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The Best Tampa Christmas Events for Families in 2023

The Best Tampa Christmas Events for Families in 2023

‘Twas the month before Christmas and all through Tampa Bay, the citizens were stirring, getting ready for the big day! The twinkle lights were hung from Busch Gardens to Lowry Park Zoo, and everyone wished Santa would skate in downtown too! Ahhh….. Christmas in Tampa!

If you are looking for fun Christmas events in Tampa, look no further! Here is our guide to the action, updated for 2023!

Christmas in Tampa- The Best Christmas Events in Tampa for 2023

Christmas in Tampa- Holiday Performances

At Ruth Eckerd Hall you will find a variety of holiday- themed performances taking place throughout the season, including Manheim Steamroller Christmas, Bowzers Holiday Rock n Roll Party, TFO: Holiday Pops, and Rockapella Christmas.

Experience the Next Generation Ballet production of The Nutcracker at the Straz Center December 21-23, 2023. This timeless ballet classic is always a holiday favorite and is designed to be family friendly.

Turn back the clock at Tampa’s oldest theater, Tampa Theatre, and enjoy holiday classic movies during the December such as Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life and The Grinch During these holiday classic film showings, Tampa Theatre will be hosting a food drive so please consider donating.

Christmas in Tampa Includes Amusement Park Fun

Photo by flickr/Jared

Busch Gardens turns into Christmas Town during the holidays. Enjoy millions of lights, holiday shows, and plenty of festive fun. There will also be fireworks, and the best part is that it is all included in your regular park admission- no separate ticket required! The event runs November 11, 2023 – January 7, 2024. 

Lowry Park Zoo turns into a wild wonderland during Christmas in the Wild from November 24 through December 30, 2023. This is an evening event that takes place from 4pm to closing (usually 10pm).

Families love the strolling carolers, 50-foot animated Christmas tree, and story time with Mrs. Claus. There will also be six immersive zones full of lights, music, and holiday magic. There will also be shows, holiday treats, and one of the biggest light displays in the Tampa Bay area.

The Florida Aquarium hosts Snow Days every weekend November 25- December 31, 2023 with a real snow play area, snowmaze, snow painting, a rooftop dance party and lots of live entertainment. Hours at the aquarium are extended between Christmas and New Years during this special event and the experience is included with general admission.

Tampa Holiday Parades & Festivals

Christmas Parade Tampa
Photo by: Flickr/Ted

The City of Tampa hosts it’s annual SantaFest Parade and Fest at Curtis Hixon Park December 2, 2023 at 1:00pm.

This parade is the perfect start to a fun-filled weekend of holiday activities that happen throughout the day in downtown Tampa. There will be photos with Santa, entertainment, crafts, and games. Stick around for the tree lighting at 6pm.

You won’t want to miss fire trucks, floats, old-time cars, Shriners, and Santa Claus at Safety Harbor’s Annual Holiday Parade. 

The Best Tampa Christmas Events for Families in 2023 2
Photo by Flickr/Tony Webster

There will be a Holiday Boat Parade at the Tampa Riverwalk on December 23, 2023 at 6pm. Speaking of The Riverwalk, you won’t want to miss the Holiday Spectacular which runs November through January.

There will be a floating 35-foot Christmas Tree in the harbor, a floating lighted gingerbread display, floating toy train, and tons of lights throughout Waterworks Park. There will also be a Holiday Hunt scavenger hunt along the Riverwalk that you can participate in via an app on your smartphone.

Stop in at The Vinoy and enjoy their festive holiday decor and snack on milk and cookies while watching the St. Petersburg Santa Parade pass by on the parade route.

Holiday Ice Skating in Tampa

A recent addition to Tampa is The Winter Village! This year it will take place November 17, 2023 through January 1, 2024.

It transforms Curtis Hixon’s Waterfront Park into a holiday hot spot with sights, sounds, and activities for the holidays for children and adults.

It is also home to downtown Tampa’s only outdoor ice rink. Add views of the beautiful Hillsborough River and free play spaces on the great lawn with the big city lights in the background and it’s pure holiday magic. 

Insider Tip: While you’re in Curtis Hixon Park, make sure to stop and see the City of Tampa Christmas tree, or visit the Glazer Children’s Museum and the Tampa Museum of Art.

Historic Holiday Spirit in Tampa

Photo by flickr/Walter

Take a stroll through the University of Tampa and see the Victorian Christmas Stroll at the Henry B. Plant Museum’s annual old-time Christmas event. See nineteenth century Christmas decor with rooms displayed in both old and new holiday decorations. This event takes place November 24 – December 23, 2023.

You can also drive along Ybor City’s historic 7th Avenue and see old-fashioned Christmas decor or visit the 1883 Safford House in Tarpon Springs and see the beautiful Victorian holiday decorations. This event takes place December 16 – 17, 2023 and advanced tickets are required.

Christmas Events in Tampa- Tree Lightings

Don’t miss the Enchanted Tree Lighting Ceremony and Holiday Street Party in Hyde Park Village. This family-friendly traditional event offers Santa’s arrival, live holiday music, food trucks, kid’s activities, and more. It takes place November 16, 2023 from 5 – 9pm. There will also be visits with Santa and storytime with Mrs. Claus on weekends in December leading up to Christmas.

At Curtis Hixon Park, watch holiday movies on the lawn, holiday themed entertainment, and more. Safety Harbor will also have a Tree Lightning Ceremony with singing choirs and a visit from jolly St. Nick.

Look for the best prices on family-friendly hotels in Tampa.

Enchanted Music

Photo from

Let the Florida Orchestra fill your soul with the holiday spirit at their Holiday Pops concerts, performed at the Straz Center, the Mahaffy Theater, and Ruth Eckerd Hall. Sing along with Christmas classics as you enjoy this annual holiday celebration.

Classic Holiday Movies

Take your family to one of the great holiday-themed shows at the Largo Cultural Center.This season’s highlights include Santa’s Holiday Revue, The Heralds of Harmony, and Christmas with the King (Elvis!).

Santa Meet and Greets

Sit on Santa’s lap and tell him how good you’ve been this year! International Plaza hosts Santa in the Grand Court, where you can join Santa’s flight crew.

Kids can try on a virtual flight suit, dance under magical lights and snowfall, and more before meeting the jolly old man!

Santa will also be stopping by various stores in Hyde Park Village throughout the season.

Find more Christmas events near you! Trekaroo has guides for dozens of cities across the country.

Check for availability on family-friendly hotels in Tampa.

Special thanks to Tiffany Vaughn for updating this post for 2018 and Sharlene Earnshaw for updating it for 2019 – 2023. 

Pin this to bookmark all the holiday fun; we update it yearly:

Christmas and Holiday fun for families in Tampa Bay, Florida

 Featured photo by: Shutterstock