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November 28, 2018

Our Favorite Family-Friendly Holiday Events in Tampa Bay and Beyond!

By Tampa Bay Parenting

Holiday Events 2018 

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 
Select Nights in December 
Spend the holidays with Mickey and his friends at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando. Take in the sights and sounds of Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, a holiday fireworks extravaganza, and a Frozen Holiday Wish with an enchanting performance by Queen Elsa as she transforms Cinderella Castle into a glimmering ice palace. Plus, meet up with Disney pals and sample complimentary cookies and hot cocoa. disneyworld.disney.go.com 

Tampa Theatre’s Holiday Classics 
Through Dec. 23, various times 
It’s the most wonderful time of the year at Tampa Theatre! Enjoy the holidays with the theater’s beautifully restored lobby, gorgeous curtain, new seating and a concessions counter to serve more guests than ever before. This year, the theatre will offer five weekends worth of programming of Holiday Classics such as “A Christmas Story,” “Elf,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and “White Christmas.” The Theatre will also collect canned and imperishable food throughout the events to benefit Metropolitan Ministries in an effort to help 20,000 families this holiday season. tampatheatre.org/holiday 

Christmas in the Wild at ZooTampa
Through Dec. 30, select nights 
Enjoy a special festival of lights to launch the holiday season at Zoo Tampa. Indulge yourself with stunning lights, seasonal smells of holiday treats, and the excitement of festive entertainment as you enjoy the magic of wildlife at night. zootampa.org 

Symphony in Lights at The Shops at Wiregrass
Through Dec 31, 6 -9 p.m. 
Check out the dancing lights, holiday décor and snow at The Shops at Wiregrass. Catch an inspiring light show choreographed to the holiday music of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Shows are nightly on the hour. Free. theshopsatwiregrass.com 

Christmas at Gaylord Palms  
Through Jan. 6, various times 
Experience everything Christmas in one place as part of the interactive spectacle ICE! at Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee. Check out the new ICE theme with 2 million pounds of colorful, hand-carved ice sculptures and slides featuring “A Christmas Story,” with scenes from The Old Man’s Major Award, Aunt Clara’s pink nightmare, the classic triple dog dare at the flagpole, and much more. christmasatgaylordpalms.com 

Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in Tampa
Through Jan. 6, various times 
Celebrate the holidays starting in November and lasting into the New Year at Curtis Hixon Park. Come see the transformed waterfront park decked with sights, sounds, and activities full of holiday cheer for children and adults of all ages.  Downtown Tampa’s only outdoor ice rink will be back again this year as another must do for Tampa residents and guests alike. wintervillagetampa.com 

Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s 
Through Jan.6, various times 
Bring the whole family out to Universal Studios and join the Minions and Santa Claus for a Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s, a holiday favorite. Join your favorite characters from Madagascar and Shrek and enjoy the holiday festivities throughout Universal Orlando Resort! Enjoy huge balloons resembling the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York, as well as floats, dancers and entertainment. universalorlando.com 

Grinchmas at Islands of Adventure
Through Jan. 6, various times 
Head over to Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando Resort for “warm fuzzies with a side of sarcasm” at Seuss Landing. Enjoy holiday festivities and cheer as you immerse yourself in Dr. Seuss’ Who-ville. Enjoy the hilarity of The Grunchmas Who-liday Spectacular, a retelling, live, of the beloved story of the Grinch with music recorded by Mannheim Steamroller. Guests will even have the opportunity to meet the Grinch himself for an autograph and a photo. universalorlando.com 

Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter 
Through Jan. 6, various times 
Enjoy a Harry Potter Christmas in both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure this holiday season. Start at Universal Studios for Diagon Alley and London, and see the transformation with brilliant lights and festive décor. Enjoy holiday treats before you head to King’s Cross station to hear your favorite holiday favorites. Make your way to Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure and enjoy decorated shops, The Frog Choir singing seasonal tunes, treats and drinks, and witness the unfolding of the holiday spirit at The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle. universalorlando.com 

