Free things to do in Orlando are not hard to find! Here are tons of FREE things to do in Orlando at Christmas to get you into the mood without spending any money! Unfortunately, for the 2020 Christmas season, some events have been canceled or have been adapted to accommodate COVID restrictions. Be sure to check each event before attending for dates, limitations, and regulations.
Winter Park hosts some of the best free things in Orlando at Christmas. Even if you don’t attend an event at Winter Park, a stroll down Park Avenue is enough to capture the essence of Christmas. All the store windows are decorated, much like New York. The streets are all decorated, and there is a lovely tree.
A free play, the Story of Scrooge, is coming to Central Florida for one night only! Where? At Willow Creek Church in Winter Springs!
Downtown Orlando and Lake Eola
Downtown is packed with free things to do in Orlando at Christmas!
Annual Holiday Concert at Lake Eola Presented by News 6 and featuring the Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra. A free event, but you are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate. This event is on the first Saturday of December.
City of Orlando Christmas Tree View the 72-foot Christmas tree at Lake Eola Park in Downtown Orlando at Christmas. The tree is lit in November, and there is a lighting event. Regardless, you can view the tree anytime. There is a daily show near the Amphitheater where the tree comes to life with music! It runs hourly, starting at 5:45 pm through 9:45 pm.
Deck the Downtown Get festive this holiday season by participating in “Deck the Downtown”! Downtown Orlando will be “decked-out” in festive lights and window decorations. A map will guide residents and guests as they walk Downtown’s streets, enjoying each participating business location’s creativity and holiday spirit.
Holiday Movies at Lake Eola Park Grab the kids and drink of your choice, and head Downtown to watch a Christmas movie. The movies start at 7:00 pm. For dates and what’s showing, see here: Holiday Movie at Lake Eola Park
The Nutcracker, performed by the Russian Ballet Orlando Celebrate the holiday season with The Nutcracker, featuring unforgettable characters, dazzling costumes, onstage blizzards, timeless choreography, and Tchaikovsky’s extraordinary arrangement performed live by the Russian Ballet Orlando. Amphitheater at Lake Eola Park.
A favorite for me. Not only are the decorations out of this world, but Gaylord Palms hosts Ice. Ice is not free, but we have been several times and find ourselves wandering around the atrium gawking at the decorations. The variety of Christmas trees alone makes a visit here worthwhile. Some of the trees are stacks of Poinsettias and some traditional art. If you plan a Christmas dinner or just a dinner night, Gaylord Palms is an excellent choice over the holidays.
Personally, Gaylord Palms is one of my favorite free things to do in Orlando at Christmas!
Bedazzled by various seasonal characters brought to life in a dreamscape of imaginative costumes and creativity in Florida. Free seats are first to come, first served. We’ve been to Gaylord Palms many times. Don’t buy a place to watch the shows or hang out. Even if you are standing, you will see the show. Grab a drink and enjoy a magical night.
Believe it or not, there is an endless amount of free Christmas activity at Disney. Sure, you can’t get in the parks for free, but that does not mean you can’t enjoy participating in the festivities.
Disney Springs: Disney Springs might be the most festive of all the Disney resorts. Walk around Disney Springs and take in all the decorations.
Christmas Tree Trail: From November through January, discover 27 plus holiday trees—each inspired by a Disney character or theme.
Beach & Yacht Club: Go here to see the chocolate gingerbread carousel. A real working gingerbread merry-go-round with almost life-size horses. Each pony has a name and theme, and the details are unique. It is worth making a trip to the resort to see this fantastic creation.
Wilderness Lodge: Relax and sit in the rocking chairs in front of the massive fireplace with a drink in front of the fantastic (and huge) fireplace at The Wilderness Lodge
Grand Floridian Gingerbread House Display: The iconic Grand Floridian Gingerbread House celebration continues! This life-size gingerbread house is in the resort lobby throughout the holiday season. Featuring hidden Mickey’s, gingerbread shingles, and more, this 14-foot tall display houses a sweet little shop selling freshly baked house-made items.
Note: Parking at the Walt Disney World Resort hotels is for the exclusive use of guests staying, but you can take a bus to any of the resorts from Disney Springs.
