Celebrate the Holidays in Tampa Bay: Christmas Events, Lights, and More!

Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

 

Choosing which holiday events to attend can be a daunting task, especially when there are so many to choose from – including a handful of brand new events for 2022. To take away some of the stress of decision making, we’ve curated this guide to the best holiday events in Tampa Bay, Clearwater & St Pete to fuel your holiday date nights.

Check out our bucket list of must-do experiences, view some holiday lights, find our picks for FREE events, watch a classic Christmas movie, take your loved one ice skating, attend holiday performances, or check out a local holiday market for unique gifts. Our guide has it all!

Our holiday events guide is organized into the following sections to help you easily find the type of event you’re looking for:

  • Christmas Events Bucket List
  • Best Christmas Lights in Tampa Bay
  • Free Holiday Events
  • Where to Watch Christmas Movies
  • Ice Skating
  • Theme Park Christmas Events
  • Holiday Performances and Entertainment

Have a Holiday event you would like featured? Contact us and we will consider adding it!


Christmas Events Bucket List for 2022

Looking for an overview on our top picks for celebrating the holidays in Tampa Bay? This is your section! Below you can skim our curated list of the must-do holiday events and experiences in Tampa Bay.

Take a drive to ICE! at Gaylord Palms Resort

The weather forecast this Christmas at Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee calls for a high of 9 degrees, with a 100% chance of ICE! In ICE! featuring Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, guests step into an arctic attraction – kept at a frosty 9 degrees – into a wondrous world of larger-than-life, hand-carved ice sculptures. After experiencing frozen fun inside ICE!, guests can enjoy a sleigh-full of live shows, immersive family events, millions of sparkling lights, a 60-foot-tall Christmas tree that comes to life in a kaleidoscope of color, and more all across the resort’s 64-acre winter wonderland.

Gaylord Ice
photo by Doug Scaletta

Visit the Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Park

November 18, 2022 – January 4, 2023

Get some shopping done at the holiday shops, sip drinks at the café, ice skate at Downtown Tampa’s only outdoor ice rink, and more at this iconic Tampa Bay Christmas event. Admission to the Winter Village is free, but some activities like ice skating require tickets.

NEW for 2022: You can experience curling! Form your own curling team – what a way to bond as a couple.
Details at TampaBayParennting.com: NEW Festive Fun Coming to Downtown Tampa at Winter Village

 

Explore Busch Gardens Christmas Town

November 13, 2022 – January 2, 2023

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. Highlights this year include brand-new fireworks show and the return of Christmas On Ice.

 

Watch a Tree Lighting Show

Now this is an easy one for the holiday events list! Tree lighting ceremonies are popping up all over Tampa Bay at many outdoor locations including Curtis Hixon Park, Safety Harbor, and more. Take your significant other to watch these tree lighting shows and cross another item off of your holiday bucket list.

 

Attend a Holiday Boat Parade

It’s always fun to see boats decorated with festive lights, holiday inflatables and more.

A few of our favorites include the Tampa Riverwalk Holiday Lighted Boat Parade (December 17), Tarpon Springs Holiday Boat Parade (December 2) and the 37th Annual Treasure Island Holiday Lighted Boat Parade (December 17).

Free Holiday Events in Tampa - Riverwalk Holiday Boat Parade
Image credit: Tampa Riverwalk

Go Ice Skating

It may not be that cold in Florida, but ice skating is still a must this holiday season. Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Park is a classic option (tickets required for ice skating).

Refer to the Ice-Skating section below for the best local spots to enjoy this holiday pastime.

READ MORE: Here’s what to expect at Downtown Tampa’s Winter Village.

Take a Christmas Lights Cruise on the Pirate Water Taxi

Select Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from November 25-December 24, 2022

Head over to the Hillsborough River to the Pirate Water Taxi for a unique way to celebrate the holiday season. During this 45-minute River of Lights tour, you’ll enjoy great views of Downtown Tampa’s best Christmas lights and decorations from the water. Other perks include snow flurries, adult beverages available for purchase onboard, a visit from a pirate elf, letters to Santa and more. Tickets begin at $30 for adults.

 

Watch Classic Holiday Movies

Tampa Theatre’s Holiday Classics series is back, as well as FREE outdoor movies at Curtis Hixon Park in conjunction with Winter Village.

See the Christmas Movies section below or our guide to Christmas movies in Tampa Bay for additional movie screenings for the holidays.

 

Visit a Christmas Bar

Enjoy holiday spirits – literally – at Miracle at Mezzo. This annual pop-up Christmas cocktail bar has returned to Intermezzo Coffee & Cocktails. Enjoy a special menu of holiday concoctions (served in special holiday glasses) plus festive decor and more.

Image credit: Miracle at Mezzo

READ MORE: Christmas Cocktails at Holiday Pop-Up Bars in Tampa Bay

Celebrate Winter Wonder Wharf

Sparkman Wharf is getting a holiday twist with Winter Wonder Wharf! On select dates in December, you can enjoy a holiday remix singalong (December 3), check out a holiday comedy show (December 10), and go caroling (December 17).

Volunteer

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, is a great way to give back. You can also help with Toys for TotsMeals 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. We’ll be updating this post soon with current events. For New Year’s Eve event, check out The Best New Year’s Eve Events in Tampa Bay Clearwater St Pete.


Best Christmas Lights in Tampa Bay 2022

Nothing says Christmas quite like strolling around hand in hand to “oooh” and “ahhhh” at holiday lights. Below are a few of our favorite Christmas lights displays in Tampa Bay.

Holiday Lights in the Gardens at Florida Botanical Gardens

November 25, 2022 – January 1, 2023

The gardens sparkle with one million LED lights that twinkle in a variety of bright colors. Vibrant laser lights and lighted figures are sure to wow guests of all ages.

Symphony in Lights

Nightly from 6pm-9pm through December 31

Enjoy a lively array of dancing lights, dazzling decor and snow. Symphony in Lights is an amazing holiday light show at The Shops at Wiregrass, choreographed to music featuring the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Christmas Lights at Chick-Fil-A On Waters Ave. 

November 18 – January 6, 2023, 6:00-10:00pm

This Chick-fil-A store has a tradition of taking Christmas lights in Tampa to a whole new level and they’re back at it again with this year’s Christmas lights display. Even Santa comes to visit! Add this annual Tampa Bay Christmas light event to your family’s Christmas light holiday bucket list!

Holiday Lights Immersive Experience at Fairgrounds St. Pete

November 22, 2022 – January 8, 2023

Experience a sparkling spectacle of art and lights during the inaugural Holiday Lights Immersive Experience! Visit Fairgrounds St. Pete to see the Mermaid Star Motel, Strawberry Room, and other whimsical art installations transformed for the holiday season. Included with daily admission.

Tampa Riverwalk Holiday Spectacular

November 28, 2022 – January 2, 2023

Get in the festive spirit thanks to the Tampa Riverwalk’s cheery holiday light displays. Displays include the 35′ tall LED lighted Christmas tree that floats in the harbor, several other lighted displays floating on barges in the river and the lighted garland and red bows on the Riverwalk light poles. The official tree lighting will take place on November 28th.

Image credit: City of Tampa

Holiday Lights at Largo Central Park 

November 25, 2022 – January 2, 2023

The annual family-friendly tradition at Largo Central Park will feature a spectacular holiday light display of over two million dazzling LED lights. Guests can also enjoy a stunning carousel and a seven-story Ferris wheel that offers breathtaking views of the lighted park. Admission is free and rides are $5.

Oakdale Christmas Lights House

November 24, 2022 – January 1, 2023, 6-10pm

Prepare to be dazzled by an array of half a million flashing colorful twinkles for a free holiday light display that garnered a top 3 showing as a finalist on NBC’s “Today” show. The tree lighting on Nov. 24 kicks off the festivities. The address is 2719 Oakdale Street South, St. Petersburg, FL.

Waterfront Lights and Displays in St. Pete

November 26, 2022 – January 1, 2022

Take a stroll along the waterfront to see thousands of holiday lights and decorations in North Straub Park, South Straub Park, Pioneer Park, Vinoy Park, and the St. Pete Pier. Additional festivities include drive-in holiday movies in the park, a meet and greet with Santa in North Straub Park and more.

Indian Trails Hot Cocoa and Holiday Lights Fundraiser

December 10 and 17, 2022 at 6pm

The Indian Trails neighborhood off Alderman Rd. and Omaha Street in Palm Harbor dazzles with a spectacular display of lights. Local meteorologist Denis Phillips will have a hot chocolate fundraiser on December 10th and 17th along with items from his “Rule #7” collection. All proceeds go to the Children’s Miracle Network and Feeding Tampa Bay.

 

Read our guide to Where to Find the Best Holiday Lights in Tampa Bay for even MORE ideas!


FREE Holiday Events 2022

A holiday date night doesn’t have to cost a dime. Partake in free festive celebrations throughout Tampa Bay including tree lightings, a fun holiday-themed scavenger hunt, and so much more.

 

City of Tampa Santa Fest

December 3, 2022, 1pm

The parade steps off at 1:00 p.m. beginning at Morgan Street and Madison Street. It travels west on Madison Street to Ashley Drive, turns north and ends at Ashley Drive and Cass Street. Best viewing is along Madison Street. After the parade thru downtown, come by Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park for Santa Fest entertainment and activities 3:30-5:30 p.m. Stay for the Tampa Tree Lighting entertainment 6-6:30 p.m. See Mayor Castor and Santa Claus light up the tree before a holiday movie plays in the park to end the day.

 

Jingle Bell Bazaar at Centennial Park

December 11, 2022, noon-6pm

The Annual Jingle Bell Bazaar is a fun, festive holiday event in Historic Ybor City. Join the fun in Centennial Park.

 

12 Days of Christmas on Clearwater Beach

December 1-15, 2022

Local Clearwater businesses are hosting this holiday celebration including a Christmas tree lighting, caroling, parade, photo ops, a Christmas market and more.

 

Tampa Riverwalk Holiday Lighted Boat Parade

December 17, 2022, 6pm

This festive annual parade along the Tampa Riverwalk begins in the Convention Center basin, travels to the Heights, and ends at Sparkman Wharf.

Free holiday events in Tampa - Tampa Riverwalk Holiday Boat Parade
Image credit: Tampa Riverwalk

 

Check out our guide to 30+ Free Holiday Events in Tampa Bay for a Festive Date for the full scoop on the best free holiday events to attend.


Where to Watch Christmas Movies

It doesn’t get more classic than cuddling up to watch holiday films together! From free outdoor movies to Christmas classics returning to the big screen, here’s where to see holiday movies in Tampa Bay this season.

 

FREE Outdoor Movies at Winter Village

December 16, 2022 at 7pm
Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Park
Tampa Theatre is bringing back FREE outdoor movies at Curtis Hixon Park in conjunction with Winter Village. On December 16, you can check out Disney’s A Christmas Carol.

 

Tampa Theatre Holiday Classics

December 4, 2022-January 8, 2023
Tampa Theatre
Partake in the tradition of sharing favorite holiday films on the big screen with family and friends and singing along to Christmas carols with the Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Organ before the show.

 

St. Pete Holiday Movie in the Park

December 17, 2022
Crescent Lake Park
First come, first served. The lot opens at 7pm and a showing of The Grinch will begin at 8pm. Concessions will be available for purchase.
FREE

Get the full list of Where to Watch Christmas Movies

 


Ice Skating

Wondering where you can skate hand in hand on REAL ice? Look no further. Several holiday celebrations offer ice skating seasonally, and public skating sessions at indoor rinks continue the fun all year.

 

Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Park 

Open November 18, 2022 – January 4, 2023

The ice-skating rink at the Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Park is one of everybody’s favorite holiday events. It allows you to skate while enjoying beautiful views of the Tampa Riverwalk and Hillsborough River. If you don’t have your own ice skates, don’t worry, skate rental is included in the ticket price. Tickets for ice skating are $15 and include 75 minutes of skating time and your skate rental.

Holiday events in Tampa
Image credit: Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Park

TGH Ice Plex

Ice skating never gets old at the TGH Ice Plex, especially since it’s the official training facility of the Tampa Bay Lightning! Throughout the week, there are different public skating sessions available. On select nights you can even skate with a live DJ playing music. Admission for ice skating is $10, $15 with skate rental. Public skating times vary.

 

AdventHealth Center Ice

This rink makes the list of perfect holiday events for your holiday skating date. With multiple public skate sessions, you’ll be able to find a perfect time for your date. Including skate rental, admission is $15. Without skate rental, admission is $10.

 

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 depending on the skating session you choose.


Attractions + Theme Park Christmas Events 2022

Celebrate in serious style by attending a holiday celebration at Tampa and Orlando attractions and theme parks.

 

SeaWorld Orlando’s Christmas Celebration

November 11, 2022 – December 31, 2022

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

 

Christmas Town at Busch Gardens

November 14, 2022 – January 2, 2023

Enjoy park-wide festive fun at this award-winning holiday event. The park becomes filled with holiday cheer and guests can enjoy holiday traditions with a twist. Ride the Holly Jolly Express train, view millions of twinkling lights from the top of a roller coaster, visit Santa in his workshop, and spend time with Rudolph and his friends from the classic holiday movie, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Guests can also enjoy festive live shows and take part in special holiday dining and shopping

Image credit: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Holidays at Universal Orlando

November 12, 2021 – January 1, 2023

Head to Universal Orlando Resort for the biggest, loudest, awesomest holiday celebration of the season! Celebrate with seasonal shows and decorations at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Sip on hot Butterbeer in Diagon Alley in Universal Studios and Hogsmeade in Universal Islands of Adventure as they come to life with magical lights and festive events. The Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s features larger-than-life balloons, with appearances by the Minions and characters from Shrek and Madagascar. Head over to Whoville for The Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular starring The Grinch himself

 

Christmas in the Wild at ZooTampa

Select nights Select Nights November 25 – December 30, 2022

Enjoy one of Tampa’s largest light displays as the zoo transforms into a seasonal wonderland. This year promises to be bigger, better, and brighter than ever. Enjoy six new illuminated zones of lights, festive entertainment, delectable holiday treats, and amazing wildlife. Wander over to Twinkle Town Marketplace where you can meet Santa.

 

Holiday Events at Walt Disney World

Through December 31, 2022

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party returns for 2022! Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios are also decorated and will have character cavalcades throughout the day. The Taste of Epcot International Festival of the Holidays starts on November 25-December 30, 2022 with the sights, sounds and tastes of the season from cultures around the world.


Holiday Performances and Entertainment

Get in the holiday spirit at these special performances including The Nutcracker, holiday concerts, and more.

 

Cirque Dreams Holidaze at The Mahaffey

December 27 at 7:30pm
Mahaffey Theater
Bring in the holiday season with a bang! With colorful new acts, cool holiday scenes, unique performances and special appearances from Santa himself this is a holiday extravaganza you won’t want to miss!

Photo Courtesy of Cirque Dreams Holidaze

 

Victorian Christmas Stroll

December 1 – 23, 2022
Henry B. Plant Museum
Experience the grandeur of a Victorian Christmas during this signature event of the Henry B. Plant Museum at the University of Tampa. Travel back to the 1890s as you visit decorated exhibit rooms.
$18

 

St. Petersburg City Theater presents A Christmas Carol

December 9-18, 2022 Fri/Sat at 7:30pm and Sun. 2pm
St. Petersburg City Theatre’s MainStage
In one night, Ebenezer Scrooge sees his past, present & future come to haunt him & discovers the true meaning of Christmas. A host of beloved characters come to life on stage in this spectacular annual production.
$23

 

The Florida Orchestra Holiday Pops (2022 TBD)

December 10, 2021: The Straz Center
December 11, 2021: Mahaffey Theater
December 12, 2021: Ruth Eckerd Hall
The Florida Orchestra returns for a special Holiday Pops concert series conducted by Enrico Lopez-Yañez.
$18 – $48

 

Patel Conservatory Holiday Music Concert

December 6, 2022
The Straz Center
Celebrate the season with holiday classics, contemporary interpretations, and more! Join the Patel Conservatory Chamber Strings ensembles, Vocal Arts choirs and Suzuki Strings as we ring in the holidays, including a performance of The Many Moods of Christmas.
$23.75 and up

 

Next Generations Ballet’s Nutcracker

December 16-18, 2022
Straz Center
Now a glittering, star-studded Tampa holiday tradition, Next Generation Ballet’s Nutcracker includes principal dancers from American Ballet Theatre. This family-friendly favorite takes audiences into Clara and Drosselmeyer’s fantastical world of dancing sweets, sword-fighting rodents and some of ballet’s most famous music.
$30 and up

 

Rockapella Christmas

December 16, 2022, 8pm
Bilheimer Capitol Theatre
Rockapella brings it’s exciting, internationally acclaimed, a cappella sound back to the Bilheimer Capitol Theatre with a night of holiday classics! For their new Christmas show, the a capella superstars will perform holiday classics like “Silver Bells,” “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” and “White Christmas” with their original holiday hits.
$30 – $59

 

Trans-Siberia Orchestra

December 18, 2022, 2pm and 7pm
Amalie Arena
The Trans-Siberia Orchestra is back at Amalie Arena in Tampa, celebrating 25 years of its multi-sensory show, Christmas Eve and Other Stories.
$29 and up


New Year’s Eve 2023 | 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!

Updates for New Year’s Eve this year coming soon.

Want more holiday fun in Tampa Bay?

Our media partners at Tampa Bay Parenting have a comprehensive list of family-friendly holiday events around Tampa Bay!

 

Feature image credit: Enchant Christmas


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