The Magic Of The Holidays In Florida
By Georgina Cruz
Carols, Christmas trees, lights and other decorations, delicious meals, candy canes and other treats and more… Christmas is a magical time in Florida, and even in this time of pandemic, Florida is ready to celebrate the season, though with some modifications due to Covid-19 concerns. Among the events that are on tap for this year in various cities, resorts and theme parks are several happenings featuring special attractions and activities, light displays, Christmas trees and seasonal décor.
Here are some noteworthy events in popular destinations in Florida:
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. 14 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.
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. 12. The theme for the 2020 Key Largo Boat Parade is “Pirates of the Keys.” Info: https://www.keylargoboatparade.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! will not be presented this year as due to travel restrictions because of the coronavirus, the 140 ice sculptors from China who create the exhibit were not able to come. Instead, for 2020, Gaylord Palms will present the attraction “I Love Christmas Movies” themed to popular holiday films like “Polar Express” and “Elf.” Visitors walk through and are able to photograph scenes from 13 beloved Christmas movies. Other activities at Gaylord Palms include the Snow Flow Mountain slides, live entertainment, 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 Nov. 6 to Dec. 30. This year, some events like Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in the Magic Kingdom and the Candlelight Processional at Epcot, will not be presented, but there is plenty on tap for holiday fun.
In the Magic Kingdom, projection effects will transform Cinderella Castle with a kaleidoscope of designs, including a whimsical Christmas sweater and a regal overlay of red, green and gold ornamentation. Also at Magic Kingdom, characters synonymous with the season – including gingerbread men and elves – will join Disney characters in cavalcades through the park. On Main Street, U.S.A., the park’s popular toy soldiers will march with the Main Street Philharmonic as they bring musical cheer for all to hear.
In Epcot, inside the World ShowPlace, “Joyful!” will take guests on a musical journey of holiday favorites, while the Voices of Liberty group will use their eight-part harmonies to share songs of the season at the America Gardens Theatre. Highlights from the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays will begin on Nov. 27. Holiday kitchens will return around the World Showcase promenade, offering favorite dishes such as slow-roasted turkey with stuffing at the American Holiday Table.
Favorite Disney characters dressed in their holiday finest will appear in festive flotillas at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, holiday promenades at Epcot and merry motorcades at Disney’s Hollywood Studios –and Santa Claus will make pop-up appearances at each of the Disney Parks and Disney Springs, and a “snowfall” will occur within the Town Center, West Side and The Landing sections of Disney Springs. Info: www.disneyworld.com.
Orlando – Universal Orlando Resort Parks celebrate Christmas from Nov. 14 to January 3. In the Harry Potter attractions, 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 featuring characters from “Madagascar” and “Shrek.” Info: www.universalorlando.com.