The holiday season is upon us in the Sunshine State, which means there are plenty of fun-filled festivals, winter-themed activities and kid-friendly events to attend. From a tour of the beautiful historic inns in Key West to ice skating in Orlando and trolley theatre trips in Pensacola, these can’t-miss events showcase the holidays in Florida style and will cheer up even the biggest Grinch. After you’ve sent your postcard from the famous post office in the quaint town of Christmas, fill up your calendar with these top things to do in Florida in December.
Celebrate the Season at Holiday Fest in Key West (Nearby Hotels)
Key West knows how to throw a good party, and the Holiday Fest extravaganza is no exception. The Key West Bight Marina, known as the island’s Historic Seaport, plays host to an array of festive events. You’ll find a lobster trap tree perched on the Harbor Walk, a lighted boat parade, and the beloved Holiday Historic Inn Tour where you can meander through five decked-out island inns.
Attend Night of Lights in St. Augustine (Nearby Hotels)
December means that the historic streets of St. Augustine will be illuminated with even more charm than usual with its millions of tiny white lights scattered throughout the city. Ranked one of the top holiday light displays in the country, you won’t want to miss the variety of festive activities centered around this event. You can attend a Light-Up Celebration, the annual Christmas Tour of Homes and the Regatta of Lights.
Travel Back in Time at Dickens on Centre in Fernandina Beach (Nearby Hotels)
Inspired by Charles Dickens beloved “A Christmas Carol”, downtown Fernandina is transformed into a classic English village. You’ll feel like you’ve transported back in time with the costumed characters and themed entertainment, while Santa will make an appearance to say hello to the kids. There’s a Lighted Christmas Parade, a nightly reading of “The Night Before Christmas”, and a Kids Zone where they can mail a letter to St. Nick.
Go Ice Skating at Light up UCF in Orlando (Nearby Hotels)
Celebrating 10 years of music, lights and ice, Light Up UCF is a family-friendly event with an ice skating rink, rides and holiday attractions. Kids will delight in the cool rides, snowy nights and bright lights, where you can take a ride on the Ferris Wheel and take photos with Santa.
Watch the Winterfest Boat Parade in Fort Lauderdale (Nearby Hotels)
Considered the granddaddy of holiday boat parades in Florida, you won’t want to miss the 3,000 boats decked out in lights in Fort Lauderdale. Watch as private boats, giant showboats and corporate mega yachts cruise the 12-mile parade route, adorned with lights, music, beauty queens and celebrities.
Ride a Wave With the Surfing Santas in Cocoa Beach (Nearby Hotels)
A beloved local event that happens every Christmas Eve morning, hundreds of surfing santas visit Cocoa Beach to celebrate and make money for local charities. You’ll find plenty of Christmas characters with a beachy twist, each trying their best to impress with catching that perfect wave. It’s a scene you’ll only find in the Sunshine State, where hundreds of Santas take to the ocean with their surfboards.
See Snow flurries at the Now Snowing event in Celebration (Nearby Hotels)
For a white Christmas in Florida, visit the Now Snowing event in Celebration. Watch as white snow flurries fall from the sky, while Charles Dickens carolers, horse-drawn carriages rides and an ice rink create a magical winter wonderland. Sit back and watch the array of live performances or take a scenic ride on the Express train until the main event when it snows.
Take a Trolley Theatre trip at Winterfest in Pensacola (Nearby Hotels)
If you love a good performance, head for Winterfest in Pensacola to find its historic streets transformed into a lively Christmas Town. Join the flagship Performance Tour to experience a 60-minute trolley through Downtown Pensacola and meet famous Christmas characters. Put on your best pajamas and join the Polar Express Tour, take a journey to Whoville with Dr. Seuss characters, or join in the character-filled celebration with snow flurries.
Ride Down an Ice Slide at Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee (Nearby Hotels)
It’s probably the most festive hotel in the entire state, as Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee boats its famous ICE! event that delights both kids and kids at heart with its 9-degree winter-themed wonderland. With a theme of “Christmas Around the World”, you can take a journey through the fascinating collection of intricate ice sculptures, take a ride down the ice slides or go snow tubing.
Have tea with Santa at Enchanted Christmas Village in Ponte Vedra (Nearby Hotels)
Located in the Hope Pavilion in Ponte Vedra, the Enchanted Christmas Village boasts fun for all ages with wagon rides, ornament making, bounce houses and live entertainment. You can take pictures with Santa, but if you’re looking for something truly unique, have a one-of-a-kind experience at the High Tea and Bowties with the Claus Family event. There’s also a Christmas Lip Sync contest, Pajama Party and Ugly Sweater contest.
Attend the Edison & Ford Winter Estates Holiday Nights in Fort Myers (Nearby Hotels)
Once the place where Thomas Edison and Henry Ford vacationed, the Edison & Ford Winter Estates Holiday Nights in Fort Myers is an old-fashioned celebration. Come to admire the historic buildings, tranquil gardens and canopy of banyan trees, and take an Inside the Homes Holiday Tour. An artist will visit and cartoon with the kids, there’s a Holiday Tea Celebration and visitors can create postcards to be mailed to active-duty military personnel.