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Where to Take Pictures with Santa in Tampa Bay in 2021

It’s that time again to answer the question…where can I take pictures with Santa in Tampa Bay? This year, there are plenty of places to experience the magic of Santa, whether you want to sit on his lap or still keep some distance. 

Each year, we put together a list of our favorite places to see Santa in Tampa Bay as he helps to spread some holiday cheer. And what better way to spread cheer than to take pictures with Santa himself!

Related: Best Places to See Holiday Lights in Tampa Bay

Keep in mind that it may take some extra planning as reservations are strongly recommended or even required at some places. It will also be hit or miss, depending on Santa’s discretion and current recommendations, on whether Santa a will be wearing a face mask, but kids are pretty used to seeing this by now. We’ll continue to update this page as new dates and visits are added. Dates and events are subject to change.

Photos with Santa in Tampa Bay: Special Events 

Santa at Busch Gardens Christmas Town

  • Santa’s North Pole Experience: Wander through the sparkling lights around the park as you make your way to the North Pole for an all-new Santa experience! Jolly elves will guide guests to visit Santa in his workshop as he prepares for the holiday season.
  • Dates: November 12, 2021-January 2, 2022
  • https://buschgardens.com/tampa/events/christmas-town/

Santa at ZooTampa’s Christmas in the Wild

  • Christmas in the Wild: Be sure to make your way to Twinkle Town Marketplace to meet Santa and take a photo with him in front of his sleigh.
  • Dates: November 26, 2021-December 30, 2021 on select nights
  • https://zootampa.org/christmas-in-the-wild/

Santa at The Florida Aquarium

  • Santa’s “snow globe” is back at the Florida Aquarium for a socially distant photo with Santa. Photos will be offered on weekends at certain times during the day, so plan ahead.
  • Dates: November 26, 2021 from 5 pm-7 pm, November 27, 28, December 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 18 from 11 am-3 pm.
  • flaquarium.org

Santa at International Plaza in Tampa

  • International Plaza goes all out to host the jolly old elf who brings Santa’s Flight Academy with him. Elves will help guide kids through the ‘Academy’ where they’ll also get a chance to play with ‘snow’ while they wait for the big moment. Kids can choose whether they want to sit on Santa’s lap this year.
  • Visits begin Saturday, November 12, 2021.
  • Make reservation at International Plaza

Santa at Bass Pro Shops 

10501 Palm River Rd in Tampa
November 7-December 24, 2020

  • FREE reservations are required at all locations. Reservations may be made within a 7-day timeframe. Reserve your Santa visit time slot.
  • Santa is back at Bass Pro Shop! Since Santa still needs to stay healthy during the holidays, kids won’t be able to sit on his lap, but they will be able to sit on the bench in front of him while visiting. There will also be games and events for the whole family, carousel rides, and holiday craft gift bags to take home.

Santa things to do this weekend in Tampa Bay
Image credit: Bass Pro Shops


Santa Photos at Tampa Bay Area Shopping Centers

Santa’s visit at several Tampa Bay Area malls and shopping centers are being orchestrated by Cherry Hill Productions to ensure a safe visit and memorable photos with Santa!

There are some changes you’ll need to keep in mind:

  • Advanced reservation are strongly encouraged.
  • Orchestrated once again by Cherry Hill Productions, there are still safety measures in place, though guests now have the option to sit with Santa or take socially distanced pictures with Santa. Other safety standards in place include vaccinated Santa characters, required staff face coverings (except for Santa) and increased cleaning procedures. Reservations required at select locations.

Santa arrives at the following locations on November 12, 2021 and will visit daily through Christmas Eve–there are some days off and varying hours, so check with each location when you make your online reservation.

Santa at International Plaza

2223 N Westshore Boulevard, Tampa

Make reservation at International Plaza

Santa at Westfield Citrus Park

8021 Citrus Park Town Center, Tampa

Make reservation at Westfield Citrus Park

Santa at Westshore Plaza

250 Westshore Plaza, Tampa

Make reservation at WestShore Plaza

Santa at Westfield Brandon

459 Brandon Town Center, Brandon

Make reservation at Westfield Brandon

Santa at The Shops at Wiregrass

28211 Paseo Drive, Wesley Chapel

Make reservation at The Shops at Wiregrass

Santa at Westfield Countryside

27001 US Highway 19 N, Clearwater

Make reservation at Westfield Countryside

Santa at Tyrone Square

6901 22nd Avenue N, St Petersburg

Make reservation at Tyrone Square

Santa at Gulf View Square

9409 US Highway 19, Port Richey

Make reservation at Gulf View Square

Santa at Lakeland Square

3800 US Highway 98 N, Lakeland

Make reservation at Lakeland Square


More Special Events Featuring Santa Claus

Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Park in Downtown Tampa
November 19, 2021-January 2, 2022
Celebrate the magic of the holiday season at Curtis Hixon Park in downtown Tampa with festive lights, ice skating, and more. Keep an eye out for Santa – he’ll be making a few surprise visits at Winter Village! Be sure to stay off the naughty list and stay tuned to the @WinterVillageTampa Facebook and Instagram pages for clues as to when you might be able to catch a glimpse of the man in red yourself. Bring your camera and prepare for a Santa experience like no other. wintervillagetampa.com

