Christmas Town Holly Jolly train Best Christmas Events in Tampa Bay

The Best Christmas Events for Families in Tampa Bay

Celebrate Christmas in Tampa Bay!

The holiday season is here and it’s safe to say that people are more than ready for some festive fun. Get ready for even MORE holiday cheer since some Christmas experiences will be even bigger and brighter than last year.

Whether you want to meet Santa, take in the dazzling beauty of Christmas lights, or celebrate the season at local theme parks, we’re sharing our list of favorite Christmas events in Tampa Bay for families– and we’re breaking it down by theme to help you find an event that best suits you.

*Keep in mind that dates, times, and events are subject to change so be sure to check with each destination’s website or social media pages before you go. Want to add your family-friendly event to our holiday events lists? Email us at editor@tbparenting.com.


Experience the BEST Christmas Light Displays in Tampa Bay!

Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Best Christmas events in Tampa Bay
You’ll find millions of holiday lights throughout Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

There are so many ways and places to enjoy the splendor of Christmas lights in Tampa Bay! Among our favorites: Busch Gardens Christmas Town boasts millions of twinkling lights, and Enchant Christmas in St. Pete is a not-to-miss indoor holiday light spectacular. We’ve put together a list of some of our favorite holiday light displays in Tampa Bay.


Enjoy the Holiday Family Fun at Theme Parks and Attractions

Unwrap Bricktastic Family Traditions during HOLIDAYS at LEGOLAND® Florida Resort
HOLIDAYS at LEGOLAND event is included with admission! You can meet several event-exclusive characters and more holiday fun!

We’re pretty lucky to be within a quick drive to some world-renowned theme parks! Take advantage of it during the holidays. Here are some of our family’s favorite events at theme parks and more holiday attractions:

Christmas Town at Busch Gardens in Tampa

Daily November 11, 2023 – January 7, 2024
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. Christmas Town is included with admission.

ZooTampa Christmas in the Wild in Tampa

Select nights November 24 – December 30, 2023
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. There’s a new Lantern Lullaby area in Asia where you can walk among gorgeous Asian paper lanterns to the tunes of your favorite holiday music, a new Gingerbread Jubilee, and new Holiday Signature Animal Encounters. There are also returning favorites like visits with Santa, Cookie Decorating with Mrs. Claus, the Forest of Fantasy light show, and MORE! Christmas in the Wild is a separately ticketed event.

Holidays at LEGOLAND in Winter Haven

Select dates November 24 – December 31, 2023
Get ready to celebrate an awesome holiday season at LEGOLAND Resort! This bricktacular event features unforgettable seasonal shows, LEGO holiday character experiences, sweet treats, and special activities. Light displays will twinkle throughout the park and a giant LEGO Christmas tree is sure to mesmerize guests with its 360-degree light show . Holidays at LEGOLAND is included with admission.

Holiday Lights, Ferris Wheel, and Carousel at Largo Central Park

November 23 – December 31, 2023, from 5 pm-10 pm
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. Rides are $5 each or 5 for $20.  It is free to park and stroll among the sparkly Christmas lights.


Experience the Magic of Enchant Christmas in St. Pete

Enchant Christmas 2023 Owl
This gorgeous owl is one of the mischievous forest animals you’ll meet along the way through the maze. Photo by Laura Byrne – 2023.

Enchant Christmas is one of our favorite holiday events in Tampa Bay as Tropicana Field is transformed into a winter wonderland from November 24 through December 23, 2023, featuring millions of twinkling lights. You can also go ice-skating along a lighted trail, visit with Santa, shop local businesses at the market, and more! The best part is, it’s indoors so it’s weatherproof! This year’s theme is Reindeer Games and features an ALL NEW light maze!


Visit with Santa Claus in Tampa Bay

Santa is making his rounds in Tampa Bay before his big adventure to deliver holiday cheer to kids around the world on Christmas Eve! We’ve put together a list of some of the best spots to take pictures with Santa in Tampa Bay.

Santa at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Meet Santa and his elves at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay!

Check Out a Drive-Thru Holiday Lights Event

In addition to all the awesome walk-through Christmas light displays, there are plenty of drive-thru holiday lights experiences too! There are some really cool drive-thru events that you can enjoy from your car!

