Mention Christmas parade and Florida in the same breath and children the world over instantly conjure up visions of Mickey and Minnie, riding upon a glittering, glimmering float down Disney World’s Main Street, with the fairyland spires of the Magic Kingdom castle in the distance. Disney is the undisputed king of the Christmas parade and their annual Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party captures everything kids and parents love about the holidays.
But Christmas in Florida is so much more than the Magic Kingdom. Scores of events, parades, shows,and lighted displays occur throughout the state, many of which are located in the greater Orlando area, but there are also many other Christmas events around the state, it would be a shame to restrict a holiday visit solely to Walt Disney World and the Orlando area.
In addition to Disney World, check out these nine other fabulous Christmas events around Florida:
- At Disney’s sister attraction, Epcot Center, Holidays Around The World showcases holiday traditions from different countries and includes a nightly tree-lighting, special IllumiNations laser light and fireworks show, and the Candlelight Processional, featuring a Christmas storyteller with music by a choir and 50-piece orchestra.
- Disney-Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM Studios) in Lake Buena Vista offers the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights is made up of 5 million twinkling lights surrounded by nightly ‘snow.’
At Universal Studios in Orlando, join in the fun of the Macy’s Holiday Parade, featuring larger than life balloons from Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Continue the celebration with Grinchmas at Islands of Adventure (the only time all year the Grinch makes an appearance), Barney’s Christmas Show, and Blues Brothers Christmas Show.
- On various dates in late November and throughout December, Silver Springs Park in Ocala presents Festival of Lights, featuring a maze of illuminated gardens strung with more than a million sparklling lights, dozens of neon displays, local choirs, strolling carolers, musical stage shows, a lighted boat parade, shopping, a Holiday Buffet with all the trimmings, and Santa.
- Florida’s oldest city, St. Augustine, is magical during their grand holiday celebration of lights. The Nights of Lights features over two million lights that illuminate the colonial buildings, downtown parks, and historic bayfront.
- In Kissimmee, the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center stages ICE!, an indoor winter wonderland carved from two million pounds of ice. A team of 40 artisans from Harbin, China that spends more than a month in Kissimmee sculpting the display. The three-dimensional hand-carved ice monuments and sculptures include the ICE! castle and slides, which celebrate Santa’s Christmas Eve flight, reindeer and all. The attraction’s signature scene is a life-size Nativity carved completely of crystal-clear ice.
- Santa’s Enchanted Forest in Miami features half a mile of light displays, carnival attractions, over 100 rides, a petting zoo, a 92 foot tall Christmas tree, pony rides, over 3,000,000 lights, and visits with Santa.
- Fort Lauderdale’s Winterfest Boat Parade on the Intercoastal Waterway is billed as “The World’s Most Watched Boat Parade.” See scores of boats festooned with lights along the 12-mile parade route. The event is scheduled for December 13th this year.
- Dunedin, a small town just north of Clearwater on the Gulf Coast, does it up right for Christmas. They kick off the season with An Old Fashioned Christmas in downtown Dunedin on December 5th, and follow it up with a boat parade and tree lighting on December 6th and a holiday parade and concert on December 12th.
Orlando, with it’s amazing variety of family activities, is a fantastic destination. But the spirit of Christmas is alive and well all over Florida!
Article by Barbara Weibel of Hole In The Donut Travels