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FLORIDA CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEARS VACATION

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Are you planning a Florida vacation for the Christmas holidays? Here's your travel guide for things to do in Florida theme parks and cities for Christmas vacations and New Year's Eve.

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Parade in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Parade in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort
Courtesy of Orlando/Orange County CVB

WDW holiday events

Christmas at Disney World Florida includes holiday fireworks, shows, the march of toy soldiers in Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Parade and the nighttime spectacular, Holiday Wishes, at the Magic Kingdom.

From late November until the end of December, Epcot celebrates Holidays Around the World, with Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa customs, and carol-singing in Epcot's Candlelight Processional. Disney character Christmas tree lightings are held daily.

At Disney MGM Studios, The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights boasts a million sparkling lights from November to early January. Animated and 3-D Christmas displays decorate the Disney-MGM Studios backlot.

Garlands, ribbons and bows decorate the four Walt Disney World parks during the Christmas holidays in Florida. Snow falls on Main Street in Magic Kingdom. Disney World holiday events begin in mid-November, with some running until January 7.

Disney New Year celebrations

Illuminations: Reflections of Earth lights, lasers and fireworks celebrate New Year's Eve at Epcot World Showcase. A DJ dance party around the Sorcerer Hat Stage, Fantasmic! Disney movies and music and Lights! Camera! Happy New Year! fireworks celebrate New Year's Eve at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

The SpectroMagic parade, Holiday Wishes and Fantasy in the Sky Disney fireworks displays celebrate New Year's Eve at Magic Kingdom. Pleasure Island, at Downtown Disney, features music, street dance parties and a countdown to midnight.

Universal Studios New Year's Eve

Christmas at Universal Orlando means Grinchmas at the decorated Seuss Landing at Islands of Adventure. Visitors meet the Grinch and the Whos and watch musical Christmas performances.

Macy's Holiday Parade at Universal Studios
Macy's Holiday Parade at Universal Studios
Courtesy of Orlando/Orange County CVB

Between early December and New Year's Day, Universal Studios Orlando Florida features giant balloons, colorful floats and visiting marching bands during Macy's Holiday Parade. Beginning at sundown nightly, Macy's parade is free with Universal Orlando admission tickets.

Live New Year's shows, top entertainers, buffet dinners, dancing and champagne toasts celebrate New Year's Eve at Universal CityWalk clubs and restaurants.

Holiday fireworks at SeaWorld

Nightly, between late November and New Year's Day, SeaWorld Orlando celebrates Christmas with holiday music, decorated trees and a Christmas Market. At the Waterfront, music, dancing and fireworks highlight New Year's Eve at SeaWorld Orlando Florida.

Orlando Christmas decorations

Christmas trees, wreaths and gingerbread houses decorate the Orlando Museum of Art between November 13 and 21. Christmas lights and decorations highlight the Leu House and gardens from mid-November to early January.

Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre features performances of The Chocolate Nutcracker in early December. The Celebrate Orlando holiday festival at Festival Bay Mall, on International Drive, offers holiday activities and entertainment on weekends before Christmas.

Festival of Trees in the Orlando Museum of Art
Festival of Trees in the Orlando Museum of Art
Courtesy of Orlando/Orange County CVB

Christmas shows

Until January 1, Arabian Nights Dinner Attraction tells the tale of Santa with 60 horses, 24 riders, fireworks, snow, special costumes and sets. From late-November to early January, Pirate's Dinner Adventure performs a holiday version of its buccaneer story. Outside the dinner theater, kids can have photos with Santa and a Nativity with live animals.

Until early January, Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede Dinner and Show features Christmas music and costumes, ice-skating, a carousel, horses, snowfall and Santa Claus.

In Kissimmee, from November 20 to January 2, Gaylord Palms hotel has a Best of Florida Christmas celebration with The County Wreath Collection, an exhibit of wreaths representing Florida destinations and a holiday gnome hunt through three atriums in Gaylord Palms resort.