Festival of Lights in Tampa.
Festival of Lights & Santa’s Village

Festival of Lights & Santa’s Village at the Hillsborough County Fairgrounds in Dover

November 23 – December 31, 2023 | 6-9 pm weekdays & 6-10 pm weekends
Your hometown holiday festival returns with more lights, new entertainment, and the gift of family fun! From Thanksgiving Day until New Year’s Eve, Tampa Bay’s Festival of Lights and Santa’s Village envelops families in more than 1 million lights along an expanded 2-mile drive featuring hundreds of dazzling light displays. Santa’s Village is packed with holiday-themed rides, a Holiday Market, and the Hometown Hillsborough Historical Village. Visits with Santa, craft stations, Santa’s Barnyard, camel rides, holiday movies, and live entertainment promise endless fun for the entire family.

Celebration of Lights at the Concourse in Shady Hills-Pasco County

November 24-December 30, 2023, on select nights
Drive one mile through a beautiful display of larger-than-life holiday lights at the Concourse in Shady Hill’s annual Celebration of Lights event. You can also park to board a mini train over to Safety Town, a miniature town decorated with lights. Santa will even be there! It’s $25 per carload.

Wonderland of Christmas Lights & Santa’s Christmas Village in Auburndale

December 1-30, 2023
 This is a drive-through Christmas lights event!  First, you and your family will drive through Christmas lights for a mile to experience spectacular lights, and next, if you choose, after seeing the drive-through Christmas lights you can visit Santa’s Village at the end of the drive-through Christmas lights!  Santa’s Village features rides, entertainment, a visit with Santa, and Holiday activities for children and adults of all ages! 

Holiday Lights at the Chick-fil-A on Waters Ave in Tampa

November 17-December 30, 2023
This Chick-fil-A store is taking holiday decorating to a whole new level and they’re back at it again this year. Add this to your family’s holiday bucket list! Visit the store at 6299 W Waters Avenue in Tampa. Follow their Facebook page here for updates.

Chick Fil A on Waters Ave
Chick-fil-A on Waters Ave.

The Great Christmas Light Fight on ABC House in Valrico

Daily
A local family, the Burtons, is competing on ABC’s Great Christmas Light Fight reality show and you can see their spectacular holiday light display for yourself! Their home is located at 2014 Sydney Road in Valrico. While it is free to experience their light display, they do ask those who can donate pet food. This year, they are supporting two non-profits: A Kitten Place and It’s Raining Cats and Dogs Shelter. You can see their story on ABC Action News here.

Want more? We’re sharing the BEST Holiday Light Displays in Tampa Bay here.


Go Ice-Skating or Play with Real Snow in Tampa Bay

winter village ice skating tampa
Ice-skating on REAL at Winter Village is a memorable experience! Photo by Laura Byrne.

Enjoy Outdoor Ice Skating at Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Park in Downtown Tampa 

November 17, 2023-January 1, 2024
You and the kids can skate along downtown Tampa’s only outdoor ice rink and even try a game of street curling at Winter Village. But, that’s not all. Not only will they be hosting fun, themed nights and Santa on select days, but you can also get some holiday shopping done at The Shops of Winter Village and try some seasonal holiday sips and treats from The Cafe.

Ice-Skate at Enchant Christmas in St. Pete

November 24-December 23, 2023
The holiday lights at this indoor event at Tropicana Field are a must-see and there’s nothing quite like ice-skating through the trail at Enchant Christmas. Ice skating is an additional $10 for kids 17 and younger and $15 for adults.

Play with REAL Snow at Snow Days at The Florida Aquarium in Tampa

November 25-December 24 on Saturdays & Sundays | December 26-31, Daily
Grab your gloves and join the Aquarium for Snow Days, hands-on real snow experiences! Dash your way through a snow-flurried “Snow Maze,” toss a snowball with your hands or snowball slingshot, and dance to your heart’s content at a Winter Wonderland Dance Party! Snow Days is free for Aquarium members and included with general admission.

Go Sledding at Snow Fest at North Straub Park in St. Pete

December 2, 2023, from 9 am-2 pm
Adults and kids can purchase a wristband for $5 for toboggan sledding in North Straub Park! There will also be inflatables, arts and crafts tents, food trucks, and more. Stay in the area til after sunset to enjoy the Christmas lights and displays at Pioneer Park, Vinoy Park, and the new St. Pete Pier.


