'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. 19, 2022, 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 60-foot tall and more. The day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 25 at 6 pm will be the lighting ceremony and the events will last through Christmas Eve. Bring the whole family to meet Santa, listen to carolers, enjoy the holiday décor and more.
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. 2, 2022 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. 3-, 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. 7-9 at The Reilly! See a magical performance of the Christmas classic by Dance Alive National Ballet at 7:30 pm. Beautiful dancing, music, costumes and, of course, the Sugar Plum Fairy are all promised.
Additional holiday shows at the Reilly include Phantasmagoria: Christmas Carol & Canterville Ghost and Assisted Living: The Home for the Holidays
OCALA CHRISTMAS PARADE
Continue holiday celebrations with a traditional Christmas parade, sure to spark the holiday spirit in guests of all ages. On December 10, 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.
OCALA HOLIDAY GRINCH FEST
Join the Grinch, Santa and his elves at Tuscawilla Park on Dec. 4, from 11 am – 4 pm, for the Ocala Holiday Grinch Fest. There will be over 90 Holiday vendors, food trucks, Holiday music and more. This family-friendly event is completely free.
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. 3, 2022 at the Appleton Museum of Art. 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, a dickens miniature village, nutcrackers and more. A Dickens Christmas Exhibition will be open November 8, 2022 – January 8, 2023.
HISTORIC HOLIDAY HOME TOUR
Take in the beauty of Downtown Ocala’s historic neighborhood district in the peak of the Holiday season. The Historic Ocala Preservation Society (HOPS) is hosting the annual holiday tour of some the beautiful homes in the SE Historic District on December 17, 2022 from 4-9 p.m. The tour will feature carolers, light hors d’oeuvres, and a special meet & greet with Mrs. Claus. The Holiday Home Tour will begin at the HOPS House at 712 E Fort King Street, Ocala FL, 34471. Tour goers will pick up a printed tour guide with addresses and a suggested pat, to explore the historic homes at leisure.
If you take the tour after sundown, you will receive LED candles to light you way. For more information about the event and updates, visit HOPS’ Facebook Page.
ANNUAL TRAINS AT THE HOLIDAYS
The College of Central Florida tradition, the annual exhibit “Trains at the Holidays” returns Dec. 17, 2022 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.
The exhibit will be open daily during special gallery hours 10 am – 2 pm. through Dec. 30, 2022; it will be closed Dec. 24 -25. 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 Santa Clause will be showing at Tuscawilla Park Dec. 16 at 7 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
Beginning Nov. 23 through Dec. 30, 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 is also Santa Land open Fridays-Sundays (Nov 25 – Dec. 23) offering train rides, a slide, kid's activities, live music, and food trucks. Ice skating and food trucks will be available every night.
The event begins in the evening at 6 pm (closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) and the last care is in at 9:30 pm. Prices vary on the size of the vehicle. For more information on dates, pricing and to buy tickets, visit OcalaChristmas.com.
ANNUAL HOLIDAY MARKET
Work on your holiday shopping during the Annual Holiday Market at the Marion Therapeutic Riding Association while you enjoy music, food, a car show, pony rides, a pie contest and more! Bring the whole family to celebrate over 40 local small businesses and arts and craft vendors. The market takes place Nov. 26, 2022, 10 am - 3pm and is free to attend.
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. 3 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. 3, 2022) 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 cookie decorating and arts and craft activities under the holiday lights. Food options will also be there! For more information call 352-245-7021.
Keeping the holiday celebration going in the next day, Sunday Dec. 4, with the Belleview Christmas Parade. The parade starts at 2 pm at Lake Lillian and ends at 110th Street. Visit BelleviewChristmasParade.com for more information.
COTTOM FARM CHRISTMAS VILLAGE
Throughout the Holiday season, Cotton Farm in Weirsdale is transforming into Cottom Farm’s Christmas Village. Get into the Holiday spirit right away on Friday, Nov. 25 at the farm’s Christmas Cruise-In, taking a drive through tour of the farm and enjoying their Christmas lights display from 6-9pm.
Take a hayride to the Merry Market at the Cotton Farm for a pancake breakfast with Santa and elves on Saturday, Dec. 10 from 9 am – 12 pm. Kids can get pictures with Santa and enjoy crafts with elves. There will also be a Countdown to Christmas Craft and Vendor Fair with games, and local craft vendors from 10 am - 2 pm the same day.
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.
Prior to cutting down the tree, make sure to purchase a permit, 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 or National Forests in Florida at (850) 523-8500.