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December 1, 2020
The holiday season is here which means there are PLENTY of things to do in Tampa Bay! We’re sharing some of our top picks to help you navigate your way to an awesome week and weekend. Just make sure to continue to practice social distancing and wear a face mask as it’s required by many venues.
For more fun ideas on things to do around town this holiday season, we’re sharing The Best Christmas Events in Tampa Bay for Families.
EVENT SPOTLIGHT: Minecraft Mania at MOSI | Saturdays from 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m.
If your kids love Minecraft, they will think Minecraft Mania at MOSI is totally awesome! Your child can play Minecraft while learning new skills to become Minecraft Designer, Adventurer or even Master! While you’re there, stay and play at the beloved science museum! mosi.org
Sun N Fun Holiday Flying Festival and Car Show in Lakeland | Friday and Saturday, December 4 and 5
This is one of the first air shows to take to the skies again after the pandemic grounded most air shows around the country. It’s being hosted Lakeland Linder Airport with performances by the GEICO Skytypers Air Show team, a squadron of six WWII-era aircraft, and MORE. Learn more here.
City of Tampa Tree Lighting Ceremony | Friday, December 4, 2020, 6:00 p.m.
Help Mayor Jane Castor countdown to the tree lighting at Curtis Hixon Park and afterward enjoy a movie in the park! Admission to the ceremony and movie are free. Blankets, low back chairs, coolers, and leashed dogs are allowed. Concessions will be available. Glass and alcohol are not allowed, but you can enjoy the drinks and treats at Winter Village! Learn more here.
Safety Harbor Tree Lighting Ceremony | Friday, December 4, 2020, 6:00 -9:00 p.m.
Bring out family and friends to enjoy the lighting of Safety Harbor’s giant Christmas tree. Choirs will warm up the crowd for a visit from Santa Claus! This free event takes place at the gazebo at John Wilson Park. Learn more here.
31st Annual Tarpon Springs Holiday Boat Parade | Friday, December 4, 2020, 6:30 p.m.
Public viewing areas for this annual boat parade include Sponge Docks, Whitcomb Bayou, Craig Park & Spring Bayou. Want to participate? It’s totally free but you’ll need to register ahead of time. Viewers are encouraged to social distance in the viewing locations. Learn more here.
Breakfast with Santa at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay | Saturday, December 5, 2020 at 8:30 a.m. or 11:00 a.m.
Explore the new Humane Society building and have breakfast with Santa during one of two seatings. Your breakfast will include decorate your own pancakes, bacon, muffins, fruit, mimosas, juice, coffee and more! The kids can make a holiday craft, visit the Hot Chocolate Bar and of course, visit with and take a photo with Santa! You will need to wear a face mask and practice social distancing. Spots are limited. humanesocietytampa.org
Santa Paws at Largo Community Center | Saturday, December 5, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.
Bring your family’s pup to meet the jolly old elf at the Largo Community Center! There will be pet vendors on site, pet swag bags, and of course, a family photo with Santa. Guests are reminded to stay 6 feet apart from others. Learn more by visiting PlayLargo.com/PlaySmart.
Breakfast with Santa at Clearwater Marine Aquarium | Saturday, December 5, 2020 from 9:30 am-11:30 am
Wear your festive sweaters or pajamas and visit CMA for a day filled with holiday cheer! A delicious, holiday style breakfast will be served with warm French toast, waffles, biscuits and gravy, and more! After breakfast, visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus for a family photo that’s perfect for your holiday card! This event ticket includes admission to the aquarium and photo with Santa. Tickets are $44.99 for adults and $34.99 for kids. Members receive a 10% discount. Learn more at cmaquarium.org.
Drive-Thru Santa Visit at Safety Harbor City Park | Saturday, December 5, 2020 from 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Santa is waiting to meet you in the kids during this unique photo opportunity! You don’t even have to get out of the car for your photo which is the whole point to keep everyone safe. You will want to pre-register to get your photo. Learn more and pre-register here.