Winter Beach St. Pete at St. Pete Pier
November 20, 2021 – January 17, 2022
The St. Pete Pier is decorated and dazzling for the holidays! Go ice-skating, play in the snow, and meet Santa at St. Pete Pier’s inaugural Christmas event. Didn’t get a chance to meet Santa in person? Write him a letter and pop it into the Winter Beach North Pole Mailbox. winterbeachstpete.com

Wonderland of Christmas Lights & Santa’s Christmas Village in Auburndale
November 25, 2021 – January 2, 2022
*New location for 2021!* 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 rides, entertainment, a visit with Santa, Holiday activities for children and adults of all ages! The International Market World, 1052 US-92 in Auburndale. Thewonderlandoflights.com 

Raprager Family Farms Winter Festival and Christmas Extravaganza
November 26, 2021 – December 28, 2021, select dates and times
Raprager Family Farm is exploding with Christmas cheer! Lights and decorations blanket the farm. Hear stories from Mrs. Claus and pay a visit to Santa and take pictures with him at his workshop. rapragerfamilyfarms.com/christmas

Enchant Christmas at Tropicana Field
November 26, 2021- January 2, 2022
Become part of the magical story of “The Mischievous Elf” as you help save Christmas at the World of Enchant. Wander through the incredible dazzling display of lights, spin around on the ice-skating rink, and create some fun holiday crafts. Head over to Santa’s Landing to meet Santa himself. Nestled in a serene snowscape below a sky full of twinkling stars, it is an enchanting and memorable setting for a one-of-a-kind Christmas experience. enchantchristmas.com

Christmas Lane in Plant City
Select nights from November 26, 2021-December 24, 2021
The Florida Strawberry Festival fairgrounds is transformed into an enchanting winter wonderland with 1.5 million lights that adorn 200 Christmas trees from 4 to 40 feet. They will have rides, food, live entertainment, and a kids zone. Santa, Mrs. Claus, and Rudolph will be there to celebrate and take festive photos with guests. christmaslane.com

North Pole Express at Florida Railroad Museum
Select nights December 1-20, 2021
Climb aboard the North Pole Express and ride to the North Pole station, where Santa awaits your visit! He even has a special gift to give each child before they leave. There will be thousands of Christmas lights, hot cocoa, and activities as well. This popular event sells out quickly, but there are a few more open spaces available. frrm.org

DK Farm’s Christmas at The Farm
Select nights December 1-26, 2021
Enjoy the farm in a whole new perspective! There will be tons of entertainment designed for all ages. There will be photo ops with Santa (weekends only), campfires, hayrides, bounce house, snow machine, and more. $10 per guest over 30″ tall. Bundle packages are available online only. pinellasfarm.com/christmas-at-the-farm

Santa at Chick-Fil-A on Waters Avenue
December 3, 10, 17, and 22, 2021, 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Visit the most festive Chick-Fil-A in Tampa Bay and check out their annual Christmas lights display! Santa will be there on select dates so be sure to stop by and say hello. facebook.com/CFAwaters

Photos with Santa at Humane Society of Tampa Bay
December 4, 2021, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Want a picture of Santa along with your favorite four-legged friend? Santa is heading to the Humane Society of Tampa Bay! Suggestion donation of $10 per person. humanesocietytampabay.org

Santa Fest and Tampa’s Christmas Parade
December 4, 2021, 1:30 p.m.
Cheer on the sights and sounds of the holiday season at this mile-long parade boasting brightly colored floats, bands, drum lines, characters, and more! Watch Santa and his elves as they arrive in Tampa Bay. Head to Curtis Hixon Park after the parade for holiday entertainment, games, and activities, and get your picture taken with Santa. friendsoftamparec.org

Santa Paws at Largo Community Center
December 4, 2021, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.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. Learn more by visiting PlayLargo.com

Photos with Santa at Armature Works
December 4, 2021, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
The 4th annual Heights District Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration at Armature Works kicks off at 6:00 p.m. with family-friendly activities, Santa photo ops, live music
performances from the Straz, and a visit from Busch Gardens Christmas Town Elves, who will begiving out fun surprises to kids on the nice list!
armatureworks.com

Santa in the Park at North Straub Park in St Pete
Select nights December 4-23, 2021
This year’s event will feature Santa in a rocking chair with a designated area for participants to chat and take photos with Santa. Be sure to bring your own camera. stpeteparksrec.org

Hunsader Farms Country Christmas in Bradenton
Select nights December 10-19, 2021
Enjoy an old-fashioned country Christmas as the farm lights up in a dazzling display of over 300,000 lights. Enjoy activities such as hayrides, train rides, campfires, Christmas music, snow tubing, and a display Christmas village. Watch Christmas movies on the big screen, say hello to Santa, and warm up with hot chocolate and s’mores. Parking is free and tickets are $10 per person. Kids 5 and younger are free.
hunsaderfarms.com

Cookies with Santa at Pinellas Pioneer Settlement
December 10 and 17, 2021, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Decorate gingerbread cookies, meet Santa and his elves, and purchase small gifts (all items $5 and under) for friends and family! Free gift wrapping provided. $10 per person. Space is limited so be sure to reserve your spot here.

