Favorites Return To Florida’s Pixie-dusted Holidays In November
By Georgina Cruz
Carols, Christmas trees, lights and other decorations, delicious meals and treats and more… Christmas is a magical time in Florida and this year more than ever with the return of two Orlando holiday favorites after the pandemic pause. Among the events returning this year are the popular Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in the Magic Kingdom and ICE! at Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee. And as usual, various cities, resorts and theme parks are rolling out special festivities, light displays, Christmas trees, seasonal décor and lots of ho-ho-ho!
Here are some noteworthy events in popular destinations in Florida (as with all special events, dates are subject to change):
Florida Keys – Among the festivities in the Florida Keys are boat parades with yachts and other craft decorated and illuminated as a nod to the holiday season. Among these events is the Key Largo Boat Parade on Dec. 10. The theme for the 2022 Key Largo Boat Parade is “A Cartoon Christmas.” Info: https://www.keylargoboatparade.com/. A festive resort in the Keys is Hawks Cay Resort in Duck Key. It presents a tropical Christmas –think of Santa on a jet ski instead of a sleigh! The resort offers the Hawks Cay Christmas Package with such special activities as hot cocoa with Mrs. Claus. Info: www.hawkscaychristmas.com.
Kissimmee – The magic of the holiday season is alive and well at Gaylord Palms Resort from mid-November to early January. The resort is decorated with more than two million lights, poinsettias, and a 54-foot Christmas tree. ICE! returns this year Nov. 18-Jan. 1, with sculptures created from more than two million pounds of ice themed to Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Entertainment and activities at Gaylord Palms also include live entertainment, the Snow Flow Mountain slides, photos with Santa Claus, and gingerbread cookies and gingerbread house decorating. Info: www.ChristmasAtGaylordPalms.com.
Lake Buena Vista – The parks and resorts of Walt Disney World, as well as Disney Springs with its shopping, entertainment and dining, celebrate the season with majestic Christmas Trees, lights, poinsettias, garlands and other decorations from early November.
This year, the popular Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party returns to the delight of young and old and is presented on select evenings from Nov. 8 to Dec. 22 in the Magic Kingdom with a festive parade, decorations including the park’s majestic Christmas tree, and holiday treats.
In Epcot, the International Festival of the Holidays beginning on Nov. 25 includes the Candlelight Processional with orchestra, choir and celebrity narrators including singer Gloria Estefan on Dec. 13-14. Info: www.disneyworld.com.
A convenient lodging option to the Magic Kingdom is Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, on the monorail line to the Magic Kingdom and with a transfer to Epcot. This resort boasts lovely Christmas decorations themed to the Victorian Era. Log on to www.disneyworld.com. A lodging option convenient to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort, with amazing holiday decorations that include a life-size chocolate statue of Santa Claus in the lobby and Christmas-themed activities. Visit www.swandolphin.com.
Orlando – Universal Orlando Resort Parks celebrate Christmas from November on. In The Wizarding World of Harry Potter –Hogsmeade in Universal Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida, there will be festive décor and special entertainment including a projection of holiday spirit as The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle unfolds.
In Seuss Landing at Islands of Adventure visitors will be treated to the Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular with the Grinch. And Merry and Mayhem Will combine as the Minions join Santa Claus in Universal’s Holiday Parade.
Info: www.universalorlando.com. A convenient and festive lodging is Margaritaville Orlando Resort with seasonal decorations, caroling and Santa Claus at Sunset Walk, a shopping and dining district. In addition to hotel romos, the resort boasts Margaritaville Cottages by Rentyl, stand-alone cottages ranging from one to eight bedrooms. Info: Margaritaville Cottages – A Luxury Vacation Near Disney (cottagesbyrentyl.com).
St. Augustine – The annual Nights of Lights illuminate the Plaza de la Constitución and other points of the historic Old City with three million twinkling lights from Nov. 19 to Jan. 31. The result of the shimmering lights on the colonial architecture is fairy-tale-like. Trolleys and other tourist transportation is available for touring the illuminated historic center. Info: https://www.visitstaugustine.com/event/nights-lights.