Annual Christmas Events in Tampa Bay

Lights, Lights, Lights, and Even Some Snow

Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Tampa

Courtesy of Busch Gardens Tampa

It might not snow in the Tampa Bay area on Christmas (it's blue like water instead of white like snow), but that doesn't put a damper on the holiday spirit around town. The month of December is packed with lighted boat parades, Christmas markets, and holiday shows. Here's a list of some of the best annual holiday events that mark the holiday season in the Tampa Bay area in 2017.

  • 01 of 06
    Parade of Lighted Boats
    Google Images

    The Lighted Boat Parade starts at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 23, when the Christmas spirit is at fever pitch. View from venues along the Riverwalk as boats small and large in holiday dress sail by. It's a sparkling celebration that combines Christmas with the Tampa Bay lifestyle.

  • 02 of 06
    Florida Botanical Gardens
    Walter/Wikimedia Commons

    The Florida Botanical Gardens is aglow with lights highlighting plants down the garden paths and includes live entertainment nightly, along with visits from the old man in the red suit. The display is on from Nov.  24 through Dec. 31 every night from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. 

  • 03 of 06

    Christmas in the Wild at Lowry Park Zoo

    Lowry Park Zoo
    TampAGS/Wikimedia Commons

    Santa’s reindeer have flown in for Christmas in the Wild at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo and guests can see the reindeer along with more than a million twinkling lights, glimmering holiday displays, an animated Christmas tree, and of course, get photos with the big guy himself, Santa, in Santa's village. As a bonus, you'll get to see the zoo's animals at night. Visit Christmas in the Wild on Dec. 8 to 10, Dec. 15 to 17, Dec. 21 to 23, and Dec. 26 to 30, starting at 4 p.m.


  • 04 of 06
    Largo Central Park
    Courtesy of

    Largo Central Park is a beautiful, 70-acre park located in the heart of Largo, about a half hour's drive from Tampa. Its rolling grounds and fountains have set it apart as one of the finest parks in the county. During the month of December more than a million LED lights hang above the walkways creating an atmosphere perfect for a stroll with family, friends and loved ones to get in the holiday spirit. On Dec. 16, you can even play in the snow (yes, really) and greet Santa from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. in the Snow Zone.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06
    Henry B. Plant Museum
     Wikimedia Commons

    Every year the Victorian Christmas Stroll comes to the Henry B. Plant Museum at the University of Tampa. From Dec. 1 through Dec. 23 the museum will host its annual stroll from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. The building is completely transformed from a museum dedicated to the life and work of Henry Bradley Plant to an exhibit of what a Victorian Christmas would look like. Fourteen rooms are decorated authentically with greenery, Christmas trees, toys, and ornaments. You can nosh on spiced cider and cookies on the veranda, and carolers will serenade in the evening starting at 6 p.m.

  • 06 of 06
    Busch Gardens Christmas Town
    Courtesy of Busch Gardens

    Christmas Town at Busch Gardens, from Nov. 19 through Dec. 31, is a holiday extravaganza of a million lights, shopping, shows, Santa, and characters from the TV special "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." It's great holiday fun for kids of all ages.