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Santa is flying into the SUN ‘n FUN Holiday Flying Festival and Car Show

SUN n FUN Holiday Flying Festival and Car Show Santa

Kick off the holiday season with outdoor fun at a BRAND NEW event – the SUN ‘n FUN Holiday Flying Festival and Car Show. SANTA even has special clearance to fly in on Saturday!

This new experience at the SUN ‘n FUN Expo Campus is an opportunity to spend the day outside and enjoy airplane displays, a car show, exhibitors, food vendors, airshows, hot air balloons, kids activities and more.

Admission is FREE, parking is $20 per vehicle per day, or $35 for the entire weekend. RV and Tent Camping are also available – details below.

This article is sponsored by SUN ‘n FUN.

Activities at the SUN ‘n FUN Holiday Flying Festival

Santa is Flying In

Santa has been cleared for landing! Santa Claus will fly in at noon on Saturday, December 5th to say hello and collect his mail from all the boys and girls at the show. Be sure to be there for this super special meet and greet with the Jolly Old Elf himself! Santa will arrive at SUN ‘n FUN’s special North Pole right on the Compass Rose in the middle of the event. 

SUN n FUN Holiday Flying Festival Air Show

Friday Evening and Saturday Airshows

Planes will be taking off and landing throughout the event, including the STOL’s AVIAT AIRCRAFT Central Florida Classic Short Takeoff and Landing Competition. You can also see stunning aircraft performances at two airshows:

Friday 4:30 PM – Evening Airshow includes F35, F16, P51, Heritage, Paradigm Team, Black Daggers (U.S. Army Special Operations Command Parachute Demonstration Team), Jerry Kerby

Saturday 2:30PM – Airshow includes F35, F16, P51, Heritage, Black Daggers (U.S. Army Special Operations Command Parachute Demonstration Team)

Balloon GlowFriday Evening

Friday night you can watch the balloons as they inflate against the setting sun and then glow during the evening airshow.

Hot Air Balloon Launch – Saturday

On Saturday the balloons will mark the corners of the SUN ‘n RUN 5k course, then launch into the sky in the early morning (approximately 8am) to kick off a day of exciting fun, food, and family activities. The balloons will also be available during the day for tethered rides and photo opportunities. (Hot air balloons are subject to weather and air traffic conditions)

SUN n FUN Holiday Flying Festival Hot Air Balloons

North Pole” Kids Area

There will be a “North Pole” area with lots of family activities including a place for kids to write letters to Santa (or they can bring them from home), an inflatable fun zone from Lakeland Moonwalk, take-home STEM activities, and more.

There will also be live Christmas music from Harrison School of the Arts Jazz Band.

Airplane Displays

From Warbirds to Vintage, Homebuilt to Light Sport, the Holiday Fly-In is a great place to see dozens of aircraft on display.

SUN n FUN Car Show

Car Show

On Saturday you can check out a variety of classic, exotic, and vintage cars at the Car and Truck Show.

Vendors, Exhibits + Displays

First responder displays, food vendors, exhibitors and more will be located throughout the event.

The Florida Air Museum will also be open and free to attendees

RV and Tent Camping

Make it a night your kids will remember – go camping at SUN ‘n FUN! Campsites are available for RV’s with full hookups, primitive/tent camping sites, or you can camp with your airplane. Campers will also enjoy a Campground Movie Night on Friday at 7pm with a showing of “Christmas Vacation.” Plus you’ll already be on site to see the early morning balloon launch on Saturday.

SUN ‘n RUN 5k

During the SUN ‘n FUN Holiday Flying Festival, Lakeland Linder International Airport will be hosting a 5k road race. The race will begin on the War Bird Ramp with the starting line flanked by vintage aircraft. During the run you will be able to watch aircraft arrivals and departures as the course winds its way down the taxiways and runways to the finish line. The race is $35 per person, all proceeds benefit Lakeland Aero Club, a high school flying club. Click here for registration.

More Details – SUN ‘n FUN Holiday Flying Festival


Admission to the event is free, the only charge is $20 for vehicle parking (or $35 for both days). Purchase your parking ticket online (highly recommended to avoid the lines!) or pay when you arrive. The parking fee applies to any drive-in mode of transportation including cars, trucks, vans, and motorcycles. Click here for advance parking tickets.

Hours + Event Schedule

Friday, December 4 – Event gates open at 8am. Activities begin at 4pm, air show at 4:30pm, balloon glow begins at 5:30pm.

Saturday, December 5 – Event is open from 7am – 5pm.
Important times:
8AM – Balloon Launch
9AM – Exhibitors And Displays Open
10AM – Car Show Begins
12PM- Santa Arrives (In A STEARMAN Plane!)
2:30 PM – Air Show

See the full schedule on the Event Website.


What to Bring + Other Helpful Tips

  • Wear comfy clothes and walking shoes – you will be outside walking on dirt, grass, and concrete.
  • Stroller – the planes and exhibits cover a very large area. If you wouldn’t go to a theme park without a stroller, don’t go to SUN ‘n FUN without one either!
  • Backpack – backpacks are allowed but are subject to inspection. {Backpacks are always the best way to carry gear when you need your hands free to keep track of the kiddos}
  • Chairs, blankets, etc. – if you want to sit down and watch the airshow, you might like to have a blanket or chairs instead of sitting on the ground.
  • Earplugs or noise-canceling headphones if you have little ones with ears that need protecting – some of the airshow planes get LOUD!

What to Leave at Home

Coolers, outside food and beverage, camelbacks, weapons of any kind, tent structures, self-standing umbrellas, bicycles, hoverboards, skates, strap on skate shoes, golf carts, skateboards, kids scooters, are all prohibited. Pets are not allowed at the event with the exception of registered service animals.

Guests will be allowed to bring 1 sealed bottle of water per person, no larger than 1 liter in size. If a patron has special medical dietary restrictions, items will be allowed in reasonable quantities if accompanied by a doctor’s note. 

Learn more – Flying Festival FAQ’s.

Directions & Parking

Parking for SUN ‘n FUN is located off W. Pipkin Road. Use 4175 Medulla Rd, Lakeland, FL 33811 (MAP IT) to get directions to the general area, and then follow signage or directions by traffic control officers.

READER TIP: Be sure you make a note or photo where you parked your car. Will make it much easier to remember when you’re staring at rows and rows of parked cars!

COVID-19 Health + Safety

The SUN ‘n FUN Holiday Flying Festival and Car Show is a COVID-Conscious & Safe Outdoor Event. They are taking enhanced health and safety measures – for guests, employees and volunteers. All guests 2+ are requested to wear masks except while seated viewing the air show and separated from other groups by at least 6 feet. Click here to learn more.

Support the Mission of the Aerospace Center for Excellence

The mission of the Aerospace Center for Excellence (ACE) is to “Engage, Educate, and Accelerate the Next Generation of Aerospace Professionals. The SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo and dozens of other events year-round produce the majority of the revenue that goes into supporting this mission. By attending their events, you are helping deliver top-quality, industry-leading STEM education and scholarship programs to thousands of young men and women each year. Donations are gratefully accepted, and all proceeds will benefit the Aerospace Center for Excellence (ACE) STEM education programs. You can learn more about the mission on the ACE website –

Christmas Events + Holiday Activities

Check out our Ultimate Guide to Christmas Events + Holiday Activities to find more things to do including Neighborhood Christmas Light Displays, FREE Christmas Events, Santa Photos, Christmas Parades, and more.