St. Pete Holiday Drive-In Movie: Elf | Saturday, December 5, 2020, lot opens at 7pm
Head to Crescent Lake Park for a FREE first come, first served drive-in movie…limit is 35 cars. Concessions will be available for purchase. Learn more here.
35th Annual Treasure Island Holiday Lighted Boat Parade | Saturday, December 5, 2020, 6:20pm
The parade begins just south of the Treasure Island Bridge in the Intracoastal Waterway at 6:20pm. The best public viewing areas include Blind Pass Bridge between Treasure Island & St. Pete Beach, Treasure Bay Recreation Facility, Treasure Island Causeway Bridge, Treasure Island Causeway at Fusion & St. James, 115th Avenue on Isle of Palms and John’s Pass. Learn more here.
SAVE THE DATE: Grinchmas at Sparkman Wharf in Tampa | Thursday, December 10 from 4:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.
The weather outside is delightful to experience Grinchmas at Sparkman Wharf. For one night, the space will transform into Whoville for a special screening of the Grinch Who Stole Christmas along with a socially distanced photo opportunity with the Grinch himself! Tickets are $10 which includes a professional downloadable image with the Grinch, a $5 voucher redeemable at Sparkman Wharf, a keepsake ornament per child, and a 2-hour parking validation. Masks are mandatory for all guests ages 2 and older and temperatures will be taken at the entrance.You can purchase your tickets here.
SAVE THE DATE: Nutcracker Wonderland at The Straz Center | December 11-23 at various times and dates
With your family’s health and safety in mind, the Straz Center is moving the re-imagined Nutcracker Wonderland outside for a unique an immersive experience your family will talk about for years! The Next Generation’ Ballet’s performances will be on stages throughout the Straz Center campus and on the Riverwalk Stage. We hear Santa will be making a visit too! Seats will be socially distanced and face masks are required. Tickets are $33.50 for kids 17 and younger and $48.50 for adults. www.strazcenter.org
SAVE THE DATE: High Risk Hope Virtual Tot Trot presented by Jersey Mike’s Subs | Dec 12th, begins at 9:30 a.m.
A family-friendly 3K starting at 9:30 am, lasting all day on Facebook live. Participants can walk, run or stroll in their own neighborhoods and enjoy posting their participation online as a community. The Tot Trot is a celebration of HRH’s VIPs (Very Important Preemies), with a moment of silence for all our Angel Babies. Register at www.tottrot.org.
*Listed in order of dates event opened for all of the holiday FUN! It’s a long scroll, but worth it to see all of the spectacular happenings in Tampa Bay.
Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Park in Downtown Tampa
November 20, 2020-January 3, 2021
Winter Village is returning this year with COVID safety protocols in place, including pre-booking your family’s time to ice-skate on the real outdoor ice rink in the park! The shops will also be back and so will the Christmas lights. There will even be a choo-choo train in the park for the littlest ones! Wintervillagetampa.com
Gingerbread Village at the Glazer Children’s Museum
November 21, 2020 through January 3, 2021
Head up to the second floor of the museum to step foot into a gingerbread-inspired wonderland from November 21 through January 3. Your kiddos can build their very own gingerbread house out of recycled materials like cardboard, pipe cleaners, and more and then add their creation to the village. glazermuseum.org
Busch Gardens Christmas Town
November 21, 2020 through January 3, 2021
Busch Gardens lights up with millions of Christmas lights after sunset for its annual Tampa Christmas Town event! There are beautiful 2020 Christmas light displays at every turn, Holiday decorations, Christmas music, and delightful foods to compliment the amazing Tampa Christmas lights show. 10165 McKinley Dr, Tampa, FL 33612. buschgardens.com
Victorian Christmas Stroll at Henry B Plant Museum in Tampa
November 21, 2020 through December 31, 2020
Step back into time as you stroll through the rooms of the Henry B Plant Museum which have hall been decorated for the holidays, with each room having its own theme. There are a limited number of tickets to allow for social distancing and face masks are required. Learn more here.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium for Holiday Cheer
November 21 through the holidays
Clearwater Marine Aquarium has decked their halls/tanks for the season! One cool event is a Sunset Boat Cruise with Santa on November 21-22 and November 27-28. You can also walk through decorated trees during the Festival of Trees, stroll through the Holly Jolly Market for a unique gift, and even say hi and take a selfie with a scuba diving Santa (weekends November 27-December 20). While your’e at it, plan ahead and book Breakfast with Santa on December 5! Visit cmaquarium.org for more details.