Go See a Huge Gingerbread Village Display

JW Marriott Clearwater Beach Gingerbread Village
JW Marriott Clearwater Beach Resort & Spa’s Gingerbread Village

The JW Marriott in Clearwater Beach invites you to check out their gigantic gingerbread display that measures 17 feet by 25 feet. There are so many sweet details to explore. On Fridays and Saturdays, they are also hosting 12 Days of Cocktails with holiday-themed drinks for adults.


Cozy Up for Holiday Movies at Tampa Theatre

It's a Wonderful Life at Tampa Theatre Holiday Classics
‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ at Tampa Theatre’s Holiday Classics

The Tampa Theatre is bringing back Holiday Classics on select nights from November 26, 2023, through January 7, 2024. Be sure to attend the screening of Mircale on 34th Street on November 26 and visit with Santa in the lobby! Other family-favorite showings this year include National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Grinch, Rent, a Frozen Sing-Along, and more! Tickets $10-$14.50.

There are other outdoor movie experiences too, like downtown Clearwater, and other locations in Tampa Bay. You’ll likely see more of these events popping up around town as we get closer to the holiday.


Visit Robert’s Christmas Wonderland in Clearwater

Robert's Christmas Wonderland Clearwater
The Christmas Tree room at Robert’s Christmas Wonderland Clearwater in 2023. Photo by Laura Byrne.

If you’ve lived in the Tampa Bay area for a while, you’ve probably visited Robert’s Christmas Wonderland at least once. Located at 2951 Gulf to Bay Blvd, this local treasure is open year-round and has the most beautiful holiday decorations, ornaments, and trees. You can literally spend an entire afternoon simply exploring the store and dreaming up new ways to decorate your own home. We love visiting to pick out a new ornament each year, which is a fun tradition many local families share and one your family can start this year. The best part is, you get to support a local business too!


Experience Winter Waterland at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

Winter Waterland at Weeki Wachee Springs State ParkThe Friends of Weeki Wachee Springs State Park proudly presents Winter Waterland on two weekends: December 8-9 and December 15 -16, 2023 from 6 pm-10 pm! The entrance fee is only $10 per person. Children two and under are free. Take a festive stroll through the park which is lit up with holiday lights, watch An Elf Story underwater mermaid show, take a picture with Santa and his mermaid elves, and MORE!


Check out a Holiday Boat Parade

Tampa Riverwalk Holiday Boat Parade
Tampa Riverwalk Holiday Boat Parade

Holiday Lighted Boat Parade in the Tampa

December 23, 2023, at 6 pm
As you enjoy the Holiday Lighted Boat Parade, take a stroll along the Tampa Riverwalk among the festive holiday lights as the area transforms into a winter wonderland. Highlights of the Holiday Spectacular include a 35-foot-tall LED-lighted Christmas tree that floats in the harbor, a holiday selfie station at the Pirate Water Taxi ticket booth, a floating gingerbread lighted display, and a lighted pine tree forest. Hotels, restaurants, and bars along the Riverwalk will also have festive lighted displays.

River of Christmas Lights in Tampa with Pirate Water Taxi in Tampa

Select dates in November and December | The Holiday Lighted Boat Parade is on December 23, 2023
Don’t miss this water taxi cruise to view Tampa’s Christmas lights and holiday decorations.  The Christmas Light cruise departs from the Tampa Convention Center, and the Christmas Light cruise includes Holiday Christmas carols and visits with pirate elves! Write a letter to Santa and pop it in the North Pole buoy. There is also a special Christmas light cruise for the Tampa Holiday Lighted Boat Parade on December 23, 2023.

READ MORE: 15 Awesome Holiday Street Parades and Boat Parades in Tampa Bay


Go experience the Nutcracker in Tampa Bay

Where to see the Nutcracker in Tampa Bay The Straz Center
Next Generation Ballet’s The Nutcracker at The Straz in Tampa.

There are several performances of the Nutcracker in Tampa Bay, including a show-stopping performance by the Next Generation Ballet at the Straz in Tampa.


Experience the MAGIC of the Holidays with Zubrick Magic

Zubrick Magic Holiday Shows

If you’re seeking to make this holiday season truly enchanting, there’s one essential experience you can’t miss in Tampa Bay: the Zubrick Magic Theatre. On select days through New Year’s Day, prepare to be captivated by the exceptional illusionists Chris and Ryan Zubrick as they unveil never-before-seen Christmas-themed magic sprinkled throughout their performance.


