Having a holly, jolly holiday in central Florida is easy to do thanks to the area’s many festive events, celebrations, and activities! From free events designed for the entire family to romantic date night getaways, there are countless fun events to enjoy near your new home in Lakeland, Tampa or Orlando.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the most festive holiday celebrations taking place throughout central Florida near your new home in Tampa, Lakeland, Sarasota, Orlando, or Ocala:
- Downtown Lakeland Merchant Windows — Enjoy the beautiful holiday artwork adorning the many merchant windows around town created by talented Tenoroc High School students! You can even vote for your favorite masterpiece (see decorated windows for voting instructions)! You can show even more support for the student artists by attending Winter Fest, Tenoroc High School’s community arts and crafts festival, held on December 8 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the high school.
- Lakeland Christmas Parade, Thursday, Dec. 6 — Featuring ‘A Storybook Christmas’ theme, the Parade starts at the RP Funding Center on W. Lime Street and heads down Lemon Street through downtown. Fireworks over Lake Mirror will kick off the festivities at 7 p.m.
- 38th Annual Snow Fest, Saturday, Dec. 8 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Held at Munn Park, this event includes inflatables, snow mountains, arts, crafts, and food vendors, as well as entertainment on the main stage. Attendance is free, with all food and craft sale proceeds benefitting local charities.
- Lakeside Village’s Christmas Celebration, every weekend before Christmas — You’ll find something for the entire family to enjoy, with activities including Strolling Dickens Carolers on Friday and Saturday evenings, live music at the fountain, snow at the Christmas tree and much more. You can even have your child or pet’s photo, taken with Santa!
- Snow Central, Friday, December 14 from 6-9 p.m. — Held at Chain of Lakes Park in Winter Haven, this fun event includes pictures with Santa, cookie decorating, bounce houses and, best of all, 70 tons of real snow to play in! Admission is $2 for adults and $1 for children.
- 2nd Annual Kick Off to a New Year, Dec. 27-31 — Join Explorations V Children’s Museum for daily events including toilet paper fireworks and other rocket-themed programs. The fun is included in museum membership and general admission. Program times change daily, so be sure to check the event calendar as the event draws near.
Christmas Town at Busch Gardens, through Dec. 31 — Busch Gardens transforms into a holiday wonderland complete with Christmastime entertainment, holiday shopping, and more than a million twinkling lights! Of course, Christmas Town wouldn’t be complete without Santa around for photos. All of this holiday fun is included with regular park admission or Annual Pass.
- Saturdays with Santa, all Saturdays in December — Santa visits The Florida Aquarium every Saturday in December for photo ops and fun! Don’t miss out on the excitement from 10:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.
- The Winter Wonderettes, Dec. 7-23 — This hilarious musical comedy is fun for all ages, and features ‘60s versions of the best holiday classics. Performed at Stageworks Theatre, tickets are on sale now.
- 8th Annual Winter Wonder Ride, Saturday, Dec. 8 at 10:30 p.m. — Light up your bicycle spokes and head to Curtis Hixon Park in Tampa to ride in style for a good cause. This spirited event helps raise funds to purchase bicycles and helmets for at-risk and foster kids.
- 3 FLZ’s Jingle Ball Concert, Saturday, Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. — Tickets are still available for the annual Jingle Ball concert presented by Capital One at Amalie Arena. This year’s star-studded lineup includes Shawn Mendes, Khalid, Bebe Rexha, Marshmello and more!
Downtown Tampa Holiday Lighted Boat Parade, Dec. 22 at 6 p.m. — Don’t miss one of the most visually spectacular holiday celebrations in Tampa! Enjoy watching magical lighted boats float down the Hillsborough River from Tampa’s Riverwalk.
- Walt Disney World Holiday Events, select nights and locations through Jan. 6 — The happiest place on Earth becomes even more magical during the holiday season with a huge list of events and celebrations, from Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party to Flurry of Fun at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Click here for more details on all the holiday celebrations!
- Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, now through Jan. 6 — Another one of Orlando’s famous theme parks is hosting multiple holiday celebrations, including Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and The Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular. See a full schedule of events here.
