Things to do in Tampa This Holiday Season

Winter break has finally started and with the stress of exams over, the holiday excitement is building. While staying home to watch movies with your family or driving around your neighborhood to look at lights may be nice, you might be itching to get outside and enjoy the local festivities. Here is a small list of some things to do around Tampa to keep you busy over the break.

 

Winter Village (Nov. 19 – Jan. 2) -Curtis Hixon Park 

Via Tampa Downtown Partnership

With ice skating, locally-run pop up shops, an invigorating display of lights, and (my personal favorite) a community piano, the “Winter Village” located at Curtis Hixon park and extending up and down the Riverwalk is a great place to spend your time. The area is free to enter and enjoy for anyone at the park, but to ice skate it costs $17.00 per person. This venue is best visited at night and even better on a brisk day, setting the ultimate wintery mood. 

Christmas Town (Nov. 12 – Jan. 2)-Busch Gardens  

Via Creative Commons

From Howl O’Scream to their yearly New Year’s celebration, Busch Gardens is known for putting on quite a show – and Christmas Town is no exception.Nightly firework displays, extensive lights strung throughout the park, and holiday themed shows are just some of the attributes that make Christmas Town worth experiencing. Rides are open as usual and ticket prices vary by day but can be tracked on their website.

 

 

 

Enchant Christmas (Nov. 26 – Jan. 2) -Tropicana Field 

Via Creative Commons

Although St.Pete may be a trek for some, if you find yourself across the bay anytime until Jan. 2nd, feel free to stop by the Trop for a plethora of holiday activities including ice skating and light viewing. You can also wander around the Enchant Market, where you can find treats and gifts from a variety of local vendors. Tickets run from about $25-35 and should be purchased ahead of time to guarantee your time slot for best convenience.  

 

 

Heights Public Market (aka. Armature Works)

Via Creative Commons

Armature Works can be enjoyed year-round and is a great meeting spot for many different occasions, but especially during the holidays. Within walking distance from the Riverwalk and Curtis Hixon park, stop by Armature Works to grab a few bites and fuel up before enjoying the rest of Tampa’s festivities. My personal favorite restaurant within the venue is Zukku Sushi because of their boba and milk teas. 

 

 

Riverwalk Holiday Hunt (Dec. 17 – Jan. 2)

Via The Tampa River Walk

The Holiday Hunt is a mobile-based scavenger hunt that is free for anyone to participate in. All you need to do is download the Mobile Adventures app and from there you can start solving puzzles, completing holiday challenges, and answering Tampa Trivia to win. Although a resident of downtown for years, I was surprised by my unfamiliarity with this activity and have quickly become a participant.

 

Tampa Bay Festival Of Lights (Nov. 25 – Dec. 26) -Hillsborough Fairgrounds

Via Eve Edelheit, Tampa Bay Times (2012)

This two mile long drive-through light show is a COVID-19-friendly, but still completely immersive, experience. The striking display contains one million lights and small holiday activities to partake in along the way. Prices drastically vary from vehicle type to day, but tickets can be bought online. 

 

 

 

 

Robert’s Christmas Wonderland 

Via Creative Commons

Located in Clearwater and open year-round, Robert’s Christmas Wonderland is a must-stop for any Christmas lover. They have it all: thousands of lights and ornaments, hundreds of trees, stockings, and other decorations. Regardless of if you purchase anything (although, it’s hard not to), it’s the perfect place to wander around and marvel at all they have.

 

 

 

Winter Village Express (Nov. 21 – Dec. 19 -Select Dates)

Via Tampa Downtown Partnership

 I will be ending this list with my long time personal favorite. The Tampa TECO Line Streetcar runs year round for free and transports passengers from Fort Brooke Garage on Franklin and Whiting St. all the way to Ybor. A round trip ride takes only an hour and there are many popular (holiday and non-holiday) stops in-between for passengers to get off and enjoy Tampa to the fullest. The Streetcar is a blast from the past and may be a bit bumpy for some, but is family friendly and allows you to experience Tampa in a totally unique way. Although its planned holiday trip is over, the Streetcar is still available year-round and during this season, you can ride it and take in the holiday scenery.