Holiday Fountain Show: Always a crowd favorite, the Plaza fountain features exclusive shows with dancing water and dazzling lights choreographed to classic holiday tunes. Performances run nightly.
Light Up the Holidays: The City of Altamonte Springs, Duke Energy, and Magic 107.7 Light-up Cranes Roost Park with fireworks, Santa and Mrs. Claus, train rides, holiday performances, and more. The fireworks go off between 6:30 and 7 pm.
Holiday Light Displays: Enjoy over 200,000 lights on more than 100-holiday displays powered by Duke Energy. The park’s highlight is the 60-foot tall Christmas tree with more than 8,000 energy-efficient LED lights, 2,600 ornaments, and over one mile of garland. The lights get turned on each night at dusk.
Now Snowing, Central Florida’s original and premier “Snowing” event, offers one of the area’s only synthetic ice rinks, individual community performances by some of the area’s top young talent, and special concert events throughout the season. Snowing is a month-long Winter Wonderland Spectacular featuring strolling Charles Dickens style Carolers, photos with Santa, horse-drawn carriage rides, ice skating, train rides, and nightly snowfall at 6:00, 7:00, 8:00, and 9:00 pm. It’s a real throwback to the traditional family-style holiday.
The entrance is free, with free parking across the road from the park. BBQ pork sandwiches, chicken filets, community groups have baked goods, drinks, hotdogs, gator, sweet pickles, etc. Pioneer demonstrations – broom making, blacksmiths, basket weaving, rope making, spinning, quilting, lace making, wood carving, and many more. Large craft fair with over 150 crafters with handmade items, the Christmas Post Office will have a booth so that you can get your Christmas cards hand-stamped, antique engine and tractor display, and much more.
Holiday Film Festival: Enjoy classic holiday films screened outdoors on a giant two-story movie screen. Don’t forget the chairs and blankets!
Holiday Light Show: Guests and skaters get immersed in a magical glow as lights pulse and strobe in perfect synchronization to festive holiday music.! The shows begin at 7 pm daily and continue hourly through closing. And, there is snow at the hour!
There are other activities at Light Up UCF that are not free but inexpensive. For example, Ice Skating is only $12.
Mount Dora offers up many Christmas events that are worth checking out. Are you ready to share the Christmas season with us in Mount Dora! The Lights will be on during weekends until the Art Festival in February. Celebrate the holidays against a backdrop of two million+ sparkling lights in beautiful downtown Mount Dora! Here are the specific events.
Note: You will need to check the Mount Dora Website as many of this years events have been cancelled.
Annual Light Up Mount Dora
Annual Lighting of the Main Street Christmas Tree in Mount Dora
Light Up – 4th Avenue Pedestrian Mall adjacent to Sunset Park
Annual Mount Dora Christmas Walk
Annual Mount Dora Christmas Parade
Annual Mount Dora Lighted Boat Christmas Parade
SILVER BELLS with the Diamonds
Children’s Christmas in the Park with Snow
Phantasmagoria’s Christmas Carol
Christmas Eve Dinner and Christmas Day Buffet at the Lakeside Inn
There are also many other activities, such as the Polar Express. While not free, this is great for kids!
The Orlando Citrus Parade, an annual tradition started in 1980, has become one of the nation’s largest sports-affiliated parades. Currently planned and produced by Florida Citrus Sports and Parades R Us, the event occurs each year between the Camping World Bowl and the Citrus Bowl games during the last week in December.
Highlights of the Orlando Citrus Bowl Parade include high school and college marching bands, specialty performance groups, Disney cartoon characters, giant helium balloons, and colossal citrus floats decorated with oranges and grapefruits, lemons, and tangerines.
Note:You do not need a ticket to watch the parade.
Nikki Webster is a travel writer who covers how to travel while grinding a day job and travel without breaking the bank, hotels, cruising, and off-the-beaten-track experiences. She is particularly fond of Florida and writes extensively about the state. She flies around 60,000 miles per year and has visited 54 countries, 50 states, and six continents. You can read all about her travels at www.britonthemove.com.