in Lakeland, Winter Haven & Polk County, FL

Lakeland, Winter Haven, and all of Polk County is offering an amazing array of family events for the Holidays, as well as a few unique events close by, but it is difficult to find all the information in one place.   And inquiring minds want to know!   So I have taken the time to find the events (with links) that are most appropriate for families with young children, and here is my gift to all of my local followers.   These are all interactive events meant for the family to enjoy together.  Thank You!  and Enjoy your Holidays!

  • More pictures would have been added, but I attempted to minimize the list so it could be copied to a word document and printed as efficiently as possible.  Or just cut and paste the events that interest you !
  • Please share in the comments if you know of other local events that should be shared with our local families.
  • Or if you have been to one of these, please share how it worked for your family, or any hints for success !
  • Join in for reminders and conversations about these events on the Music Connections Facebook Page.


 Choose Wisely

There is so much offered, but please remember that it is best to choose a few that you and your young family can really enjoy and enhance the magic of your holiday season.  Take care NOT to overbook your schedule, or the resulting cranky attitudes will dampen the opportunities for bonding and making magical memories.

As a matter of fact, this year, I am not offering a Kindermusik Playdate.  There are many events that I want to take my children to, and trips we will be taking.  For my sanity this season, I am simply inviting families to visit us for one of our regular classes during the first two weeks of December.  Please complete the FREE PREVIEW CLASS FORM, to schedule a time to visit and enjoy our Jingle Jangle Holiday FUN during class.  Check out our full 2013-14 Kindermusik Schedule.

Perhaps you will find that the gift of Kindermusik – from January through May will be the most remarkable and longest lasting gift you can give your child and family.


There are six categories of events all in this article:

  • City of Lakeland – Holiday Events 2013
  • City of Winter Haven – Holiday Events 2013
  • Other Events on Specific Dates around Polk County
  • Recurring Weekend Events in Polk County
  • Venues in Polk County with Multiple Events
  • Holiday Train Rides in Central Florida
  • Unique Events in Central Florida



City of Lakeland – Holiday Events 2013

City of Lakeland Web Page with most details.


Holiday Walk-a-bout  – Tuesday, Dec. 3 ,  6 – 9 pm               

  • Downtown Lakeland celebrates the holidays with shopping, dining, music,  live music and more!  Explorations V is open late until 8 pm. with admission at half-price, so parents can switch off  taking turns to do a little stealth shopping.

Lakeland Christmas Parade – Thursday, Dec. 5th   – 7 pm        

  • Theme: “I’m Dreaming of…” .  Set up your seats early (seriously – like in the morning).  The parade sets off from the Lakeland Center down Lemon Street and winds through Downtown.  Roads closed at 5:30.  Fireworks at 7:00 pm

Cookies & Carols  at First Friday, Dec. 6,  6 – 9 pm                            

  • Holiday specials at many of the Downtown shops, and streets lined with canopies full of food and fun.

Snowfest – Saturday, Dec. 7    10:00 am – 2 pm.                   

  • A Holiday Event for the Entire Family featuring SNOW… at the Lake Mirror Promenade… How cool is that ?

Santa’s Calling  –  Tuesday, Dec. 10   5:30 – 8:30 pm

  • Arrange for your child to receive a special telephone call from Santa!!  Print Santa’s Calling Form, then return the completed form to a city Parks & Rec. location (mail, fax, or deliver) by Dec. 9.  The questions are interesting.


City of Winter Haven – Holiday Events 2013

City of Winter Haven Web Page with most details.


Havendale Christmas Parade – Friday, Dec. 6;   7 – 8 pm.

Carols In the Park – Sat-Sun, Dec. 7-8;   10 am – 5 pm.

Santa’s Calling  –  Thurs. Dec. 12   6 – 8 pm.

Snow Central – Thurs. Dec. 19;  6 pm – 9 pm.

  • Family fun in the SNOW – happening in downtown Winter Haven. Free event. Vendors will offer food and more.



Other Events on Specific Dates around Polk County


Elves Shelves Gift Shop  now through Sunday Dec. 8 – 10 am – 5 pm.

  • Lakeland:  Polk Museum of Art – This special secret shop is for children only, so kids can purchase gifts for family members !

Make It Magical  –  Friday, Dec. 6,  4 – 9 pm.

  • Lake Wales Main Street –  The marketplace will be decorated and filled with holiday magic: treats, carriage rides, family fun & Santa !

Jingle Bell Rock Party  –  Friday, December 6,   6 -9 PM    

  • Lakeland – Wabash Community Center   –  It’s a holiday party for children with arts, crafts, treats, & movie.  But what about DANCING ???  I want to DANCE !!!