Christmas Lights at the Chick-fil-A on Waters Ave in Tampa
Beginning November 23, 2020
This Chick-fil-A store is taking holiday lights, holiday decorating and Christmas lights in Tampa to a whole new level and they’re back at it again with this year’s Christmas lights display! It will be a bit different this year to keep everyone safe. The drive thru will still be lit and they’re even adding some fun surprises, including a way to take a virtual photo with Santa. Add this annual Tampa Bay Christmas light event to your family’s Christmas light holiday bucket list! Visit the store at 6299 W Waters Avenue, Tampa FL 33634. Follow their Facebook page here for updates.
Holiday Spectacular on the Tampa Riverwalk and Water Works Park
November 26, 2020 through January 2, 2021
The Riverwalk in Tampa will be aglow for the holidays including a really cool lighted fish arches to the entrance of Water Works Park which will be lit with millions of twinkling lights. Be sure to look out into the river where lighted barges will be on display between Armature Works and Sparkman Wharf. It’s a holiday stroll or bike ride to add to your family’s TO DO list! One of our favorite ways to view the lights is by boat on Pirate Water Taxi’s River of Lights cruise and even a NEW event this year, the Lost Pearl pirate ship’s A Pirates Christmas! thetampariverwalk.com
Wonderland of Christmas Lights and Santa’s Christmas Village at Hillsborough County Fairgrounds in Dover
November 26-December 27, 2020
This is a drive through Christmas lights event in Tampa! First, you and your family will drive through Christmas lights for a mile to experience spectacular lights, and next if you choose, after seeing the drive through Christmas lights you can make a visit at Santa’s Village at the end of the drive through Christmas lights! Santa’s Village features wagon rides, a Circus Show, camel and pony rides and more Christmas lights and Holiday activities for children and adults of all ages!. 215 Sydney Washer Rd, Dover, FL 33527. Thewonderlandoflights.com
Holiday Lights & Rides at Largo Central Park
November 26, 2020-January 3, 2021
Largo Central Park will light up again with more than two million LED Christmas lights. This is an outdoor walking Christmas light tour only, not a drive through Christmas light display, so the Largo Central Park Holiday Light display organizers be sure you remind everyone in party to stay six feet from other people as you enjoy the Christmas lights in Pinellas. There will also be rides including a seven story Ferris wheel to give you a birds eye view of the 70 acre park. Rides are $5 each or 5 for $20. Largo Central Park’s Christmas lights and Holiday lights will light up on evenings from 5:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m. It is free to park and stroll among the sparkly Christmas lights. 101 Central Park Dr, Largo, FL 33771. Playlargo.com
Waterfront Lights in St. Petersburg
November 26, 2020-January 3, 2021
Stand along the pedestrian walkways at North and South Straub Parks in St Petersburg for this free light show on the water. There will also be a Christmas lights and displays at Pioneer Park, Vinoy Park and the new St. Pete Pier. stpeteparksrec.org
Christmas in the Wild at ZooTampa
November 27-December 20, 2020
Tampa’s Christmas in the Wild returns this year with your family’s safety in mind. Many of your favorites like the beautiful Christmas lights, fun themed Tampa Holiday treats, and favorite Tampa Christmas characters will be back, but there will be safety modifications in place to ensure this 2020 Tampa Bay Christmas event is as safe as possible! It’s a must-do Christmas-Light night out with the kids! Zootampa.org/Christmas
Snap a pic with Santa at local shopping centers like International Plaza in Tampa
November 27, 2020 through Christmas Eve
Santa will be making appearances at shopping centers throughout Tampa Bay with your health and safety in mind! Masks will be required and your kids won’t be able to sit in Santa’s lap, but it will still be a magical experience for 2020. And, you’ll won’t have to write down the year the picture was taken on the back of the photo! You’ll always remember 2020! Read more here about where to find Santa in Tampa Bay this year
