Christmas in the Sunshine State

Located on the South East coast of the USA, Florida is nicknamed ‘The Sunshine State’ and home to the renowned Walt Disney World in Orlando. Although Florida holidays are usually associated with hot summer days and spending time with Mickey and friends, Christmas in America’s sunniest state can be a truly magical experience too (albeit with tropical temperatures). While you’re unlikely to experience any natural snowfall on a Christmas Florida holiday, the sunny state really does put its back into ‘painting its towns white’; with grand light displays, colourful parades and somehow, plenty of snow… Here is a round up of some of the best Christmas events in Florida, for adults and kids alike…

Purely for the kids: Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Starting with the obvious, Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is home to one of the state’s most popular Christmas events, held on selected winter nights in the run up to Christmas. A parade featuring Santa, a spectacular fireworks display and a magical snowfall are just some of the highlights in the mix of entertainment on offer here.

Where: Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom, Orlando
When: 8 November 2010 to 19 December 2010

Bring out your inner child: SNOW! North Pole carnival playground &ICE! Award-winning sculptures

Also in the run up to Christmas, Kissimmee’s Gaylord Palms Resort is home to a spectacular celebration of ice and snow during two events running alongside each other. ‘ICE!’ is a spectacular and award-winning 18,000 square feet display of ice sculptures, this year depicting the famous tale ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas’. After a visit to the sculptures, those with kids or who just want to release their inner child can head to ‘SNOW!’; an outdoor winter wonderland made of real snow complete with carnival-themed games and food stalls.

Where: Gaylord Palms Resort, Kissimmee
When: 20 November 2010 to 2 January 2011

Spirituality for all ages: Candlelight Processional

Held at Walt Disney World’s futuristic Epcot Centre, visitors of this event can actually celebrate Christmas Eve here or catch the spectacle on several other nights in the run up to and just after Christmas. The nights are designed to get into the Christmas spirit and retell its story with a celebrity narrator accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra and mass choir. Candlelight dinner packages are available too and are a great way to get the best seats for catching the show.

Where: Walt Disney World Epcot Centre, Lake Buena Vista
When: 26 November 2010 to 30 December 2010

How the Floridians to Christmas: Now Snowing Nightly

Each year the aptly named town of Celebration rejoices in all things Christmas with a month-long Winter Wonderland Spectacular in its town square, including on-the-hour snowfalls every evening, despite the summery temperatures! Visitors can also enjoy Charles Dickens carol singers, horse-drawn carriage rides, the Celebration Express train and photos with Santa for the little ones. Be sure to stroll around the streets of Celebration as well, as the town is famous for having some of Florida’s best neighbourhood displays and most lavishly decorated houses around Christmas.

Where: Celebration Town Centre
When: 27 November 2010 to 31 December 2010

Lights, music and lots of boats: The Winterfest Boat Parade

Billed as Florida’s most watched boat parade, the Winterfest Boat Parade sees the Intracoastal Waterway that runs through Fort Lauderdale light up with 100 spectacularly decorated boats, ranging from private boats to giant showboats and corporate mega-yachts. This year’s theme is “That’s Entertainment”, filling the boats with music and excitement of every era, as well as the odd beauty queen for dad and colourful characters for the kids. Just $3 gives you entry into the Birch State Park where pre-park activities take place, but for prime viewing of the parade, grandstand tickets are available too.

Where: Fort Lauderdale
When:  11 December 2010

If a sunny Christmas trip sounds like a plan to you, Florida holidays specialists usually have some late deals available that won’t bust the budget.