Tampa Tidings: Local Holiday Events Guide

The best ways to celebrate the holiday season!


Tampa is full of holiday cheer! Celebrate with our blossoming community at a variety of events packed with delicious food, hot chocolate, vibrant light displays, holiday music and more!

Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Park – Through December 25

Celebrate the holiday season in Downtown Tampa at the Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Park. Located along the Tampa Riverwalk, Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park is transformed with the sights, sounds and activities of the holidays for children and adults of all ages. The Winter Village features a skating rink, pop-up holiday shops, Sono Cafe and much more. Ice skating tickets are $12 per person for 90 minutes of skating, including ice skate rental. Tickets are purchased at the ice rink entrance. Visit Winter Village’s website for full details on hours of operation. Curtis Hixon Park, 600 North Ashley Drive.

Holiday Classics Film Series at Curtis Hixon

Get in the holiday spirit with Tampa Theatre and the Winter Village. Throughout December, the Theatre will be screening your favorite holiday films for free outdoors! Catch A Christmas StoryIt’s a Wonderful LifeThe Polar Express and more on the big screen! Click HERE to see a full schedule of films. 600 North Ashley Drive.

Tampa Bay’s Wonderland of Lights – Through December 31

This festive event runs through the entire month of December! Enjoy Tampa’s largest Santa Village, ride the North Pole Express Train, take horse drawn wagon rides, bask in a lush holiday lights display, play holiday games while indulging in seasonal treats. The Wonderland is open Sunday through Thursday, from 6-9pm, Friday and Saturday from 6-10pm. Click HERE to purchase advance passes. The Wonderland of Lights takes place at the Hillsborough County Fairgrounds, 215 Sydney Washer Road.

Snow Days at the Florida Aquarium – Select Saturdays in December

Come visit Santa at the Aquarium and see his diving elves in the aquariums exhibits throughout the day! Photo opportunities with Santa happen from 10:30am-1:30pm (photos not included with cost of admission). Santa will be at the aquarium December 3, 10, 17, 21 and 22. Click HERE for admission info. Florida Aquarium, 701 Channelside Drive.

Christmas Town at Busch Gardens – Through December 31

Christmas Town beams with twinkling lights, Yuletide shows, holiday shopping and even a visit to Santa’s House. Plus, beloved characters from the television special “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” return with Christmas Town’s debut of Sam the Snowman. The Christmas cheer begins on select dates through December 31. 10165 N McKinley Drive

City of Tampa Tree Lighting at Curtis Hixon Park – December 1

Attend Tampa’s annual Tree Lighting Ceremony on the first Friday in December (December 1) in beautiful Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. Festivities begin at 6pm. The evening will include a countdown to light the tree with Mayor Buckhorn and a free screening of the holiday class A Christmas Story. Blankets, low back chairs, coolers and dogs on leashes are allowed. Concessions will be available. Glass and alcohol are prohibited. This event is free and open to the public. Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, 600 North Ashley Drive.

Christmas In The Wild at Lowry Park Zoo – Select Days in December

Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is transforming into a world of winter wonderland for the zoo’s brand new Christmas in the Wild event! For 19 delightful nights, enjoy a merry and memorable evening with this unique, but traditional holiday event in the special setting of the Zoo at night. From the sights of stunning lights, the seasonal smells of holiday treats, the excitement of festive entertainment and the magic of wildlife at night, Christmas in the Wild will offer guests of all ages a uniquely immersive holiday experience. Takes place December 1-2, 8-10, 15-17, 21-23, 26-30. Zoo Members enjoy FREE admission to Christmas in the Wild and receive special discounts on event dining or dining/refreshment plans. Event is included with the cost of single day admission to the zoo. Click HERE for admission info. Lowry Park Zoo, 1101 West Sligh Avenue.

SantaFest and Christmas Parade – December 2

The holiday parade will begin at Morgan Street and Madison Street travel west on Madison Street to Ashley Drive, turn north and end at Ashley Drive and Cass Street. Best viewing along Madison Street. The parade begins at 11am. Then head to Curtis Hixon Park for the holiday festival, which runs from noon-4pm. Take photos with Santa Claus, enjoy make and take holiday crafts, hands on games and activities, and ice skating (just $5 per person). Click HERE for full details.