Candlelight Processional at Epcot 
Through Dec. 30, various times 
If you love Epcot and you love classic holiday music, head over to the Candlelight Processional at Epcot at Walt Disney World. This holiday tradition features the retelling of the Biblical story of Christmas featuring a celebrity narrator, 50-piece orchestra set, and magnificent choirs. disneyworld.com 

River of Lights Holiday Cruises in Tampa
Through Dec. 30, various times 
Head over to the Hillsborough River and catch a Pirate Water Taxi for a unique way to celebrate the holiday season in Tampa. Guests will enjoy festive decorations, lighted bridges and more all along the Hillsborough River. Enjoy festive narrations, Christmas Carolers and yummy holiday treats, too. piratewatertaxi.com 

SeaWorld Orlando’s Christmas Celebration  
Through Dec. 31, various times 
Head to SeaWorld Orlando to make new holiday memories with festive shopping, delicious food and dazzling live shows inspired by the natural world. Stroll the lakeside Christmas Market and pick out unique, artisan-crafted gifts. The Christmas Celebration is included with park admission. seaworldorlando.com 

Christmas Town at Busch Gardens  
Through Dec. 31, various times 
Take part in one of Tampa newest family traditions at Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay as the park becomes a holiday wonderland for select dates this month. Nibble on festive treats, check out special holiday shows and twinkling lights and do some holiday shopping. Plus, visit Santa’s House presented by Coca-Cola® and Rudolph’s Winter Wonderland featuring the beloved characters from the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer™ television special. buschgardenstampa.com 

The Wonderland of Lights & Santa’s Village at the Hillsborough County Fairgrounds
Through Dec. 29, various times 
Experience Tampa’s holiday theme park located at the Hillsborough County Fair Grounds in Brandon. Enjoy a beautiful mile of decorated Holiday displays and dazzling lights. Once your mile is up, check out holiday-themed attractions, a wolf exhibit, rides, and of course, photos with Santa. Tickets are $25. thewonderlandoflights.com 

Holiday Lights in the Gardens at Florida Botanical Gardens 
Through Dec. 31, 5:30-9:30 p.m. 
Experience the holiday lights along the paths of Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo. Enjoy nightly entertainment and visits from Santa Claus at this largest fundraiser for the gardens. Event is free, but $4 donation suggested. For more information, call 727-582-2100. 

Oakdale Christmas house  
Through Jan. 3, 6- 10 p.m. 
Prepare to be dazzled by an array of half a million flashing colorful twinkles for a holiday light display that garnered a top 3 showing as a finalist on NBC’s “Today” show. Check out an 18-train HO scale railroad, moving planes and carnival rides at the St. Petersburg home located at 2719 Oakdale St. S. Free.  christmasdisplay.org   

Jingle Bell Run 
Dec. 1, event times vary 
Be part of the longest-running holiday-themed 5K race series anywhere. The Arthritis Foundation’s original Jingle Bell Run is a fun way celebrate your festivity for the holiday season. Race to help raise awareness and funding for America’s #1 cause for disability. Guests are encouraged to wear their favorite holiday costumes. The celebration will continue after the race with food and drinks (including beer and mimosas), entertainment, kid’s zones, a holiday-themed costume contest, silent auction, and much more! All participants will receive an official long-sleeved Jingle Bell T-Shirt, jingle bells and access to all activities and post-race party. There is also a 1-mile route for runners or walkers. events.arthritis.org. 

