Are you looking for the best things to do in Florida at Christmas but not sure where to start? Then this article will give 21 of the best ideas!
When you think of a Christmas getaway, snowy streets, warm jackets and cold nights are the first things that come to mind, and that’s not surprising as the idea of a white Christmas is the commonest in the US!
However, it doesn’t mean that warm destinations like Florida don’t go all out to make this most wonderful time of the year magical — even when it’s warm outside.
If you’re looking to switch things up or are a local looking for new ideas on the best things to do in Florida at Christmas, then you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we’ll be taking you through some of the best Christmas events in Florida! From the historical cobblestone streets of St. Augustine illuminated by millions of twinkling lights to the tropical holiday spirit of Miami.
Best Things to Do in Florida At Christmas
Read on to discover all the best Christmas things to do In Florida. We’ve categorized the post into Christmas events in Central Florida, Christmas activities in South Florida, and North Florida Christmas events, so you can easily scroll to the region you want to visit!
Christmas Events in Central Florida
1. Have fun at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom, Orlando
Disney might be magical all year round but this happiest place on earth outdoes itself during the Christmas season!
From Christmas-themed fireworks (Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks Show), Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, and live performances (including Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration at the Cinderella Castle) where Disney characters showcase their holiday best, to live dance parties both kids and adults will enjoy, every activity at Magic Kingdom is meant to bring out all the holiday feels!
The Main Street U.S.A. also becomes a winter wonderland with “snow” adding to the magic of the evening.
2. Join The Christmas Celebration at SeaWorld, Orlando
Magic Kingdom is not the only park in Orlando that knows how to throw a Christmas celebration!
Although not as magical or extravagant as the former, SeaWorld also does a pretty good job at keeping the holiday spirit alive!
Starting from mid-November to early January, the park transforms into a Christmas village with stunning Christmas lights and decorations.
The park organizes several festive shows like the ice-skating extravaganza, Winter Wonderland on Ice, the funny O Wondrous Night, which features live animals and tells the Christmas story, Mrs. Claus’ Magic Kitchen, a holiday cooking show, and of course the stunning fireworks, dubbed Reflections: Fireworks Finale.
Make sure to also catch the Sesame Street Christmas Parade to meet Sesame Street friends with the whole family and pass by SeaWorld’s lagoon to witness the Sea of Trees.
3. Visit Legoland For Christmas Celebrations In Winter Haven
Legoland Florida ushers in the holiday season with a festive twist on its brick-tastic world.
During Christmas, the park dazzles with special decorations, including a giant LEGO Christmas tree that’s a sight to behold.
Kids can send letters to Santa at the park’s very own post office and even meet LEGO Santa and his helpers as he passes through the park on his sleigh! They can also escape to Miniland to look out for hidden festive scenes.
With special holiday shows and the park decked out in its Christmas best, a visit to Legoland at this time of year is one of the best things to do at Christmas in Florida, especially if you’re a LEGO lover.
4. Experience Christmas at Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee
If playing on ice is your ideal way of celebrating Christmas, then be sure to check out the Christmas celebrations at Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center.
This resort becomes a Christmas paradise, featuring stunning decorations, including giant ice sculptures and a variety of festive activities.
Their special events like ice tubing, gingerbread house decorating, naughty or nice escape room, and the Cirque: Spirit of Christmas show, a Broadway-style spectacle that includes impressive acrobatics, high-flying stunts, and more, make it a standout destination, especially for families with kids.
They also organize a Christmas scavenger hunt, market square retail where you can buy all sorts of Christmas goodies, a snow factory, and a light show that showcases their beautifully decorated Christmas tree and lights!
And you don’t need to be a resident of the resort to enjoy this Christmas cheer, although guests get extra advantages! Also, tickets sell out fast so you might want to book yours in advance from the resort’s official website.
5. Watch the Surfing Santas in Cocoa Beach
If you can’t have a white Christmas, then have it on a beach, after all that’s what Florida is most famous for, and this Surfing Santas event in Cocoa Beach brings exactly that!
This unique and lively way to celebrate Christmas in Florida only happens on December 24th, from 7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.
The gathering sees hundreds of surfers dressed as Santa Claus taking to the waves in a festive display of surfing skills and holiday cheer.
Located at 3 Minutemen Causeway right in front of Coconuts on the Beach, this event draws thousands of spectators each year.
6. Check Out Enchant in St. Petersburg
Enchant in St. Petersburg is one of the fun Christmas Florida events not to miss!
Starting from the end of November to the end of December, this event transforms Tropicana Field into a holiday wonderland.
The highlight is the All-New Light Maze, an immersive adventure where visitors help find magic bells under a stunning light display.
The event also has a number of other places that will occupy you during your entire stay like The Village area where you can do some holiday shopping from artisanal vendors and crafters. You can even pick up some delicious Christmas treats along the way.
You can also go skating through the Ice Skating Trail adorned with dazzling lights! If you’re traveling with kids, make sure to take them to Santa’s Landing to see Santa and The Kid Zone for them to play to their heart’s content amidst the festive atmosphere.
7. See A Variety of Christmas Trees At The Festival of Trees at the Orlando Museum of Art
The Festival of Trees at the Orlando Museum of Art transforms the museum into a charming, wooded wonderland in mid-November, just before Thanksgiving.
It is decked with over 30 beautifully decorated trees, gingerbread houses, wreaths, and other Christmas decorations.
Want to do some holiday shopping? You can do so at the Christmas stores that pop up during this time of the year! There is also live entertainment to keep the mood going!
8. Visit The Christmas Town
It can’t quite be Christmas in Florida without visiting a town whose name is Christmas!
This town doesn’t just turn into a Christmas town during the holiday season but its actual name is “Christmas” so you can be sure that they do live up to their name.
While you won’t be seeing a million lights and decorations, the only reason to come to this place is to have your Christmas letter or package stamped to show that it comes from “Christmas, Florida” and this is exactly what a number of people do!
Sometimes Santa will even stamp the packages/letters himself! As a bonus, this town is also home to the world’s largest alligator-shaped building so you’ll be able to see that too.
So if you’re looking for unique things to do in Florida at Christmas, add a drive to this little town of Christmas on your list.
South Florida Christmas Events
9. Explore Santa’s Enchanted Forest In Miami
Santa’s Enchanted Forest in Miami is a holiday spectacle that’s known as the world’s largest holiday theme park.
It’s filled with illuminated lights, over 100 exciting rides, and entertainment for all ages. From thrilling roller coasters to gentle rides for the little ones, there’s something for everyone.
Alongside the rides, you’ll find a variety of games, acrobats & magic shows, food stands offering festive treats, and live shows that truly bring out the spirit of the season. Kids will even have a chance to meet Santa!
Think of this as a carnival but a Christmas-themed one!
10. See The Winterfest Boat Parade in Fort Lauderdale
Dubbed the Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade, this is no doubt one of the best Florida Christmas events that illuminate the waterways of Greater Fort Lauderdale.
Starting in early December, this parade of boats and yachts of various sizes ornately decorated with lights, tinsel, and festive decor, sails a 12-mile route from the New River to Lake Santa Barbara in Pompano Beach with over a million spectators.
While you can watch the parade from any spot along this route, for the best viewing experience, we recommend heading to Las Olas Intracoastal Promenade Park where you’ll also be able to see live performances before and after the parade. However, as you’d imagine, this place gets really crowded so you may want to arrive early.
Other places to witness the parade include the historic downtowner or even a stay at one of these hotels; Riverside Hotel, Bahia Mar Fort Lauderdale Beach, or Courtyard by Marriot for a front-row view!
11. Attend The Holiday in Paradise in West Palm Beach
If you think you’ve seen all kinds of Christmas trees, wait until you see this one in West Palm Beach! At 35-foot, 700-ton, Sandi (as it’s commonly known) is the tallest and heaviest sand Christmas tree in the world!
For the whole month of December, you’ll be able to listen to Christmas songs and watch twinkling lights that sync well with Sand’s own lights, in what is known as Sandi’s Music & Light Shows at West Palm Beach’s Great Lawn.
There is also an onsite Ferris wheel which you can ride to fully take in the beauty of Sandi and the decorations around! The Wheel also has a beautifully light show you can admire if you choose not to go on it.
The entire place looks absolutely stunning at night with all the different colors, sounds of Christmas, and more!
So if you’re looking for one of the best places to visit in Florida for Christmas, be sure to check out West Palm Beach.
12. Watch Candlelight Christmas Carols at Cambier Park In Naples
Are you more into Carols than lights or trees? Then you may want to check out the Candlelight Christmas Carols at Cambier Park.
For just one day in mid-December, you’ll be able to listen to some of the most beautiful Christmas carols.
On top of enjoying the Christmas cheer, you’ll also be able to indulge in some Christmas food and drinks from the food truck.
Held at the Cambier Park Bandshell in Downtown Naples, this event not only celebrates the holiday spirit but also supports local causes like America’s Children Development Program and HOPE4KIDS.
13. See Zoo Lights at Miami Zoo in Miami
Creative light displays, animal lanterns, Christmas songs, and various themed nights are some of the things that make Miami Zoo one of the best places to visit in Florida during Christmas.
With over one million tree lights and a 26-foot-tall LED holiday tree, this place turns cold winter nights into a fun place to be for both adults and kids.
Other attractions include Snowman’s River Boat Rides, Christmas treats, and holiday shopping at the Zoo Gift Shop.
They also hold special themed nights like Santa appearance, arts and crafts, and animal appearances to offer unique experiences to guests.
14. Experience Christmas on Las Olas in Fort Lauderdale
Christmas on Las Olas Boulevard is no doubt the biggest event of the year in Fort Lauderdale that everyone looks forward to every other year!
Held for just one day, usually at the end of November, it brings together hundreds of thousands of locals and tourists to celebrate the holiday season.
You can expect Christmas lights, live performances on various stages, dancers, shops, stalls, restaurants, galleries, a skating rink, a trampoline for the kids, a snow mountain, Santa Claus, and an all-around holiday spirit in the air.
The best part is that the entrance is completely free.
