The town of Celebration kicks off its annual Now Snowing seasonal event tonight with a tree lighting ceremony that begins at 5 p.m. Santa Claus is expected to arrive during the festivities, which last until 9 p.m.
Celebration is just outside the gates of Walt Disney World and hosts Now Snowing – a flurry of soap bubbles and other holiday activities — through New Year’s Eve, and it’s open to the public at no charge. My husband and I have been taking our children to Now Snowing since they were little enough to be awed by the “snow,” and it’s always a fun evening.
Celebration Town Center is quite festive with the “snowfall,” Christmas decorations, live music on Saturdays, ice skating, horse-drawn carriages, simulated train rides, visits with Santa Claus and restaurants to fit a range of budgets and tastes.
Our family outing usually consists of eating dinner and then enjoying the entertainment. There are some wonderful places to dine, such as Cuban treasure the Columbia Restaurant, but for an inexpensive family meal, we like the Market Street Cafe. Through the years, we have learned that planning to have an early dinner helps avoid a long wait for a table (and also makes street parking, which is free, easier) on weekend nights during Now Snowing. The later it gets, the more crowded the streets become and the harder it is to find a close parking spot.
After dinner, we check out the snow and the live music. This year’s schedule:
** Dec. 5: “A Celebration of Voices” showcasing young talent from across the United States
** Dec. 12: “A Countdown to Christmas” featuring recording artists Lucy Iris and Noah Schnacky
** Dec. 19: Radio Disney Holiday with national performing artists
Snow falls daily at 6, 7, 8 and 9 p.m. on Market Street. There’s no need to queue up to experience the snow – just step into the street, which is blocked off from traffic.
Other holiday activities include:
** Ice Skating. The ice skating rink really is a hard plastic surface that kids use skates to glide on. The Endless Ice offers them the traditional winter experience without as many painful spills. This rink even encourages beginning skaters to use supports (that look a lot like walkers) while they learn. Skating, which includes skate rental, is $10 per 30 minutes and it’s open from 4 to 10 p.m. daily.
** Horse and carriage rides are $45 for up to four passengers and $10 for each additional person. Group wagon rides are $5 per person. Plus, Holiday Home Tours can be booked by calling 321-624-6380. They are 30-40 minutes long and cost $25 per person.
** Santa Claus greets families each night from 6 to 9 p.m. through Dec. 24. (He starts 30 minutes earlier on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.) There is no charge for the visit, and photo packages start at $24.99. Pets are welcome on Wednesdays.
** When my son and daughter were younger, they couldn’t wait to ride the Holiday Train on a short trip through town. It’s $5 per person. Tickets can be purchased for $4 before 4 p.m. at Confetti, Market Street Gallery or Sanrio Surprises.