By Katelyn Schur & Sarah Stoulil
Looking for Holiday Events can be a daunting task, there is so much going on one can get overwhelmed. We gathered up the best holiday events in Tampa Bay, Clearwater & St Pete this December to fuel your holiday date nights! Check out our Holiday Events List, view some Holiday Lights, take your loved one Ice Skating, or attend one of the many events happening this December in Tampa Bay!
Last Updated Dec 1 2018 **Continue checking back!! We will add new events as we find them!**
Holiday Events List:
For years, the Curtis Hixon Winter Village has been a holiday events hit. For a fun evening out, you can head over to the Winer Village in Downtown Tampa and get some shopping done at the holiday shops, enjoy some nice drinks at the café, ice skate at the seasonal rink, and more. You’ll even be able to enjoy the views from the Tampa Riverwalk.
Going to Busch Gardens is a Tampa bucket list item year-round. During the holiday events season, it’s even more enticing. With decorations strung out across the park, Busch Gardens Christmas Town is a holiday event like no other. You can enjoy the signature thrill rides at night, watch the holiday shows, eat at restaurants all around the park, and more.
Watch a Tree Lighting Show
Now this is an easy one for the holiday events list! Tree shows are popping up all over Tampa Bay at many outdoor locations including the Curtis Hixon Winter Village, the Shops at Wiregrass, and more. Take your significant other to watch these tree lighting shows and cross another item off the Holiday Bucket List. (See Holiday Lights Section Below)
Attend a Boat Parade
It’s always fun to see boats decorated full of holiday cheer with lights, inflatables and more. Throughout December, you can find many parades to check off your list, including the annual Tampa Riverwalk Holiday Boat Parade of Lights, Tarpon Spring Boat Parade, Clearwater Holiday Lighted Boat Parade, Treasure Island Boat Parade, Indian Rocks Boat Parade, Reddington Beach and Indian Shores Boat parade and the Dunedin Holiday Boat Parade and Tree Lighting.
Go Ice Skating
It may not be that cold in Florida, but ice skating is still a must this holiday season. With a variety of seasonal and year-round rinks open for use, your date will be perfect. Most places even offer opportunities for food, games, or other fun to keep your date going. Beginner and experienced skaters alike can have a great time checking this off their holiday bucket list. (See Ice Skating Below)
Bake Cookies and Other Holiday Treats
Is it really the holidays if you haven’t baked some cookies? Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, cookies are a holiday staple and definitely a holiday events list item for this holiday season. You and your date can make a day out of baking and maybe even gift some cookies to others.
Watch Holiday Movies
With so many great holiday movies, it’s no wonder that this is on the bucket list. Cuddle up and watch some holiday classics like Elf, Love Actually, the Polar Express, and more. You can even get some hot chocolate or make cookies to have during the movie. You can also find outdoor showings such as Holiday Movies in the Park at Vinoy Park.
Make Holiday Crafts
Whether your crafty or not, everyone loves a thoughtful, personalized gift. Take your date to a local pottery painting places and you can make gifts together for others or for each other. You can even stay home and make some DIY crafts or baked goods. And of course, making some ornaments for your tree is a must.
Helping those in need is in the spirit of the holidays and a great addition to your holiday events list. Volunteering at a soup kitchen, like Metropolitan Ministries (Ways you can help!), is a great way to give back. You can also help with Toys for Tots, Meals on Wheels, or other local charities.
Watch New Year’s Eve Fireworks
Check out our inclusive listing of NYE fireworks in Tampa, Clearwater, St. Pete and everything in between in our post on New Year’s Eve Fireworks. For New Year’s Eve Events Check out The Best New Year’s Eve Events in Tampa Bay Clearwater St Pete
- December 7
- The fun starts at 6 p.m. at the John Wilson Park Gazebo
- Through December 29, 2018
- Hillsborough County Fairgrounds
- Sunday through Thursday 6pm to 9pm
- Friday and Saturday 6pm to 10pm
- Through December 23, 2018
- Thursday to Sunday from 5:30pm to 10pm
- South Frontage Road in Plant City
- Features trail of lights, snow, ice show and more
- Through December 30, 2018
- Florida Botanical Gardens from 5:30pm to 9:30pm
- Suggested donation $4
- Features nightly entertainment including visits with Santa.
- Through December 31, 2018
- The Shops at Wiregrass from 6pm to 9pm
- Nightly shows on the hour
- Through December 31, 2018
- Lake Park Estates subdivision from 6pm to 10pm
- Drive through light show
- Select nights through December 30, 2018
- Water taxi cruise departing from Tampa Convention Center
- includes cookies, hot chocolate and carols
- Through January 1, 2019
- North and South Straub Parks in St Petersburg
- Pedestrian only walkways
- Through December 23, 2018
- At the Concourse in Shady Hills
- Weeknights 6pm-9pm; Weekends 6pm-10pm
- $10 per carload
- Through December 24, 2018
- Friday through Sunday at 6:30pm or 8:30pm
- Tickets available here
- Through December 24, 2018
- Florida Strawberry Festival grounds in Plant City
- Thursday to Sunday from 6pm to 10pm
- Through January 3, 2019
- Oakdale Street in St Petersburg from 6pm to 10pm
- Through January 1, 2018
- Largo Central Park from 6pm to 11pm
- Park admission free, rides $5
- Ferris wheel, carousel, concessions
- Through December 30, 2018
- Busch Gardens during park hours
- included with admission
- December 22, 2018
- Tampa Riverwalk at 6pm to 8pm
- Also visit Curtis Hixon Winter Village
Curtis Hixon Winter Village
The ice skating rink at the Curtis Hixon Winter Village is one of everybody’s favorite holiday events. It allows you to skate with beautiful views of the Tampa Riverwalk and Hillsborough River. If you don’t have your own ice skates, never worry, skate rental is included in your ticket purchase! Besides ice skating, you can also enjoy some warm drinks at the café, stroll through the shops of the village, or take the Winter Village Express for a holiday streetcar experience.
