Best Places To See Christmas Lights in Tampa Bay

christmas lights in tampa

2020 has taken many things from us, but it looks like there will still be safe ways to enjoy my favorite thing about this season, Christmas Lights! I have been looking for places to enjoy Christmas Lights in Tampa Bay in 2020 and it looks like there are lots of viable options.

I applaud Santa’s very special helpers for getting creative and finding ways to keep our Christmas spirit in tact with lots of Christmas Lights and Christmas Events in Tampa.

Photo Credit: Lauren R. Gay

Favorite Places to see Christmas Lights in Tampa

1. Victorian Christmas Stroll

christmas lights in tampa bay
Victorian Christmas Stroll/ Photo Credit Lauren R. Gay

40,000 twinkling Christmas lights adorn room after room of Christmas trees and lit strands of garland. The decorations show how Christmas was celebrated in the Victorian era. Each room and tree has a different theme. It’s definitely a unique way to get into the holiday spirit.

Where: Henry B. Plant Museum, University of Tampa
When: November 21, 2020 – December 31, 2020 10 am – 5 pm
Admisssion: $16

2. River of Lights Holiday Cruise

christmas lights in tampa bay
Holiday Island, Downtown Tampa / Photo Credit: Lauren R. Gay

The Pirate Water Taxi transforms into a floating Christmas sleigh during the month of December. It’s really fun and yes a little corny but one of the most fun Christmas events in Tampa that I’ve done. For 45 minutes, throw your inhibitions out the door and let the Christmas spirit move you and sing along with Christmas Carolers, enjoy the Christmas lights along the Tampa Riverwalk, drink hot chocolate, and prepare to be boarded by a Pirate Elf. Bundle up because there’s likely a chance for snow in the forecast.

Where: Pirate Water Taxi – Convention Center Marina
When: Select nights starting Dec 4, 2020
Admisssion: $25

3. Holiday Lighted Boat Parade

The Hillsborough River along the Downtown Tampa Riverwalk will turn into a parade of Christmas lights on decorated boats as they sail a route up and down the river as far North as Armature Works, South to Davis Island, and Sparkman Warf. Check the website for the routes and times for small boats and larger boats.

With such a long route, there should be plenty of room to spread out and social distance.

Where: Tampa Riverwalk
When: Dec 19, 2020
Admisssion: FREE

4. Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Park

christmas events in tampa winter village curtis hixon riverwalk
Photo Credit: Lauren R. Gay

Always a favorite place for Christmas lights in Tampa, the Winter Village is back bringing ice skating, Christmas lights, winter pop up shops, and a Christmas Choo Choo to Downtown Tampa on the Tampa Riverwalk. Last year I loved all the lights in the park synchronized to music, but they haven’t said if that will happen this year since minimizing crowds is a concern due to safety and social distancing.

There are some changes like ticketed time slots to skate, contactless payment, and masks worn during skating. Check out the website to get all the details on how they plan to sanitize and keep social distancing in effect.

Where: Tampa Riverwalk
When: Dec 19, 2020
Admisssion: $15 for ice skating; park and shops is FREE

5. Christmas Town at Busch Gardens

christmas events in tampa bay busch gardens christmas town
Christmas Town / Photo Credit: Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens is back this year with Christmas Town and everything is open-air to ensure the safest experience possible while you see all the Christmas lights. Visitors can look forward to millions of twinkling lights throughout the park’s 335 acres to physically distant holiday shows, breathtaking animal encounters and contact-free visits with Santa and Rudolph® the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Some of the other activities to look forward to are:

  • NEW “Spark the Night” Fireworks Show
  • “Christmas on Ice”: For the first time ever, park guests can enjoy Busch Gardens’ longest-running holiday show at a NEW outdoor location on the Festival Stage.
  • Three Kings Journey: The musical tale of the famed journey to Bethlehem
  • Holly Jolly Express: Festive ride through the park with minimum capacity

Where: Busch Gardens
When: November 20, 2020 – January 3, 2021
Admisssion: See website for park admission prices

6. Wonderland of Lights

christmas lights in tampa bay
Photo Credit: Lauren R. Gay

Drive through millions of dazzling Christmas lights and Christmas displays on this mile-long contactless Holiday adventure. There’s also a Santa’s village, a holiday train, camel rides, and horse-drawn carriage rides, and a Circus style show.

