Have a socially distanced Christmas with these Central Florida events

These winter festivities can be fun for the whole family

From Zoom meetings with Santa to retro holiday drive-ins, Christmas is anything but cancelled. Take in all the lights, films and fun of the holidays without worry. Here are just some safe events and activities you can enjoy with family and friends this holiday season.

Florida may be socially distancing from the North Pole, but that hasn’t stopped it from bringing the Christmas cheer. In true 2020 fashion, Central Florida is distantly decking the halls and finding imaginative ways to paint its towns red and green. People need holiday joy now more than ever, and local businesses and community members are finding creative ways to deliver.

From Zoom meetings with Santa to retro holiday drive-ins, Christmas is anything but cancelled. Take in all the lights, films and fun of the holidays without worry. Here are just some safe events and activities you can enjoy with family and friends this holiday season.

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Ocala. Utility crews are putting up lights across downtown and garland is wrapped around poles complete with a bow. (WKMG)

Christmas Light Displays

Dazzling Nights

From the minds behind Orlando’s IMMERSE festival comes a winter wonderland in Leu Garden’s backyard. Be dazzled by lights, music and other interactive elements across the 50-acre gardens. You’re guaranteed to have more than the North Star guiding your way. For tickets, visit their website.

Harry P. Leu Gardens

1920 N Forest Ave, Orlando, FL 32803

Dec. 1 to Jan. 3, 2021 | 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. every night

Light Up the Holidays

Wander around the winding fountain trail to find seasonal surprises at every turn. With live holiday entertainment--including music, movies and character greetings--there’s no shortage of chances to experience the jolly season. Check out the Light Up the Holidays web page to see all the ways Cranes Roost can offer a bright spot in 2020.

Cranes Roost Park

274 Cranes Roost Blvd, Altamonte Springs, FL 32701

Our Light Display: Inspiration

When it started in 2008, the Lithia light display only had one Light-O-Rama and around 5,000 Christmas lights. Now, the family favorite that’s relocated to Kissimmee, boasts five Light-O-Ramas and around 40,000 Christmas lights. The Inspiration light show also features a soundtrack full of Christmas and Disney classics.

All donations and proceeds raised go to supporting family members with autism--it’s Christmas with a cause.

922 Dartmouth Ct, Kissimmee FL

Nov. 27, to Dec. 31 | 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 6 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. on weekends

Launching kayaks into the Wekiva River at Wekiwa Springs State Park.

Wekiva Island

Celebrate Christmas like a Floridian at Wekiva Island, which features many winter wonders, including a Christmas tree forest, Wekiva river sleigh rides and fun activities with Mr. and Mrs. Claus throughout the month. Anyone who wants to get in the Christmas spirit is invited to witness snow flurries, taste cookies and cocoa and ride river waves. Follow the Wekiva Island Facebook live page for select virtual events and alternatives.

For more details, go to the Wekiva website to view their full December schedule.

Generic image of Santa Claus. (Pixabay) (Pixabay)

Santa Facebook Live Christmas Classics Reading

Be sure to tune in every Thursday night when Santa (who bears a striking resemblance to Natural Instinct Dog Training’s Gary Adams), accompanied by his rescue husky, Steve, reads classic Christmas tales.

New stories are read every Thursday in December at 6:30 p.m. on the Natural Instinct Dog Training Facebook page. Click or tap here to check it out.

But if you want to meet the jolly man behind the screen in person, he and Steve, adopting the role of Santa’s long lost tenth reindeer, will be at East Orlando Farmer’s Market at Waterford Lakes Town Center on Dec. 13. Santa’s taking pictures with kids and dogs to benefit a local non-profit rescue organization.

He will also be at the Natural Instinct Dog Training location on Dec. 20 from 3 to 5 p.m. giving gifts to children whose families participated in their community resource center and pet pantry programs in 2020.

Holiday Drive-in Movies

Cruise into Christmas from the comfort of your car. Holiday movie drive-ins are the perfect way to enjoy the holidays from a distance. Epic Theatre’s West Volusia drive-in features holiday classics like “The Polar Express”, “A Christmas Story” and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” all month long. Visit their website for show times and ticket options.

West Volusia Drive-In

939 Hollywood Boulevard, Deltona, FL 32725

Love Christmas movies? Gaylord Palms' holiday event will let you step into 5 holiday classics

Gaylord Palms “I Love Christmas Movies” Display

Speaking of holiday movies, this year, you get to live them. A new, 17,000-square foot multi-sensory display immerses ticket holders in the magic of “Elf”, “The Polar Express”, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”, “A Christmas Story” and “The Year Without a Santa Claus”. Production assistants guide guests on a 20 to 25 minute journey through these films, featuring recreated sets and props.

For more information and ticket purchase, check out the Gaylord Palms website.

About the Author:

Samantha started at WKMG-TV in September 2020. Before joining the News 6 team, Samantha was a political reporter for The Villages Daily Sun and has had freelance work featured in the Evansville Courier-Press and The Community Paper. When not writing, she enjoys travelling and performing improv comedy.