My girls are at the perfect age to really appreciate the holidays. They get into the cookie decorating and tree trimming and all things Christmas. Part of the fun is all the local events that take place during the year. There are so many fun things to do in Tampa during Christmas with your family that I decided to put them all in one place. That way you can start planning your holiday adventures without all of the hassle of searching multiple sites. There are so many wonderful Christmas events here in Tampa, which is why we listed our favorites.

This is your list to make Family Christmas traditions in Tampa:

Christmas Events in Tampa

Photos with Santa: International Plaza and Bay Street (November 9 – December 24)

Pretty much every mall has a Santa but how many malls have an entire experience called Santa’s Flight Academy?!? It’s so much more than a picture on Santa’s lap. You get badges, fitted for a flight suit, help Santa fill his sleigh and play in a room full of snow. My kids were having so much fun they didn’t want to leave. We loved this experience! If you don’t want to wait in line, reserve your spot HERE


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Winter Village Curtis Hixon Park (November 17 – January 1)

The downtown park transforms into a winter playground with lights, music, and family-friendly festivities. Here’s some of what you can expect:

  • An outdoor Ice Skating rink (yes in Florida)
  • Cafe at Winter Village
  • The Shops at Winter Village
  • 360 Degree Light Show
  • Curling at Winter Village 
  • Silent Disco Fridays
  • Special Events

Holiday Lighted Boat Parade (December 23 @ 6pm)

Watch the waterfront transform into a twinkling spectacle as boats adorned with lights cruise along the Hillsborough River. Here’s the Public Viewing Schedule:

  • Convention Center 6:30pm
  • Curtis Hixon Park 6:45pm
  • Armature Works 7pm
  • Davis Island + Channel Drive 7:30pm
  • Sparkman Wharf + American Victory Ship 7:45-8pm

Sea of Holiday Joy at Clearwater Marine Aquarium (November 24 – December 31)

Dive into the holidays with marine magic! See Santa underwater, enjoy lights and participate in fun holiday crafts and activities surrounded by marine life. Here’s some of the events:

  • Meet Santa Under the Sea
  • Interactive Marine Presentations
  • Holiday Crafts and Activities
  • Aquatic-Themed Decor
  • Pictures with Santa

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Holiday Classics with the Tampa Theatre (November 26 – January 7)

Transport your family into a winter wonderland with classic holiday films at the historic Tampa Theatre. Here’s some of our favorites:

  • Miracle on 34th Street (November 26)
  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (December 3)
  • The Grinch (December 10)
  • Sing- Along Frozen (January 7)

City of Tampa Santa Fest (December 2-3)

The streets come alive with festive cheer! Santa arrives in style, followed by the annual Tampa Tree Lighting. Here’s a little timeline:

  • 1pm Parade Starts at Morgan Street and Madison Street. Parade through downtown.
  • 1-4pm Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park for Santa Fest entertainment and activities 
  • 1-4 p.m. Stay for 6-6:30pm Tampa’s Tree Lighting ceremony at 6-6:30 p.m. 

Christmas in the Wild at ZooTampa (November 24 – December 30)

ZooTampa will be transformed into a Christmas wonderland filled with lights, treats, and shows. Here’s some of the newest additions at ZooTampa:

  • 6 illuminated zones of lights
  • 2 new light shows in manatee circle
  • 30-foot Christmas tree with thousands of dancing lights
  • Ice Cavern in Africa surrounded by glowing lights

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Snowcat Ridge (December 3 – February 25)

A snowy adventure awaits at this alpine village featuring tubing, snow play, and festive attractions for the whole family. Here’s all the things there are to do at Snowcat Ridge:

  • Snow Tubing
  • Play in Snow
  • Music & Lights Show
  • Ice Skating 
  • Santa’s Cozy Cabin
  • Storytime with Mrs. Claus
  • Scavenger Hunts
  • Roasting S’mores
@mrsblinks Wait for it… Hazel got me good with a snowball to the face 😬 #travelbucketlist #travelingfamily #pinterestmomchristmas #tiktokholidays #travelkids ♬ I Can Feel It (Christmas Instrumental) – Nick Sena and Danny Echevarria

Water Street Season Spectacular (November 18 from 6-9pm)

Discover a new holiday tradition at Water Street Tampa. The first annual Season Spectacular features holiday food, kids’ activities, and live entertainment.

  • Live music and entertainment
  • Photo opportunities with Santa
  • Holiday-themed silent disco
  • Hot chocolate bars
  • Seasonal cocktails and food

Snow Days at the Florida Aquarium (November 25 – December 31)

Florida Aquarium had a winter makeover. Experience snow-filled fun and explore the wonders of marine life in a holiday setting. Here’s a list of the activities:

  • Snow Daze Snow Maze
  • Snowball Toss
  • Snow Painting
  • Street Curling
  • Snowball Cornhole
  • Rooftop Dance Party
  • Ice Skating Performances

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Winter Wonder Wharf Tree Lighting: Sparkman Wharf (November 16 from 8-9pm)

Sparkman Wharf offers up some holiday joy with family-friendly activities and seasonal delights.

  • tree lighting
  • live entertainment
  • a visit from Santa Claus 
  • festive backdrops for fun photo-ops

Santa Brunch Cruises: Yacht Starship (December 10 & 17 @ noon)

This 2 hour holiday cruise is filled with lots of surprises, including a special visit from Santa! Here’s what’s included with your ticket:

  • Holiday Buffet Brunch 
  • Complimentary Coffee, Tea, and Water
  • Visit By Santa
  • Photo With Santa Available For Purchase
  • DJ Entertainment

Busch Gardens Christmas Town (November 11 – January 7)

Enjoy park-wide festive fun at this award-winning holiday event. 

  • Ride the Holly Jolly Express train
  • view millions of twinkling lights 
  • visit Santa in his workshop
  • spend time with Rudolph and his friends from the classic holiday movie
  • enjoy festive live shows

Christmas Lights in Tampa

Looking to see the best Christmas lights in Tampa? Here is where you can see the best shows:

Ybor City Tree Lighting (November 15 from 6-8pm)

Join Tampa Mayor Jane Castor for live holiday entertainment and the lighting of Ybor City’s Christmas tree. The lighting will be followed by a meet and greet with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Complementary cookies and hot chocolate will be available for the kids!

Festival of Lights: Hillsborough County Fairgrounds (November 23 – December 31)

Festival of Lights offers more than one million lights as you drive through light displays and fun Florida themed displays. Here’s some other thighs your family can enjoy:

  • Santa’s Village with treats and activities
  • Holiday-themed rides
  • Winter market open every night
  • Hometown Hillsborough Historical Village
  • Firepits where families can make yummy s’mores
  • Santa’s Barnyard with camel rides
  • Holiday movies and live entertainment on the weekends

Hyde Park Village Holiday Happening (November 16 from 5-9pm)

Enjoy live entertainment, a winter holiday market, and visit with Santa! Here’s some of the great market vendors:

  • Posies Flower Truck
  • Yaya+Lou
  • Barry’s
  • Sorrento Sweets
  • Color Me Mine
  • Capital One Cafe
  • Nike
  • Mizzen+Main
  • Bouzy
  • OddFellows

Enchant Christmas: Tropicana Field (November 24 – December 31)

Tropicana Field is transformed into a winter wonderland featuring millions of lights. There’s so much to do for all ages! Here’s some of what to expect:

  • The Light Maze
  • The Village
  • Ice Skating Trail
  • Santa’s Landing
  • Kids Zone
  • Special Themed Nights

Christmas Lights at Chick-Fil-A on Waters Avenue (November 17-December 30)


Visit the most festive Chick-Fil-A in Tampa Bay and check out their annual Christmas lights display! Just when I thought I couldn’t love Chick-Fil-A anymore they make the biggest and coolest light display ever! Guys this place is pretty spectacular and best yet it’s free. The Chick-Fil-A is located at  6299 W Waters Avenue, Tampa and runs from 6 pm to close.

Oakdale Christmas House (November 24 – January 3) 

We haven’t been to this house yet but it’s definitely on our list for this year. The gentleman who lives at this house in St. Pete has one of the largest light displays in the country. It is said that his electric bill is close to $5K. This is another free event and you can find the house at 2719 Oakdale Street South in St. Petersburg.

Christmas light events in Tampa

What is your favorite thing to do in Tampa during the holidays? I would love to hear about your favorite Christmas events in Tampa in the comments below.

Want to read more of our Christmas posts? See more below…