Tickets for ice skating are $13 and include 90 minutes of skating time plus your skate rental. wintervillagetampa.com
Shops at Wiregrass Ice Skating
Head over to the Shops at Wiregrass for a date full of skating, shopping and fun. This is perfect for a first date or for a longtime couple. The ice skating rink is located in between shops at the outdoor mall, making it a perfect attraction. You can walk through the different stores and get some holiday shopping done while spending time with your significant other. If you’re feeling a little hungry, you can stop at one of the many restaurants for a quick meal or dessert. You can even enjoy some holiday fun at the tree light show. And of course, head over to the ice skating rink to skate around.
For holiday skating, head over to Wiregrass from November 10 to January 6 theshopsatwiregrass.com
Brandon Ice Sports Forum
Ice skating never gets old at the Brandon Ice Sports Forum. Throughout the week, there are different public skating session available. On select nights you can even skate with a live DJ playing music. Once you’re tired of skating, you can play some laser tag, eat at the café or grill and sports bar, or play some games at the arcade. No matter what you do, your date will be lots of fun.
Admission for ice skating is $13 without skates and $9 with skates. Public skating times vary. theicesportsforum.com
Florida Hospital Center Ice
This new rink, open for less than a year, makes the list of perfect holiday events for your holiday skating date. With over 15 different public skate sessions, you’ll be able to find a perfect time for your date. The Top Shelf Restaurant and Bar makes for a perfect pre- or post-skating meal. You can also get some shopping done at the Tampa Premium Outlets, just a few minutes down the road.
Including skate rental, admission is $14. Without skate rental, admission is $9.75. floridahospitalcenterice.com
Tampa Bay Skating Academy and Clearwater Ice Arena
At any of the three locations of the Tampa Bay Skating Academy, you can skate your heart out on a beautiful date. You and your significant other can skate for 90 minutes and spend the rest of the day together getting a meal at the Bar and Grill or leave the TBSA to explore the area around you and find some other fun event to keep your date going.
Admission for skating varies at $9 or $11, including skate rental, depending on the skating session you choose. tampabayice.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. Christmas at Gaylord Palms
Candlelight Processional at Epcot | Through Dec. 30, various times
One of the most amazing Holiday Events every year! 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
The Wonderland of Lights & Santa’s Village | Through Dec. 29, various times
Experience Tampa’s holiday events 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
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
Victorian Christmas Stroll | 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
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 events 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
A Celtic Angels Christmas | 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! | 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 | 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
Magical Night Christmas Parade | 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 holiday events festivities. dadecitychamber.org
Barry Manilow’s “A Very Barry Christmas” | 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
12 Bars of Xmas | Dec. 8, 4 p.m. through 12 a.m.
Head over to Kelly Days Firehouse Tavern to start the craziest bar crawl of the holiday season. Be sure to check in before the event to get your official crawl wristband and choose the bars you wish to visit and the drinks you wish to enjoy! crawlwith.us
Jane Lynch a Swingin’ Little Christmas | 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 | 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
An Unforgettable Nat King Cole Christmas | 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 | Dec. 15, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
This family-friendly holiday events 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 events celebration showcasing unusual and collectable gift ideas, handmade by local artists from the Tampa Bay Area. marketatthepark.com
93.3 FLZ’s Jingle Ball | 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
Cirque Musica Holiday | Dec. 16, 7 -9 p.m.
Marvel at the mesmerizing cirque performers in this all-new holiday events 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 | 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 in one of the area’s top “must-attend” holiday events. 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 events 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 | Dec. 20, 7 p.m.
Share a holiday events 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 | 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
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 | 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
Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker | 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
Cirque Dreams Holidaze | Dec. 29-30, various times
Get ready to be mesmerized by this critically-acclaimed holiday events 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
Ugly Sweater Bar Crawl | Dec. 8, 5 p.m.- 11 p.m.
Dig out your ugliest holiday sweater and enjoy an evening of fun on a fully guided 4 bar fun holiday events tour. The hideousness begins at 5 at Zydeco Brew Works where guests will board the Crawler Party Bus taking attendees to two downtown hotspots before heading back to Ybor for the final stop of the tour, Coyote Ugly. Tickets include one free shot at each bar, discounted food and drinks, an ugly sweater contest, party bus transportation, raffle tickets, and more! eventbrite.com
New Year’s Eve | Dec. 31
Looking for the Best New Year’s Events in Tampa Clearwater and St Pete? Check our our guide to NYE! And we have the 411 on how to enjoy NYE fireworks in and around Tampa Bay!