Heading south for the holidays? If so, there are plenty of great places to visit to get you in the holiday spirit, from lighting festivals to Cinderella’s Castle
Walt Disney World
At Walt Disney World in Orlando, it’s Christmas through Jan. 3. Cinderella’s Castle is lit up with 200,000 white lights and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, a ticketed event certain evenings through Dec. 19, features twice-nightly Christmas parades plus live shows, carollers and more.
Other holiday happenings include a “Holidays Around the World” showcase at Epcot through Dec. 30, where storytellers share their heritage. Epcot also hosts a daily gospel performance through Dec. 26, and the Candlelight Processional featuring a choir, orchestra and a celebrity narrator retelling the Christmas story, through Dec. 30.
Mission Inn Hotel & Spa
The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa, at 3649 Mission Inn Ave., is hosting its annual festival of lights through Jan. 2.
Visitors will find a dazzling 3.5 million lights, a tree, carollers, and animatronic elves, angels and other characters in 17th-century costumes. The display is free and open to the public; the hotel also has holiday overnight packages starting at $199.
The festival spills out into the city of Riverside with lights and decorations all over town as well as an outdoor skating rink in the main street pedestrian mall near the historic hotel.
For more details visit missioninn.com.
At Universal Studios, cast members from Glee and other celebrities will read Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas and take part in nightly lightings of a Grinchmas tree, beginning Dec. 11 and 12 and continuing daily Dec. 18 through Jan. 2.
The celebration includes a field of snow where families can build snowmen, as well as visits to the set where the Grinch movie was filmed aboard Universal’s Studio Tour, and photo ops with the Grinch and his dog, Max. Tickets, packages and hotel deals at universalstudioshollywood.com or universalorlando.com.
Asheville, North Carolina
In North Carolina, the historic Biltmore House is celebrating Christmas through Jan. 2 with 150,000 lights, carollers, holiday cooking and decorating demonstrations, wine-tastings and a lit-up 17-metre Norway spruce on the front lawn.
Biltmore’s original owner, George Vanderbilt, first opened the home to friends and family on Christmas Eve 1895 for what became an annual Christmas Party. Biltmore recalls the era with Candlelight Christmas Evenings featuring performances by ballroom dancers in vintage costumes and choirs. Details at biltmore.com.
Galt House Hotel
A brand-new attraction called KaLightoscope opened this season in Louisville, Ky., at the Galt House Hotel on 140 N. Fourth St.
The walk-through pavilion of lighted holiday sculptures is divided into 12 holiday-themed sections including “Toyland,” the “Christmas Tree Maze,” “The Lighted Forest,” and “The Nativity” among others.
The attraction is open through Jan. 3; tickets are from $14.95 to $17.95. Details at KaLight
oscope.com. Other holiday offerings at the hotel include a Christmas dinner show and events with Santa in a life-size gingerbread village.
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