36th Annual Downtown Tampa Christmas Parade and Santa Fest  
Dec. 1, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 
Come out to Curtis Hixon Park for an afternoon of fun for all. Curtis Hixon will be decorated for the Holiday season and transformed into a winter wonderland. The parade begins at 11 a.m. at Madison and Morgan Streets and will travel west towards Ashley Drive, ending at Cass Street. Don’t miss free photos with Santa, entertainment, crafts, games and activities. tamapgov.net

Outback Bowl/The Science of Tailgating
December 1 thru December 31
Join MOSI for some high-energy fun as we celebrate the Science of Tailgating in MOSI’s Science Park. Add physics to your corn hole throws, engineering to your wooden towers, and track the technology to your passes as you play your way through a field of games. This official Tailgate Training of the Outback Bowl will allow you to celebrate family, friends, and football at MOSI every weekend this December. mosi.org

Victorian Christmas Stroll at the Henry B. Plant Museum 
Dec. 1-23, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. 
Experience the grandeur of a Victorian Christmas during this signature event of the Henry B. Plant Museum at the University of Tampa. Visit decorated exhibit rooms while enjoying complimentary cider and cookies. Tickets are $15 adults and $9 youth with discount days Dec. 4-5 and 11-12. Proceeds fund the hotel’s restoration and preservation efforts. plantmuseum.com 

Christmas Bricktacular at LEGOLAND Florida Resort 
Dec. 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22-31, various times 
See a dazzling, 30-foot tall LEGO Christmas tree made of 270,000 LEGO bricks at LEGOLAND Florida Resort in Winter Haven. Young guests can send letters to the North Pole, sing along to Christmas tunes and hear stories told by Mrs. Claus. Capture precious memories at one-of-a-kind photo ops such as a life-size Santa, sleigh and reindeer made from thousands of LEGO bricks and new this year, from inside a giant snow globe or a giant LEGO Christmas wreath. legolandflorida.com 

A Celtic Angels Christmas at Capitol Theatre 
Dec. 2, 7 p.m. 
Join the Celtic Angels in their Capitol Theatre debut for a Celtic Angels Christmas, sure to captivate all who step foot inside. Enjoy vocal and instrumental seasonal favorites, and world class Irish dancing. rutheckerdhall.com 

Hello, Dolly! at the Straz Center
Dec. 4-9, various times 
Head over to the Straz Center in Carol Morsani Hall for the Tony winning Best Musical Revival and Broadway’s most beloved musical, “Hello, Dolly!” Enjoy phenomenal choreography and music with this new production of the original show. strazcenter.org 

Brian Setzer Orchestra at Ruth Eckerd Hall  
Dec. 5, 8 p.m. 
Join musical extraordinaire and Grammy award winner Brian Setzer and his orchestra in his 15th Annual Christmas Rocks! Tour at Ruth Eckerd Hall. Enjoy classic holiday hits as well as featured music from their latest holiday album “Rockin’ Rudolph.” rutheckerdhall.com 

Home Is Where the Heart Is Holiday Stroll 
Dec. 7, 7 p.m. 
Kick off the holidays with scrumptious food and drink at this fundraiser stroll along beautiful Davis Islands, and meet up with friends old and new at this year’s elegant host homes of South Tampa. Proceeds benefit the children at A Kid’s Place Tampa Bay. Tickets are $100. akidsplacetb.org 

Magical Night Christmas Parade in Dade City 
Dec. 7, 7 -9 p.m. 
Join thousands of spectators to watch colorfully decorated floats, dancers, marching bands and more as they travel down the downtown Dade City parade route. Santa Claus is also expected to join the festivities. dadecitychamber.org 

Barry Manilow’s “A Very Barry Christmas” at Amalie Arena
Dec. 7, 7:30 p.m. 
Don’t miss Barry Manilow’s one night in Tampa at the Amalie Arena for a special Christmas performance, “A Very Barry Christmas.” He will play classic hits such as “Copacabana” and “Mandy” as well as holiday favorites. amaliearena.com 

Safety Harbor Tree Lighting Ceremony 
Dec. 7, 6 -9 p.m. 
Gather with family and friends for the lighting of Safety Harbor’s giant Christmas tree by the gazebo at John Wilson Park. Choirs will warm up the crowd for a visit from Santa Claus arranged by the Safety Harbor Fire Department. Free. cityofsafetyharbor.com 