Celebration of Christmas Lights 2020 in Shady Hills
Select Nights from November 27 through December 20, 2020
Enjoy a great Christmas lights and holiday lights display in Port Richey! This Christmas light event takes place at the Concourse in Shady Hills in Pasco, a short Christmas light drive away from Tampa Bay! This Port Richey Christmas light event happens weeknights 6pm-9pm; Weekends 6pm-10pm. $10 per carload. Don’t forget about the Holiday Train which runs on Fridays and Saturdays during the event-tickets can be purchased at the Train Depot. 11919 Alric Pottberg Rd., Shady Hills FL 34610. theconcourse.org
The Oakdale Christmas House in St. Petersburg
November 27, 2020-January 3, 2021
Looking for a Christmas light display in St. Petersburg? Oakdale Christmas House in St. Pete offers an amazing drive through Christmas light experience. Drive by or drive through Christmas lights can be a safe and socially distant way to enjoy the holiday’s Christmas lights, and you’ll be amazed by the Oakdale Christmas House’s half million twinkling lights which has been ranked as among the world’s best Christmas light displays! This year is the 42nd year for this St. Petersburg Christmas light display, and you can expect to see some major additions and upgrades! The house is located at 2719 Oakdale Street South, St. Petersburg, FL. christmasdisplay.org
A Pirate’s Christmas on the Lost Pearl Pirate Ship in Tampa
Sailings begin on November 27, 2020 on select nights
Be a part of the first sailings of A Pirate’s Christmas as Tampa’s very own pirate ship transforms into a floating wonderland with lights and even a floating mailbox on the ship to write letters to Santa. There will be music, temporary tattoos and more pirate fun during the 45 minute cruise. The ship departs from Sparkman Wharf. tampapirateship.com
River of Christmas Lights in Tampa with Pirate Water Taxi in Tampa
Select dates in November and December | Holiday Lighted Boat Parade is on December 19, 2020
Don’t miss this water taxi cruise to view Tampa’s Christmas lights and holiday decorations. The Christmas Light cruise departs from the Tampa Convention Center, and the Christmas Light cruise includes cookies, hot chocolate and Holiday Christmas carols! There is also a special Christmas light cruise for the Tampa Holiday Lighted Boat Parade on December 19, 2020. Ticketbooth is located at the Tampa Convention Center by the Tampa Marriott Waterside; you can enter PWT7 – Convention Center/Marriott Waterside, Tampa, FL 33602 into google maps. PirateWaterTaxi.com
Shimmering Lights Winter Festival at Sun Kissed Acres in Dover
November 27, 2020-end of December
This is an outdoor walking trail that’s about 1/4 mile long, filled with shimmering lights, outdoor movies, games and holiday music. There will even be visits with Santa. They ask you to wear comfortable close toed shoes, a face mask for when it gets busy, and bug spray just in case the mosquitoes come out. Tickets are $7 for everyone 3 and older. thesunkissedacres.com
St. Petersburg Drive By Christmas Lights Neighborhoods in Seminole, St. Pete
Through December 1 through December 31 (usual dates, exact dates TBA)
Drive through 3+ miles of St. Petersburg Christmas lights’ neighborhoods from 6pm to 10pm for a St. Petersburg Christmas light display and Christmas light show you’ll never forget! This 3.2 mile Christmas light drive by tour takes place in the Seminole/St Petersburg subdivisions of Lake Park Estates, Wieker, Lakeside Estates, and Lake Seminole Village, where these St. Petersburg residents generously decorate their homes and yards with beautiful Christmas lights, Christmas decorations, and even more Christmas lights for Tampa Bay to drive by and enjoy! Short drive by or drive across Tampa Bay for families looking to see some beautiful Christmas lights near Tampa and Clearwater. 102nd Ave & 109 Ave N, Seminole FL 33777 LightsofLakePark.com
Raprager Farms Festival of Lights in Odessa
December 3-December 30, Thursday-Sunday evenings at select times
This new event will quickly become a family tradition in Tampa Bay! Raprager Farms will transform their property into a winter wonderland that will surely make a perfect photo backdrop! Learn more by visiting rapragerfamilyfarms.com.
