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

holiday events

Looking for Holiday events can be a daunting task, especially in 2020 as we try to celebrate while social distancing. We’ve 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!

**Continue checking back!! We will add new events as we find them! Last updated November 17, 2020

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


Christmas Events Bucket List

Visit the Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Park

November 20, 2020 – January 3, 2021

For years, the Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Park 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 Downtown Tampa’s only outdoor ice rink, and more. You’ll even be able to enjoy the views from the Tampa Riverwalk. Admission to the Winter Village is free, but some activities like ice skating require tickets.

Explore Busch Gardens Christmas Town

November 20, 2020 – January 3, 2021

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. New offerings for this year include a brand new fireworks show and the first ever outdoor production of Christmas On Ice

Watch a Tree Lighting Show

Event dates vary

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.

See the Christmas lights section below for details on specific events.

Attend a Holiday Boat Parade

Event dates vary

It’s always fun to see boats decorated with festive lights, holiday inflatables and more. While several parades have been canceled for 2020, you can still find many free holiday boat parades taking place around Tampa Bay. A few of our favorites include the Tampa Riverwalk Holiday Lighted Boat Parade (December 19), 31st Annual Tarpon Springs Holiday Boat Parade (December 4) and the 35th Annual Treasure Island Holiday Lighted Boat Parade (December 5).

Check out our guide to 25+ Free Holiday Events in Tampa Bay for a Festive Datefor the scoop on all the local boat parades, plus more free holiday events to attend.

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. With a variety of seasonal and year-round rinks open for use, your date will be perfect. Most places also offer food, games, and other fun to keep your date going. Beginner and experienced skaters alike can have a great time checking this off their holiday bucket list.

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 27 – December 30, 2020

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, Christmas sing a longs, letters to Santa and more. The boat will be operating at 50% capacity. Tickets begin at $25 for adults.

Watch Classic Holiday Movies

With so many great holiday movies to revisit, it’s no wonder that this is on the bucket list. The Drive-In at Armature Works recently announced a lineup of holiday flicks perfect for a socially-distanced holiday activity. Cuddle up and watch some holiday classics like Elf, Love Actually, The Holiday, Home Alone, A Christmas Story, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and more.

You can also watch FREE outdoor movies around town, such as Drive-In Holiday Movies in the Park at Vinoy Park, and a special outdoor screening of A Christmas Story at Pier 60 (Dec 12).

The Drive-In at Armature Works Open in Tampa
Image credit: Rooftop Cinema Club

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 (we’ll be updating this listing soon for NYE 2021!).


Christmas Lights in Tampa Bay 2020

Ybor City 10th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony
November 18, 2020, 6:30pm
Gather the whole family and head to Centro Ybor for the Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony, a great annual Christmas event in Tampa! Holiday DJ music will begin at 6:30pm in Centro Ybor and the 2020 Tree Lighting will occur at 7pm.

The Wonderland of Lights & Santa’s Village
November 26 – December 27, 2020
Experience Tampa’s Christmas event theme park located at the Hillsborough County Fairgrounds in Brandon. Enjoy a 1-mile drive through spectacular holiday lights and displays seven days a week. Additional Christmas and holiday-themed attractions can be found at Santa’s Village open Thursday-Sunday featuring Santa photo ops, fair-style foods, seasonal entertainment and more. Tickets are $15 – $25 per car.

Holiday Spectacular
November 26, 2020 – January 2, 2021
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 26, 2020 – January 3, 2021
Largo Central Park
Largo Central Park has more than one million LED Christmas lights to enjoy as you stroll.

Oakdale Christmas Lights House
November 27, 2020 – January 3, 2021
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 exact address is 2719 Oakdale Street South, St. Petersburg, FL.

Waterfront Lights and Displays in St. Pete
November 27, 2020 – January 3, 2021
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.

Lights of Lake Park
December 1 – 31, 2020, 6-10pm
Drive through this annual light show of Lake Park Estates. The neighborhoods of Lake Park Estates, Wieker, Lakeside Estates, and Lake Seminole Village, generously decorate their homes with over 3 miles of Christmas lights and decorations for the public to enjoy! Donations are accepted at the Suncoast Hospice Cart located along the route.

Safety Harbor Tree Lighting Ceremony 
December 4, 2020, 6-9pm
Bring out family and friends to enjoy the lighting of Safety Harbor’s giant Christmas tree. Choirs will warm up the crowd for a visit from Santa Claus! This free event takes place at the gazebo at John Wilson Park.

31st Annual Tarpon Springs Holiday Boat Parade
December 4, 2020, 6:30pm
Public viewing areas  for this annual boat parade include Sponge Docks, Whitcomb Bayou, Craig Park & Spring Bayou. Want to participate? It’s totally free but you’ll need to register ahead of time. Viewers are encouraged to social distance in the viewing locations.

