IMG_5236From Nutcracker ballets to Main Street parades, December’s calendar is filled with holiday happenings that have become tradition for many Central Floridians.

For me, our annual visit to Christmas at Gaylord Palms has become a never-to-be-missed affair. All through the year, this palatial resort in Kissimmee is one of my date night favorites, but it becomes particularly appealing during the holidays when the 4.5-acre atrium gets drenched in holiday décor.

Holiday date nights at Gaylord Palms run the full spectrum of price tags; you can spend a lot or you can spend just a little. To help you plan your visit, I created a handful of itineraries to suit any budget.

Once you pay to self-park ($15) it doesn’t cost a thing to wander through the resort taking in the more than two million twinkling lights and the amazing 54-foot-tall Christmas tree. In addition, throughout each day there are live holiday shows taking place on stage in the Emerald Bay Plaza. Beginning most days at noon until 8:30 or 9:30 p.m., these shows are completely free to enjoy. Here’s a full schedule of the live holiday shows.

ICE Madagascar - Family with characters in jungle$60ish

Snag a few tickets to ICE!, the wintery wonderland transformed from two million pounds of sculptured ice. This frosty 9-degree scene is best enjoyed during non-peak times. Check the website for more details and be sure to buy tickets in advance using the promo code FLR12; if you’re a FL resident, you’ll save an extra $4 per ticket. ICE! is open 10a.m. to 10p.m.

After your ICE! experience, stop in at Sora, the chic sushi bar near the lobby, and share an order of Spicy Tuna Nachos along with a couple of cocktails. Open daily from 4p.m. until 10p.m.

Book some ICE! inspired spa treatments at the onsite Relâche Spa. This could include the ICE! Aromatherapy Body Wrap ($125) or the ICE! Mani-Pedi ($99). To make an appointment, call 407-586-4772.


Make a reservation at Old Hickory Steakhouse, the intimate eatery tucked into Gaylord’s misty Everglades wing. Reservations are highly recommended; call (407) 586-1600.



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