While near-freezing temperatures inhabit other cities for winter, Tampa Bay remains warm and sunny. The Bay Area’s mild temperatures are ideal for getting out, exploring, and experiencing everything the winter has to offer. Here are some amazing Tampa Bay Winter events to keep you celebrating all season.
A warm-weather winter wonderland awaits at Busch Gardens with a variety of holiday festivities offered throughout the park. Guests can enjoy holiday traditions with a twist, with millions of twinkling lights throughout the park’s 335 acres to physically distant holiday shows, breathtaking animal encounters, and even a visit with Santa and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
From November 20 to January 3, downtown celebrates the holiday season at Winter Village! Located along the Hillsborough River, Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and the Tampa Riverwalk will be transformed into a winter spectacle with the sights, sounds, and activities of the holidays for children and adults of all ages.
LIGHTED BOAT PARADE
The Holiday Lighted Boat Parade will take place on December 19. Come out to the Tampa Riverwalk to get into the holiday season as the flotilla of vessels passes by decorated in the most festive fashion. This year, Water Works Park at the south end of the Tampa Riverwalk is the perfect place to start feeling festive, with 12 grand oaks decorated for the season and 4 lighted arches added to the entry to the park.
Take in all the festivities in Downtown Tampa during the 2nd Riverwalk Holiday Spectacular! This year’s event will take place in Downtown Tampa along the Riverwalk from November 26 through January 2.
See a classic from the NEW outdoor Riverwalk Stage at the Straz Center with Next Generation Ballet’s Nutcracker Outdoor Wonderland. Enjoy a traditional holiday favorite through an immersive experience at the Straz Center campus, featuring NGB’s award-winning dancers and a special visit from Santa. A very traditional example of Tampa Bay winter events.
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Home for the Holidays, a concert full of Christmas spirit and cheerful carols, is a present you can give yourself and your family. Join the Opera Tampa Singers as they perform holiday favorites that will have you singing along and reminiscing of holidays past as new memories are being made. Home for the Holidays performances takes place on December 18, 19, and 20.
VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS STROLL
From November 21 to December 31, experience the extravagance of a Victorian Christmas at the historic Tampa Bay Hotel, while taking in the warmth and spirit of an old-fashioned holiday season.
NEW this year, take a Virtual Victorian Christmas Stroll tour. With a special message from Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, this tour includes highlights from the 39th Stroll and looks back at previous years. This virtual opportunity is available beginning December 1.
TREE LIGHTING CEREMONY
Start your Holiday season in Ybor City with the 10th Annual Tree Lighting in Centro Ybor. On Wednesday, November 18, join Mayor Jane Castor and others to officially kick off the holidays in Tampa’s Latin Quarter. Enjoy music, shopping, dining, and the tree lighting ceremony beginning at 7:00 p.m.
From November 21 through January 3, celebrate the holidays at the Glazer Children’s Museum with a gingerbread-inspired wonderland. Visit GCM’s sweet winter wonderland to build a gingerbread house and watch the village grow, all made from recycled materials like cardboard, pipe cleaners, bottle caps, and more! Gingerbread Village is included with museum admission.
The Yacht StarShip is hosting a number of themed cruises throughout the Holiday Season. Hop on for the Thanksgiving cruise, an Ugly Sweater Brunch, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve cruises. Dine on gourmet food, sip on delicious cocktails, and dance the night away under the stars.
SANTA COMES TO TOWN
Santa is coming to Tampa Bay, with a few adjustments for your safety. International Plaza and Bay Street will host Santa from November 27 – December 24. Visits and photo sessions are by reservation only. Santa will remain a 6’ distance from guests at all times, as well as wearing a mask at all times, including during the photoshoot. Guests above the age of 2 are also required to wear a mask, and heightened cleaning protocols in addition to hand sanitizer are in place. Make your reservation and see Santa early!
RIVER OF LIGHTS HOLIDAY CRUISES
Hop aboard Pirate Water Taxi for a unique holiday cruise when River of Lights returns on November 27. Pass beneath low bridges to enter the beautiful Hillsborough River for a one-of-a-kind tour of lighted bridges and downtown. Our Captains will entertain you with a whimsical narration and join in for a sing-along of Christmas carols. There is no better way to find your holiday spirit in Tampa Bay. NEW for 2020, the River of Lights cruise will take place aboard Captain Jack II where guests will be treated to a visit from the Pirate Elf. A very Florida example of a Tampa Bay Winter Event
Ring in the New Year on December 31 at the Glazer Children’s Museum with countdowns, family play projects, and celebrations throughout the day. You can celebrate as a family by day and still have time for evening festivities. Downtown Countdown is included with museum admission.
A PIRATE’S CHRISTMAS
Set sail from Sparkman Wharf on the NEW Lost Pearl with the debut of A Pirate’s Christmas. Celebrate the holidays Florida style aboard White Beard’s ship. This family-friendly holiday event will cruise in Tampa during select dates in November and December. A Pirate’s Christmas is a fun winter activity for kids and adults alike. The festive cruise will travel by Holiday Island where you will get an up-close look at Tampa Bay’s largest floating Christmas tree. Children will also write and mail a letter to Santa to drop into Tampa’s only floating mail buoy. In addition, there will be, Pirate sing-a-longs, Christmas carols, swashbuckling games, face painting, and other fun. The magic of Christmas may even bring some snow flurries!
Check out Tampa Bay’s website to stay up to date on their Holiday events.