December 4, 2017 - Abigail Golder
Orlando is a popular place to visit at any time of the year, but it’s never as beloved by visitors as it is during the holiday season. No one knows this better than your resident Realtors at SKR and Keene’s Pointe Realty. The Realtors at SKR and Keene's Pointe Realty are both residents and community experts of the Windermere and Greater Orlando area.
The comparatively warm weather pairs well with Orlando’s numerous attractions, sightseeing-friendly environment, and weeks of thematic events including concerts, parades, and festivals to appease even the staunchest of Grinches. Follow along with us in this guide to find out all of our favorite places you’ll need to take your out-of-town guests to amaze and impress!
Holiday Favorites Orlando has no shortage of light shows this year, and you won’t have to wait long to see them. The earliest displays started as soon as mid-November and will last until New Year’s Day. One of the largest is Disney’s Grand Floridian Gingerbread House Display, which features a life-sized gingerbread house made of over 10,000 pieces of gingerbread, as well as an 18-foot gingerbread castle. Experience SNOW in Orlando – a Celebration tradition! Now Snowing is a month-long Winter Wonderland Spectacular featuring strolling Charles Dickens Carolers, community performers, photos with Santa, horse drawn carriage rides, the Celebration Express train and nightly snowfalls at 6 p.m., 7 p.m., 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.. Another resident favorite is Christmas at Gaylord Palms where you can experience ICE. The new theme for 2017 is Christmas Around the World. Journey through more than TWO MILLION pounds of hand-carved ice sculptures and two-story tall ice slides. To see a lights display with a performance, try the Cranes Roost Park Holiday Fountain Show in Altamonte Springs. The Plaza’s fountain alights with choreographed holiday music and water spouting every night between the hours of 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. You can also pair your holiday light hunt with some Downtown Orlando shopping. Every year, area businesses spend hours decking their store fronts with creative and festive lights and dressings. There’s even a helpful map to guide guests to exact locations.
Orlando’s holiday parades What’s a holiday season without a good parade? Orlando’s streets are regularly packed on Saturdays in December to accommodate parades. One of the most prominent is the Florida Citrus Parade, which brings in over 3,000 participants annually, including marching bands and artists from all over the country. You can also combine the desire to see lights and a parade by attending the unique evening City of Kissimmee Festival of Lights Parade in Historic Downtown Kissimmee. As with the Citrus Parade, there are accompanying vendors, street performers, bands and carolers. There’s also the Magic Kingdom’s Very Merry Christmas Party, a family-friendly celebration with live entertainment, fireworks and a parade, but you’ll have to have an entry ticket to the Walt Disney World Resort to attend. The same is true for Universal’s Holiday Parade.
Light Up UCF and SoDo Another Orlando-specific event to wow your guests with is Light Up UCF. Twice every week, families will be able to see free holiday movies at the CFE Arena near the University of Central Florida on the arena’s huge outdoor screen. The movie schedule runs from late November to late December, starting at 7 p.m on a nightly basis. Light Up UCF also features an Ice Rink right in of the CFE Arena, where you and your guests can skate to tunes spun by an on-site DJ. Orlando’s Downtown South (SoDo) has a similar Light Up event, which includes wreath making, a beer garden, wine tasting, and an obligatory Santa appearance for kids.
Beer, wine, and food festivals Get in the spirit of the season with a few spirits! Orlando’s Approximately Twelve Pubs of Christmas Pub Crawlis a popular annual event organized by the Mills 50 Main Street District. It’s not limited to just drinks either; participants can enjoy food specials at over a dozen bars and restaurants. Chocolate lovers will go nuts for the Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards’ Wine & Chocolate event in Clermont for a weekend of live music and Lakeridge’s finest wines. Your adult guests will delight in the vibrant Caribbean Carnaval’s authentic Caribbean cuisine and entertainment. They’ll also enjoy the (not kid-friendly) SantaCon, where people dress as Santa and visit local restaurants and bars in a pub-crawl fashion.
Perfectly polished performances Of course, if you’re having guests over, they’ll love to see your child’s school play. If, however, you really want to entertain them, take them to see one of the city’s many live performances. The pageantry surrounding them routinely leaves residents and visitors in awe, and the holiday season editions are no exception. The Singing Christmas Trees, one of Central Florida’s most beloved events, incorporates hundreds of thousands of lights into the performance of a full orchestra and choir. You’ll have to be astute to catch a showing; there’s only six performances this year, beginning on December 8th.
Performed by the city’s only professional ballet company with accompaniment by the Orlando Philharmonic, the Orlando Nutcracker-Family performances are an hour-long escape from the blur and bustle of downtown. Orlando’s Winter Park also features the free Violectric Holiday Show, a live rock show that mashes up traditional holiday songs with classic rock hits, at Lake Eola Park.
Experience Orlando all winter long Looking for more things to do while you’re entertaining in Orlando? Check out this list of activities ranging from fine dine to rock climbing. And don’t forget to check Orlando’s weather before heading out! While temperatures are usually in the low to mid 70s, it’s always good to be prepared for a little rain or wind.