St. Petersburg City Theater presents A Christmas Carol 
Dec. 7-16, various times 
Don’t miss out on this timeless Dickens classic with beloved characters such as Scrooge, Tiny Tim and all of your favorite ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. Benefits support the local arts association and local non-profit theater companies. Come be reminded of the importance of compassion and love for all this holiday season. spcitytheatre.org 

The Dunedin Express 
Dec.7-19 (excluding the 8, 11, 17), various times 
Pick up your golden ticket at the Dunedin History Museum and ride the trolley in your pajamas to Santa’s Workshop and receive a special gift for believing in Santa. Enjoy games, crafts, cookies and hot cocoa with Santa and his elves. Call for fees and time slots at 727-736-1176. Reservation required.

Breakfast with Santa at The Florida Aquarium
Dec. 8, 8:00 am – 9:30 am
Greet Santa and his animal friends at a scrumptious holiday event hosted by The Florida Aquarium. Begin your visit with a buffet breakfast and a meet-up with Santa. Families will have the opportunity to purchase photos with Santa that morning. For more information, call 813-273-4030. flaquarium.org

Santa’s Workshop at MOSI
December 8th thru December 31st
Santa’s Workshop, located in the Idea Zone® invention lab at MOSI is included with admission. Running from Saturday, December 8, 2018 and continuing through Monday, December 31, 2018, various activities have been planned to ensure a variety of activities for guests, providing reasons to make several return trips. This year’s theme will be “Activities and Gifts Inspired by Video Games and Animation.” mosi.org

Jane Lynch a Swingin’ Little Christmas at the Straz Center 
Dec. 8-9, various times 
Join Emmy and Golden Globe-winning comedian Jane Lynch (“Hollywood Game Night,” “Glee”) as she brings the Christmas cheer in her usual hilarious style with renditions of holiday classics. Experience more stars with her See Jane Sing concert tour mates, Kate Flannery (The Office) and Tim Davis, known for his work with Josh Groban, Childish Gambino, Pentatonix and Lady Gaga. strazcenter.org 

The Winter Wonderettes at Stage Works Theatre
Dec. 8-23, 8- 10 p.m. 
Head out to Stageworks Theatre for a hilarious night of holiday harmonies for all ages. Join the Wonderettes as they attempt to save Santa Claus and the holiday season. Enjoy 60’s versions of “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town,” “Jingle Bell Rock,” “Run, Rudolph, Run” and “Winter Wonderland”. stageworkstheatre.org 

Festival of Lights in Zephyrhills
Dec. 8, 4 -9 p.m. 
Line up the fam along Main Street in downtown Zephyrhills in preparation for this year’s lighted parade to celebrate the holidays. This year’s parade theme is Classic Holiday Movies. Parade starts at 7 p.m. Free admission. mainstreetzephyrhills.org 

PJ Library Hanukkah Hop @ Gator Fred’s 
Dec. 9, 12:30- 2:30 p.m. 
Kids are invited to come play and celebrate Hanukkah with PJ Library friends at Gator Fred’s in Carrollwood. Afternoon includes hopping, playing, pizza, holiday treats and the featured PJ Library story “The Hanukkah Trike.” Fee is $5 per child pay at the door. bryanglazerfamilyjcc.com 

A Charlie Brown Christmas Live! at Capitol Theatre
Dec. 12, 7 p.m. 
See the Emmy® and Peabody award-winning story by Charles M. Schulz adapted for the stage and performed at Capitol Theatre. Join Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus and other members of the Peanuts gang on their journey to discover the true meaning of Christmas. Tickets are $35-$100. rutheckerdhall.com 

93.3 FLZ’s Jingle Ball at Amalie Arena  
Dec. 15, 7 p.m. 
Don’t miss this year’s 10th Annual Jingle Ball at Amalie Arena. This year expect performances by Shawn Mendes, Marshmellow, Logic, Khalid, Bebe Rexha, Bazzi, Sabrina Carpenter, Bryce Vine, Madison Beer and AJ Mitchell. This year, almost every performer is a fresh face, performing their first time at 93.3’s Jingle Ball. These performers will surely add a change of pace! amaliearena.com 