Chain of Lakes Boat Parade – Sat. Dec. 7;  6:30 pm.

  • Winter Haven –   Starting at Lake May and counter clockwise to all lakes.  Watch at the docks at Harborside and Old Man Franks.  Lakeside dock owners will be “decking out their docks” for the festivities.

Mistletoe Marketplace  – Dec. 12, 13, 14

  • Eagle Lake – City Hall Complex –  Performances on Dec. 12, all other shops and events open  6 pm – 9 pm.  My neighbor says she has taken children in her family to this for many years, and recommended it highly.

Bartow’s Magical Illumination Christmas Parade –  Friday, Dec. 13 – 6 – 8 pm.

  • Bartow – Starting at Mosaic Park, and winding through downtown Bartow

Christmas Notes – Sat, Dec. 14,   5 – 8 pm.

  • Homeland Heritage Park   (South of Bartow)  Activities include holiday storytelling, cookie decorating, photos with Santa, a caroling hayride, live music and entertainment, inflatable bounce houses, refreshments, and food vendors.  Debbie’s Note:  I have LOVED every event I have attended at this delightfully historic site.  Here is where we travel back in time to experience how life was in a different era, or even to experience part of our own world that we know very little about.

 Come to the Stable – an interactive folk nativity – Dec. 14  6:30 pm

  • Winter Haven – First Presbyterian Church  –   an interactive folk Nativity with live animals and music, performers of all ages in period costumes and live narration of the Christmas Story.

Home Sweet Home Gingerbread Contest – Fri. Dec. 6-8 & 14-15    –

  • Winter Haven –  Women’s Resource Center Of Central Florida – Gingerbread houses will be on display for two weekends.  Other events:
  • Sat. 12/7  – Breakfast with Santa  8 – 10 pm.   (fee for food and time/photos with Santa)
  • Sat. 12/7 –  Candy Land   1 – 4 pm.  gingerbread house decorating   (fee includes all needed to build own GB house
  • Sat. 12/14 – Santa Fly-In   11:00 am – free
  • Sat. 12/14 –  Teddy Bear Tea  –  4:30 – 5:30   (fee includes a teddy bear to take home)

Victorian Christmas – Sat., Dec. 6 , 7, 13, 14  – 6 – 9 pm. 

  • Lakeland:  Kingscliff – Lake Hollingsworth –  Geneva Classical Academy Event:  Experience a Dickens holiday as you move through seven themed rooms of a home.   Costumed interpreters playing the roles of Charles Dickens’ family and characters from A Christmas Carol lead you to experience the holiday as it was celebrated in the 1850s, at the height of the Victorian period, when most of our Christmas traditions began.  Fabulous, but best for elementary ages.



Recurring Weekend Events in Polk County


A Country Christmas Hayride –  Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in Dec.;  6 – 10 pm.

  • North Lakeland  –  Off Moore Road  – The Smith Family Farm (the same folks who bring us Cornfusion) is offering a 30 min. lighted hayride, a cowboy Santa, a live Nativity scene, and other country Christmas happenings.

Tea with Mrs. Santa – Saturdays starting Nov. 30  –  see website for schedule and fees

  • Auburndale – Sweet Magnolia’s Tea Bistro – Make arrangements with friends to enjoy a Christmas Tea Party.  Mrs. Clause is there to read stories and take pictures with your little ones.  Upstairs there is a place for decorating Gingerbread houses (graham crackers).  CALL for reservations:  (863) 965-1684     They are almost fully booked already !

Be-Fly Christmas Lights Bike Tours – Fridays and Saturdays in December – 6 – 8 pm.

  • Lakeland – Be-Fly Bike Shop – Rent one of their Be-Fly Bikes (first come first serve), or bring your own bikes to tour local holiday decorated neighborhoods.

Lights of Lakeland – Dec. 6 – 8 & 13 – 15,   –  6:30 – 9 pm. nightly

  • Lakeland – Highland Park Church  –  Lights of Lakeland is an annual FREE walk-thru Christmas experience the whole family can enjoy!   Personal note:  It is beautiful and worth it… we make it a part of our family’s night out to see the Christmas lights almost every year.



Polk County Venues with Multiple Events for Children


Lakeland Community Theatre at the Lake Mirror Complex

Junie B in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells – Dec. 6, 7, 8  – check times and fees on schedule

Melodies and Mistletoe – Dec. 14, 15  – check times and fees on schedule


Lakeside Village Holiday Events  

Strolling Carolers  –  11/29 to 12-21  –  Every Fri & Sat.  6 – 9 pm.  Sing along and look for Ms. Tiffany !