The annual ICE! at Gaylord Palms hotel features nearly 2 million pounds (907,185 kilos) of carved ice, kept at 9°F (-12°C). Visitors see a walk-through holiday train depot, a Victorian holiday home, a life-sized horse-drawn carriage, Santa's workshop, three ice slides, a Christmas Castle and a Nativity scene.

Holiday events in Kissimmee

Celebration's Now Snowing Nightly is a Kissimmee holiday tradition, held from the day after Thanksgiving until December 31. Visitors caught by evening snowfalls, at Market Street in Celebration, won't need coats. Christmas carolers and carriage rides provide entertainment. Children can have photos taken with Santa Claus or ride a holiday train.

A giant Christmas tree decorates Kissimmee Florida's Old Town shopping, dining and entertainment complex. Snow falls on the streets on December Friday and Saturday nights. Children get free photos with Santa at The Old Town Portrait Gallery, with a donated unwrapped toy or cash donation to Devereux Florida, an organization that works with physically and psychologically abused children.

Old Town Holiday Car Cruises take place December 22 and 23. Kris Kringle rides a car. Cruisers are encouraged to decorate their cars.

Old Town Kissimmee rings in New Year's Eve with classic 50s and 60s Rock 'n' Roll and a fireworks show at midnight.

St Augustine Christmas parade

Until New Year's Eve, the annual Nights of Lights features two million tiny white lights decorating palm trees and buildings in the St. Augustine historic district.

Storytellers, dressed in period clothing, lead night tours of ancient buildings and inns.

Holiday events include concerts and a Christmas parade. Also in St. Augustine, from December 1 to 10, the Festival of Trees takes place at World Golf Village in St. Johns County.

Nights of Lights with Plaza Christmas tree
Nights of Lights with Plaza Christmas tree
Courtesy of St. Augustine VCB

Florida Christmas events

Tallahassee Museum hosts Market Days, one of the largest and finest arts and crafts shows in the Southeast, for Florida Christmas shopping in early December.

Until January 14, Maitland Historical Society hosts Holidays at the Waterhouse, a historic home on Lake Lily. The Waterhouse Family celebrates Christmas Eve with Victorian tree decorations, gifts and a holiday meal on the table.

Until January 1, Bok Sanctuary in Lake Wales, near Lakeland, holds its Annual Holiday Home Tour of a 1930s Mediterranean Revival Mansion at Pinewood, Florida.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay celebrates Christmas and New Years with holiday decorations, entertainment and fireworks. The Christmas Celebration at Desert Grill is a musical cabaret with snowmen, carolers, toy soldiers, singers and dancers.

Historic Spanish Point in Osprey, near Sarasota, celebrates Heritage Holidays with Christmas decorations and guided tours of the 30-acre museum until mid-December. Three weekends of living history dramas bring the past to life at the Sarasota County Florida archaeological and historic site.

Christmas star decoration above downtown Orlando street
Christmas star decoration above downtown Orlando street
Courtesy of Orlando/Orange County CVB

Family activities

Naples Zoo, at Caribbean Gardens, holds 12 Days of Holiday Fun from mid-December to Christmas Eve. Zoo employees deliver Christmas gifts to the animals. Visitors watch lions claw into beautifully wrapped presents, hyenas lick candy canes made from blood and ice and lemurs nibble treats off a Christmas tree.

In Fort Myers, the Edison & Ford Winter Estates annual Holiday House celebrates the Christmas holidays in December. The Imaginarium Hands-On Museum holds the Holidayland Family Fun Event, with Santa and Crafts in mid-December. Children enjoy photos with Santa, printing holiday t-shirts, decorating Christmas cookies and face painting.

Seminole Hard Rock's Winterfest Boat Parade is the world's most watched boat parade. It is one of many Florida holiday boat parades held in December before Christmas.


TRAVEL INFORMATION

Orlando: www.VisitOrlando.com

Visit Florida: www.VisitFlorida.com

More things to see and do for Christmas:

Christmas at Colonial Williamsburg

Bruges Belgium Christmas Events

Christmas Decorations Tour

German Christmas Markets

Christmas in Bodrum Turkey