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 2, 2022, 8pm-10pm
Craig Park, Tarpon Springs, FL
Vessels will begin at the sponge docks and conclude at Spring Bayou. Public viewing areas include Sponge Docks, Whitcomb Bayou, Craig Park & Spring Bayou.
56th Annual Festival of Lights Boat Parade
December 10, 2022, 6pm-10pm
Best public viewing at ROC Park – Maderia Beach
This annual boat parade kicks off at ROC Park and ends at John’s Pass Village.
37th Annual Treasure Island Holiday Lighted Boat Parade and Celebration
December 17, 2022, 5pm
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.
37th Annual Lighted Christmas Boat Parade
December 17, 2022, 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 17, 2022, 6pm
Rain date: December 18, 2022
The parade begins in the Convention Center basin, travels to the Heights, and ends at Sparkman Wharf.
Indian Rocks Beach Holiday Boat Parade
December 17, 2022, 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
Saturday, November 12, 2022 5pm-9pm (lights are displayed through December 31)
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 12th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony
November 16, 2022, from 6pm-8pm
Holiday music will begin at 6pm in Centro Ybor, with Mayor Jane Castor lighting the tree at 7pm followed by photos with Santa.
Winter Wonder Wharf Tree Lighting
November 18, 2022 from 6pm-9pm
Celebrate the season with special themed areas and photo ops including a colorful tree forest, melting snowmen, and more! Santa and his stylish elves will be there to light the 30 foot tree.
Christmas Lights at Chick-Fil-A On Waters Ave.
November 18 – January 6, 2023, 6:00-10:00pm
6299 W Waters Avenue, Tampa FL 33634.
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!
November 28, 2022 – January 2, 2023
Displays include the 35′ tall LED lighted Christmas tree that floats in the harbor (tree lighting will take place on November 28), 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 26, 2022, 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
December 3, 2022, 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 25, 2022 – January 3, 2023, 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.
Oldsmar Tree Lightning Ceremony
November 29, 2022 at 6pm
Oldsmar City Hall
Enjoy this holiday tree lighting ceremony with Citizen of The Year. The program will feature holiday music performed by local groups.
Safety Harbor Tree Lighting Ceremony
December 2, 2022, 6-7:30pm
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!
Festival of Lights – Tree Lighting
December 3, 2022, 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 3, 2022 from 4:30pm-6:30pm. Tree lighting takes place at 5:45pm
Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks
A unique holiday tradition of Tarpon Springs. A place rich with history and fun.
City of Tampa Santa Fest
December 3, 2022 at 1pm
Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park
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.
Santa in the Park – St. Petersburg
December 10-11, 16-23, 2022 from 6pm-9pm
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.
Free Festivals and Holiday Markets
Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Park
November 18, 2022 – January 4, 2023, various times
Curtis Hixon Park
Presented by the Tampa Bay Lightning, The Holiday Market is free to attend, additional activities have an admission price. Ice skating is $17 including skate rental. New this year – you can also play a fun game of curling or sip on a festive cocktail like the Campfire Old Fashioned.
Tampa Bay Holiday Market
November 19-20, 2022, 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!
29th Annual Dunedin Arts and Crafts Festival
November 19-20, 2022, 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.
Thanksgiving Arts and Crafts Festival
November 26-27, 2022, 10am-6pm
Tarpon Avenue, Tarpon Springs
Craft vendors set up tents on charming brick-paved Court Street. Get a head start on your Christmas shopping and help local merchants at the same time!
4th Annual Merry Beach Market
December 4, 2022, 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.
Seminole Heights Holiday Craft Fair and Bake Sale
December 3, 2022, 8am-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.
10th Annual OE Holiday Gift Bazaar
December 1, 2022, 6pm-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 Makers Holiday Fest
December 10-11, 2022, 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.
Free Holiday Events: Holiday Movies + Celebrations
Water Street Season Spectacular
November 18, 2022 from 6pm-9pm
Water Street Tampa
Enjoy live music, a holiday-themed silent disco. extra festive photo ops, hot chocolate bars, seasonal cocktails and bites, photos with Santa, and more. Afterward, stroll over to Sparkman Wharf to enjoy Winter Wonder Wharf, where you can find an array of instagrammable photo ops and a variety of special activities and treats to enjoy. A portion of Season Spectacular proceeds will be donated to the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation – Bolts Giving Benefitting Feeding Tampa Bay and Metropolitan Ministries.
Oldsmar Christmas Wonderland
December 2, 2022 from 5pm-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.
There’s Snow Place Like Tarpon Springs
December 2, 2022, 5-10pm
100 E. Tarpon Ave. Tarpon Springs, Florida
Enjoy vendors, live performances, crafts, carriage and train rides, a snow slide, and more!
Sip and Shop Downtown Safety Harbor
December 2, 2022, 5:00pm – 9:00pm
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.
Holiday Parade at Safety Harbor
December 3, 2022, 10:00am-11:30am
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 9, 10, 16, and 17 2022, 5:30 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.
12 Days of Christmas on Clearwater Beach
December 1-15, 2022
Pier 60 Park
Local Clearwater businesses are hosting this holiday celebration including a Christmas tree lighting, caroling, parade, doggie “paw-rade,” a Christmas market and more. Free admission.
Jingle Bell Bazaar At Centennial Park
December 11, 2022, 12pm-6pm
Centennial Park, Ybor City
The Annual Jingle Bell Bazaar is a fun, festive holiday event in Historic Ybor City. There will be live music, entertainment, food, craft vendors, and more!
Holiday Movie in the Park – Movie TBA
December 17, 2022 at 6pm
Grab your lawn chairs and blankets for a fun & free night out! Families can pick a special viewing spot in the park for the movie.
Feature image credit: City of Tampa