Santa’s Workshop (near Famous Footwear)  –  11-29 to 12-24

  • I’ve been told that the last few years, this was the best and most jolly Santa in all of Lakeland.
  • Check online for Santa’s workshop schedule, or LIKE this Santa’s Facebook Page

Breakfast with Santa  – Saturday 12/ 14  – 8:30 – 10 am  – Mimi’s Café  –  Reservations Required

Magical Animated Holiday Light Show  –  12/12 – 23   – every half hour 7 – 9 pm

Paint An Ornament  –  Thursday 12/5  –  9 am. – 9 pm.  –  PicassoZ Art Café   – benefit event


Lakeland Square Mall  Holiday Events 

Visit with Santa – Nov 23 – Dec. 24 –     Check schedule for daily appearances.  –  Macy’s Concourse

A Lakeland Holiday Event  – Dec. 14  –  Face painting, kids activities, performances and more.

Toys for Tots Drive  – Dec. 21 –  10 am. – 6 pm.  –  Every toy donation will receive a retailer gift card.



The Lakeland Center  –   links are separate to pull out just the ones for families.

ISO Winter Wonderland  –  Sat. Dec. 10,    7:30 pm.        

  • Imperial Symphony Orchestra takes on the holiday spirit in style.  Set includes “Polar Express”- see full set.

Celtic Yuletide – Dec. 17 – 7:30   – Some children may enjoy this high energy event.  MY daughter begs to stand up and dance in the aisles.

Moscow’s BalletGreat Russian Nutcracker – Dec. 27  – check website for time and ticket prices

  • My 9 year old was totally mesmerized last year by this entire ballet, but was hugely surprised there was no singing or talking.  Oops, my bad.  I told her the entire story, but neglected that one important detail about ballets.

Public Ice Skating   now – Dec. 1  & Dec 17 – Jan 6  (see times)   

  • Get in the winter mood with some chilly fun.  Dress warm and bring thick socks.  Good Luck, and Be Careful !


Christmas Bricktacular at Legoland Florida     – Special events each weekend in Dec.

  • Winter Haven:    Loads of Lego fun and festivities.  We haven’t tried it, so please share your thoughts.


Christmas at Bok Tower Gardens

  • Lake Wales:   See the list of events starting Dec. 7.   It seems most of these events are for children from elementary age to adult, but with appropriate adult preparation and interaction, it could be appropriate for any age.




Holiday Train Rides in Central Florida


Cannonball Christmas Express –   See multiple scheduled dates and fees online

  • Tavares, FL  (NW of Orlando, near Eustis) –  Get into the holiday spirit on board the Orange Blossom Cannonball Christmas Express for a magical trip to the North Pole.   Take a real train ride in vintage coaches pulled by our 1907 steam locomotive on the travel to our destination singing Christmas songs and enjoying a cup of hot chocolate and cookies. Santa will board the train at the North Pole to visit with kids of all ages and present each child with a gift.   Be aware, most weekend tickets are sold out.


Christmas at the Florida Railroad Museum & the North Pole Express

  • Parrish, FL   (25 miles north of Sarasota)   Enjoy the Holiday festivities at the Florida Railroad Museum.  The real steam train ride to the North Pole, and all the happenings there is an amazing experience.  The website says the event is sold out.  Keep this in mind for next year, or check back regularly to see if any tickets become available due to cancellations.



Unique Events in Central Florida

I tried to choose the unique events that may not be as well known.  No amusement parks here.

ICE!  Featuring Frosty the Snowman Ice Park  –  Nov. 23 – Jan. 5   Open daily – see schedule online

  • Kissimmee – Gaylord Palms Resort  –  Be prepared to be cold (although coats are provided), and to be totally awestruck by the magnificent walk-through ice park, ice slides, and more!    Look for the Florida Resident Rates – children under 4 years old are free.

Wild Wonderland – Safari Spectacular  –  Dec. 7, 13-15, 17-23 & 26-30   6:30 – 10 pm.

  • Tampa – Lowry Park Zoo  –  Visit real reindeer, see the holiday lights and Santa, enjoy the rides, the Ice Slide, and the nightly snow flurries surrounded by wild animals at the zoo.


Highly Recommended Online Resources for finding Local Events: 

Mark these as Favorites in your Browser.   More events are listed on these sites, but I just chose the ones I thought best for young families.


Please share if you know of other local events that should be shared with our local families.  Or if you have been to one of these, please let us know how it worked for your family, or tips for success !  Thanks !