A December to Remember: A Holiday Extravaganza at Straz Center – December 3

The Straz Center’s own charismatic, young opera ensemble shines in this family-friendly concert celebrating the sacred, secular, pop and classical favorites of the holiday season. The Opera Tampa Singers deliver soul-stirring interpretations full of joy to the world and the happiness of ring-ting-tingling, too. Begins at 7:30pm. Tickets start at $10. Jaeb Theatre – Straz Center, 1010 North W.C. MacInnes Place.

Holiday Music Concert at Straz Center – December 8

Patel Conservatory’s vocal and instrumental music departments celebrate the season with their annually holiday music concert featuring Vocal Arts, Children’s Chorus, Chamber Ensembles, Jazz and Suzuki Programs. Begins at 7pm. Tickets are $15. Ferguson Hall at Straz Center, 1010 North W.C. MacInnes Place.

Breakfast with Santa at the Florida Aquarium – December 9

The holidays are here and Santa has added The Florida Aquarium to his list of destinations! Enjoy a breakfast buffet with Santa and special visits from the aquarium’s resident animal ambassadors. Photo ops with Santa will be available! Runs from 8-9:30am. $25.95 adult tickets, $20.95 for children three years of age and older. Children two years of age and younger are free! For more information please call 813.273.4030. Florida Aquarium, 701 Channelside Drive.

A Drag Queen Christmas at Ferguson Hall – December 9

A Drag Queen Christmas – The Naughty Tour, starring contestants from RuPaul’s Drag Race on VH-1, performing live on stage and rocking the catwalk. It’s an evening of holiday songs and outstanding drag performances with your favorite queens. All ages welcome. Doors at 7pm, show at 8pm. There will be a 20-minute intermission. Presented by Murray & Peter. Click HERE for tickets. Ferguson Hall at Straz Center, 1010 North W.C. MacInnes Place.

The Florida Orchestra Presents Holiday Pops at Carol Morsani Hall – December 15

Have a jolly good time with the whole family at this popular Florida Orchestra tradition, filled with the joy of your favorite yuletide carols. 8pm. Click HERE for tickets. Carol Morsani Hall at Straz Center, 1010 North W.C. MacInnes Place.

93.3 FLZ’s Jingle Ball at Amalie Arena – December 16

93.3 FLZ’s Jingle Ball 2016 is part of the national iHeartRadio Jingle Ball Tour, the season’s biggest annual music event that captures the holiday spirit of the iHeartRadio app. Pitbull, The Chainsmokers and Fifth Harmony will perform. 7pm. Tickets from $26-$150. Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra – The Ghosts of Christmas Eve at Amalie Arena – December 17

Paul O’Neill launched a project in 1996 that over the past 20 years has become a critically-acclaimed, multi-platinum, musical powerhouse: Trans-Siberian Orchestra. The progressive rock group’s record-setting “rock theater” tours sell out venues year after year and have cemented TSO’s status as a must-attend, multi-generational, holiday tradition. Performances at 3pm and 7:30pm. Tickets from $32-$72.50. Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive.

Next Generation Ballet presents The Nutcracker at Straz Center – December 21-23

Now a much-anticipated event in the Tampa Bay area’s holiday calendar, Next Generation Ballet’s delightful, inventive production of Nutcracker “is a stand-out among many” (Sarasota Herald-Tribune). Featuring internationally renowned professional ballet dancers onstage with NGB’s award-winning company members, this family-friendly favorite transports audiences to a fantastical place where toy soldiers come to life, giant mice dance and holiday magic fills the theater. Performances at 7pm on December 21 & 22, 2pm and 7pm on December 23. Click HERE for tickets. Carol Morsani Hall at Straz Center, 1010 North W.C. MacInnes Place.

Cirque Musica Holiday Spectacular at Amalie Arena – December 22

Cirque Musica Holiday Spectacular is a fun-filled family holiday event featuring the cast of Cirque Musica together with all-time favorite holiday songs performed by a live orchestra. Cirque Musica is a concert and visual experience where audiences journey into a world of high-flying adventure with amazing acrobats, aerialists, hilarious hijinks and holiday cheer, too! Begins at 7:30pm. Tickets from $25-$85. Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive.

Downtown Tampa Holiday Boat Parade of Lights – December 23

Prepare to be wowed by a display of illuminated boats on December 23. An annual event to kick off the Holiday week. Whether you are a captain entering your boat in the competition or wanting to celebrate Tampa and the waterfront. Great sites, great sounds… lots of viewing locations! Free to watch in any public space along the water in Channelside. The boat parade begins at 6:30pm and goes until 10pm. Click HERE for more details.