Christmas in Time Square 
December 5, 2020,  4 – 8pm
Time Square, Downtown Zephyrhills
While Main Street Zephyrhills’ regular Festival of Lights parade and event has been canceled, there’s a brand NEW 1st annual event to enjoy this year. Christmas in Time Square includes Christmas cheer, festive food trucks, the tree lighting and more! Entry is free.

35th Annual Treasure Island Holiday Lighted Boat Parade
December 5, 2020, 6:20pm
The parade begins just south of the Treasure Island Bridge in the Intracoastal Waterway at 6:20pm. The best public viewing areas include Blind Pass Bridge between Treasure Island & St. Pete Beach, Treasure Bay Recreation Facility, Treasure Island Causeway Bridge, Treasure Island Causeway at Fusion & St. James, 115th Avenue on Isle of Palms and John’s Pass.

City of Tampa Tree Lighting Ceremony
December 6, 2020,  6pm
Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park
Help Mayor Jane Castor countdown to the tree lighting and afterward enjoy a movie in the park! Admission to the ceremony and movie are free. Blankets, low back chairs, coolers, and leashed dogs are allowed. Concessions will be available. Glass and alcohol are not allowed.

Free Holiday Events in Tampa - Tree Lighting Ceremony
Image credit: City of Tampa

The Christmas Trail
Select dates December 11 – 23, 2020
This pet-friendly event in Plant City features a Christmas lights walking trail, Jack Frost Ice Show with real snow, a Nativity light maze, photo ops, a Christmas tree light show, Christmas-themed escape game and more. Tickets and capacity are limited and masks are required. Tickets are $15 per car.

54th Annual Festival of Lights Boat Parade
December 12, 2020, 6:30pm
This annual boat parade kicks off at ROC Park and ends at John’s Pass Village. The best public viewing is at ROC Park in Madeira Beach.

35th Annual Lighted Christmas Boat Parade
December 12, 2020, 6:30pm
See this holiday lights bat parade from Osgood Point, Gulfport Municipal Marina, Williams Pier, Gulfport Beach and Casino, Town Shores, Pasadena Yacht & Country Club, Pasadena Golf Club Estates and Isla del Sol. Routes are subject to change. Social distancing and other safety protocols will be observed.

Tampa Riverwalk Holiday Lighted Boat Parade
December 19, 2020, 6:30pm
Rain date: December 20, 2020
This FREE holiday event along the Tampa Riverwalk will include an extended route with multiple public viewing areas. The parade will begin in the Convention Center basin, travel to the Heights, and end at Sparkman Wharf.

The following events have been canceled for 2020:


Ice Skating

Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Park 

Open November 20, 2020 – January 3, 2021

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 plus your skate rental. This year, tickets are required in advance. Don’t forget your socks!

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

TGH Ice Plex (formerly Ice Sports Forum)

Public skate times vary

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. You can also get some shopping done at the Tampa Premium Outlets, just a few minutes down the road. 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.


Theme Park Christmas Events 2020

Christmas Town at Busch Gardens
November 20, 2020 – January 3, 2021, various times
From mid-November until the end of December, Busch Gardens will begin its annual Christmas Town festivities. Included with park admission, guests can enjoy millions of beautiful holiday lights, a NEW fireworks display, seasonal shows, Yuletide shopping and a pit stop into Santa’s House.
Included with theme park admission

Holidays at Universal Orlando
Open daily November 14, 2020 – January 3, 2021
Head to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure for multiple holiday-themed happenings. Universal Studios will feature a new Holiday Experience featuring Macy’s Balloons. This brand new walk-through experience features the famous Macy’s balloons you know and love for the ultimate photo op, and Santa will be in attendance too! There will also be a new Character Celebration with familiar faces spreading holiday cheer throughout the park. At Islands of Adventure, celebrate Grinchmas at Seuss Landing. Meet the Grinch along with the resident Whos. Harry Potter fanatics will delight in Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Enjoy festive decor, amazing holiday lights, special seasonal shows and more in both Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida and Hogsmeade in Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

SeaWorld Orlando’s Christmas Celebration
Select dates through December 31, 2020
Head to SeaWorld Orlando to make new holiday memories with festive shopping, delicious food and dazzling live shows inspired by the natural world. There are more than 3 million holiday lights to enjoy. The Christmas Celebration is included with park admission.

Note: The Candlelight Processional at Epcot and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party have been canceled for 2020.


