The Best Holiday Events in Tampa, FL

Make this holiday season the best yet by spending some quality time and having loads of fun with your family and friends. No matter what you like, there are plenty of events in Hillsborough County and Tampa this year. From winter wonderlands filled with lights and adventure to amusement parks and pop-up bars, there is truly something for everyone to get into the holiday spirit in 2021. 

Here are a few of our favorite things!

Christmas Town at Busch Gardens 

Christmas Town Busch Gardens sign
Christmas Town at Busch Gardens. Source: Yelp.

Busch Gardens Tampa 
10165 N. McKinley Dr. 
Tampa, FL 

Busch Gardens transforms into a spectacular wonderland inspired by the holidays with entertainment and attractions for the whole family. Check out the park’s 335 acres lit up with millions of twinkling lights and, of course, Santa Claus and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer will make an appearance.  Rain or shine, Christmas Town is happening now until January 2, 2022. Ticket prices and park dates vary. 

Tampa Bay’s Festival of Lights and Santa’s Village 

 Tampa Bay’s Festival of Lights
Tampa Bay’s Festival of Lights. Source: Facebook

Hillsborough County Fairground 
215 Sydney Washer Rd 
Dover, FL 

Tampa Bay’s Festival of Lights and Santa’s Village is a delightful holiday light spectacular and a winter wonderland for people of all ages. There is nearly a two-mile drive-through with a steady stream of lights on display. After that, you can walk to Santa’s Village where there are a wide variety of food vendors. You can get pictures with Santa, go on a camel ride, or even make some ornaments for your tree. Plan ahead, as there are select nights that are drive-through only. You don’t want to miss the holiday fun. 

The Nutcracker 

Performers in a ballet, with lights being shown

The Straz Center 
1010 N Macinnes Pl 
Tampa, FL 

The classic ballet The Nutcracker is back on stage in 2021.  The Straz Center in Tampa Bay and the Yuengling Center at 4202 East Fowler Ave in Tampa are hosting it this year, but the tickets are going fast. At the Straz Theater from Friday, December 17th to Sunday December 19th, or the Yuengling Center on December 11th at 2 pm and 6 pm – watch The Nutcracker come to life before your very eyes!  Unfortunately, The Moscow Ballet’s The Nutcracker will not be performing in Florida in 2021, but they will be back in 2022 in St. Petersburg.  

The Holiday Lighted Boat Parade 

Hillsborough River in Tampa Florida Walkway at Night
Hillsborough River Walkway. Source: Yelp

The Friends of the Riverwalk will present the largest lighted boat parade all along the Hillsborough River in Downtown Tampa on December 18th at 6 pm.  Judges will watch as the boats begin at the southern tip of Davis Islands, through to the Convention Center, and up to the Heights. The boats will then turn around and travel to Sparkman Wharf where a winner will be announced. The rain date is December 19th at 6 pm.  

Ice Skating 

The Winter Village at Curtis Hixon’s Waterfront Park
The Winter Village at Curtis Hixon’s Waterfront Park. Source: Yelp.

Tampa’s only ice-skating rink is located in The Winter Village at Curtis Hixon’s Waterfront Park. You can buy tickets online until January 2nd.  Fly across the ice and take in the views of the beautiful Hillsborough River with the city lights illuminating the sky. There is no better way to get into the holiday spirit. We suggest checking out the Glazer Children’s Museum, the Tampa Museum of Art and, last but certainly not least, the City of Tampa’s Christmas tree.  

Did we miss your family’s favorite holiday activity?