This holiday season it is so important to find ways to have quality time together. With gifts to purchase and other obligations, it is nice to enjoy some holiday cheer, for free. We’ve gathered up some of the best free holiday events in the Tampa Bay area to check out this season.
Note: This list of free holiday events is subject to change. Check event websites for the latest information on safety and potential cancellations.
Free Holiday Boat Parades
We’ll start off with one of the most Floridian ways to celebrate the holidays. And here in Tampa with our wonderful waterways, we’ve got quite a few of them. During the month of December, fill your calendar with these holiday boat parades around the Bay. All events are free to watch; registration fees may apply if you want to participate.
Annual Tarpon Springs Holiday Boat Parade
December 3, 2021, 6:30pm
Craig Park, Tarpon Springs, FL
Vessels will begin at Captain Jacks and proceed down the Anclote River and into the bayous. Public viewing areas include Sponge Docks, Whitcomb Bayou, Craig Park & Spring Bayou.
36th Annual Treasure Island Holiday Lighted Boat Parade and Celebration
December 4, 2021, 5-9pm
Treasure Bay Recreation Facility
The Holiday Celebration begins at 5 p.m. with the Boat Parade leaving at 6:20 p.m.
Watch the parade from a spectacular vantage point and participate in the events at Treasure Bay. A DJ, a visit by Santa and Mrs. Claus, interactive entertainers, and food/beverage concessions will be available.
55th Annual Festival of Lights Boat Parade
December 11, 2021, 6:30pm
Best public viewing at ROC Park – Maderia Beach
This annual boat parade kicks off at ROC Park and ends at John’s Pass Village.
36th Annual Lighted Christmas Boat Parade
December 11, 2021, 6pm
Begins at Gulfport Municipal Marina
See the 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.
Tampa Riverwalk Holiday Lighted Boat Parade
December 18, 2021, 6pm
Rain date: December 19, 2021
The parade begins in the Convention Center basin, travels to the Heights, and ends at Sparkman Wharf.
Indian Rocks Beach Holiday Boat Parade
December 18, 2021, 7pm
Parade lineup at Holiday Inn Harbor Side
Parade will begin at the Walsingham Bridge, winding through the fingers and ending at Harbor Drive North.
Free Holiday Events: Lights and Spectaculars
Stroll around to see a spectacular display of holiday lights at these tree lighting ceremonies, Christmas light spectaculars and more.
Tree Lighting + Symphony in Lights
Tree lighting November 13, 2021, 5-9pm
Nightly show November 13 – December 31, 2021, 6-9pm
The Shops at Wiregrass
Enjoy a lively array of dancing lights, dazzling decor and snow. Symphony in Lights is an amazing holiday light show, choreographed to music featuring the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
Ybor City 11th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony
November 17, 2021, 6pm
Holiday music will begin at 6pm in Centro Ybor, with the Mayor lighting the tree at 7pm followed by photos with Santa.
November 20, 2021 – January 2, 2022
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.
Tree Lighting – St. Petersburg
November 27, 2021, 6:30pm
North Straub Park
Santa and Mayor Rick Kriseman will light up the tree and park. This holiday tradition promises to be a delightful evening for everyone.
Holiday Tree Lighting and Stroll Around the World
December 4, 2021, 6pm
Largo Central Park
Largo Central Park has more than one million LED Christmas lights to enjoy as you stroll. $10 on-site parking.
Oakdale Christmas Lights House
November 26, 2021 – January 3, 2022, 6-10pm
2719 Oakdale Street South, St. Petersburg, FL
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.
Safety Harbor Tree Lighting Ceremony
December 3, 2021, 6-9pm
Gazebo at John Wilson Park
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!
City of Tampa Santa Fest
December 4, 2021, 1:30-7:30pm
Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park
The parade steps off at 1:30 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 5:30-6:25 p.m. See Mayor Castor and Santa Claus light up the tree before The Grinch (2018) movie plays plays in the park to end the day .
Festival of Lights – Tree Lighting
December 4, 2021, 4-9pm
Time Square, Downtown Zephyrhills
Annual Event in Main Street Zephyrhills. Enjoy an evening of Christmas cheer, festive food trucks, the tree lighting and more! Entry is free!
Tarpon Springs Tree Lighting
December 4, 2021
Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks
A unique holiday tradition of Tarpon Springs. A place rich with history and fun.
4th Annual Heights District Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration
December 4, 2021, 6pm – 8pm
The event kicks off at 6pm with family-friendly activities, Santa photo ops, live music performances from the Straz, and a visit from Busch Gardens Christmas Town Elves, who will be giving out fun surprises to kids on the nice list! The ceremonial tree lighting will happen at 7pm, followed by holiday performances.
City of Oldsmar Tree Lighting Ceremony
December 7, 2021, 6pm
Oldsmar City Hall, 100 State St. W.
Enjoy this annual tree lighting ceremony in Oldsmar.
Free Festivals and Holiday Markets
Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Park
November 19, 2021 – January 2, 2022 various times
Curtis Hixon Park
The Holiday Market is free to attend, additional activities have an admission price. Ice skating is $15 including skate rental.
