Get your fuzzy socks and hot cocoa ready, Lakeland. From light displays to holiday performances and festive parties, winter is where Swan City thrives.
Gather the family and friends and celebrate what makes the holiday season special with this guide featuring 30 winter events happening between December and February.
Magical Snowy Wonderland | Weekly, Thursday-Saturday | 6-9 p.m. | Lakeside Village, 1479 Town Center Dr., Lakeland | Free | Head to Lakeland’s outdoor shopping mall for a whimsical snowfall, weekly Thursday through Saturday from 6-9 p.m. — snow will fall at the top of each hour.
Lakeland Christmas Parade | Thursday, Dec. 1 | 7 p.m. | Downtown Lakeland | Free | Celebrate the holiday season at this annual Lakeland event, featuring dozens of floats representing organizations from all corners of Swan City.
Snowfest | Saturday, Dec. 3 | 5-9 p.m. | Frances Langford Promenade, 121 S. Lake Ave., Lakeland | Free | Snow will be falling on Lake Mirror as Lakelanders partake in holiday activities like photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus, an artisan market, hot cocoa, and more.
Holiday Treats and Tidings with TinkerBell and Friends | Sunday, Dec. 4 | 11 a.m.-1 p.m. | Enchanted Fairytale Hollow, 214 Trader’s Alley, Lakeland | $15-$40 | TinkerBell and friends will be meeting Lakeland’s youth with light holiday refreshments, crafts, dancing, and winter storytime.
Sensory-friendly Santa: Lakeland Square | Sunday, Dec. 4 | 9-10 a.m. | Lakeland Square Mall, 3800 US Hwy. 98 N., Lakeland | Free | Autism Speaks and Cherry Hill Programs are bringing Sensory-friendly Santa to the Lakeland Square Mall, where children with autism, as well as other differently-abled children, can visit with Santa in a subdued and calm environment — reserve your spot online.
Handmade Holiday | Thursday, Dec. 8 | 6-11 p.m. | Union Hall, 1023 S. Florida Ave., Lakeland | $45 | Enjoy handcrafted holiday cocktails while completing your own Christmas craft, with guidance from award-winning artist and professional host, Kate Hall.
Jingle Bell Rock | Friday, Dec. 9-Saturday, Dec. 10 | 6 p.m.-12 a.m. | Union Hall, 1023 S. Florida Ave., Lakeland | $10 | Head to Union Hall for a costume contest, giveaways, and live music — bring an unwrapped toy for the charity toy drive.
The Annual Lakeland SantaCon | Saturday, Dec. 10- Sunday, Dec. 11 | 5 p.m.-2 a.m. | Downtown Lakeland | $25 | Pick up your tasting passport at the event’s kickoff party at Swan Brewing (115 W. Pine St.) featuring a game of giant flip cup and a costume contest, then head downtown for a self-guided tour of Lakeland establishments — all proceeds benefit kidsPACK.
Ugly Sweater Party & Market | Saturday, Dec. 17 | 6-11 p.m. | Union Hall, 1023 S. Florida Ave., Lakeland | Free | Shop from local artists, makers, bakers, and other small businesses at this event in historic Dixieland — bonus points if you don your ugliest Christmas sweater.
Santa Tea Party | Wednesday, Dec. 21 | 6-8 p.m. | Enchanted Fairytale Hollow, 214 Trader’s Alley, Lakeland | $30-$35 | Meet Santa for treats and tea, storytime, and a holiday sing-along.
Night of Lights | Friday, Dec. 2-Saturday, Dec. 3 | 6:30-8:30 p.m. | One More Child, 1015 Sikes Blvd., Lakeland | Free | Fill the car with your favorite little elves and head to One More Child’s drive-thru Christmas light show, featuring a live nativity scene, Santa and his sleigh, and decorated cottage homes.
Christmas Tree Lighting and Cookie Stroll | Friday, Dec. 2 | 6 p.m. | Downtown Mulberry | Free | Attend the lighting of Mulberry’s city Christmas tree and stroll downtown to collect holiday cookies from local businesses following the tree lighting
Christmas Town | Sunday, Dec. 12 | 5-7:30 p.m. | Victory Church, 1401 Griffin Rd., Lakeland | Free | Visit Victory Church’s Christmas town for snow sledding, food, hayrides, inflatables, laser tag, a kiddie train ride, live Christmas music, and a visit from Santa.
