Clear your calendars! The holiday season is almost upon us and there's certainly plenty of events and festivities going on in the Tampa area to keep you busy all throughout the rest of the year. Featured below is our comprehensive guide to holiday season events in the Tampa area in 2017, and if you noticed anything we missed, please let us know in the comments section so we can add it to the list!
Nov 17-Jan 5
The fun kicks off with the annual Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. Right along the riverwalk, the park comes alive with the sights and sounds of the holiday season, making for a fun outing for those of all ages. You’ll find the only outdoor ice skating rink in Downtown Tampa here, plus a café and shopping, showcasing pop-up holiday shops filled with fun choices for everyone on your holiday gift-giving list.
The first of December ushers in the annual tree lighting ceremony in Downtown Tampa. Also happening at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, this is the sixth year for the magical event. All the fun kicks off at 6pm, including a community tree lighting countdown, lead by the mayor. It’s free to attend this family-friendly event.
Be sure to stick around the park, for 8pm brings a free movie showing to the waterfront. If you’re planning on attending, be sure and bring either a low back chair or a blanket.
The next morning begins with Santa Fest and the annual Downtown Tampa Christmas parade, also occurring at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. The parade kicks off at 11am, while a festival continues from noon-4pm. This is the 36th year for the event, which includes free photos with old Saint Nick himself, plus holiday crafts, games and activities.
The evening brings your chance to help Santa and his reindeer sprint into the holiday season. The 5k run/walk occurs Saturday evening at Centennial Park. Lined with luminaries, the racecourse finish line serves up holiday cookies, hot chocolate and plenty of holiday entertainment.
Meanwhile, you have two opportunities to experience Christmas Under the Stars. Occurring at the Water Works Park Band Shell, the event showcases both Saturday and Sunday evenings. Expect a free performance of Christmas music by the mass choir, along with wrapped toys for the kids.
Water Works Park is also the setting for Christmas is Near, happening on Saturday, December 23. The festival begins at 4pm, including face painting, stocking decorating, photo booths and some giveaways. A special candlelight service follows at 7pm.
That same evening provides the opportunity to experience a Lighted Boat Parade. For the best views, be sure and head down to the Tampa Riverwalk early.
Finally, round out the year with the Outback Bowl parade on December 31. The New Year’s Eve parade and pep rally are slated for Ybor City, with floats and marching bands. The event is free and fun for the entire family.