- Christmas Bricktacular, select days through Dec. 31 — Visit LEGOLAND and celebrate the holidays with unique shows, a visit from LEGO Santa and much more. Plan your festive trip to LEGOLAND by browsing the online event guide.
- Elf, The Musical, through Dec. 30 — Every elf knows the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loudly for all to hear! Sing with Buddy the Elf at The Orlando Repository Season this holiday season. Tickets are on sale for shows, backstage tours and more.
- Friday Nights at the Morse, Friday nights through Dec. 28 at 5 p.m. — The perfect setting for a low-key date, events include live music from various musicians and musical groups, as well as live art demonstrations and tours.
- Holiday Movies in the Park, Dec. 21 at 7 p.m. — Laugh along with fellow Orlando movie fans while watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation at the Walt Disney Amphitheater at Lake Eola Park. Bring a blanket and enjoy this free event!
- Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, various dates in December — Attend one of the many holiday-themed performances at Sarasota’s landmark performing arts venue. Shows include The Christmas Album Live, A Christmas Carol, and more.
Deck the Halls at Ca’ d’Zan, Thursdays in December — Experience the beauty of the Christmas season at The Ringling Mansion. The museum will be open extended hours for you to enjoy a self-guided walk-through of the first floor. Admission is $15 or included with Art After 5 admission.
- 33rd Annual Sarasota Holiday Boat Parade of Lights, Saturday, Dec. 8 at 6 p.m. — Head to Marina Jack Restaurant or Bayfront Park for the best view of this annual boat parade, a local holiday event favorite!
- Anna Maria Island Privateers Christmas Parade, Saturday, Dec. 8 at 10 a.m. — This free event features a parade traveling the entire length of the island, with Santa aboard the Privateers’ Flagship “Skullywag쳌 at Conquina Beach.
- Frosty 5K, Saturday, Dec. 15 — Run off the holiday excitement during the Frosty 5K, beginning at Twin Lakes Park in Sarasota. The race begins at 8 a.m. and includes a post-race celebration, costume contest and awards ceremony. Click here to register.
- A Night Before Christmas, Saturday, Dec. 15 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — This popular annual event at GT Bray Park features a visit from Santa, face painting, bounce house and much more. Great for all ages, admission is free and activities are available with a $5 wristband.
- Breakfast with Santa, Saturday, Dec. 15 at 10 a.m. — Have breakfast with Santa at Newtown Estates Park in Sarasota! The event includes a free pancake breakfast, holiday music, gifts galore and more.
Holiday Circus, through Dec. 16 — Visit Petting Zoo Ocala to see one of the last touring tented circuses! Adults admission is $18, children 12 and under are $12, and children 3 and under are free.
- Let’s Skate Ocala, Thursday-Sunday through Dec. 30 — Enjoy skating on a synthetic ice skating rink at Tuscawilla Park! Enjoy a 45-minute skate for $5, and be sure to check out the fun theme nights throughout the holiday season.
- CenterState Bank’s Reindeer Run, Saturday, Dec. 8 — Participate in this annual tradition taking place prior to the Christmas Parade! Runners run along the parade route starting at 4:20 p.m. Registration is still available for the 5k and the kid’s fun run.
- Sugar Plum Fairy Tea Party, Saturday, Dec. 8 and Dec. 15 — Create magical holiday memories by enjoying tea onstage on the set of The Nutcracker at the Ocala Civic Theatre! Tickets are $10 for adults and $12 for children.
- Parent’s Night Out, Dec. 14 from 6-10 p.m. — Parents, bring your children to Frank Deluca YMCA to enjoy a festive night of fun while you enjoy a date night with your significant other! Children will be entertained with games, karaoke, crafts, a movie, snacks and more, for $20 per child ($10 for each additional child).
The holidays can go by in the blink of an eye, so be sure to mark a few of these can’t-miss events in your calendar, and set aside time to enjoy the season with your family and friends. We hope you have the happiest of holidays this season!
Our conveniently located Sarasota, Ocala and Tampa new home communities are near some of the most exciting and popular holiday attractions in central Florida. For more information on our new homes in Orlando, Tampa, Sarasota, Lakeland, or Ocala, visit the Highland Homes website or contact our New Home Specialists at 863-797-4999.
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