Welcome back, Orlando! It’s my joy to wish you a Happy New Year! 2022 is on track to be another memorable year and as always, I’m going to be right here every month bringing you all the latest recaps and highlights. For now, it’s time to wind the clock back to December and find out how the city of Orlando celebrated this past holiday season and the start of a new year. Here are a few of the highlights, just in case you missed it!

The Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild, sponsored by T-Mobile, returned for the second year last year and continued to January 16, 2022. The festival featured more than 30 larger-than-life, hand-constructed lantern displays lit by more than 10,000 LED lights. The result was a dazzling display of color, light and sound celebrating art, culture and beauty of traditional Asian lantern festivals. The lanterns were set up on a 3/4 -mile trek throughout the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens. 

There is no better way to celebrate the holiday season than gathering your family for Christmas at Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Kissimmee! This holiday season’s event wrapped on January 2nd and included new shows, dozens of Christmas trees, ice tubing and a new interactive experience based on the movie, “Elf.” New this year was a Broadway-style show with acrobatics and high-flying stunts called “Cirque: The Spirit of Christmas.” Over in the resort’s atrium, a new light show called “Shine Light Show” featured thousands of upgraded lights synced to a seasonal soundtrack. Other activities in the Christmas at Gaylord Palms lineup include ice tubing and snowball building, a Christmas tree trail, themed scavenger hunts, and more. Guests could also experience the Three Kings Festival in “The Journey of Los Tres Mago” or the birth of Jesus in the musical stage show “The Greatest Story.”

Throughout the month of December and all the way to January 2nd, SeaWorld’s Annual Christmas Celebration returned with all the wonderfully festive attractions they’re known and loved for! Guests sang along with holiday carols that filled the air, a sea of lighted trees sparkled over the lake in a wintery, watery wonderland, and world-famous skaters twirled on ice. With festive food, stunning live shows, and delightful entertainment inspired by the natural world, SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration saw the creation of many new and unforgettable holiday memories.

On December 11th, Orlando rocked in the holidays at the 9th annual “Violectric Holiday Show” at the Walt Disney Amphitheatre in Lake Eola Park. The free and public concert presented by the City of Orlando Department of Families, Parks and Recreation, featured traditional holiday songs mashed up with classic rock tunes and modern hits delivering a fun-filled, energetic and highly unique holiday show unlike anything seen and heard before. The pet friendly concert was simulcast around all of Lake Eola. Violectric has also teamed up again with Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando for the show and attendees were encouraged to bring a pet supply or donate to Pet Alliance.

From January 5th – 9th, runners and Disney-lovers united for the highly anticipated Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. When you participate in the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, you become part of something incredibly special, by running right in the heart of The World’s Most Magical Celebration. For the final race of the weekend, registered attendees joined Mickey, Minnie and friends on the most magical course on earth for an extraordinary 26.2-mile race through Walt Disney World Resort and encountered delightful surprises along the way. From the marathon to the 5K, all participants enjoyed each step of the way through the Disney theme parks during the 50th anniversary celebration of Walt Disney World Resort.

It should come as no surprise to learn that Holidays at Universal Orlando has won Theme Park Insider’s first-ever award for Best Holiday Event. Featuring Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Grinchmas in Seuss Landing, and Universal’s Holiday Parade Featuring Macy’s, Universal Orlando’s holiday festivities picked back up in 2021 after a tough 2020 throughout the industry. Anyone can “Ho-ho-ho” and “Fa-la-la” for the holidays. But if you want to scream, laugh and shout your jingle bells off, you’ve got to awesome up your holiday at Universal Orlando Resort, where we do the holidays big time. It’s the biggest, loudest, awesomest holiday celebration of the season.

Uncorked was the city’s chance to see Orlando Ballet’s dancers perform up-close-and-personal in their new home, Harriett’s Orlando Ballet Centre. One of Uncorked’s unique features is getting to experience Artistic Director Robert Hill and a few Orlando Ballet dancers choreograph right in front of you. Uncorked has established itself as a popular gateway to ballet because it demystifies dance for new audiences and shows that ballet is an art form for everyone.

The EPCOT® International Festival of the Arts kicked off January 14 and runs through February 21 presenting an inspiring way to celebrate the best of the visual, culinary and performing arts, all in one destination. The festival made its original debut back in January of 2017 and has quickly become a fan favorite! This year’s festival is extra magical since it’s taking place during The World’s Most Magical Celebration honoring the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World® Resort. New art is created and revealed regularly throughout the entire Festival so guests can look forward to a new experience every time they visit.