Tree Lighting — Downtown Winter Haven | Thursday, Dec. 1 | 6-7:30 p.m. | Central Park, Downtown Winter Haven | Free | Attend this annual tree lighting in Central Park, featuring the Chain O’ Lakes big band singing Christmas carols — the first 100 children will get free hot cocoa from Richard’s Fine Coffee and cookie decorating courtesy of Gourmet Goodies
Publix Aprons Cooking School New Year’s Eve Celebration | Friday, Dec. 30 | 6:30 p.m. | Publix Aprons Cooking School, 4730 S. Florida Ave., Lakeland | $70 | Start 2023 with a new skill when you learn to prepare sticky Chinese-style braised pork belly, green beans, herb-rubbed standing rib roast with oven-roasted mushroom farro risotto, and more.
NYE 2023 Electric Masquerade | Saturday, Dec. 31 | 9 p.m. | The Yard on Mass, 802 N. Massachusetts Ave., Lakeland | $20 | This electro masquerade dance party includes a free champagne toast at the ball drop.
Pop Punk Emo Night New Years | Saturday, Dec. 31-Sunday, Jan. 1 | 6 p.m.-12 a.m. | Union Hall, 1023 S. Florida Ave., Lakeland | $15-$20 | Punk Nites will be playing live music as you dance the night away and enjoy drink specials.
The NYE Facebook Party | Saturday, Dec. 31-Sunday, Jan. 1 | 10 p.m.-2 a.m. | RP Funding Center, 701 W. Main St., Lakeland | $20 | Ring in the new year with live music from DJ Secret — ages 21+ only, dress code enforced.
“ELF: The Musical” | Wednesday, Nov. 23-Sunday, Dec. 18 | 2:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. | Theatre Winter Haven, 210 Cypress Gardens Blvd., Winter Haven | $33-$36 | The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear, or just head to Theatre Winter Haven for the musical adaptation of this popular Will Ferrell holiday movie.
Southeastern University Annual Christmas Concert | Friday, Dec. 2, Saturday, Dec. 3 | 7:30 p.m. | Bush Chapel, Southeastern University, 1000 Longfellow Blvd., Lakeland | $5-$10 | SEU’s School of Music will be performing Christmas songs for all — students can purchase tickets for $5.
Toast to the Holidays | Saturday, Dec. 3, Sunday, Dec. 4 | 7 p.m., 2 p.m. | Polk Theatre, 121 S. Florida Ave., Lakeland | $26-$49 | Lakeland Symphony Orchestra is kicking off the holiday with a performance of everyone’s favorite seasonal tunes.
Happy Ha-Lidayz | Saturday, Dec. 3 | 7 p.m. | The Well, 114 E. Parker St., Lakeland | $25 | Kick your holiday season off with a laugh at this holiday-themed comedy show.
Winter Gala Concert | Saturday, Dec. 3 | 7 p.m. | Winter Haven Fine Arts Theatre, 11th St. NE, Winter Haven | $7 | Polk State College students will perform in this annual winter concert.
Ballet Magnificat! | Tuesday, Dec. 6 | 7 p.m. | Youkey Theatre, RP Funding Center, 701 W. Lime St., Lakeland | $25-$42 | Come see “Most Incredible Christmas,” a Broadway-style contemporary ballet.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Jr. | Friday, Dec. 9-Sunday, Dec. 18 | 10:30 a.m., 2:00 p.m., 6:30 p.m. | Lakeland Community Theater, 121 S. Lake Ave., Lakeland | $12-$15 | Guide your sleigh to one of these musical performances based on the beloved claymation movie.
Florida Southern College’s Christmas Gala: Spirit of the Season | Saturday, Dec. 10 | 2:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. | Branscomb Auditorium, Florida Southern College, 1100 Johnson Ave., Lakeland | $5-$10 | Florida Southern College’s Department of Music is playing familiar holiday classics and seasonal songs with a twist.
Coffee and Carols | Saturday, Dec. 10 | 6 p.m.| Pressed, 213 E. Bay St., Lakeland | The Swan City Children’s Chorus will be performing holiday music, ending with a community sing-a-long of favorite carols.
“The Nutcracker” | Saturday, Dec. 10 | 2 p.m., 7 p.m. | Polk Theatre, 121 S. Florida Ave., Lakeland | $60-$115 | Russian Ballet Orlando will perform this Christmas classic with a live performance of the score by the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra.
“The Nutcracker” | Saturday, Dec. 10, Sunday, Dec. 11 | 7 p.m., 2 p.m. | Youkey Theatre, RP Funding Center, 701 W. Lime St., Lakeland | $31-$42 | Florida Dance Arts, a Lakeland-based nonprofit community arts collective, will perform “The Nutcracker” all weekend.
“The Nutcracker” | Saturday, Dec. 17, Sunday, Dec. 18 | 7:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. | Branscomb Auditorium, Florida Southern College, 1100 Johnson Ave., Lakeland | $15-$25 | Polk County’s only professional dance company, Florida Dance Theatre, is joining Florida Southern College’s Festival of Arts with two performances of “The Nutcracker.”
Looking for more holiday performances? Check out our full list here.