An Unforgettable Nat King Cole Christmas at the Straz Center 
Dec. 13-16, various times 
Don’t miss the enchanting voice of Evan Tyrone Martin as he dazzles audiences with tribute to Nat King Cole. Martin will be relating Cole’s journey and will present his festive hits such as “L-O-V-E,” “Mona Lisa,” “The Christmas Song” and “All I want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth.” Buy your tickets soon; some performances are already sold out. strazcenter.com 

The Florida Orchestra-Holiday Pops 
Dec. 14, 8 p.m. 
Don’t miss this one-night-only event at the Straz Center featuring the vocal stylings of American Idol star and St. Pete native Michael Lynche. This is holiday magic you won’t find anywhere else this season, perfect for the whole family. strazcenter.org 

An Old Florida Christmas at Manatee Village
Dec. 15, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 
This family-friendly festival celebrates heritage and old-fashioned holiday traditions with musical entertainment, food vendors, a special Christmas exhibit in the Stephens House, vintage silent films in the Courthouse, and free “make-and-take” seasonal crafts for adults and youth—something to delight every age! Every corner of Manatee Village will be decorated in colorful and exquisite Victorian-inspired holiday décor. Shop local and buy your Christmas gifts from local artists selling their wares throughout the Village. manateevillage.org 

Tampa Holiday Gift and Craft Show 
Dec. 15 and 22, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. 
Come out to Westfield Citrus Park Mall for a holiday celebration showcasing unusual and collectable gift ideas, handmade by local artists from the Tampa Bay Area. marketatthepark.com 

Children’s Day at the Victorian Christmas Stroll 
Dec. 16, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. 
Bring the kids to the Henry B. Plant Museum for a special day full of family friendly activities. Guests will enjoy the holidays with an old fashioned flair all while encouraging community. Enjoy paper crafts, face painting, live theater, stories, puppet shows, carriage rides, and more.  plantmuseum.com 

Largo Holiday Stroll 
Dec. 16, 6:30-9:30 p.m. 
Stroll through Largo Central Park and admire the beautiful holiday nights as part of this fun family-friendly holiday event. Enjoy a variety of crafts and activities, as well as live entertainment and the official Christmas tree lighting at 7 p.m. Concessions will be available for purchase. largo.com 

Cirque Musica Holiday at the Yuengling Center 
Dec. 16, 7 -9 p.m. 
Marvel at the mesmerizing cirque performers in this all-new holiday show to be performed with a live symphony orchestra at Yuengling Center in Tampa. Attend this concert and visual experience that takes audience members on a journey into a world of high-flying adventure with amazing acrobats, aerialists, hilarious hijinks and holiday cheer. Tickets are $25-$85. yuenglingcenter.com 

Trans-Siberia Orchestra at Amalie Arena 
Dec. 16, 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. 
Experience the Trans-Siberian Orchestra for their 2018 Winter Tour returning to Tampa at the Amalie Arena. The event sells out year after year as the group’s “must-attend” holiday tradition. This year’s tour will host an unforgettable presentation of “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve.” amaliearena.com 

Tampa Ballet Theatre presents The Nutcracker 
Dec. 18, 7 p.m. 
Join Ruth Eckerd Hall for a delightful holiday ballet presented by Tampa Ballet Theater sure to warm hearts and inspire all in attendance. rutheckerdhall.com 

Cirque du Soleil CRYSTAL 
Dec. 19-23, various times 
Don’t miss out on Cirque du Soleil’s beautiful return to Tampa Bay! Just in time for the holiday season, experience a brand new show full of thrills, chills and life lessons, perfect for the entire family performed live for the first time ever! For this special production of Cirque du Soleil, they will be bringing their first ice production, CRYSTAL, to the Amalie Arena. Kids and adults alike will surely be dazzled by this thrilling performance that is unlike any Cirque show out there.  cirquedusoleil.com/crystal 

