Downtown Tampa’s Curtis Hixon park is all lit up for winter. (Photo Credit: Matthew Paulson)
Downtown Tampa’s Curtis Hixon park is all lit up for winter.

Photo Credit: Matthew Paulson

Fun things to do in Tampa during the Winter Season

December 7, 2021

As winter approaches, Tampa Bay begins to offer its variety of holiday activities, both indoor and outdoor. Luckily for us, while most other cities are enduring near-freezing temperatures, Tampa’s weather continues to be fairly warm and sunny. Conditions here are ultimately ideal for enjoying the many holiday festivities, so if you’re planning to spend time at home for the winter season, you’ll have plenty to do. 

At Winter Village in Curtis Hixon Park, Tampa’s downtown has adapted an outdoor ice skating rink, fit for the city’s warmer weather. The ice rink is open from 4pm-11pm on weekdays and from 11am-11pm on the weekends to the public. If you’re looking for a more personalized experience at the rink, you can book a group reservation or a private party event. Tickets are available online for $15, including skate rental. This unique function leaves the park on January 2nd, so make sure to stop by and skate.

Also in the downtown area is the Tampa Theatre, which hosts Holiday Classic Movies up until the 26th of December. The theatre will be showing Miracle on 34th Street, Sing-Along White Christmas, Jingle-Jangle: A Christmas Journey, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Elf. Tickets can be found on the Tampa Theatre official website with prices varying depending on certain shows. Along with presenting these beloved films, the Tampa Theatre has organized in-theatre caroling with the Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Organ before each of the shows. Enjoying traditional classics is the perfect way to spend time with family friends this holiday season. 

Housed in the south wing of Plant Hall on the University of Tampa’s campus, the Henry B. Plant Museum returns with its 40th annual Victorian Christmas Stroll. Tickets to the stroll are purchasable on the Plant Museum website, including an audio guide, access to all exhibitions, and free parking on-site. Originally a small, three-evening event, the stroll has grown into a nearly a month long extravaganza. From December 1-23, the museum will allow visitors to glimpse into the Christmas-past. Each exhibit room is decorated with holiday antiques, as well as 40 vintage Santas in honor of the anniversary. The Victorian Christmas Stroll is a timeless Tampa holiday favorite, sure to be an amazing experience. 

One of the best ways to get into the holiday spirit is to visit some of Tampa’s beautiful light displays. At the Tampa Riverwalk, there will be a 35-foot LED lighted Christmas tree that floats in the harbor, a holiday selfie station at the Pirate Water Taxi ticket booth, a lighted pine tree forest, and a floating gingerbread lighted display. The Riverwalk display will continue until January 2. 

Another fun family-friendly event in the Tampa area is the Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony at Armature Works on December 4, beginning at 6:00 pm. During this time, you can explore Holiday vendors on the Armature Works lawn or go inside and visit any of the Heights Public Market vendors. The ceremony also includes Santa photo-ops, live music and performances near the Straz, and Busch Gardens Christmas Town Elves. 

Scheduled for December 18, is Tampa’s Holiday Lighted Boat Parade. The city’s largest boat parade begins at the south end of Davis Island, continues through the Convention Center basin and up to the Heights where the boats will then head to Sparkman Wharf. The parade can be easily viewed from the Riverwalk between Armature works all the way through the Sail Pavilion and Sparkman Wharf. Or if you would like to both partake and watch the parade, the Yacht StarShip is hosting a 2.5-hour cruise, along with dining at a reserved table, dancing on the top deck with DJ entertainment, and an amazing view of the boats. For a more casual setting, the Pirate Water Taxi is offering a 75-minute cruise, departing from the Tampa Convention Center. 

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