Santa and Mrs. Claus at Armature Works
December 11 and 18, 2021, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Kids can visit with Santa in front of the Armature Works Christmas Tree. Families are also invited to write letters to Santa inside at AW Mercantile. There will be a letter writing station with supplies and a special mailbox for kids to drop their letters. armatureworks.com

Santa’s Holiday Brunch Cruise with Yacht StarShip Cruises
December 12 and 19, 2021, 2020 at 12:30 p.m.
This two-hour cruise is like taking a visit to the North Pole, but on the water in Tampa! Along with the brunch, there will be a visit from Santa and more fun surprises. Upon boarding, grab a photo with Santa! The cruise is $59.95 for adults plus tax and a $5 gratuity. Kids ages 2-12 are $44.95 plus tax and a $5 gratuity. yachtstarship.com

Tarpon Springs’ Annual Cookies with Santa and Candy Cane Hunt!
December 17, 2021, 7:00 p.m.
Enjoy holiday music with the elves while you make reindeer food and a candy cane ornament for your tree! Just before you leave, make sure you get a picture with Santa and tell him what you want for Christmas! Enjoy Christmas cookies and hot cup of hot cocoa while you search for Candy Canes down Candy Cane Row! eventbrite.com

Breakfast with Santa at Largo Community Center
December 18, 2021 at 9:30 a.m. 
The Largo Community Center is hosting his special breakfast with Santa with crafts, games, and of course, an opportunity to snap a picture with Santa! This year’s theme is “Do you want to build a snowman?” Pre-registration is required and tickets are selling fast! Tickets are $10 per child and $8 per adult. PlayLargo.com/PlaySmart


Write a letter to Santa via the USPS’s “Greetings from the North Pole”

Your child can write a letter to Santa and send it directly to the North Pole and even receive a letter back from the jolly old elf with a North Pole postmark! You’ll want to get the letter in the mail by December 10, 2021 and it’ll take a few extra steps on your end as the parent, but well worth the effort! Learn more here!


Visit with Santa Virtually!

Cherry Hill Productions which is organizing the Santa visits at shopping centers across the country also has an option to arrange a virtual visit with Santa Claus via a live Zoom call! Get started here.

2020 Events we’re hoping will return this year:

We’re still waiting on updates but we promise to let you know details as soon as we hear!

Santa at The Florida Aquarium 

Gallagher’s Pumpkins and Christmas Trees in St. Petersburg 
Starting November 20, 2021 from 9:00 pm-9:00 pm
Head to the Insta-worthy Gallagher’s in St. Pete to pick up your Christmas Tree and experience more holiday fun like the snow machine, visits with Santa on the select dates and times above, apple cider with donuts, poinsettias and more! Note: Gallagher’s is allowing kids to sit on Santa’s lap at the discretion of parents and masks are optional.

Shimmering Lights Winter Festival at Sun Kissed Acres in Dover
November 27, 2020-end of December
Santa will be making visits at this outdoor festival which features a lighted walking trail that’s about 1/4 mile long, filled with shimmering lights, outdoor movies, games and holiday music. They ask you to wear comfortable close toed shoes and a face mask for when it gets busy. Tickets are $7 for everyone 3 and older. thesunkissedacres.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 on Friday and Saturday nights, Christmas Trees, hundreds of thousands of lights, rides, music, real snow and more!  You will need to book your ticket to visit with Santa as visits are limited due to COVID-19. Learn more here.

Breakfast with Santa at Clearwater Marine Aquarium 
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.

Cookies and Cocoa with Santa at the YMCA
December 12, 2020 at 9:00 a.m.
The East Pasco Family YMCA in Zephyrhills invites you and the kids to sip on hot cocoa and eat some yummy cookies while you snap a quick photo with Santa. The kids can even make a holiday themed craft to take home. Learn more by visiting tampaymca.org.

Photos with Santa at Sundial in St. Pete | Friday, December 18, 22 & 23 from 5:30 pm-8:30 pm
Bring your camera to snap a free photo with Santa on his sleigh at Sundial! He has a special windshield in place to keep him healthy for his big journey around the world! There will even be a nightly snowfall in the courtyard every half hour. Learn more here.

Photos with Santa at MOSI  | Saturday, December 19 from 11:00am-1:00 pm
Snap a photo with Santa in the safely spaced toy shop! While you’re there, play in the exhibits, attend the Minecraft Mania session and even give the ropes course outside a go! mosi.org

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