Attend a Holiday Performance in Tampa Bay

These are a few of our favorite kid-friendly holiday shows in Tampa Bay! (We’re sharing even MORE holiday shows in Tampa Bay here)

The Florida Orchestra Holiday Pops | December 15-17, 2023, multiple times and locations

  • December 15: The Straz Center in Tampa a 8 pm
  • December 16: Mahaffey Theater in St. Pete at 2 pm and 8 pm
  • December 17: Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater at 2 pm and 7:30 pm

Enjoy the sounds of the holidays as performed by the Florida Orchestra!

Cirque Musica: Holiday Wonderland at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater | December 22, 2023, at 7 pm

Cirque Musica: Holiday Wonderland, the must-see holiday event, comes to Ruth Eckerd Hall! “Wonderland” is an all-new musical journey that will transport audiences to a magical land far away for a fun-filled, unforgettable holiday-themed show experience. Featuring the talented cast of Cirque Musica, spectators will be dazzled by the acrobats, aerialists, hilarious hijinks, and holiday cheer.


Play Holiday Themed Putt-Putt at the St. Pete Pier

Putt the Pier on St. Pete Pier
Putt the Pier – St. Pete Pier.

The St. Pete Pier is bringing back its holiday-themed putt-putt event, Putt the Pier: Holiday Edition, from December 15, 2023, through January 2, 2024. You and the kids can play the 18-hole course on the waterfront with biodegradable golf balls. Note that there will be a $5 lost ball fee for each one that goes in the water. You can find the course along the Majeed Foundation Nature Walkway. Tickets are $12 per person.


Attend Clearwater’s Polar Express Experience at the NEW Coachman Park

Clearwater's Polar Express Experience

Ruth Eckerd Hall is hosting Clearwater’s Polar Express Experience on Friday, December 15, 2023, beginning at 5 pm. This is a FREE event that will feature a snowfall, a magical ride around The Sound on a Polar Express train, pictures with Santa, and a Gingerbread mini putt-putt. Tel-an-Elf where kids can video chat with Santa’s elves at the North Pole, games, and more.


Head to the Museum for Pint-Sized Holiday Fun!

Gingerbread Village at Glazer Children's Museum
Gingerbread Village at Glazer Children’s Museum

Gingerbread Village at Glazer Children’s Museum

Glazer Children’s Museum is getting into the holiday spirit with a gingerbread-inspired wonderland, sponsored by Macy’s, Gingerbread Village. Located on Level 2 of the museum, children can step into a sweet winter wonderland to build a gingerbread house made from recycled materials like cardboard, pipe cleaners, bottle caps, and more. You can experience Gingerbread Village from November 21-December 31, 2023.


All aboard! Experience the coolest holiday-themed train rides in Tampa Bay

Kids on the North Pole Express
North Pole Express. Photo by Brie Gorecki.

North Pole Express at the Florida Railroad Museum in Parrish

November 30-December 21, select days/nights
The North Pole Express at the Florida Railroad Museum is a family favorite in Tampa Bay. You and the kids can board the open-air train for a ride to the North Pole where there are themed activities and a visit with Santa. Tickets tend to sell out fast, but a few dates and times are still available.

Celebrate of Lights at the Concourse in Shady Hills

November 24-December 23, 2023 on select nights
You can also board a mini train at the Celebrate of Lights at the Concourse in Shady Hills as part of their annual holiday event. The Holiday Train is $3 and runs on select nights from November to December. It will take you to Safety Town which is decorated with lights for the holidays!

The Rudolph Limited Mini Train Rides with Largo Central Railroad

December 9 and December 16, 2023, from 5:45 pm-9:30 pm
Largo Central Railroad is offering its themed “The Rudolph Limited”  mini-train rides that take you and the kids on a beautiful ride through the park that is lit and decorated for the holidays. Tickets are $10 each.

Holly Jolly Express at Busch Gardens Christmas Town

November 11, 2023-January 7, 2024
The Holly Jolly Express at Christmas Town at Busch Gardens is a must-experience when you attend! You can sing along to holiday music as you take a ride around the park and take in all of the beautiful lights!


