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Celebrate the Holidays in Ocala/Marion County

The holidays are an extra special time in Ocala/Marion County.

A Central Florida destination with daytime temperatures that are still perfect for outdoor adventures even in late autumn, it’s a perfect place and time for visitors and residents alike to enjoy the sights and sounds of incredible holiday light displays, legendary parades and extraordinary events.

Starting on November 14, the Appleton Museum of Art hosts its annual holiday exhibition, A Dickens Christmas: The Urban Family Holiday Collection. The exhibit is a private collection featuring decorated trees, miniature villages, nativity scenes, nutcracker soldiers and myriad items collected over the years. This year, the museum will also showcase themed trees, decorated by local organizations, throughout the community, kicking off the holiday season with an artistic and festive twist. For more information about this exhibit and the Appleton Museum of Art, visit AppletonMuseum.org.

November 21 offers residents and visitors to the area the choice between two highly anticipated holiday favorites—the 16th Annual Victorian Holiday and Light Up Ocala. Taking place in Dunnellon’s Historic Village from 4 to 9 p.m., the Victorian Holiday family festival will feature a giant snow slide, arts and crafts vendors, horse and carriage rides, holiday entertainment, great food and much more. Light Up Ocala, happening in downtown Ocala from 4 to 9 p.m., includes lighting the city’s signature 42-foot tree, with three stages of music, crafts, food, children’s activities, a parade and, of course, a visit from Santa himself. In addition, there will be a Whoville-themed kids area, complete with a showing of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, as well as an ice skating rink double the size of years’ past for Let’s Skate Ocala. For more information on Dunnellon’s Victorian Holiday, visit DunnellonHistoricVillage.com, or learn more about Light Up Ocala and the downtown festivities at OcalaFL.org/LightUp.

Rounding out a weekend of fun, excitement and holiday cheer, on November 22 the Ocala Symphony Orchestra will perform the Christmas classic, Handel’s Messiah, at Queen of Peace Catholic Church. This highly celebrated piece uses the power of music to share a powerful story, setting the stage for an unforgettable season of giving. To learn more about the performance or purchase tickets, visit OcalaSymphony.com/special-events.

For those who prefer to wait until after Thanksgiving to begin planning and celebrating the holiday season, Wayside at Cottom Farm in Weirsdale will showcase one of the top lighting displays and Christmas attractions in Florida starting November 27. Transforming the property into a magical Christmas Village, Cottom Farm offers an unforgettable hayride, complete with freshly baked cookies and cocoa from Mrs. Claus herself.

Take a stroll through times past and experience the history of Ocala with the Annual Christmas Candlelight Tour, presented by the Historic Ocala Preservation Society on December 5. The event, held from 5 to 8 p.m., showcases homes along Historic 8th Street, along with their celebrated past. In addition, there will be seasonal music, tasty refreshments at the Bryant House and a visit with Santa Claus to complete the enchanted outing.

Finally, close out your holiday celebrations with a traditional Christmas parade, sure to spark the holiday spirit in guests of all ages. On December 12, more than 60,000 people line Silver Springs Boulevard for the Ocala Christmas Parade. An Ocala tradition in its 64th year, no holiday season would be complete without a visit to this parade, but be sure to arrive early as the best spots on the route fill up fast. The next day, the Belleview Chamber of Commerce hosts its own annual Christmas parade; this year’s theme is the “Winter Express.” For more information on Ocala Christmas Parade, visit OcalaChristmasParade.org and contact the Belleview Chamber of Commerce for more information at BelleviewSouthMarionChamber.org.

Discover these activities and many more on our event calendar, where our itinerary tool can help you plan the perfect holiday adventure.

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