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8 Unique Ways to Celebrate the Holiday Season in Orlando

Orlando is truly a magical place to spend the holidays.

In December, visitors and locals alike flock to big celebrations like Grinchmas and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. But the theme parks aren’t the only places spreading holiday cheer throughout Orlando. You can find unique Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa celebrations all around Central Florida.

If you’re looking for a unique way to celebrate this December, yule love these holly-jolly holiday events.

1.      Take a Carriage Ride Through Winter Garden

Winter Garden is a historic Orlando suburb on the shores of Lake Apopka.

Each year, the town transforms into a Winter Wonderland. Downtown comes alive with glistening lights, cheery wreaths, and ruby-red poinsettias. On select nights, you can catch a dazzling light show or Christmas concert.

The best way to see the lights is via horse-drawn carriage.

On Sundays through Wednesdays in December, Soul Haven Ranch will offer 20-minute holiday carriage tours. The adventure starts at the downtown pavilion and takes you through Winter Garden’s wintriest streets. Soul Haven Ranch charges $115 for up to four adults (or two adults and three children) to ride with them.

2.      Enjoy a Fair with Festive Flair at Hamlin Holidays

You’ll find Hamlin, FL, between Winter Garden and Lake Buena Vista.

Every December, the small town hosts Hamlin Holidays, a most-merry carnival. Hamlin Holidays features all the fairground staples — rides, games, deep-fried everything — but with a Yuletide twist. On weekends, head down Santa Claus Lane to take photos with St. Nick and the Grinch.

Admission to the fair is free.

To enjoy the rides, you’ll need to buy tickets or an all-day wristband. Last year, individual tickets started at 50 cents, and wristbands started at $20.

3.      Have a Joyous Kwanzaa in Winter Park

This Kwanzaa, head to Winter Park’s Hannibal Square neighborhood for a celebration of unity and abundance.

Every winter, local nonprofit Equity Council Corp. organizes a weeklong Kwanzaa celebration. Between December 26 and January 1, visit the Winter Park Community Center for a nightly kinara lighting. Equity Council and other local organizations will also host fun events around Central Florida, each based upon one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa.

Last year’s events featured drum circles, poetry readings, craft vendors, and Southern cuisine.

4.      Get Your Mail Postmarked in Christmas, Florida

According to Hallmark, Americans send about 1.3 billion Christmas cards each year. Make your cards stand out from the rest by adding extra holiday flair.

In the pine forests between Orlando and the Space Coast, you’ll find Christmas, Florida.

Unique Holiday Celebrations - Christmas tree and Nativity Display in Christmas, Florida
Photo by Rusty Clark, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr

The rural town got its name from Fort Christmas, a military outpost established on December 25, 1837. The fort is now a museum, which for most of the year is the town’s biggest attraction.

In December, however, the post office is the place to be.

During the holiday season, the Christmas post office puts out festive stampers. Decorate your holiday cards or envelopes before sending them off. They’ll also receive a Christmas postmark. While you’re there, you may even see Santa Claus.

The Christmas post office’s location makes it a convenient stopover on the way to the coast. If you’re in town on 12/24, mail your letters, then keep going east on Route 50 to see the Surfing Santas at Cocoa Beach.

5.      Light the Menorah at an Orlando Magic Game

Gear up for a slam-dunk holiday at Chanukah Night with the Orlando Magic.

Unique Holiday Celebrations - An Orlando Magic Game

On Sunday, December 11, 2022, head to the Amway Center to see the Orlando Magic play the Toronto Raptors. The basketball game starts with a concert and ends with the lighting of a giant menorah. This Festival of Lights celebration will also feature a dancing dreidel mascot and other courtside entertainment.

Tickets to Chanukah Night with the Orlando Magic start at $25.

6.      Make Like Dasher on a Holiday Fun Run

If your favorite Christmas song is “Run Rudolph Run,” this suggestion is for you.

If you want to have fun, stay fit, and support a good cause, sign up for a local 5K or fun run this December. Be sure to bring your Santa hat, antlers, or other festive apparel. A few of the races going on in December 2022 are:

Greg Warmoth Reindeer Run

Join local news anchor Greg Warmoth for a fun run with a porpoise.

On Saturday, December 10, 2022, head to SeaWorld Orlando to walk or run a 3-mile route in the park. The event starts at 7:15 a.m. for runners and 7:25 for walkers. As you make your way through SeaWorld, you’ll enjoy glimpses of the park’s festive décor. The race costs $43 at the gate, but you can save money by preregistering.

After you cross the finish line, cheer on the littlest runners during the kids’ fun run. After that, show off your holiday finest at a costume contest sponsored by Rosen Hotels & Resorts.

The Greg Warmoth Reindeer Run benefits Toys for Tots and AdventHealth for Children.

12Ks of Christmas

Want something more ambitious? On Saturday, December 17, at 8 a.m., Hamlin Town Center will host the 12Ks of Christmas.

As you run the 7.4-mile route, keep an eye out for Santa Claus. When it’s over, enjoy snacks and merry music. There will also be a 5K and a kids’ race so everyone can join the fun.

Admission to the 12Ks of Christmas starts at $45.

AdventHealth Santa’s Twilight 5K

If mornings make you grinchy, this nighttime race may be more your style.

Head to Clermont for Santa’s Twilight 5K on December 17 at 6 p.m. Jingle all the way through the historic district. Then, end your night with cookies at cocoa at the finish line. There’s also a costume contest, with categories like “fastest Santa” and “most creative.”

The entry fee starts at $39. All participants receive holiday goodies like a race shirt and jingle bells.

You’ll also get a glowstick to light the way like Rudolph.

7.      See a Production of A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens created a new holiday tradition in the 1850s when he began traveling around the U.K. and U.S. to do live readings of his hit story A Christmas Carol.

Live performances of A Christmas Carol remain a holiday staple today. This year in Orlando, two local theatre companies will host productions. From December 2-4, 2022, steampunk performance troupe Phantasmagoria will present a horror-tinged version on the Dr. Phillips Center stage.

Tickets will go on sale soon.

If you like your Christmas ghosts a little less ghastly, Orlando Shakes will host a more traditional stage show from November 30 through December 24. Tickets for this production start at $26.

8.      Enjoy a Classic Christmas Movie at the Enzian Theater

This December, head to the northern suburb of Maitland to see your favorite festive films on the big screen.

The Enzian is Central Florida’s only indie cinema. Every holiday season, the theater hosts the 12 Days of Christmas. During this film series, the Enzian will screen everything from family-friendly movies to cult classics. The on-site bar will serve its favorite holiday spirits in cocktails based on the year’s films.

Last year’s libations included the “Griswold Family Pick-me-up,” inspired by National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and a Christmas Story-themed shot called “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out.”

Rock Around the Christmas Tree at Rosen Centre

Whether your holiday plans involve sitting in a theater or jogging through SeaWorld, Rosen Centre has everything you need for a joyful holiday season.

Our location on International Drive, close to Orlando’s major highways, makes it easy to explore the city. Or stay in and share precious holiday moments at our on-site spa, pool, and restaurants.

If you’re in Orlando on December 25, we invite you to our Christmas Day buffet. Enjoy holiday classics like glazed ham and Yule logs. Or make new traditions with creative sushi rolls, pasta dishes, and our fresh salad bar.

Unique Holiday Celebrations - Yule Log at Rosen Centre during Christmas buffet

For pricing and other details, visit our Christmas in Orlando page.

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