Tampa Bay Holiday Market
November 20 & 21, 2021, 10am-5pm
The Coliseum, St. Petersburg
Local vendors will be offering everything you need to get in the holiday spirit. Start your Christmas shopping early, including home essentials, unique handmade gifts, cosmetics, holiday decor, food, apparel, accessories, and more!
Dunedin Arts and Crafts Festival
November 20 & 21, 2021, 10am-5pm
271 Main St in Dunedin, FL
Along Dunedin’s Main Street, you will meet some of the country’s finest artists and crafters with products all handmade in America. Ceramic planters, functional pottery, hair accessories, handmade one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces and an expansive Green Market offers something for every taste & budget.
Winter Beach at St. Pete Pier
November 20, 2021 – January 17, 2022
St. Pete Pier
There’s always something to do at Winter Beach and at the St. Pete Pier. From Ice Skating, to Santa sightings, to an arcade, or a free holiday concert; make sure to check out
Thanksgiving Arts and Crafts Festival
November 27 & 28, 2021, 10am-6pm
Tarpon Avenue, Tarpon Springs
Craft vendors set up tents on charming brick-paved Court Street. Get a headstart on your Christmas shopping and help local merchants at the same time!
3rd Annual Merry Beach Market
December 3, 2021, 2-8pm
Over 50 Local vendors will delight holiday shoppers. Plus, live entertainment and food and beverage stands. The market is also a collection site for The Christmas Toy Shop to help make the holidays brighter for local children. Better yet, the event is pet- and family-friendly, and will be held rain or shine. Two special treats after the Merry Beach Market are having an ideal vantage point for viewing the start of the 54th annual Madeira Beach Lighted Boat Parade and the official lighting of the Madeira Beach Christmas Tree.
Sip and Shop Downtown Safety Harbor
December 3, 2021, 5-9pm
Downtown Safety Harbor
Enjoy shopping and sipping specials, a holiday decorating contest, the Dickens Carolers, and a self-serve wrapping station at the Chamber of Commerce! Spend time sipping at your favorite downtown watering hole after your holiday shopping.
Seminole Heights Holiday Craft Fair and Bake Sale
December 4, 2021, 9am-2pm
Seminole Heights United Methodist Church
The Holiday Craft Fair, which has taken place annually for more than 50 years, features handmade Christmas gifts and decorations, a variety of vendors, and a bake sale.
OE Holiday Gift Bazaar
December 9, 2021, 5:30-9:30pm
Inspired by eclectic and bustling European marketplaces, this space is transformed for one night out of the year into a diverse shopping venue, just in time for the holidays.
Tampa Riverwalk Holiday Fest
December 11, 2021, 10am-8pm
This market will showcase gifts from home decor, plants, local artwork, handcrafted jewelry, small batch & chef made foods, baked, honeys, spices, paper goods, apothecary goods, sauces and more.
Tampa Holiday Shopping & Vendor Event
December 11, 2021, 11am – 5pm
WestShore Plaza, Tampa
Local artisans and shopping vendors setup throughout the Mall for all of your holiday shopping needs.
Free Holiday Events: Holiday Movies + Celebrations
Holiday Movie in the Park – Movie TBA
December 18, 2021, 4:30pm
Tarpon Springs Splash Park field
Grab your lawn chairs and blankets for a fun & free night out! Registration is required and a limited number of free tickets will be available beginning November 20, 2020. Families will each be given a painted circle to set up in. The circles are big enough for a family of 8-10. Circles will be at least 10-12 feet away from one another, allowing a walkway for people to enter and exit.
There’s Snow Place Like Tarpon Springs
December 3, 2021, 5-10pm
100 E. Tarpon Ave. Tarpon Springs, Florida
Oldsmar Christmas Wonderland
December 3, 2021, 6-9pm
R.E. Olds Park
Annual free event featuring a giant snow slope, pictures with Santa, concessions and lots of family fun! Arrive by 5pm to catch Miss Suda’s Dancers year-end Holiday Recital.
Santa in the Park – St. Petersburg
December 4, 5, 10 – 12,17 – 23, 2021, 6:00 – 9:00pm
North Straub Park
Enjoy a meet-and-greet with Santa in North Straub Park! Cameras welcomed. This year’s event will feature Santa in a rocking chair with a designated area for participants to chat and take photos with Santa.
Holiday Parade at Safety Harbor
December 4, 2021, 10:00 a.m.
Main Street of Safety Harbor
Floats, old fashion cars, Shriners, and Santa are just a few of the highlights.
Harbor Holiday Nights at Folly Farm
December 10, 11, 17, and 18, 2021, 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Folly Farm Nature Preserve, Safety Harbor
Four nights of Holiday fun for the whole family! Event includes holiday lights, campfire, children’s activities, and more.
Golf Cart Parade
December 11, 2021, 6:00 p.m.
Oldsmar City Hall, 100 State St. W.
Join golf cart enthusiasts for a decorated parade through downtown.
12 Days of Christmas on Clearwater Beach
December 12 – 23, 2021
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.
Jingle Bell Bazaar At Centennial Park
December 12, 2021, noon-6pm
Centennial Park, Ybor City
The Annual Jingle Bell Bazaar is a fun, festive holiday event in Historic Ybor City.
December 17, 2021 – January 2, 2022
The 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.
Feature image credit: City of Tampa