Wesley Chapel Holiday Tree and Light Display
December 4, 2020- January 3, 2021
The Grove at Wesley Chapel is unveiling a 20 acre display of holiday lights including visits with Santa, Christmas Trees, hundreds of thousands of lights, rides, music, real snow and more! Learn more here.
Safety Harbor’s Harbor Holiday Nights
Select Nights in December 4-5, 11-12, 18-19 starting at 5:00 p.m.
For six special nights, Folly Farm will be lit up with holiday lights along with more activities for the family to enjoy including a camp fire. Costs is $4 per person. Pre-registration is required since only 50 people are being allowed in at a time. Learn more at safetyharborrecreation.com.
Sylvan Ramble Christmas Light Show in South Tampa
Friday and Saturday nights in December
This is quickly becoming a tradition for local families if it hasn’t already! The South Tampa home lights up with hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights synced to your favorite Christmas music. It’s also a great way to help support a good cause in our community, Clothes to Kids. They do ask that you make a reservation online and donate what you can to support Clothes to Kids. The shows are about 20 minutes long. sylvanramblelights.com
100k Christmas Lights at Christmas Trail in Plant City
December 11-23, 2020 from 5:30 pm-10:00 pm
Masks will be required to attend this Plant City Christmas light display which has over 100,000 Christmas lights. Guests are asked to buy their tickets in advance online to ensure there is plenty of space to social distance while you explore the Christmas light trail! This east Tampa Christmas light display also features a Christmas Tree Light show, a Jack Frost ice show, and more! Learn more about this Tampa Christmas light show at TheChristmasTrail.com
Hunsader Farms Country Christmas in Bradenton
December 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 2020 from 6:00 pm-10:00 pm
The annual Country Christmas is back at Hunsader Farms with more than 300,000 holiday lights, train rides, visits with Santa, a petting zoo, outdoor movies, snow tubing and more! Parking is free and tickets are $10 per person. Kids 5 and younger are free. hunsaderfarms.com
Junior League of Tampa Holiday Gift Market -VIRTUAL| Now through December 13, 2020
Be among the first to experience the VIRTUAL Holiday Gift Market, featuring 100+ small business merchants selling everything you’ll need to fulfill your holiday wish list…and even your own! This is a WIN-WIN event. Not only are you supporting a small business, but a portion of the proceeds will benefit The Junior League of Tampa’s community projects and programs. Learn more here! The event opens up to all from November 21-December 13, 2020.
Select Nights with two showings per night
Head out for this perfect social distancing night out with the family! You can grab dinner and snacks at Armature Works and then head back to your parked car for a screening of your favorite movies! You can book your tickets here and learn more about this NEW outdoor event in Tampa Bay!