Where: Hillsborough County Fairgrounds Dover, FL
When: November 26, 2020 – December 27, 2020
Admission: Starting at $15 depending on the day of the week

7. Christmas in the Wild

Lowry Park Zoo will become Christmas in the Wild after normal admission hours with lighted paths, holiday projection shows, and even a German holiday village. This is a Christmas event in Tampa worth adding to your list for children.

Where: Lowry Park Zoo
When: November 27, 2020 – December 30, 2020
Admission:$26.95

8. Oakdale Light Display

The tradition continues with its 42nd year of Christmas light displays, with each year getting bigger and better. This display has been featured in all types of national media and recognized for its half a million Christmas lights.

Where: 2719 Oakdale Street South, St. Petersburg, FL
When: November 27, 2020 -January 3, 2021
Admission: FREE

9. Chick-fil-a Drive Thru

If you don’t know about the Chik-fil-a on Waters Ave. in Town n’ Country then you’re probably new to town because everyone knows that this location is one of the best places to see Christmas lights in Tampa. It’s festive with a side of chicken tenders. They even make it snow in the drive-thru.

Where: 6299 W Waters Ave., Tampa
When: TBD
Admission: FREE

10. Lights at Lake Park Estates

3 miles of lights make this residential area super festive. It’s set up to collect Suncoast Hospice donations so it really does embody the true Christmas spirit.

Where: Lake Park Dr & 109 Ave N Seminole, FL 33777
When: Dec 1 – 31 6pm – 10 pm
Admission: FREE but donations appreciated

11. Holiday Lights Largo Central Park

christmas lights in tampa bay
Photo Credit: Lauren R. Gay
christmas events i tampa bay
Photo Credit: Lauren R. Gay

Largo Central Park’s Christmas light display is my favorite place to see Christmas lights in Tampa Bay! It’s a very large park and they light up every inch of it with millions of lights and lighted displays. Every tree, every branch, and every pathway is illuminated beautifully. The best part is that it’s completely free.

There’s also a train ride on December 12 and 13 through the park that has to be booked in advance because it does sell out and no tickets will be sold onsite to keep social distancing in effect. They also have amusement park rides and food vendors.

Where: Largo Central Park
When: November 26, 2020 -January 3, 2021
Admission: FREE for park; $11 for train ride

12. UTC Festival of Lights

UTC Sarasota is decked in Christamas light displays, twinkling palm trees, 2 lit trees and a light show choreographed to music. There’s also an Ugly Christmas Sweater Avenue, Gingerbread Festival and holiday movies under the stars on select nights.

Where: UTC Mall Sarasota
When: Nightly 6:30 – 9:00 every ten minutes
Admission: FREE

13. Hyde Park Lights in the Park

Take a holiday magical stroll on Snow Avenue to see the Christmas lights in Hyde Park Village.

Where: Hyde Park Village
When: Fridays and Saturdays November 27 – December 26
Admission: Free

Canceled Christmas Lights in Tampa Bay

There are so many great Christmas events in Tampa Bay, but there are two events that decided to cancel that I will miss greatly this year. Enchanted Christmas made its debut Christmas 2019 and the Florida Botanical Gardens decided not to have their beautiful event in 2020 for safety reasons.

Celebrate Christmas Events in Tampa Safely

christmas lights in tampa bay
Victorian Christmas Decoration / Photo Credit: Lauren R. Gay

Many of these Christmas events in Tampa are taking precautions to try and minimize the risk associated with the pandemic. However, you should definitely give the event contact a call and ask questions if you have questions about the setup. Risk are minimized but remember this does not mean the risk are completely mitigated.

Stay safe while you check off this great list of the best places to see Christmas Lights in Tampa Bay.

Disclaimer: This post is meant to be for informational purposes only. Readers assume all risk by choosing to attend any of these events. Follow the guidance and rules of local government officials and public health authorities.

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Brenna Taylor
    November 11, 2020 at 5:58 am

    Thank you for helping me reimagine my holiday season. I am unsure as to whether I will be able to travel to be with family; this gives me some options for the season.

    • Reply
      Lauren
      November 16, 2020 at 11:19 am

      I’m so glad this will help you have some options for the holidays.

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