A Christmas Carol at Ruth Eckerd Hall 
Dec. 20, 7 p.m. 
Share a holiday tradition with the family as this musical adaptation of the Dickens classic arrives at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater for two shows. Meet up with the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future as they guide Scrooge on a journey to find the true spirit of Christmas. Tickets start at $38.75. rutheckerdhall.com 

Home Alone in Concert 
Dec. 21, 7:30 p.m. 
Come and enjoy the timeless holiday classic with songs from the renowned composer John Williams performed live to picture as Kevin McCallister is accidentally left behind by his family for Christmas. rutheckerdhall.com 

Christmas with Rockapella at Ruth Eckerd Hall
Dec. 21, 7:30 p.m. 
Head to the Capitol Theatre for some holiday vocal magic by Rockapella featuring their critically acclaimed acapella sound with holiday classics that you won’t find anywhere else. rutheckerdhall.com 

Tampa Riverwalk Holiday Boat Parade of Lights  
Dec. 22, 6:30 p.m. 
Come on out to Tampa’s Riverwalk for a spectacular night of lights on the water. The parade begins at 6:30 p.m. and will travel the Hillsborough River throughout downtown Tampa. thetampariverwalk.com 

Next Generation Ballet’s Nutcracker 
Dec. 22-23, various times 
Wind the clock, mind the mouse and get ready for a stand-out, family-friendly production of Clara’s great dream in The Land of the Sweets as Next Generation Ballet delivers a delightful take on the beloved ballet at Straz Center in Morsani Hall. Tickets start at $30. strazcenter.org 

The Sound of Music at Ruth Eckerd Hall 
Dec. 22-23, various times 
Head over to Ruth Eckerd Hall for the beloved story of the von Trapp family and enjoy incredible acting and nostalgic show tunes originated by the great Julie Andrews. rutheckerdhall.com

Snow Days at The Florida Aquarium
Dec. 26 – Dec. 31, noon – 5:00 p.m.
Continue the holiday celebration at The Florida Aquarium during Snow Days at the Aquarium. Guests can enjoy a real snow play area for kids starting Dec. 26 and through Dec. 31 from noon to 5:00 p.m. The Aquarium will be open during regular business hours (9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.). For details and complete schedule, visit flaquarium.org or call 813-273-4000. 

Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker at the Mahaffey Theater 
Dec.26-27, various times 
See an exquisite production of the ballet classic featuring a company of 40 world-class Russian artists with lush, awe-inspiring sets and elaborately detailed costumes onstage at The Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg. Tickets are $34-$99. themahaffey.com 

Cosmic Capers (K-3rd Grade) at MOSI 
Dec. 26-28, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 
The universe needs you! There are many mysteries about the cosmos that need some explanation. How far are the planets from one another? Did you know that the sun is a star? Also, did you know that the gas giants don’t have a solid surface? If you are interested in learning about these mysteries and more,this is the camp for you. Explore these mysteries and more as you learn about our expanding universe. Get ready and hold on tight because it is going to be an out-of-this-world experience. mosi.org 

I Dig Minecraft (4-8th grade) at MOSI
Dec 26-28, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 
Whether it is mining for precious ores, gathering scarce resources, planting enough crops to feed you and your friends, or simply designing your own zombie-proof bunker Minecraft makes it all possible! Join us this week as we go through different challenges and activities in everyone’s favorite blocky game where the possibilities are endless. mosi.org 

Cirque Dreams Holidaze 
Dec. 29-30, various times 
Get ready to be mesmerized by this critically-acclaimed holiday stage extravaganza, a combination cirque spectacle, Broadway musical and family show all in one, hosted by The Mahaffey Theater in St. Pete. Watch 20 world-class acts from soaring acrobats and illusionists to singers with seasonal favorites and elaborate production numbers. Tickets are $35-$65. themahaffey.com