More Holiday Events

Christmas at Gaylord Palms
November 13, 2020 – January 3, 2021
Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center
Experience everything Christmas in one place as part of this interactive spectacle at Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee. Explore acres of twinkling lights & decorations and exciting holiday activities, shows, and events, from Cirque Dreams Unwrapped and Feast with The Grinch to the all-new I Love Christmas Movies™ pop-up and Snow Factory experiences.
Prices vary depending on activity; bundles available

Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Park
November 20, 2020 – January 3, 2021
Celebrate the holidays starting in November and lasting into the New Year at Curtis Hixon Park. Come see the transformed waterfront park decked with sights, sounds and activities full of holiday cheer for children and adults of all ages.
FREE; some activities require tickets

Snowcat Ridge
Select dates November 20, 2020 – March 2021
27839 Saint Joe Rd. Dade City
Snowcat Ridge is an alpine snow park featuring a 60-foot-tall and 400-foot-long real snow-covered tubing hill with a magic carpet lift, an Alpine Village, and a ten thousand square foot snow dome.
$24.95 and up

Victorian Christmas Stroll
November 21 – December 31, 2020, 10am – 5pm
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. Tickets are timed entry and masks are required.
$16

Christmas in the Wild
Select nights November 27 – December 30, 2020
ZooTampa
Enjoy a special festival of lights to launch the holiday season at ZooTampa. Indulge yourself with stunning lights, seasonal smells of holiday treats and the excitement of festive entertainment as you enjoy the magic of wildlife at night. Because this event is limited capacity, tickets and reservations in advance are strongly recommended.
$26.95 and up

Miracle at Mezzo
November 27 – December 31, 2020
Intermezzo Coffee & Cocktails
This annual pop-up Christmas cocktail bar returns to Intermezzo Coffee & Cocktails beginning on Black Friday. Enjoy a special menu of holiday concoctions plus festive decor and more.
Menu prices vary

Image credit: Miracle at Mezzo

OE Holiday Gift Bazaar
December 3, 2020, 6 – 9:30pm
Oxford Exchange
Oxford Exchange is hosting their annual Holiday Gift Bazaar featuring a wide variety of vendors. Head upstairs where the second floor will be transformed into a bustling shopping venue just in time for the holidays. RSVP’s are encouraged to moderate arrival times. Beer, wine, and lite food will be available for purchase. Masks required.
FREE Admission

St. Pete Indie Holiday Market
December 5, 2020, 12 – 5pm
1133 Baum Ave N
St. Petersburg, FL 33705
This is a monthly flea market showcasing the best in Indie design, vintage, crafts & plants. In December the market is given a little holiday twist.
FREE Admission

St. Pete Holiday Drive-In Movie: Elf
December 5, 2020, lot opens at 7pm
Crescent Lake Park
Liimit 35 cars. First come, first served. The lot opens at 7pm and the movie will begin at 8pm. Concessions will be available for purchase.
FREE

Holiday Music Stroll
December 8, 2020
Multiple venues
Join the Patel Conservatory Music Department as you stroll through a musical wonderland! Experience beautiful holiday classics in the picturesque outdoor venues of the Straz Center being performed by student chamber ensembles and Vocal Arts choirs.
$15

The Florida Orchestra Holiday Pops
December 11 – 13, 2020, multiple times
The Mahaffey Theater
The Florida Orchestra returns for a special Holiday Pops concert series conducted by Enrico Lopez-Yañez.
$18 – $48

St. Petersburg City Theater presents A Christmas Carol 
December 11 – 13, 2020, 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

Next Generations Ballet’s Nutcracker Outdoor Wonderland
December 11 – 23, 2020
Straz Center outdoor campus
An outdoor performance event, this presentation re-imagines the traditional holiday favorite through an immersive experience that will lead the audience through all the memorable moments of the ballet while strolling through the Straz Center campus.
$48.50 and up

Pier 60 Outdoor Movie: A Christmas Story
December 12, 2020, 7pm
Pier 60 Park Clearwater Beach
Enjoy a free outdoor screening of A Christmas Story in Pier 60 Park.
FREE

12 Days of Christmas on Clearwater Beach
December 12 – 24, 2020
Pier 60 Park
Local Clearwater businesses are hosting this holiday celebration including a Christmas tree lighting, caroling, parade, photo ops, a Christmas market and more.
FREE Admission

The Florida Orchestra Classical Christmas
December 16 – 20, 2020, multiple times
The Mahaffey Theater
Music to celebrate the season from history’s greatest composers including Mozart, Handel and Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite.
$24 – $42

Rockapella Christmas
December 18, 2020, 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 “The Hope We Hold,” “Christmas Without You,” and more.
$30 – $59

2020 Virtual Jingle Bell Run
*Virtual event*
December 11 – 13, 2020
Join the original festive race for charity from anywhere! Every runner will receive an exclusive Jingle Bell Run short sleeve t-shirt, unique medal, and sticker.

Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker
*Virtual performance*
Available beginning December 19, 2020
The Mahaffey Theater
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 all from the comfort of your own living room!
$24.99


New Year’s Eve 2021 | 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!


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