 10th Annual Violectric Holiday Show. The 90-minute free concert presented by the City of Orlando’s Department of Families, Parks and Recreation will feature traditional holiday songs mashed-up with classic rock tunes and modern hits to deliver a fun-filled, energetic and highly unique holiday show, which will also be simulcasted throughout Lake Eola Park. 

Friday, December 8, 2023
7 p.m. – Holiday Movie at Lake Eola Park 

East Lawn at Lake Eola Park 

Pack your blankets, chairs and snacks for the whole family to enjoy the free holiday movie “The Polar Express” on the East Lawn. 

Saturday, December 9, 2023
7:30 p.m. – Approximately 12 Pubs of Christmas Pub Crawl 

Wally’s, 1001 North Mills Avenue or Ten10 Brewing, 1010 Virginia Drive 

Annually organized by the Mills 50 Main Street District, residents can get in the “spirit” of the season at the Approximately 12 Pubs of Christmas Pub Crawl. Buy a wristband at Wally’s or Ten10 Brewing, then enjoy food and drink specials at several bars and restaurants throughout the district. 

Friday, December 15, 2023
6 p.m. – The Milky Way Bar & Bites Crawl 

The Milk District, 2424 East Robinson Street 

The Milk District Main Street will host their Milky Way Bar & Bites Crawl with favorite bars and restaurants in the district offering specials for participants. 

Friday, December 15, 2023
7 p.m. – Holiday Movie in the Park 

Walt Disney Amphitheater at Lake Eola Park, 195 North Rosalind Avenue 

Pack your blankets, chairs and snacks for the whole family to enjoy the free holiday movie “Elf.”   

Wednesday, December 20, 2023
6 p.m. – Holiday Gift Market 

Thornton Park District, 707 East Washington Street 

Take care of your last-minute holiday shopping with Thornton Park Main Street District’s Holiday Gift Market with local vendors, festive crafts, seasonal foods, drinks and entertainment. 

Friday, December 22, 2023
7 p.m. – Holiday Movie in the Park 

Walt Disney Amphitheater at Lake Eola Park, 195 North Rosalind Avenue 

Pack your blankets, chairs and snacks for the whole family to enjoy the free holiday movie “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” 

Saturday, December 23, 2023
8 p.m. – Holiday Drone Light Show  

Show can be viewed from anywhere in Lake Eola Park 

Back by popular demand, residents and visitors can enjoy a 12-minute, high-tech holiday drone light show to celebrate the season. This one-night only show is not to be missed and will feature a dazzling display of synchronized drones flying in formation to create beautiful holiday-themed designs in the night sky. 

Friday, December 22, 2023
7 p.m. – Holiday Movie in the Park 

Walt Disney Amphitheater at Lake Eola Park, 195 North Rosalind Avenue 

Pack your blankets, chairs and snacks for the whole family to enjoy the free holiday movie “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” 

Saturday, December 23, 2023
8 p.m. – Holiday Drone Light Show  

Show can be viewed from anywhere in Lake Eola Park 

Back by popular demand, residents and visitors can enjoy a 12-minute, high-tech holiday drone light show to celebrate the season. This one-night only show is not to be missed and will feature a dazzling display of synchronized drones flying in formation to create beautiful holiday-themed designs in the night sky. 

Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright, and author of the book A Christmas Eve Story. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com.

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