The holidays are a great time to be in Tampa Bay. Dream all you want about a White Christmas, we'll take one sunny and warm. 

Busch Gardens Christmas Town

Christmas Town 2016

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Nov. 26, 2016 through Jan. 2, 2017

Select Days from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Christmas Town brings holiday traditions to life with heartwarming shows, delicious holiday dining and festive shopping opportunities. Experience Christmas traditions from around the world and keep warm with a mug of Busch Gardens' signature hot chocolate. This year, Christmas Town is brighter than ever with more than eight million lights. Of course, no visit would be complete without a stop at the North Pole to see Santa's workshop and meet the jolly old elf-himself. 

Victorian Christmas Stroll

Henry B. Plant Museum

Dec. 1 - 23

10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily

Experience the extravagance and grandeur of a Victorian Christmas at the former 1891 Tampa Bay Hotel. Explore the Museum transformed by Christmas trees ranging in height from a few inches to more than 14 feet, 40,000 lights, and hundreds of feet of garland.  Decorations include vintage fashions, antique toys, hand-painted ballet pointe shoes and fanciful ornaments. Complimentary cider and cookies will be served on the veranda each day while holiday music floats through the air.  Guests can enjoy live music each evening from 6 pm – 8 pm.

The Museum will host a number of special performances during the Victorian Christmas Stroll.  Included are:

December 1: Member Appreciation Day, Bay Voices choir 7 p.m.
December 12: Metropolitan Youth Orchestra 1 p.m.
December 13: Bits ‘n Pieces Puppet Theater 3 p.m.
December 17: Music in the Museum 11 a.m.


Snowflake Swirl

Glazer Children’s Museum

Dec. 2, 2016

This event will coincide with Tampa's tree lighting ceremony. This will be a ticketed event that families can enjoy hot chocolate stations, holiday based Arts & Crafts, and pictures with Santa as Tampa holds their annual lighting ceremony in Curtis Hixon Park. 

Tampa’s Tree Lighting Ceremony

Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park

Dec. 2, 2016; 6 p.m.

Attend Tampa's free annual Tree Lighting Ceremony on the first Friday in December in beautiful Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. Festivities begin at 6 p.m. The evening will include a countdown to light the tree with Mayor Buckhorn and a free movie in the park. Blankets, low back chairs, coolers and dogs on leashes are allowed. Concessions will be available. Glass and alcohol are prohibited.

Ice Skating

Winter Village

Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park

Nov. 18, 2016 - Jan. 2, 2017

9 a.m.-9 p.m.

It may be sunny and warm outside, but downtown's Winter Village will make Santa want to break out the SPF and get a jump on the holidays. Inside the enormous party tent by the Tampa Riverwalk, the ice is chill and ready for skating. Bring your own blades or rent some on site before joining the crowd making their way around the rink. Nearby, shops and other holiday activities make the season bright.

River of Lights Christmas Cruises

Yacht Starship

Tuesdays and Wednesdays in December

Experience the river of lights aboard the brand new Pirate Water Taxi for a one-of-a-kind tour of lighted bridges and downtown. The pirate captains will entertain you with a whimsical narration and sing a long Christmas Carols. Enjoy a holiday buffet aboard the Christmas-decorated Yacht Starship, including a visit from Santa.

Florida Orchestra

Holiday Pops – The Florida Orchestra

Straz Center

Dec. 9, 2016

Have a jolly good time with the whole family at this popular Florida Orchestra tradition, filled with the joy of your favorite yuletide carols. With a matinee that won’t spoil anybody’s bedtime.

Snow on Seventh Ybor

Snow on Seventh

Ybor City

7-9 p.m. Dec. 10

We might be in Florida, but we can still have a White Christmas for a few minutes on Seventh  Avenue in historic Ybor City. The heart of Ybor's business district hosts an enormous parade complete with St. Nick himself (pulled by horses instead of reindeer). Celebrate the holidays in Tampa Bay!

Florida Orchestra Holiday Pops

The Nutcracker by Next Generation Ballet

The Straz Center

Dec. 17-18, 2016

Now a much-anticipated event in the Tampa Bay area’s holiday calendar, Next Generation Ballet’s delightful, inventive production of The 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 the audience to a fantastical place where toy soldiers come to life, giant mice dance and holiday magic fills the theater. 

Christmas in the Wild

Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo

Nov. 25-26, Dec. 2-3, 9-10, 16-23, 26-30; Open til 10 p.m.

Let it glow, let it glow, let it glow! Have a merry and memorable evening with this traditional holiday event in the unique setting of the Zoo at night. This all-new illuminating experience will bring the wonders of the holiday season to life with immersive light displays and lively light shows choreographed to joyful holiday tunes, a new Santa experience, strolling entertainment, Christmas carolers, and special holiday performances every night. 

Snow Days at The Florida Aquarium

Dec. 26-30, 2016

Continue the holiday celebration at the Aquarium during Snow Days at the Aquarium.  Continue the holiday celebration at the Aquarium from Dec 26th to 30th and enjoy a real snow play area for the kids.


New Year’s Eve Fireworks Cruise

Yacht Starship

Sat. Dec. 31, 2016

Say "Bon Voyage" to 2016 on a Yacht StarShip Fireworks Celebration Cruise! This dazzling event includes open bar, gourmet food stations, a DJ, party favors, a champagne toast at midnight, and a great view of the fireworks at Channelside! This sell-out cruise is the best way to enjoy the Tampa Bay on New Year's Eve! Dine on gourmet food, sip on delicious cocktails, and dance the night away on our promenade deck under the stars. Yacht StarShip will also provide party favors and a champagne toast at midnight to the fireworks over the water.


Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016

9 p.m. – 1 a.m.

Splash in the New Year by celebrating Aqua-Eve at the Florida Aquarium! There will be fantastic entertainment; complimentary food, beer and wine; and a champagne toast with the best view in town for an amazing fireworks display over the channel at midnight! Must be 21 and over.

Outback Bowl 2017

Raymond James Stadium

Jan. 1, 2017; Noon

Last year, Tennessee and Northwestern squared off in the 30th Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium. Who will it be in 2017? All gates open at 10:30 a.m. Tickets are on sale through Ticketmaster at (813) 287-8844 or can be purchased online at

College Football Playoff National Championship

Raymond James Stadium

Jan. 9, 2017

For the first time in its history, the College Football Playoff National Championship Game comes to the Southeast. The Fiesta Bowl and Peach Bowl semifinalists to advance into the National Championship to be held at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay. Tickets are available online. With or without a ticket, you'll find a great time when downtown's Riverwalk becomes the center of the games fan experience: 2.5 miles of waterfront fun from one end to the other!