Ocala's World Equestrian Center (WEC) is nestled deep in the Horse Capital of the World and makes a fantastic romantic getaway whether you're visiting for a horse show or staying overnight in the opulent Equestrian Hotel. During the holiday season, the WEC transforms into a literal Winter Wonderland, filled with over a million holiday lights and some of the most stunning Christmas decor around.
WEC's Winter Wonderland is beautiful to behold and, in addition to decor and lights guaranteed to get you and your sweetie into the Christmas spirit, the property and its Equestrian Hotel are fully decked out for the holidays. There are also plenty of spots to grab dinner and drinks, as well as a ton of spirited entertainment. It's a great spot for a winter date night.
While there are tons of wonderful Christmas lights in Orlando and holiday decor around town, this is worth a little excursion, here's why.
What to Know About the World Equestrian Center's Winter Wonderland
Winter Wonderland at the WEC takes place for an entire month during the Christmas season. With over one million holiday lights and some truly magical photo opportunities, it's a great spot to take a holiday stroll on a winter date night.
- WEC's Winter Wonderland takes place from November 24 through December 23.
- The holiday light displays at WEC are turned on daily from 5 p.m. through 9 p.m., but on the weekends there's also entertainment, food and drink vendors, and more.
- During this magical holiday event, you can stroll through beautiful light displays, pose for photos with fun photo props, meet characters like Disney Princesses and superheroes, shop, eat, and more.
- The WEC is home to the Equestrian Hotel, a beautiful property that's fully decorated for the holidays and boasts bars, restaurants, shopping and more. Make your trip a romantic getaway by booking a room at this stunning hotel for the night you visit.
- A full calendar of the performances and events taking place each day can be found on the WEC Winter Wonderland website.
Things to do at the World Equestrian Center's Winter Wonderland
My husband and I visited WEC's Winter Wonderland on its opening night and made a full overnight getaway out of it. We started our evening by touring the hotel's lobby and retail areas to take in the beautiful holiday decor.
From a Christmas tree decorated with fresh orchids to a gingerbread horse jump designed by executive pastry chef Yohann Le Bescond (who you may recognize from Food Network's Summer Baking Championship), there's lots to see and do in the hotel lobby area alone.
Inside the Equestrian Hotel, you'll find Stirrups Restaurant and Yellow Pony Pub and Garden, both of which are solid options for a date night dinner before you stroll through the Winter Wonderland display.
We shared a ribeye dinner at Stirrups, seated with a view of the property's Grand Arena and the millions of holiday lights.
After our meal, we strolled through the holiday lights of Winter Wonderland, taking photos with everything from a giant slow globe to a 45-foot walk-through Christmas tree.
We watched performers and holiday carolers, shopped at quaint holiday-themed bakeries and shops, and stopped for a few snacks and drinks along the way at the food kiosks and bars set up along the walkway.
As we strolled, we saw many a Disney Princess posing for photos as well as performers with everything from bubble wands to laser lights. There was an opportunity to meet Santa and pose for a photo, and during it all, there were a few different horse shows we could have stopped and watched.
The entire night felt perfectly holiday-themed and it totally got us into the Christmas spirit.
How much does the World Equestrian Center's Winter Wonderland Cost?
While it's free to stroll through the lights and displays at the WEC, you'll want to grab some food and beverages and possibly bring home some sweet treats from the North Pole Bakery or a cute keepsake from the Mr. Pickles and Sailor Bear Toy Shoppe pop-up in the plaza.
There is a charge to park your vehicle at WEC, which can be paid in advance online or at the gate upon arrival.
- General parking on Monday through Thursday is $10.
- General parking on Friday through Sunday is $30.
- Premium parking on Friday through Sunday is $50.
- A monthly parking pass can be purchased for $200, so you can attend as often as you'd like for one flat fee.
Find it: World Equestrian Center Ocala, 1750 NW 80th Avenue, Ocala, FL (352)414-7900
Find it: The Equestrian Hotel, 8510 17th Lane, Ocala, FL (866)478-9267