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Outback Bowl includes variety of events leading up to game

Times staff
Published: December 22, 2017 Updated: December 25, 2017 at 12:53 PM
The annual Outback Bowl New Year's Eve parade always features the bands from the two competing schools. In 2016, it was the University of Iowa band marching down 7th Avenue in Ybor City during the Outback Bowl parade and pep rally. LUIS SANTANA | Times

TAMPA — There will be multiple events leading up to the New Year’s Day Outback Bowl game between the Michigan Wolverines and South Carolina Gamecocks.

Bowl staff and city officials will greet the teams as they arrive at their hotels on Tuesday (Dec. 26). On Wednesday (Dec. 27), the players will participate in Players Night at Splitsville, 615 Channelside Drive. Attendees can enjoy an evening of fun and games and watch the teams compete off the field in a bowling match up. Doors open to the public at 7:15 p.m.

Both teams will enjoy an outing at Busch Gardens, 10165 N McKinley Drive, with their fans for the attractions and festivities on Thursday (Dec. 28).

Catch the Gamecocks and the Wolverines at the Tampa Bay Lightning game on Friday (Dec. 29) at Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive. Both teams will be hosted by the Lightning for the game. To order tickets, call (813) 301-6600 or visit

The Battle of the Bands will take place on Sunday (Dec. 31) with both bands squaring off at Busch Gardens. Admission to the park is required with times to be announced. Later that day, the Outback Bowl kicks off the New Years Eve celebrations with a parade and pep rally in Ybor City.

The parade will feature floats and about 20 marching bands including the two college bands. The pep rally features another Battle of the Bands performance and cheerleaders from both universities. This is a free family friendly event. The parade starts at 5:30 p.m. and runs along Seventh Avenue. Attendees should not bring coolers, glass containers or open alcohol on the streets.

Attendees over the age of 21 can also celebrate New Years Eve at Aqua Eve at the Florida Aquarium, 701 Channelside Drive. Enjoy live music, complementary food, beer and wine along with a champagne toast. All Aquarium exhibits will be open. Cash bar will be available. For more information and to purchase tickets, call (813) 273-4000 or visit

For more information about the Outback Bowl and events going on before game day, visit