Holiday Happenings

Ready to celebrate the season? Check out one of these family-friendly holiday events. 

Written and compiled by Melissa Peterson 

Winter Wonderland

Through December 23

Twinkling lights will illuminate the World Equestrian Center Grand Plaza, spreading holiday cheer daily between 5-9pm. Families can bask in the magic of the holidays throughout the week and weekends and enjoy special events like the popular Breakfast with Santa and Tinsel Trot 5K Run and Walk. Parking fees will be in place throughout Winter Wonderland starting at 3pm.

Winter Festival at Mayhem Ranch

Saturdays and Sundays through December 23

Visit Mayhem Ranch for the annual Winter Festival. The event features a live reindeer exhibit, Santa and the Grinch appearances, a hot cocoa bar and s’mores by the campfire, cookie decorating and ornament making, a petting zoo and animal shows, hayrides and the farm train, pony rides, live music and concessions. The event takes place from 11am-6pm, with the last admission at 5pm. Tickets are $15, and kids 2 and under are free.

Ocala Christmas Light Spectacular 

Through December 30

The Florida Horse Park will glow with the spirit of the holidays as St. John Lutheran Church and School welcomes back its Ocala Christmas Light Spectacular. The lighted 1.8-mile trail is drive-through style, but visitors can also park their car and visit the Santa Land on select nights and during Christmas week. Santa Land offers train rides, bounce houses and slides, crafts, puppet shows and, of course, Santa. The park is closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Prices vary. The event entrance is located at 11851 Southwest 16th Avenue, Ocala.

Photo courtesy of Appleton Museum of Art

Holiday Community Day sponsored by The Urban Family

December 2

Visitors can enjoy free admission at the Appleton Museum of Art all day to see A Dickens Christmas: The Urban Family’s Holiday Exhibition”and other holiday displays. Make festive crafts in the Artspace, and take photos with Santa from 10:30am-2:30pm. From 10am-noon, enjoy Face Painting by Tonya. At 3:30pm in the auditorium, see a holiday performance by Community Stages. All activities are free. Food trucks will be on-site throughout the day.

Santa on the Square

December 5, 12 & 14

Come meet Santa, Mrs. Claus and a few good elves for fun, laughter and good times before he has to fly back to the North Pole. All parents are invited to bring phones and/or cameras to capture the holiday magic. The event is free and takes place 6-8pm.

Cottom Farm’s Christmas Village

December 8-24

This year’s event will offer hayrides, the Christmas light stroll and house tours, as well as special events like Pancakes with Santa and the Christmas Craft and Vendor Fair, both of which will take place on December 9. The Christmas Village is open December 8-24 from 6-9pm, and admission is $10 for adults and $5 for kids ages 4-11. Children 3 and under are free.

Christmas In The Quarry

December 9, 16, 17, 20, 22, 23

Celebrate the holiday season at Cedar Lakes Woods and Gardens with the annual walkthrough light show. Explore the 20-acre botanical garden filled with twinkling lighted pathways, a cookie and cocoa station, a kids’ craft station and Santa. Event takes place from 5:30-8pm, and admission is $10 for adults and $5 for kids. Children 5 and under are free.

Trains At The Holidays

December 16-29

The College of Central Florida will present the 27th annual Trains at the Holidays exhibit at the CF Webber Gallery. The exhibit will feature model trains by the Ocala Model Railroaders’ Historic Preservation Society, with moving train displays featuring holiday themes and local landmarks. The exhibition will be open 10am-4pm with the exception of Christmas day, December 25. On Christmas Eve, the exhibit will be open noon-3pm. For additional information, call (352) 854-2322, ext. 1664.

Christmas Parades

December 2 | 4-7pm | Ocala Christmas Golf Cart Parade

December 2 | 5:30pm | Lake Weir Christmas Boat Parade

December 2 | 6-9pm | Crystal River Christmas Parade

December 2 | 6pm | Dunnellon Christmas Parade

December 3 | 2pm | Belleview Christmas Parade

December 9 | 12-2pm | Inverness Christmas Parade

December 9 | 5:30pm | Ocala Christmas Parade

Holiday Performing Arts

Symphony Under The Lights | December 1

Reilly Arts Center outdoor stage

There’s No Business Like Snow Business | December 2

Appleton Museum of Art

There’s No Business Like Snow Business | December 10

Mary Sue Rich Community Center

Pops! Goes the Holidays | December 2-3

Reilly Arts Center

Tinseltunes: A Holidazzled Cabaret | December 9-11

Ocala Civic Theatre

Dance Alive’s The Nutcracker | December 18-20

Reilly Arts Center