Summoning all castle builders! Builders of all ages are invited to explore, build, and play in the traveling exhibition-Castle Builder! In this exhibit kids and their families are transported to a kingdom where they become castle builders, building their own toy castle brick by brick. In Castle Builder, builders of all ages and skill levels can construct castles, learn about real-world castles and their building secrets, and plan their ideal castle’s defenses. Families can even explore the inside of the royal castle, test their fortress designs with a catapult, and spot a dragon. For more info visit glazermuseum.org/castle
Head over to Armature Works to check out the NEW mural on the north end of the property created to promote the Glazer Vision Foundation’s “Glasses For All Children” campaign. All you have to do is share a photo of the mural, a selfie in front of the mural, or selfie wearing any type of glasses, tag @glazervisionfdn, hashtag #OneShareOnePair and the foundation will give a local child a free eye exam and pair of glasses! Easy peasy! Learn more.
Eat, drink, shop and play at the new St. Pete Pier. The new playground area is quickly becoming a family favorite in Tampa Bay, just make sure to bring plenty of hand sanitizer and/or hand sanitizing wipes with you. Stay late and look up to see the Bending Arc light up in a spectacular display. You will need to wear a mask inside the stores, restaurants and Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center. The Glazer Vision Foundation just announced it is contributing $1.5 million to the Glazer Family Playground at the Pier to support the space for years to come! Learn more.
The Florida Aquarium and Clearwater Marine Aquarium are both open, but require you to make an online reservation. Capacity will be limited to 50%. Guests over the age of 2 will be asked to wear a mask at the Florida Aquarium. If you do not have one, a mask will be provided for you. Masks are encouraged at CMA.
This is a great weekend to cool off with dad and check out the NEW Solar Vortex waterslide at Adventure Island! Learn more here.
Capacity will be at 50% and you’ll notice a few changes like staff wearing masks, doors propped open to reduce touch points, more frequent cleaning of exhibits, and more. Learn more here. You can also see what it’s like during this new normal! Be sure to check out the new Space for Art exhibit, too!
The Zoo is ready to welcome guests back at 50% capacity, so you’ll want to make an online reservation or purchase your tickets online to make sure you secure your spot. We got an INSIDE LOOK to show you what you can expect! The Dinos Alive exhibit will still be on display, so be sure to check it out! Book here.
The museum is ready to welcome you back, but you’ll want to make sure you have pre-purchased your ticket online. You can also book your timed reservation online. Because some hands on exhibits will be hands off for now, the museum is reducing admission prices by $2. Book your ticket and learn more about the plans to reopen here.
The theme park and its hotels, including the new Pirate Island Hotel are ready to welcome back guests, also at a reduced capacity of 50%. Cash will no longer be accepted and also expect to have your temperature taken. Social distancing will be encouraged with brick themed markers and signage. You’ll also see more hand sanitizing stations-there are more than 200 of them throughout the park! Legoland staff will be wearing face coverings and all guests ages 8 and older will need to wear a mask in compliance with the city of Winter Haven mask mandate. If you do not have one, a mask will be provided for you. The reopening plan included guidance from AdventHealth. Learn more here.
Like most attractions and keeping in line with CDC guidance, Glazer Children’s Museum will be taking it one step further by keeping capacity at 25% at first. You will need to purchase a timed entry ticket or if you are a member, book your time slot. Adult guests will be required to wear a face mask. Difficult to clean exhibits will be closed while others will be sanitized more frequently throughout the day. glazermuseum.org
Great Ex reopened to families with new exhibits and a phased reopening plan that includes a face mask requirement for all guests ages 5 and older. A ticketed reservation is also strongly encouraged to make sure you have time to play. Learn more here.
Check out their Family Program events this December.
Head to the beach! The beaches are open, but you’ll see plenty of reminders about social distancing. You’ll also want to pack some extras in your beach bag like hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes. Cloth masks are also a good idea in case you decide to visit an establishment that requires them. We’re sharing some of our favorite family-friendly beaches in Tampa Bay here.
Go for a hike! Lace up the hiking shoes and spend the day in nature with the kids! Many preserves and conservation parks are now open in Tampa Bay. Find a park near you or discover a new one: