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

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

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 2021. 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 2021

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.

 

Visit the Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Park

November 19, 2021 – January 2, 2022

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.

Check out this post from our media partners at Tampa Bay Parenting for the full event details, plus what's new for 2021.

 

Explore Busch Gardens Christmas Town

November 12, 2021 – January 2, 2022

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 a 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 18), Tarpon Springs Holiday Boat Parade (December 3) and the 36th Annual Treasure Island Holiday Lighted Boat Parade (December 4).

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, and NEW for 2021 is Winter Beach at the St. Pete Pier. This new event features outdoor ice skating on real ice, holiday performances, visits from Santa and so much more. Both events require tickets for ice skating.

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

 

Take a Christmas Lights Cruise on the Pirate Water Taxi

Select dates November 26 – December 30, 2021

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 $25 for adults.

 

Watch Classic Holiday Movies

This year marks the return of Tampa Theatre's Holiday Classics series. Snag tickets to screenings of Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (December 12), Elf (December 26) and more. The theatre is also bringing back FREE outdoor movies at Curtis Hixon Park in conjunction with Winter Village. The current lineup includes ‘Serendipity' on December 17, 2021 at 7:30pm.

See the Christmas Movies section below 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 will again return to Intermezzo Coffee & Cocktails this November 2021. Enjoy a special menu of holiday concoctions (served in special holiday glasses) plus festive decor and more.

Image credit: Miracle at Mezzo

Get Snowed “Inn” at Sparkman Wharf

Sparkman Wharf is getting a holiday twist with a special Snowed Inn event Thursdays this December. On December 2, 9, and 16, Sparkman Wharf will transform into a cozy ski lodge decked out with falling snow, holiday photo ops, a hot toddy bar, seasonal entertainment, swings transformed into ski lifts and more. There will also be a tree lighting on Wednesday, December 1, 2021 at 5:30pm.

 

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 2021

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.

 

Tree Lighting + Symphony in Lights

Nightly show November 13 – December 31, 2021, 6-9pm

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.

 

Tampa Riverwalk Holiday Spectacular

November 20, 2021 – January 2, 2022

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.

Image credit: City of Tampa

Holiday Lights at Largo Central Park 

November 25, 2021 – January 2, 2022

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.

 

Holiday Lights in the Gardens at Florida Botanical Gardens

November 26, 2021 – January 2, 2022

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.

 

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.

Enchant Christmas
Image credit: Enchant Christmas

 

Oakdale Christmas Lights House

November 26, 2021 – January 3, 2022, 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 address is 2719 Oakdale Street South, St. Petersburg, FL.

 

Waterfront Lights and Displays in St. Pete

November 27, 2021 – January 2, 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.

 

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


FREE Holiday Events

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 4, 2021, 1:30-7:30pm

Festivities include a holiday parade beginning at 1:30pm, plus entertainment and activities at Curtis Hixon Park from 3:30-5:30pm. Finally, stay for the Tampa Tree Lighting entertainment and see Mayor Castor and Santa Claus light up the tree before The Grinch (2018) movie plays plays in the park to end the day.

 

Jingle Bell Bazaar At Centennial Park

December 12, 2021, 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 12 – 23, 2021

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

 

Holiday Hunt

December 17, 2021 – January 2, 2022

The Tampa Riverwalk Holiday Hunt is a mobile-based scavenger hunt along the Tampa Riverwalk. Individuals and/or teams will compete to be the Holiday Hunt winner as they make their way through the Holiday Hunt by solving puzzles, completing holiday challenges and answering historical Tampa trivia.  This event is free to the public. You must download the mobile app Mobile Adventures to participate.

 

Tampa Riverwalk Holiday Lighted Boat Parade

December 18, 2021, 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

November 20 and 27, December 17, 2021, 7pm
Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Park
Tampa Theatre is bringing back FREE outdoor movies at Curtis Hixon Park in conjunction with Winter Village. The current lineup includes ‘The Polar Express’ (November 20, 7pm), ‘A Christmas Story’ (November 27, 7pm) and ‘Serendipity' (December 17, 7:30pm).
FREE

 

Tampa Theatre Holiday Classics

Multiple dates November 28 – December 26, 2021
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. The lineup includes Miracle on 34th Street (November 28), White Christmas sing-a-long (December 5), Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (December 12), It's a Wonderful Life (December 17-23), and Elf (December 26).
$10 – $13

 

Sparkman Wharf Movie on the Lawn: Four Christmases

December 6, 2021, 6:30-9pm
Sparkman Wharf
Watch this holiday rom-com while crafting your own holiday ornament with AR Workshop Tampa.
$35 for workshop

 

Clearwater Beach Monday Night Movies at the Capitol Theatre

December 13 and 20, 2021, 6-8pm
Capitol Theatre
Movie schedule and more details TBA. This event is part of the 12 Days of Christmas – Clearwater Beach running from December 12 – 23, 2021.
Ticket details TBA

 

Tarpon Springs Holiday Movie in the Park

December 18, 2021, 4:30pm
Splash Park field
Put your pj’s on and snuggle up to enjoy an outdoor holiday movie. There will be crafts and even a visit from Santa!
FREE

 

St. Pete Holiday Drive-In Movie: Home Alone

December 18, 2021, lot opens at 7pm
Crescent Lake Park
First come, first served. The lot opens at 7pm and the movie will begin at 8pm. Concessions will be available for purchase.
FREE

 

Clearwater Beach Holiday Movie Matinee at the Capitol Theatre

December 18 and 19, 11am – 12:30pm
Capitol Theatre
Movie schedule and more details TBA. This event is part of the 12 Days of Christmas – Clearwater Beach running from December 12 – 23, 2021.
Ticket details TBA


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.

 

NEW! Winter Beach at St. Pete Pier

November 20, 2021 – January 17, 2022

2021 marks the debut of a new holiday tradition, Winter Beach at the St. Pete Pier. Activities at this inaugural holiday event include free holiday movies, a holiday market, snow days and more. But the true highlight is ice skating in an outdoor rink made of real ice! The fun is enhanced with themed ice skating nights like Britney night, 90s night, and a Santa hat skate. Tickets are $17 for 75 minutes of skating, including rental.

 

Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Park 

Open November 19, 2021 – January 2, 2022

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 $17 and include 75 minutes of skating time plus 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 2021

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

 

SeaWorld Orlando’s Christmas Celebration

November 12, 2021 – January 2, 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 13, 2021 – January 2, 2022

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 13, 2021 – January 2, 2022

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 November 26 – December 24, 2021

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 30, 2021

Magic Kingdom has put Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party on hiatus this year, but they are still bringing home the magic with with an after-hours Very Merriest After-Hours Party. 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 26-December 30, 2021 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

November 30, 2021, 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!
$35 – $65

Photo Courtesy of Cirque Dreams Holidaze

A Christmas Carol at Ruth Eckerd Hall

November 30, 2021, 7pm
Ruth Eckerd Hall
The holiday classic comes to life on the stage in this all-new stage production with 26 holiday songs incorporated into the show.
$29 – $75

 

Victorian Christmas Stroll

December 1 – 23, 2021
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.
$16

 

St. Petersburg City Theater presents A Christmas Carol

December 3 – 12, 2021, multiple times
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

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 14, 2021
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 Hallelujah Chorus!
$23.75 and up

 

Next Generations Ballet's Nutcracker

December 17 – 19, 2021
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 18, 2021, 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 19, 2021, 3pm and 7:30pm
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.
$39.95 and up


New Year's Eve 2022 | 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!

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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