Florida is famous for having beautifully warm weather all year, and Tampa is no different. You won’t find yourself having to bundle up or brave the snow to go to outside—at least, not often. It hasn’t snowed in Tampa since 1977! While the idea of warm breezes and palm trees paired with Christmas lights might seem a little strange to people from other states, our beautiful weather simply adds to our Christmas spirit. Christmas is a big deal in Tampa, with dozens of events and activities that you can take part in. If you’re looking to try out new events this year, we’ve included a few of our favorite ways to enjoy your holiday in Tampa, to be specific, the Christmas season.
The Hillsborough Riverwalk is decorated beautifully every year, including a 35-foot Christmas tree that floats in the harbor, making it the perfect place to enjoy the sights and soak up the Christmas spirit. There’s even a free Christmas boat parade on December 21, during which brightly lit boats float down the river—your little ones might even spot Santa on one of the boats as it floats by!
If you have little ones who love trains and Santa Claus, they’ll absolutely love riding the North Pole Express. Tickets for the train cost $25 per person; once on board, you and your kids will ride through Largo Central Park to the North Pole, with enough games, crafts, and sweets to keep your kids entertained all evening. Your little ones will be able to meet Santa Claus and can even take home a bell from his sleigh!
If you don’t have kids or you’re looking for a fun, Christmas-themed date night for your holiday in Tampa, the venue is also offering an adults-only event after dark for the first time, complete with wine and chocolate.
If you’re in the mood to watch an iconic Christmas movie, you’re in luck—every year, Tampa Theatre shows several Christmas classics on the big screen. This year, they’re showing “Miracle on 34th Street,” “Elf,” “White Christmas,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and “Love Actually.” A few of the movies even include special events!
If you have kids,you might want to arrive an hour before “Miracle on 34th Street” starts so that your little ones can meet Santa! Afterwards, Santa will tell the kids a story and sing Christmas carols with them; they’ll even get a commemorative picture to take home. Isn’t this a perfect kids holiday in Tampa?
Who says Christmas in Florida can’t involve fun in the snow? Snowfest is a popular event in St. Petersburg that ensures your kids won’t miss out on playing in the snow. Real snow is brought in for the event so that your kids can enjoy toboggan rides, ice skating, and ice fishing. If your little ones get tired of the snow, they can also enjoy karaoke, inflatables, and more. There’s even an area for teenagers to hang out, stocked with video games and phone charging stations. This year’s Snowfest will start at 9am on December 7 and only costs $5 per person.
If you’re looking for a fun night out during your holiday in Tampa and love craft beer, you might enjoy Beer and Carols. The event is being hosted by Horizon Church at the 81Bay Brewing Company on December 19 and Bay Cannon on December 20. Come ready to drink great beer and to sing your favorite carols. Entry is free.
Hosted by the Lowry Park Zoo, Christmas in the Wild is a great family event, especially if you have young kids. The zoo is decorated with more than a million Christmas lights and a 50-foot tall Christmas tree. Your kids will have the opportunity to see a lot of the animals at night, when several species will be a little more active, and can even interact with a few animal ambassadors—including reindeer!
Your little ones can see Santa himself in Santa’s village and there’s plenty of food and shopping to keep you entertained as well. Christmas in the Wild is being held next on December 6, 7, 13-15, and 20-23.
Christmas Town is a holiday mainstay in Tampa, and it’s easy to see why—it’s packed with so many activities that it’s impossible to do everything in a single visit! There’s shopping, restaurants or food carts, and Christmas shows for many age groups, from live bands and jazzy piano solos to shows like “Elmo’s Christmas Wish” or “Christmas on Ice.”
Your little ones will also have an opportunity to meet Santa as well as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and friends. Christmas Town is held every night from November 16 to January 6.
This yearly event in Largo Central Park provides a good opportunity for you to get outside and walk around when your spending the holiday in Tampa. The park is lit up with Christmas lights and is full of local vendors selling food, drinks, and merchandise, so there’s plenty for you to see. Additionally, you’ll be able to watch the tree-lighting ceremony if you make it to the park by 6pm.
This year, the Holiday Stroll will be held on December 7 from 5pm to 10pm; the event itself is free, but parking will cost between $5 and $10.
This popular Christmas event is a great afternoon activity for you and your little ones. There’s live entertainment and plenty of activities for your kids, including crafts and the chance to meet Santa—complete with a free picture! SantaFestwill be held on December 7 from noon to 4pm, but there’s a Christmas parade right before SantaFest if you’d also like to attend that; the parade kicks off at 11am from Morgan Street and ends at Ashley Drive and Cass Street.
This event involves spending an afternoon playing with shelter dogs who are up for adoption, making it a heartwarming and incredibly fun way to spend an afternoon during your holiday in Tampa. You can play fetch with the dogs, give them treats, or simply watch them play and have fun.
You’ll have a blast whether or not you’re looking for a furry friend, but if you are looking to adopt, this is the perfect chance to get to know each dog and to see how they behave when they’re simply having fun! The event is being held on December 14 from 1pm to 5pm and is completely free; spaces are limited, though, so you should reserve your tickets in advance.
We might not get a white Christmas in Florida, but that doesn’t have to dampen our enthusiasm for the holidays—or even keep us from enjoying some snow! Tampa has plenty of great activities that will help you get in the Christmas spirit and find new ways to celebrate the season. If you try and love an event you discovered on this list, feel free to let us know at your next dental appointment.