15. Attend The Christmas Walk & Tree Lighting Event in Naples
Another Florida Christmas event that graces the streets of Naples is the Christmas Walk & Tree Lighting on Fifth Avenue South.
Running for 2 days in December, this event combines al fresco dining and Christmas-themed activities to create a memorable time.
Like most Christmas events in Florida, you can expect to find a skating rink, live Christmas music, a Christmas market to pick up some goodies, a nativity, and a beautiful lit-up Christmas tree at Sugden Plaza. There are also some exclusive events like showcasing cars and live entertainment in the VIP areas.
Since the event is popular, we recommend making a reservation in advance if you want to dine at one of the al fresco restaurants.
16. Join The Holiday Tour of Lights in Sarasota
Sarasota also decks up during the Christmas season and the best way to see its beautifully decorated neighborhoods is by joining the Holiday Tour Lights.
Each neighborhood has its own way of showing off the holiday cheer, with some choosing elegant white lights for a classic look and others going all out with bright, colorful lights, and you can admire all of them when you book a trolley tour.
The tours depart from Burlington Coat Factory at 6:15 PM and 8:15 PM during the entire month of December.
You could even hire a private trolley if you want to ride with just your own party.
North Florida during Christmas Events
17. Watch the Nights of Lights in St. Augustine
The Nights of Lights in St. Augustine transforms the city into a Christmas wonderland that’s hard to miss.
As you walk through the streets, you’ll be surrounded by millions of Christmas lights covering every corner of the city’s historic district.
The glow from the buildings, bridges, public spaces, and palm trees creates a festive atmosphere that’s both impressive and heartwarming.
You can walk all around the city to take in its beauty but you can also join one of the trains and trolley tours to not only admire the lights but also get some insight behind the light spectacle. The city also offers Free Park and Ride shuttle during this time to fully get the most out of your visit.
While the entire city is all decked, some parts are more impressive than others! The standout is Plaza de la Constitución with a gigantic Christmas tree right in the middle but other equally beautiful places include Flagler College, the Lightner Museum, and the city’s main street George Street.
If there is one thing to do in Florida at Christmas, let it be this award-winning event in St. Augustine!
18. Attend The Gingerbread Extravaganza in Jacksonville
Held annually, The Gingerbread Extravaganza in Jacksonville is one of the Florida Christmas festivals that’s not only about celebrating the holiday season but also giving back to support the children’s programs of the Jacksonville Historical Society.
It runs from early December to the end of the month at Old St. Andrew’s Church showcasing an array of impressive and creative gigantic gingerbreads.
In addition to the gingerbread exhibit, there’s a holiday gift shop to pick up a few goodies, and other fun activities for kids like a photo opportunity with Santa Claus, balloon art, and face painting.
19. Go for a Holiday Stroll Through Cascades Park in Tallahassee
Next on our list of things to do in Florida at Christmas is a Holiday stroll through Cascades Park in Tallahassee!
Unlike other FL Christmas events that go on for days, this is scheduled for just one day and it’s completely free!
You can stroll through the park as you listen to Christmas songs and since there are a number of musical stands all playing different kinds of music, you can stop at each to fully take in the holiday spirit.
However, we don’t recommend coming all the way to Tallahassee for just this one day but if you’re already in the city, it’s a nice way to wind your day!
20. Get your Christmas Groove on at Pensacola Winterfest In Pensacola
Pensacola Winterfest turns the city into a festive playground, offering a unique blend of holiday cheer and coastal charm.
The Winterfest features Christmas markets where you can browse for gifts and enjoy seasonal treats, take photos with Santa and the Grinch, and see all the Christmas decorations dotted around.
There are also preshows every night where you’ll be able to dance to Christmas songs and see your favorite characters.
While the entire fest is fun, the highlight of any visit is The Polar Express tour where you’ll hear the story of the Polar Express while on a life-size steam engine tram. They’ve also recently introduced A Whoville Christmas Caper!
21. Enjoy Christmas Reflections in DeFuniak Springs
In DeFuniak Springs, the Christmas Reflections event offers a magical holiday experience from the day after Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve.
This event lights up Chipley Park with more than 10 million lights reflecting off the lake, creating a stunning visual display.
Visitors can see various decorations, including Victorian, animal, and toy soldier cutouts all lit up, Santa’s workshop, and many others.
For a more romantic or unique experience, you can hop on a horse-drawn carriage ride to get an up-close view of the lights and historic homes around the lake.
You should however note that the event is open daily only from 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm.
Final Thoughts on The Best Things to Do in Florida for Christmas
Florida offers some truly special experiences during the Christmas season. From the fun Holiday Tour of Lights in Sarasota to the festive and cozy atmosphere of the Nights of Lights in St. Augustine, there’s something magical for everyone.
These places combine the warmth of the holiday spirit with the unique charm of Florida, making them perfect for creating unforgettable holiday memories even without the snowy vibe.
Whether you just want to take a stroll among the twinkling lights or spend an exciting day at a theme park with a Christmas twist, these Christmas activities in Florida are sure to add extra sparkle to your festive season.
Which Florida Christmas vacation are you most excited to take?
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