Ever spent the holidays in Florida? If not, you’ve at least thought about it. Maybe you’re concerned that the “holiday cheer” is diminished by the warm weather. We’re here to dispel that myth. There’s plenty to see and do in Florida around the holidays. Winter events are held throughout the state, from the Emerald Coast down to the Keys. We wanted to call out a few of our favorites today. Start planning your holiday trip and visits to these events ASAP!

Naples Bay Christmas Boat Parade

Pick your spot along Naples Bay to enjoy the colorful and sparkly annual Naples Bay Christmas Boat Parade. the parade may be viewed from: Pinchers Crab Shack, Riverwalk Restaurant, Kelly’s Fish House, The Boat House Restaurant, Naples City Dock and Naples Landings Park. Sponsored by the Marine Industries Association of Collier County.

Pensacola Winterfest

Every December, Downtown Pensacola is transformed into a winter wonderland through the magic of Pensacola Winterfest. Their historic streets are transformed into Christmas Town, complete with thousands of twinkling holiday lights, and you can see it all by taking a tour on the Polar Express Trolley. Winterfest’s premier trolley tour features 16 performances along a 60-minute trolley trip through Downtown Pensacola.

It all kicks off with the annual Elf Parade through downtown. Costumed kids of all ages march alongside an alligator “second line” brass band, Santa, and a host of holiday characters. And everyone is invited to take part in the Winterfest Reindeer Games, which include a snow machine, gourmet cocoa, visits with Santa and actual reindeer games with Santa’s reindeer. Reindeer games are free fun for all!

Light Up UCF

Light Up UCF, one of Orlando’s most anticipated holiday attractions, provides Central Florida families and residents with an affordable family winter wonderland featuring ice skating, rides, and holiday attractions. Back for its tenth season, Light Up UCF will run from November 17 through December 31, and will feature cool rides, snowier nights, and bigger and brighter lights!

All of the fan favorites return, including the Ice Rink Pavilion, the Arctic Glide Ice Slide, the Ferris Wheel, the Winter Whirl, and Light Up Lane with photos with Santa. There are also free opportunities for families, including the Holiday Film Festival shown on a giant two-story screen, and the exciting new and improved Holiday Light Show with new songs and more lights choreographed to seasonal musical selections and falling snow!

Brevard Zoo Jolly Days

Strap on your jingle bells and head to the Zoo for a flurry of festive fun! Join us on December 22 and 23 from 10 am to 3 pm for Jolly Days to enjoy animal encounters, games, crafts and a DJ! Best of all, their zoo keepers will be presenting some of the animals with holiday “gifts” and other seasonal enrichment items.

OMA’s Festival

The Festival of Trees now in its thirty-first year, transforms the Orlando Museum of Art into a glittering wonderland filled with sparkling trees, vignettes and stunning décor for visitors of all ages. Just in time for the holidays, this year’s event is designed with the theme The Gift of The Holidays and will take place the week of November 11-19, 2017. The Orlando Museum of Art will showcase designer Christmas trees of all sizes, holiday vignettes, custom hand designed wreaths and table décor, a gingerbread village, tabletop displays and more. Each piece is designed by Orlando’s finest designers and is available for purchase.

A glamorous gala night will mark the start of the 9 day event. The Festival continues with musical performances, fun family entertainment and delightful programs for all ages throughout the week at the museum.

Santa’s Enchanted Forest

Santa’s Enchanted Forest is the World’s Largest Holiday Theme Park with over 100 rides, shows, games and attractions. Hundreds of thousands of visitors come every year to experience the magic of South Florida’s tallest Christmas tree light show, millions of dazzling lights, hundreds of themed displays, festive Christmas music, and delicious foods from around the world, live show entertainment and carnival rides suited for the entire family.

Holiday Lights in the Gardens

Join us for a Pinellas County holiday tradition where the Gardens light up with over 1 million brilliant LED lights to delight all ages. New in 2017, their Synchronized Light Display where you can watch the lights dance to holiday music. There is also entertainment most nights and we have St. Pete Concessions on site every night to provide great food for the masses.

Special Nights this year also include:

  • Paws night – every Monday – we invite doggies to don their holiday garb and come to the Gardens.
  • Tripod Tuesday – every Tuesday – bring your camera and tri-pod and take photos of the holiday light events.
  • Wacky Wednesday – every Wednesday – wear your holiday garb including your ugly holiday sweaters and come stroll the gardens for the evening.

Surfing Santas

Surfing Santas Cocoa Beach is an annual Cocoa Beach tradition that brings hundreds of surfers of all ages dressed up as Santa. The costumes are as diverse as the people that wear them. Watch them ride in on the waves and kick off your holiday beachside at this free event that benefits local, charitable causes.

Now in its second year, the crowd can participate in a costume contest. Dress up in your favorite winter themed outfit – snowman, Santa and Mrs. Claus, gingerbread man, reindeer, elves – for your chance to win prizes.

Now Snowing

A Celebration tradition! Join Celebration Town Center as they kick off 19th Annual Now Snowing event with a Tree Lighting Ceremony on November 25th from 5:30-9 PM. This special tree lighting event will feature live music, a special entrance by Santa Claus himself, and family fun for everyone.

Now Snowing, Central Florida’s original and premier “Snowing” event, offers a new snowfall program, an ice rink and a schedule filled with surprises. 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 snowfall at 6:00, 7:00, 8:00 and 9:00 PM.

Dickens on Centre

Travel back in time December 8-10, 2017 during the third annual Dickens on Center festival in Historic Downtown Fernandina Beach, Florida, on beautiful Amelia Island. Free to the public, this Victorian inspired holiday festival is as fun as the dickens for the entire family. Enjoy costumed characters, themed entertainment and performances, visits from Saint Nick, and a variety of vendors selling seasonal gifts and wares.

Inspired by Charles Dickens’ novella “A Christmas Carol,” Dickens on Centre transform downtown Fernandina into a classic English village, sure to enliven your Christmas spirit. Think chestnuts roasting, carolers strolling, and readings of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. This Christmas, Come Make Memories.


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