'Tis the Season in Ocala/Marion
This holidays are a special time of year and Ocala/Marion County offers ways to celebrate throughout the entire season.
From downtown lights and Christmas trees, to parades and live performances, visitors and residents can drink in the Christmas spirit all month long. Here are some of the things to do in the area. For all the events happening in the area, check out our calendar.
The giant Christmas tree is just the start to Downtown Ocala’s holiday spirit. Throughout the season, the streets are alive with lights, live music and other holiday happenings. Families can visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus on the Square on Tuesdays and Thursdays leading up to Christmas. The holiday season officially turns on with Light Up Ocala on Nov. 20, 2021, where you can explore the blocks around the downtown area, shop more than 100 vendors and watch as the town lights up the entire square.
WINTER WONDERLAND AT WEC
Enter a world of holiday enchantment at the Winter Wonderland spectacular at the World Equestrian Center (WEC)! Holiday season spirit is taking over the Grand Plaza with more than a million Christmas lights, larger-than-life ornaments, a Christmas tree 40 feet tall and an ice-skating rink. The day after Thanksgiving, Nov, 26 at 6 pm will be the lighting ceremony and the events will last through Christmas Day. Bring the whole family to meet Santa, listen to carolers and other live music, and meet Santa’s live reindeer.
There will be special holiday events, concerts, foods and more, so make sure to check out WecWinterWonderland.com for all the festive details!
HOLIDAYS AT THE REILLY
Join the community for Symphony Under the Lights, a complimentary holiday concert Friday, Dec. 3, 2021 at Tuscawilla Park next to The Reilly Arts Center! Bring chairs, a blanket, some hot chocolate and enjoy the sounds of the Ocala Symphony Orchestra, joined by the Ocala Youth Symphony, for a holiday favorites and some surprises!!
Keep the love of Christmas classics going at The Reilly the next two days with Pop! Goes the Holidays! On Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 4-5, join the Ocala Symphony Orchestra for a fun night of sleigh rides, sing-alongs and a reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.
The Nutcracker will be coming to Ocala on Dec. 14 at The Reilly! See a magical performance of the Christmas classic by Dance Alive National Ballet at 4:30 and 7:30 pm. Beautiful dancing, music, costumes and, of course, the Sugar Plum Fairy are all promised.
OCALA CHRISTMAS PARADE
Continue holiday celebrations with a traditional Christmas parade, sure to spark the holiday spirit in guests of all ages. On December 11, more than 60,000 people line Silver Springs Boulevard for the Ocala Christmas Parade beginning at 5:30 pm. An Ocala tradition for more than 60 years, 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. For more information, click HERE.
21ST ANNUAL TOYS FOR KIDS CRUISE
Enjoy the Annual Toys For Kids Cruise car show at the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, beginning at 8 am. Hundreds of special cars attend every year and more than 40 trophies are awarded. Giveaways include Santa stockings, ladies gift bags and more. All the proceeds from the show benefit Interfaith Charities. Click HERE for more information.
THE URBAN FAMILY DAY EVENT-A DICKENS CHRISTMAS AT APPLETON MUSEUM OF ART
Revel in the magic of the holidays during this annual Family Day event on Dec. 11, 2021. Enjoy free admission to see the Urban's beloved, decorated trees and holiday collections, take photos with Santa and do holiday art projects in the Artspace. There will also be trees decorated by community groups on the second floor.
From noon to 3 pm, take carriage rides around the grounds and enjoy light refreshments in the courtyard. Big Lee's BBQ food truck will be onsite from 10 am – 2 pm. To learn more, click HERE.
ANNUAL TRAINS AT THE HOLIDAYS
The College of Central Florida tradition, the 25th annual exhibit “Trains at the Holidays” returns Dec. 18, 2021 to the Webber Gallery at the College of Central Florida. The annual exhibit presented by the college and the Ocala Model Railroaders’ Historic Preservation Society features modular train layouts and railroad memorabilia. Many of the layouts are inspired by historic Ocala landmarks, such as the Six-Gun Territory theme park that operated in Marion County until 1984.
The exhibit will be open daily during special gallery hours 11 am – 5 pm. through Jan. 2, 2022; it will be closed Dec. 25-27 and Jan. 1, 2022. Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve hours are 12-3 pm. For more information call 352-873-5809.
HOLIDAY MOVIE SERIES
The City of Ocala is offering a free Holiday showing as part of the Park After Dark program! Grab your chair and blanket and go enjoy a free movie and hot cocoa. The Man Who Invented Christmas will be showing at Tuscawilla Park Dec. 10 from 7-9 pm. The movie is rated PG, so it is friendly for the whole family.
For more holiday events from the City of Ocala, visit ocalafl.org/holidays.
OCALA CHRISTMAS LIGHT SPECTACULAR AT THE FLORIDA HORSE PARK
On select dates through Dec. 31, more than a million Christmas lights with dozens of holiday displays will light up over a mile at the Florida Horse Park. The lights trail is drive through style, but there will also be a Santa Land open Fridays and Saturdays offering train rides, a slide, kids activities, live music, and food trucks.
The event begins in the evening at 6 pm (closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). Prices vary on the size of the vehicle. For more information on dates, pricing and to buy tickets, visit OcalaChristmas.com.
The holidays are not just for you and the kids… it’s also for the pups in Ocala. On Dec. 15, 2021, from 5-8:30 pm Santa Paws is at the Southeastern Livestock Pavilion. Bring the pets for pictures with Santa, meet some cute animals needing new forever homes and enjoy hot cocoa and real snow! Just make sure to bring a leash.
Southern Living featured Dunnellon in 2017 as a must visit for Christmas time. Check out the article: Why You Should Visit Dunnellon, Florida This Christmas.
DUNNELLON’S SMALL TOWN CHRISTMAS PARADE AND CELEBRATION
Small Town Christmas in Dunnellon is Dec. 7 with a day full of Holiday activities including a parade and celebration with music, delicious food, carriage rides and more. Close the evening with a lighting of the Christmas tree and parade float awards. Click HERE for more information.
LIGHT UP LAKE LILLIAN
Kick off the first weekend of December (Dec. 4, 2021) with the Holiday spirit the in Belleview at Light Up Lake Lillian! Start on the Christmas shopping with vendors, and the kids can visit with Santa and enjoy free arts and craft activities under the holiday lights. Food options will also be there! For more information call 352-245-7021.
OCALA NATIONAL FOREST
CUT DOWN YOUR OWN CHRISTMAS TREE
Looking for a truly authentic Christmas tradition to do with the family? You can actually cut down your very own Christmas tree in the Ocala National Forest. During daylight hours and anytime through Christmas Eve, put on your hiking boots, explore the Ocala National Forest and pick out your favorite Sand Pine Christmas tree to bring home. The season to cut down your own tree is Oct. 14, 2021 - Friday, Dec. 31, 2021.
Prior to cutting down the tree, make sure to purchase a permit, which costs $10, by visiting Recreation.gov/tree-permits/ocala. This page also offers tips on cutting and selecting your tree and map of the areas you can harvest a tree!
Make sure to print and bring your permit and a map. *The use of chainsaws is not permitted.
For more information you can call the Lake George Ranger District station at (352) 625-2520.