Explore Holidays of Christmas Past

 

Henry B Plant Museum’s Victorian Christmas Stroll in Tampa

November 24-December 23, 2023 from 10 am-8 pm (except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day)
Each room in the historic Henry B Plant Museum will be beautifully decorated with a different theme. You just might leave with a list as long as Santa’s full of decorating ideas!  Tickets start at $18 for adults, $16 for seniors and $12 for kids. There are discount days, too.

Christmas in the Country at Cracker Country at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa

December 9, 2023, from 10 am-4 pm
Christmas in the Country is where you and the kids can experience an old-fashioned Christmas through holiday traditions from the 19th century. There will be carols, historical interpretations, and more. You’ll also be able to churn butter and make salt dough ornaments. Tickets must be purchased in advance and are $12 for adults and $10 for kids ages 6-11. Kids 5 and younger get in for free.

An Old Florida Christmas at Manatee Village

December 9, 2023, from 10 am-3 pm.
Enjoy a day filled with make-and-take crafts, shopping, holiday fun, and food. Admission is free.


Write a Letter to Santa

Letters from Santa
Photo by Darlene Barlows Photography at Tampa’s Winter Village for Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.

Did you know your child can get a letter from Santa? The United States Postal Service’s “Greetings from the North Pole program makes this possible, real postmark from the North Pole and all! You’ll want to get your child’s letter in the mail no later than December 10, 2023, to be safe. We’re sharing the details on what you need to know here.


Celebrate Christmas on the Farm in Tampa Bay

There are so many fun Christmas on the Farm events that not only showcase pretty lights, but also give you and the kids a chance to get up close with farm animals! We’re sharing our top picks here.

It may not be set up for the holidays, but a visit to a local citrus grove for an afternoon U-Pick is a perfect day outside for families seeking some natural Vitamin D and Vitamin C! We checked out Dooley Groves in Ruskin for their December u-pick of sugarbelles which was a great experience. Find more u-pick farms in Tampa Bay here.


 Worth the Drive:

A Winter Wonderland Experience at Westgate River Ranch

Westgate River Ranch Winter Wonderland

Celebrate the Holiday Season with Westgate River Ranch and Rodeo’s Winter Wonderland Experience every Friday and Saturday from November 24  through January 6th. Enjoy a festive Hayride with classic Christmas Carols and explore the brand-new Enchanted Forest adventure.

Get lost in a delightful holiday maze, discover sweet surprises at the Candy Land playground, and jingle all the way through the Florida outdoors on a wonderland hayride. Wrap up your journey at the festive tree farm, where unforgettable memories and delectable treats await, promising to delight your taste buds! Come enjoy a magical holiday celebration!


Featured Romantic Gift Idea!

Date Night: Living Room Dancing for Couples

Give the gift of laughter and love this holiday season! Date Night Dancing is an easy-to-follow program that will have any couple laughing, loving, and most importantly dancing together in no time. All from the comfort of your own home – NO dance experience needed!

  • Perfect for anyone with “two left feet”
  • Fun & entertaining lessons
  • Universal moves taught: dance to ANY Music!
  • Instant streaming access

Show Her Off Dance


Awesome Christmas Events in Orlando – since it’s so close to Tampa Bay!

 

Colorful Christmas at Crayola Experience Orlando

November 18 – January 7, 2024
Deck the halls with tons of COLOR! Colorful Christmas is back. From November 18 – January 7, come enjoy holiday fun the Crayola way! Make handmade gifts from the heart, complete a seasonal scavenger hunt, and more! It’s a holiday hullabaloo with SNOW much to do! Buy tickets ahead and save $5 with Code: TBP, now through January 7, 2024.

ICE! at Gaylord Palms Resort

November 17, 2023 – January 1, 2024
There are holiday activities here morning, noon, and night. Plus, ICE! returns this holiday season. Step into a wonderland carved by expert artisans out of two million pounds of colorful ice. The story of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!™ envelops you in larger-than-life sculptures.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World

November 9 – December 22, 2023, select nights
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party returns this year after a two-year hiatus. This special event will bring back old favorites like cocoa and cookies at designated locations throughout the park, snow on Main Street, a themed parade and fireworks show, and more. The Epcot International Festival of the Holidays starts on November 24-December 30, 2023, with the sights, sounds, and tastes of the season from cultures around the world.

SeaWorld Orlando’s Christmas Celebration

November 10, 2023 – January 2, 2024
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.

Holidays at Universal Orlando

November 17 – December 31, 2023
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.


More events coming soon as they’re announced!

Related: