From a floating pirate ship light display in the Hillsborough River, to visits with Santa at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, to ice skating rinks at the St. Pete Pier, Curtis Hixon Park and Tropicana Field — there seems to be something for everyone who wants to get out for some fun.
Here’s a sampling of highlights:
• Through Dec. 31: “Symphony in Lights,” at The Shops at Wiregrass, 28211 Paseo Drive, Wesley Chapel, features snowfalls, Christmas trees, and lights dancing to music. 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.; free. TheShopsAtWiregrass.com.
• Dec. 15: Holiday Movie Night in the Garden, with “Christmas Vacation” and an ugly Christmas sweater contest, at Florida Avenue Brewery, 2029 Arrowgrass Drive, Wesley Chapel. 7 p.m.; free. FloridaAveBrewing.com; 813-452-6333.
• Dec. 18: Mrs. Claus Craft Fair, at Harley-Davidson of New Port Richey, 5817 State Road 54, New Port Richey; noon to 4 p.m.; NPRharley.com; 888-296-4819.
• Dec. 21 to Dec. 23: Church Street Christmas, along Church Avenue in downtown Dade City. This features carolers, dancers and musicians, decorated homes, luminary-lit sidewalks and more. 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.; ChurchStreetChristmas.org for parking information.
• Daily: Ice skate and snow tube, play in a snow dome, even rent an igloo at Snowcat Ridge theme park, at 27839 Saint Joe Road, Dade City. The alpine snow park also features shopping, food and drinks. 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., or 11 p.m., depending on date. Tickets, $39.95, sold at SnowCatRidge.com. 813-576-1450.
• Through Dec. 23: 40th Annual Victorian Christmas Stroll, at the Henry B. Plant Museum, 401 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, with Christmas past exhibits, tiny antique Christmas trees, vintage Santas, a 14-foot tree adorned with antique ornaments; holiday music, refreshments and more. 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Advanced tickets required. Adults, $16, seniors, $14, youth, $10. Buy online at PlantMuseum.com; 813-254-1891. Masks required.
• Through Dec. 30: “Christmas in the Wild,” at ZooTampa, 1101 W. Sligh Ave., Tampa, features light displays, entertainment, and Twinkletown Marketplace with holiday treats and ornament displays. A red-and-white lit Candy Cane Carousel and Mrs. Claus’ Sweets Shoppe are other delights, along with Christmas treats and drinks for sale. Times vary per night. Reservations encouraged for timed tickets selling for $29.95, for ages 3 and older. Buy at ZooTampa.org; 813-935-8552.
• Through Jan. 2: Christmas Town at Busch Gardens, 10165 N. McKinley Drive, Tampa, features thousands of twinkling lights, holiday shows, Santa visits, ice skating and fireworks shows, music, food, and train rides under lights. Admission starting at $90 for adults. Nightly; BuschGardens.com; 813-884-4386.
• Through Jan. 2: The Polar Express 4-D Experience, at The Florida Aquarium, 701 Channelside Drive, Tampa. 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Dec. 18 and 19, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., kids can make socially distanced Santa visits. From Dec. 26 to Dec. 31, 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Jan. 1 to Jan. 2, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Snow Days features a Winter Wonderland Dance Party, interactive activities and times when visitors can throw snowballs at “pollution monsters plaguing our oceans.” Advance, timed tickets are encouraged and sold at FLaquarium.org. Prices vary by day but are generally about $30 for adults, $27 for ages 3-11, and free for ages 2 and younger. 813-273-4000.
• Through Jan. 2: Downtown Tampa’s Winter Village, at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, 600 N. Ashley Drive, offers ice skating, a cafe, shopping and holiday activities sponsored by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Hours vary by day. For details and ice skating tickets, see WinterVillageTampa.com.
• Dec. 18: Tampa Holiday Lighted Boat Parade along the Hillsborough River downtown. 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. See from The Tampa Riverwalk, lit up with Christmas lights and twinkling trees now through Jan. 2. Also, see floating light displays – think pirates and a pirate ship – in the river, buy drinks and food in restaurants and bars along the walk. For directions and parking information, see TheTampaRiverWalk.com.
• Dec. 18: Watch the Tampa Holiday Lighted Boat Parade aboard the American Victory Ship & Museum, 705 Channelside Drive, Tampa. Enjoy entertainment, spirits and eats from food trucks. 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. $15 for adults, $10 for kids 4-12, free for 3 and younger. AmericanVictory.org. 813-228-8766.
• Through Jan. 2: “Enchant Christmas,” at Tropicana Field, Tropicana Drive, St. Petersburg, features a Christmas light maze and village, an ice skating trail, thousands of lights, holiday treats and music, Santa, an artisan Christmas market and more. Adults, $25 to $35; ages 3 to 17, $25. Christmas brunches and dinners are an additional fee. Hours vary by date. See EnchantChristmas.com for details. 833-362-6445.
• Through Jan. 17: Winter Beach, at St. Pete Pier’s Spa Beach Park, 600 Second Ave., N.E., St. Petersburg, cools things down with a real-ice ice skating rink, Santa, an arcade, free holiday concerts, and a holiday market with local vendors and artists. Free admission. Skating fee, $17 for 75 minutes, which includes skate rentals. See WinterBeachStPete.com to purchase timed skating tickets and to view skating hours. The pier district is generally opened from 30 minutes before sunrise to 11 p.m.
• Dec. 16: Christmas Extravaganza Market, 612 Cleveland St., Clearwater, with 50 local artisans and businesses at pop-up shops circling a Christmas tree. 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. TheMarketCulture.com.
• Dec. 16 to Dec. 20: Christmas at the Station, at the Dunedin History Museum, 349 Main St., Dunedin, presents a North Pole Christmas experience with elves, visits with Santa, children’s activities, snow, snowball contests and musical performances. Hours vary by date. Tickets, $20, (free for age 1 and younger) must be purchased in advance online at DunedinMuseum.org. 727-736-1176.
• Dec. 18: Brunch with Santa at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, 249 Windward Passage, Clearwater, includes admission to the aquarium, brunch and a family photo with Santa. 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. $54.95 for adults, $44.95 for children. Reservations encouraged. Buy tickets online at CMaquarium.org. 727-441-1790.
By Karen Haymon Long
Published December 15, 2021