The Holidays are a great time to plan a special day out, make family memories, or take your kids to do something new as a Christmas gift. Although there is PLENTY to do here in Lakeland & Polk County during the holidays, we’ve compiled a list of holiday events and Christmas activities in Central Florida, perfect for day trips or a night out in Plant City, Tampa, or Orlando.
We’ve also included three special attractions right here in Polk County – Bok Tower, Safari Wilderness Ranch and LEGOLAND Florida.
Please use our links to do your own research before making plans, some of the special events are only available on select nights, even at places that are open daily.
POLK COUNTY CHRISTMAS ACTIVITIES
During the month of December, Safari Wilderness in Lakeland offers a holiday-themed safari at 1/2 the price of a regular visit! Nestled on over 260 acres of land in North Lakeland, Safari Wilderness one of the most unique and memorable experiences in Florida where you’ll get up close and personal with zebras, llamas, Watsui cattle, water buffalo, lemurs, and more. Take a 45 minute safari with a knowledgeable guide, visit the petting zoo barn, aviary, and small mammal house.
Daily between December 17 – 23. Safaris depart every hour, on the hour between 1pm – 5pm daily.
Admission for 1 – $39
Admission for 2 – $75
Admission for 4 – $145
All safaris come with a poinsettia to take home.
Safari Wilderness Ranch – 10850 Moore Rd, Lakeland, FL 33809
Christmas at Bok Tower Gardens is an annual celebration for all ages and one of the best times of year to visit. The ever-popular Holiday Home Tour at Pinewood Estate is the highlight of Bok Tower Gardens’ season of holiday-themed events, but the Christmas fun doesn’t stop there. Visitors will enjoy poinsettia, bromeliad and amaryllis displays, live music on the 205-foot Singing Tower carillon, Sunset & Symphony Holiday Concert with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra (Dec. 2), winter walking tours, gingerbread houses with Mrs. Claus (advance tickets required), and a variety of educational programs.
Hear Christmas music from around the world every Thursday through Sunday at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on the 60-bell Singing Tower carillon. Included with general admission.
LEGOLAND’s annual holiday celebration returns to deck the halls with a 30-foot-tall Christmas tree made of thousands of LEGO® and DUPLO® bricks, festive decorations, a life-size LEGO Santa, reindeer and sleigh, holiday-themed scavenger hunts with prizes, and opportunities to build with LEGO alongside our Master Model Builders. Meet LEGO Santa and LEGO Toy Soldier during daily park appearances and end the evening with a not-so-silent-night fireworks spectacular set to classic Christmas melodies.
December 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 23-25 (2017)
Included in LEGOLAND Admission
LEGOLAND Florida Resort – 1 Legoland Way, Winter Haven, FL 33884
PLANT CITY / TAMPA AREA CHRISTMAS ACTIVITIES
Christmas Lane is an extraordinary light display that originated in the 1980s for the Dover, Florida community. This light display has grown exponentially over the last 35 years. In 2015, Christmas Lane relocated to the Florida Strawberry Festival grounds in Plant City, FL. Various Christmas themed displays, photos with Santa, live entertainment, food, and rides (additional cost for food & rides). Parking is free and can be accessed from Lemon and Oak streets. Live nativity every Thursday & Saturday night at 7:00 & 8:30pm.
November 24 – December 24 / Thursdays – Sundays from 6-9pm
$5 for adults; $3 for children ages 4 to 12; free for children under 3 (Rides & food extra)
Florida Strawberry Festival grounds – 2508 W Oak Ave, Plant City, FL 33563
The Christmas Trail is an outdoor Christmas attraction located in Plant City, Florida. Featuring over a 1/4 mile walking trail filled with Christmas themed scenes and several thousand lights throughout. Photo ops, a 25ft tall Christmas tree, and even snow highlight a few of the magical aspects of The Christmas Trail. You might even catch a glimpse of Santa walking through the trail! Along with the trail guests can purchase an assortment of concessions including marshmallows for roasting and hot chocolate. Santa is also at the Trail nightly for pictures and Jack Frost creates magical snowfalls through the night. We also have vendors and free face painting. Guests can walk the trail at their leisure but can expect it to last around 15 minutes. The Christmas Trail is a Free Event but donations are appreciated. There are a limited number tickets available each night and they advise arriving early. Concessions and other items will be for sale along with vendors selling merchandise.
Open from 6 – 10pm on the following dates – December 8, 9, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23
Open from 6 – 9:30pm on the following dates – December 10, 17, 20
FREE Event but donations are appreciated. Ticket reservation strongly recommended (check website)
At Wonderland of Lights, the Christmas season springs to life with dazzling displays of electric cheer. These illuminated spectacles are easily visible during drive-through car tours, but at Santa’s Village, even more holiday wonder awaits. Meet Santa, ride ponies & camels, ride the North Pole Express Train, games, holiday food & treats, and more.
November 23 – December 30. Select nights from 6 – 9pm or 6 – 10pm. See website for dates/times.
Hillsborough County Fairgrounds – 215 Sydney Washer Rd, Dover, FL 33527
Unwrap a beautiful family tradition at Christmas Town, where Busch Gardens Tampa transforms into a holiday wonderland of Christmastime entertainment and attractions, holiday shopping, festive treats and more than a million twinkling lights.
Busch Gardens is currently running a promo – pay for a day and get unlimited admission through December 31, 2018, AND admission to Adventure Island! Click here for details.
Select dates from Nov. 19 to Dec. 31
Christmas Town is included with any Busch Gardens pass membership, Fun Card or daily admission.
Busch Gardens Tampa – 10165 N McKinley Drive, Tampa, FL 33612
Enjoy a lively array of dancing lights, dazzling décor, and snow too! Symphony in Lights is an amazing holiday light show, choreographed to music featuring the Trans-Siberian Orchestra! A holiday tradition you won’t want to miss. Ice Skating and Santa Photos also available for an additional cost.
Shows and snow nightly on the hour 6-9pm through December 31st.
Admission is FREE
Shops at Wiregrass – 28211 Paseo Drive, Wesley Chapel, FL 33543
The Zoo is brimming with holiday cheer as Christmas in the Wild returns with even more twinkling lights and jolly surprises! Experience 18 wild and wonderful nights. Enjoy seasonal treats, enchanting entertainment and a 50-foot animated Christmas tree! Best of all, visit the big guy in red at Santa’s Village and marvel at the magic of wildlife at night. Only at the Zoo, can families be nose—to-horn with an Indian Rhino and then stroll hand-in-hand with Santa’s Elves. Included in daily admission or annual membership.
November 24-25, December 1-2, 8-10, 15-17, 21-23, & 26-30. Starting at 4 p.m.
Included in daily admission or annual membership.
Lowry Park Zoo – 1101 W Sligh Ave, Tampa, FL 33604
Have a flurry of fun in our outdoor kids’ play area with real snow! Included in aquarium admission. December 26 – 31, daily from noon to 5pm.
December 26 – 31, daily from noon to 5pm
Included in Aquarium admission
The Florida Aquarium – 701 Channelside Dr, Tampa, FL 33602
ORLANDO AREA CHRISTMAS ACTIVITIES
ICE! Featuring Christmas Around The World – Walk-through holiday attraction, kept at a chilly 9 degrees. Journey through more than TWO MILLION pounds of hand-carved ice sculptures and two-story-tall ice slides. Delight in a celebration of cultures featuring holiday scenes, and travel to the North Pole to see Santa and his elves. Advance ticket purchase highly recommended.
Alpine Snow Tubing – Come visit our Alpine Village and zoom down an eight-lane tubing hill that’s fun for all ages and covered in REAL SNOW! Double riding tubes are available for parents with small children. Height minimum is 36″ to ride with an adult.
Cirque Dreams Unwrapped Stage Show – The entire family can enjoy this uniquely inspired 25-minute Christmas dream presented with the Broadway style and inventive theatrics for which Cirque Dreams is renowned. Located on the Emerald Bay Plaza Stage, St. Augustine Atrium
JOYFUL Atrium Light Show – This dazzling new multisensory experience showcases the Joy of Christmas, inviting you on a journey around the world with an exclusive holiday musical score and millions of dancing, choreographed lights. This free nightly spectacle centers around the resort’s six-story Christmas tree towering above Emerald Plaza. Times vary, visit website for details.
Other Christmas activities include Mrs. Claus’ Christmas Traditions, Gingerbread House Decorating, Breakfast with Charlie Brown and Friends, and more. (All for an additional cost – visit website for details)
Parking not included in Gaylord Palms Christmas events – it is $20 plus tax
Gaylord Palms Resort Orlando – 6000 W Osceola Pkwy, Kissimmee, FL 34746
All Attractions & Shows are November 21 – January 7
Cirque Dreams Shows are daily at 1pm and 6:30pm, with an additional show Saturdays at 8pm. No shows on Thursday, November 23 (Thanksgiving Day) and no 8pm show scheduled on Saturday, January 6.
Prices for ICE are Adult $29.99 / Child (ages 4 – 11) $16.99 / Seniors(ages 55+) $28.99 / Children 3 & under FREE with adult admission
Combo tickets for ICE and Snow Tubing (must be 36″ or taller) – Adult $46.99 / Child (ages 4 – 11) $30.99 / Seniors $44.99
- ICE Child Admission – starting from $12
- ICE Adult Admission – starting from $21
- ICE & Snow Tubing Child Admission – starting from $28
- ICE & Snow Tubing Adult Admission – starting from $38
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, ice skating, and nightly snowfall every hour.
Nightly from November 25 – December 31. Nightly Snow Falls at 6, 7, 8 and 9 PM. Ice Rink is open daily from 4:00-10:00 PM through January 1st.
The Singing Christmas Trees is an exciting presentation of Christmas classics featuring a huge choir, full orchestra, dance, powerful drama and a beautiful display of 250,000 lights on our two 45-foot-tall Christmas Trees.
This year, before the Trees begin, join us for a stroll through the all new Bethlehem Village! Kids and adults will love meeting our live animals in the petting zoo. And characters from the Christmas story come to life during our Meet & Greets. See our live Nativity and get a picture made with the whole family. This is one experience you won’t want to miss! The Bethlehem Village starts one hour before show time.
December 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17
Thursday and Friday at 7:30pm / Saturday at 2:30pm / Sunday at 5:00pm
Prices vary from $8.50 – $20.50 per ticket.
First Baptist Orlando – 3000 S John Young Pkwy, Orlando, FL 32805
Light Up UCF has become a holiday tradition, offering an 8,000 square foot outdoor ice skating rink, rides, and holiday attractions including a Ferris Wheel, Blizzard ride, the Arctic Glide Ice Slide and Santa’s Workshop, there are several free opportunities for families including the Holiday Film Festival shown on a giant two-story screen and the Holiday Light Show with thousands of lights choreographed to seasonal musical selections and falling snow!
November 17 through December 31. Hours vary daily, visit website for times and a list of special events.
The Holiday Film Festival, Parking, Light Show, and Light Up Lane are all FREE. Prices for ice skating, photos with Santa, and rides vary, visit website for prices.
CFE Arena – 12777 Gemini Blvd N, Orlando, FL 32816
Experience Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ as Hogsmeade™ and Diagon Alley™ are transformed with wondrous spirit. Watch the live retelling of Dr. Seuss’s classic holiday tale starring The Grinch™ as the Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular returns. Merry and Mayhem combine as the Minions join Santa Claus in the all-new Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s. Holiday events included with park admission. The Grinch™ & Friends Character Breakfast is also available on select dates at an additional cost. Park ticket required.
November 18 – January 6
Included with park admission
Universal Orlando Resort – 6000 Universal Blvd, Orlando, FL 32819
Carols fill the air, a sea of lighted trees sparkles over the lake in a wintery, watery wonderland, and world-famous skaters twirl on ice. With festive food, stunning live shows, and delightful entertainment inspired by the natural world, SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration is where holiday memories are made. Stroll the lakeside Christmas Market and savor the cinnamon and spice holiday scents of delicious treats as you shop for unique, artisan-crafted gifts.
Select nights: November 24 – December 31
Included with park admission
Sea World Orlando – 7007 Sea World Dr, Orlando, FL 32821
When Mickey celebrates the season, Magic Kingdom park lights up with excitement for guests of all ages. Cinderella Castle shimmers. Joyful music fills the air. Disney Characters don their most festive attire. Favorite attractions take on a holiday theme. And enchanting surprises lie around almost every turn!
Select nights from November 7 – December 22
Separate ticket required. Prices range from $84/$89 (Child/Adult) to $104/$109 based on date.
Read our full review of this holiday event!
Catch the spirit of the season with an incredible mix of entertainment, shops, cuisine and family fun. You’ll find nightly activities such as a tree lighting ceremony, carolers and a holiday dance party. Santa will be available for photos. Don’t miss the Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail – wander through an enchanted wonderland and marvel at a stunning collection of 25 custom-decorated trees. Each one has been designed to capture a popular Disney theme.
November 10 through January 7
Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) – 1652 Buena Vista Dr, Orlando, FL 32836