There's a reason that people love vacationing to The Sunshine State during the holiday season. Besides the stellar year-round weather and beachy atmosphere, Florida boasts a variety of exciting events during the holiday season. From haunted amusement parks to pop-up Christmas wonderlands, these are a few of the best spots to hit this holiday season in sunny South Florida.
Let's dive right in!
Halloween: Howl-O-Scream, Harvest Festival, and The Haunt
If there is one holiday South Florida knows how to celebrate, it is Halloween.
Are you someone who loves Halloween for the horror?
Busch Gardens in Tampa (Southwest Florida) hosts the uber-frightening Howl-O-Scream every fall. After dark, the amusement park transforms into a landscape of terror. From unsettling haunted houses to encounters with ghostly performers, no one is immune to frights at this fantastic Halloween event.
Another perk? You can try out some of their most stomach-churning rides in total darkness. This includes riding some of their most horrifying roller coasters in pitch blackness. Full dark, no stars. It's a thrill-seeker's dream.
Are you in need of a kid-friendly Halloween event? No worries—we have you covered!
Davie in Southeast Florida (near Fort Lauderdale) holds a yearly Harvest Festival at the Flamingo Gardens. This event is as family-friendly as Halloween celebrations come. At the Harvest Festival, you'll be able to participate in costume contests, snatch your own pumpkin from their patch, enjoy free hayrides, and more.
If your kids are old enough for some frights—or you're looking for enough horrifying variety to please the whole family—The Haunt at Old Town in Kissimmee (South of Orlando) is a blast.
Old Town is an iconic location year-round. From late September to early November, they transform the spot into a Halloween-lovers paradise. The Haunt includes spooky mazes, terrifying performers, frightening costumes, and interactive terror exhibits. Their "scare zones" aren't for the faint of heart.
Christmas: Santa's Enchanted Forest, ICE!, and Jolly Days
Are you traveling to Florida during the Christmas season? Lucky for you, South Florida is bustling with winter events all season long. From icy indoor events to holiday-centric theme parks, you can't go wrong with Christmas in The Sunshine State.
Where should you spend your time?
Santa's Enchanted Forest in the Southeast is Florida's Christmas event of the year. This amusement park is designed with one theme in mind: Christmas. They have over 100 Christmas-related rides (that's more than Six Flags!). They also boast a variety of carnival booths and theater performances to keep you entertained between rides.
If you want to immerse yourself in a true winter wonderland, check out ICE! at Gaylord Palms (near Orlando). This phenomenal indoor venue (which sits at a chilly 9 degrees) consists of ice slides, live ice carving, and sculptures. The attraction's ice fixtures are created using a whopping two million pounds of ice!
Bringing along the kiddos?
Brevard Zoo's Jolly Days near Palm Bay is another great spot to hit. The zoo is bustling with holiday activities all December long. This includes overnight Christmas camps for children, tours with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and animal gift-giving events.
New Year's Eve: Orange Bowl Downtown Countdown
Are you searching for a hot spot to head to on New Year's Eve? The Fort Lauderdale Orange Bowl Downtown Countdown is the location to hit on New Year's. This year-concluding celebration is perfect for all ages and groups, whether you're bringing the family along or riding solo.
Between the contests, carnival games, bounce houses, and live DJ, there are experiences for everyone to enjoy. Plus, it's one of Florida's largest New Year's events, boasting a crowd of over 100,000 attendees. They must be doing something right!
That's a wrap!
South Florida is the perfect spot to spend the holiday season. Whether you're traveling during Halloween, Christmas, or New Year's, there are plenty of events to keep you, your family, and/or your friends amused and excited during every era of the holiday season.
The month leading up to Halloween boasts a variety of frightening theme parks and haunting attractions, including Howl-O-Scream, The Haunt, and the Harvest Festival. You can experience a bit of Christmas magic at wonderfully merry locations such as Santa's Enchanted Forest, ICE!, and Jolly Days. And for the best New Year's event in The Sunshine State, the Fort Lauderdale Orange Bowl Downtown Countdown will wrap up your year in style.
Do you have any favorite events to attend in South Florida during the holiday season? Let us know in the comments below!