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The Best Ways to Experience Busch Gardens Christmas Town in 2022


Busch Gardens Christmas Town is celebrating its 10th anniversary in Tampa Bay with NEW ways to dazzle you and your family! You can expect new live shows and even a new realm along with the return of guest favorites.

This year’s event kicks off on November 14, 2022 (Member preview on Sunday, November 13, 2022 from 2pm-9pm) and will be celebrated nightly for 57 consecutive days through January 9, 2023.

This is one of our favorite Christmas events in Tampa Bay because it truly appeals to all ages and stages whether you’re a young family with a little one or you simply want to escape for a date night. We’ve even seen some teens having a great time at Christmas Town! A parenting win!

So, let’s get to it so we can help you plan your most magical night ever among the millions of twinkling lights!

Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Fireworks

What’s NEW at Christmas Town in 2022

We want to start off this guide by sharing what’s NEW in 2022! From new light shows to new live shows and a new realm, Busch Gardens has lots in store for you this year! Here’s what they’re sharing with us so far:

  • Holiday in the Sky – The evening sky comes to life with a colorful display of festive fireworks while an added spectacular water fountain show dances to the rhythm of a reimagined soundtrack with classic holiday tunes. Holiday in the Sky will take place on the Festival Field on select event nights.
  • New Light Show at Serengeti Overlook! A mesmerizing and enchanting musical light and projection show will adorn the Serengeti Overlook building. Guests will not want to miss this spectacle, which will run daily every 15 minutes starting at 6 p.m.
  • Christmas with the Celts – A wonderful combination of Christmas Carols and Irish dance will captivate guests with the spirited and energetic entertainment of Christmas with the Celts. The renowned group of vocalists, musicians and dancers will perform live at Stanleyville Theater’s stage Friday, Saturday and Sunday from Dec. 16 through Dec. 25
  • Land of the Sweets – At this sweet winter wonderland, guests will find the Sugar Plum ballerina stilt walker and her Cavalier soldier, the newest characters to join the Sugar Plum Princess in her magnificent new realm.
  • New Tree in Jungala! Right in the heart of Jungala, guests will be in awe with a new 32-foot-tall Christmas tree surrounded by a red and white winter wonderland.

Don’t Miss the Character Meet and Greets at Busch Gardens Christmas Town

There are so many fun character meet and greets exclusive to this event along with a very visit with the jolly old elf himself, so let’s start there…

You ABSOLUTELY MUST Meet Santa at Busch Gardens Christmas Town

Waiting at Santa's Cottage at Christmas Town
Waiting to ring the doorbell at Santa’s Cottage at Christmas Town

Busch Gardens does an awesome job with creating a magical meet and greet experience with Santa.

You’ll find him over at Santa’s North Pole Experience where you’ll be greeted by his friendly elves. You’ll step inside his workshop where all the planning is in action for the big night! Once it’s your turn, the elves lead you to Santa for a magical moment when the door opens and you get to see the big guy!

It’s a really cool moment as the anticipation builds and makes it a bit more special.

Photos with Santa at Christmas Town

Hugs are BACK with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and friends!

Rudolph at Christmas Town Busch Gardens

Get ready for the Christmas nostalgia to kick-in! This is one of our favorite holiday meet and greets in Tampa Bay because it brings back so many Christmas memories and it’s one that appeals to all generations.

This is your chance to snap a photo next to Rudolph and Clarice and even meet a photo opp with Bumble! You’ll find them over at Patagonia.

Bumble at Christmas Town Busch Gardens

If your kiddos are big fans of Sesame Street, they’ll love the meet and greets with their favorite characters dressed in their holiday best at Sunny Day Theatre. This opportunity at Christmas Town is at various times earlier in the day, so around lunchtime.

There is also an adorable holiday themed live show, ‘Elmo’s Christmas Wish’ that will have everyone up on their feet dancing to the tunes at the outdoor Sunny Day Theater. This is a good time to check out the rides in Safari of Fun just for the little ones.

Elmo's Christmas Wish at Christmas Town
Elmo’s Christmas Wish at Christmas Town.

The holiday princesses are also back this year! You’ll notice the Ice Princess, Poinsettia Princess and Sugar Plum Princess.

In fact, there’s a whole new realm called Land of Sweets where the newest characters to join Christmas Town can be found, the Sugar Plum Ballerina on stilts and her cavalier soldier.

They’re available through out the evening for photos beginning at 5:00 pm throughout the park–at least this has been the case in year’s past. We’ll update once new information is released.

Experience the Returning Favorite Things to Do at  Christmas Town 

Holly Jolly Express at Christmas Town
Holly Jolly Express at Christmas Town. Photo provided by Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

The Holly Jolly Express is a must experience for families. You can board the open air train for a ride around the park as you sing along to favorite Christmas tunes. This is a great opportunity to sip on your hot chocolate while you enjoy the scenery of the park and listen to the music!

Over at Dragon Fire Grill, you can see the musical tale of the Three Kings Journey as it brings the journey to Bethlehem to the stage. This will be performed on select nights November 18, 2022 through January 8, 2023.

And of course, there’s the beloved ice-skating show “Christmas on Ice” at the Moroccan Palace Theater, one of the longest running holiday shows at Christmas Town.

Taste and Sip the Sweets and Treats at Christmas Town

Busch Gardens Christmas Town Hot Cocoa
Hot chocolate is a fan favorite at Christmas Town! You can find this yummy drink throughout the park.

Make your way over the Christmas Town Village to sip and taste your way through holiday treats!

Here’s what’s NEW on the menu in 2022:

  • New! Red Curry Shrimp and Jasmine Rice
  • New! Wild Mushroom Tart with Boursin Cheese Crema
  • New! Braised Beef and Roasted Garlic Smashed Potato
  • New! Unique cabin serving Wine and Chocolate Truffles
  • New! A “Decorate Your Own Cookie” Cabin for kids

If you’ve designated a driver, the non-driving adults will love some of themed cocktails in Christmas Town Village like a spiked hot cocoa with Kahula, Peppermint Schnapps or Bailey’s Irish cream. There a several other specialty cocktails, wines and brews too!

The best and most cost effective way to taste your way through Christmas Town is with a Christmas Town Sampler Lanyard which starts at $40 for a 5 punch card. If you’re a pass member, you can pick up a 12-punch lanyard for the price of a 10-punch.

treats at Christmas Town Busch Gardens

The Lights! So Many Lights!

One of our favorite things about Christmas Town is the millions of lights that light up the park! They usually begin the install process in the summertime, but the pandemic changed that so it was super fast mode as installation began a couple months ago.

Christmas Town Lights near Sesame Street Safari of Fun
One of the many lighted pathways at Christmas Town. This one is near Sesame Street Safari of Fun.

Christmas Town Village is beautifully lit up and we LOVE the colors and rainbow of trees in Sesame Street Safari of Fun!

The kids loved running through the light tunnel that connects Congo to Stanleyville. It’s so cool to stand in the middle as the lights dance along to the music. It’s a great selfie spot too!

light tunnel at Busch Gardens Christmas Town
The Light tunnel at Busch Gardens Christmas Town. Photo taken in 2021.

How much are tickets for Christmas Town at Busch Gardens?

If you are an annual pass holder or have a Fun Card, it’s included with your pass!

If not, Christmas Town is included with park admission, so you can stay and play all day with a single day ticket which starts at $99. This may be a good option for out of town guests.

Another option for out of town guests is the CityPass which gets them into 5 local attractions starting at $129. It’s always worth checking Groupon too.

However, if you are local or you don’t live too far from Tampa Bay, this is a great time to consider purchasing an annual pass or Fun Card if you think you’ll come back more than once throughout the year. One of the reasons we prefer the Silver level and above annual passes is the free parking, because that can get expensive. You can learn more about the pass options here.

When is the best time to go to Christmas Town?

If you’re able, a weekday visit is best since crowds will be lower than on weekends. We went on a Wednesday night and it was great! We stopped for dinner at Chick-fil-A in Jungla and then easily walked in to for all of the character meet and greets.

Parking was also a lot easier and we didn’t wait more than a few minutes for anything that night.

If you do go on a weekend, consider upgrading to the Priority Access pass to get front of line access for Santa and Rudolph and Friends.

Upgrade your experience at Christmas Town

You can make it even more memorable with by upgrading your day if you go early and book Animal Encounters we’ve come to love over the years like the Aldabra Tortoise Insider Tour which is great for kids ages 5 and older.

You can also pick up a Priority Access ticket to skip the line for Santa’s and Rudolph’s Winter Wonderland. That ticket is $29.99 for up to six guests to skip the line. If you want an up close view of Christmas on Ice and Fireworks viewing, you can upgrade to VIP seating. 

You can also book a Christmas Town VIP Tour for $139.99 for a four-hour guided tour that includes reserved seats at Christmas on Ice and access to see Santa and Rudolph!

That’s a wrap!

Christmas Town is a must-experience family event. With this year’s event being celebrated for 57 nights, it will be one that’s hard to miss too!

The shops even have an awesome selection of holiday themed gear, so don’t sweat it if you don’t have anything handy at home! You just might find the perfect holiday gift too.

Laura Byrne
Laura Byrne
Laura Byrne is an award-winning former television news journalist who spent 15+ years in newsrooms across the state of Florida including Sarasota, Tallahassee, Fort Myers and right here in Tampa Bay where she still freelances on occasion. She covered the political beat, crime beat and every day breaking news during her time in Florida newsrooms, but is now focused on sharing positive news stories and events with families in Tampa Bay. She is a proud mommy of two little boys who keep her on her toes and laughing every day. Her goal is to inspire families just like yours to get out and play and experience all that Tampa Bay and our great state of Florida have to offer! She encourages you to share your stories and upcoming events so we can spread the good news.

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