Photo Credit: Raquelle Elson/PiktoChart/Achona Online
Christmas, like everything else this year, is going to look very different. Luckily, there are still many safe ways to get into the Christmas spirit around Tampa.
1. Christmas Town, Busch Gardens
Christmas Town will be returning to Busch Gardens for extended hours and more select days, Nov. 20 through Jan. 3. Many iconic aspects of Christmas Town will be returning, including Christmas on Ice, Three Kings Journey, and the firework show at the end of the night. In order to keep their guests safe, Busch Gardens is making a reservation mandatory, including Pass Members and Fun Card Holders. More information about their Coronavirus precautions can be found on their website.
2. Christmas in the Wild, ZooTampa at Lowry Park
Christmas in the Wild will also be returning to ZooTampa for select nights from Nov. 27 through Dec. 30. In order to adapt to Coronavirus, Lowry Park limited the capacity of the event. You can make a reservation for the date of your choice on the ZooTampa website. To limit the number of people, Christmas in the Wild requires a $5 registration, which will be exchanged for a voucher for food and merchandise.
“I think it’s great how the zoo puts up decorations, though the animals probably don’t know what Christmas is, maybe they feel joy when they know that the season is coming,” said Grace Carreja (’23).
3. Winter Village, Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park
Winter Village is back at Downtown Tampa’s Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. This event will feature Downtown Tampa’s only ice rink, which is allowing a limited number of people and requires pre-purchased tickets. This event also has the Café and Shoppes at Winter Village, which will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas day.
Sara O’Conner (‘23) said, “I like to go, with my family, to the boat parade on the riverwalk in downtown Tampa. We started a tradition a few years ago and I love to experience it every year.”
4. Holiday Lighted Boat Parade, Tampa Riverwalk
The Tampa Riverwalk will be hosting a Lighted Boat Parade on Dec. 19, or Dec. 20 if the original date gets rained out. Boat registration costs $50 per boat, which needs to be paid by Dec. 11, but there will be free public viewing areas featuring other holiday activities.
5. “The Nutcracker” and “Home for the Holidays,” Straz Center
The Straz Center is showing Next Generation Ballet’s “Nutcracker Outdoor Wonderland” from Dec. 11 to Dec. 23. This performance is a re-imagined version of a holiday classic, Act 1 being a 25 minute scroll through various scenes from “The Nutcracker” and Act 2 seated under the Riverwalk Tent. Ticket prices start at $33.50 for anyone 17 and under, and tickets for adults are $58.50. “Home for the Holidays” is a Christas concert sung by the Opera Tampa Singers. The Straz Center’s plan to keep all of their guests can be found on their safety precautions website. The ticket prices are the same as those for “The Nutcracker.”
“I really love ‘The Nutcracker,’ the whole story, the costumes, and the dances. I think it’s a really classic story, and almost every girl grew up loving Clara. I think that the way the Straz is doing it is a really cool way of presenting such a classic performance,” said Madison Kwo (‘23).
6. Victorian Christmas Scroll, Henry B. Plant Museum
Through Dec. 31, the Henry B. Plant Museum is offering a Victorian Christmas Stroll through the museum. These dates exclude Christas Eve and Christmas day. These tours will be available between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., the museum’s regular hours. The event includes Christmas trees ranging from a few inches to over 14 feet, and live music will be available on Dec. 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, and 20. Tickets to this event are $16 dollars, but are discounted on Dec. 7, 8, 14, and 15.
7. Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Online
Because of the Coronavirus, the Trans-Siberan Orchestra will be unable to go on their annual Christmas tour. To make up for this, they will be having a Livestream performance on Dec. 18, starting at 8 p.m. EST. The tickets to this 90 minute show are available on their website.
If you choose to stay home, there are still plenty of things you can do. You can watch the 25 days of Christmas marathon on Freeform, rewatch the “Disney Holiday Singalong” and classic Disney movies on Disney+, watch other holiday classics on Netflix, or bake Christmas cookies with your family. No matter what you choose to do this Holiday season, just remember to wear a mask and try to be social distance for your safety and the safety of those around you.