Tuesday, March 20, 2018
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Top holiday events, parades, parties this weekend

Excitement for the upcoming holiday is building. Hanukkah is around the corner, and you can find loads of Christmas light displays, boat parades and other holiday-related activities.

For a complete list of all the holiday events coming up, click here.

Meanwhile, here are highlights of what’s coming down the chimney this week.


Christmas events

There’s Snow Place Like Tarpon Springs

Historic downtown Tarpon Springs welcomes Christmas with a giant party including a tree lighting ceremony (6 p.m.), carriage and hay rides, 20 tons of snow, giant inflatable characters, visits with Santa, DJ dancing, an illuminated boat parade (8:15 p.m.) and an obstacle course. Free. Downtown Tarpon Springs, 1 N Pinellas Ave., Tarpon Springs. (727) 942-5628. 5-10 p.m. Dec. 1.

3 Daughters Winter Wonderland

Grab a beer and take in the giant Department 56 holiday village display. Free (food/drink additional). 3 Daughters Brewing, 222 22nd St. S, St. Petersburg. (727) 495-6002. 2-10 p.m. Nov. 29-30 p.m., 2 p.m.-midnight Dec. 1, noon-midnight Dec. 2, 1-8 p.m. Dec. 3.

Florida Orchestra Holiday Home Tour

Visit six festively decorated homes in St. Petersburg’s Snell Isle and Brightwaters Boulevard areas on this self-guided tour of homes. Benefits the Florida Orchestra. $20 advance, $25 day of. Holiday Tour Starting Point, 125 Lamara Way NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 254-1176. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 2.

Holiday Classic Movie Series

Because of construction at Tampa Theatre, this year’s Holiday Classics series moves to Winter Village with a showing of The Polar Express (2004) on a 40-foot screen. Free. Curtis Hixon Park, 600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa. (813) 274-8287. 8 p.m. Dec. 1.


More than 30 tons of snow is dumped into the park creating a land with snow slides, bounce houses and musical performances. Free. Sims Park, 5547 Main St., New Port Richey. (727) 842-8066. 4-7 p.m. Dec. 2.

Miracle on Cleveland Street

Clearwater’s Cleveland Street District is dressed in white for this holiday event with a free concert by The Atlanta Rhythm Section. There will be falling snow, a skating rink, carriage rides, pictures with Santa, a giant gingerbread house, face painting, a scavenger hunt and Lightning Made Street Hockey. Children will also be able to phone Santa’s Elves in the North Pole to share their Christmas wish list. Free; some activities require a wristband $8. 400 Block of Cleveland Street, Osceola Avenue and Cleveland Street, Clearwater. (727) 791-7400. 5 p.m. Dec. 2.

North Pole Express

All Aboard for an express trip to visit Santa Claus at the North Pole. Passengers can sing with carolers throughout the journey. Santa greets every child upon arrival at the North Pole and presents them with a special gift. $20.50-$49.50, 1 and younger free. Florida Railroad Museum, 12210 83rd St. E, Parrish. Toll-free 1-877-869-0800. 5:30 and 7 p.m. Nov. 30-Dec. 3.

Ice Skating at Tampa’s Winter Village

Even in Florida, you can get in the holiday spirit by ice skating on an outdoor rink in the park. Each 90-minute session includes skate rental. Stop by the cafe for themed drinks and holiday snacks. $13. Curtis Hixon Park, 600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa. (813) 221-3686. 4-9 p.m. Nov. 29-30, 4-10 p.m. Dec. 1, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Dec. 2 and noon-9 p.m. Dec. 3.

Live Nativity

Follow a path of luminaries on a 30-minute stroll through the Bethlehem marketplace and interact with costumed merchants. Free. St. Petersburg Community Church, 4501 30th Ave. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 525-0012. 6-8:30 p.m. Dec. 2-3.

Winter Village Express

The TECO Streetcar turns into a makeshift sleigh for holiday shopping with special holiday surprises on board. $5 round trip. Centro Ybor, 1600 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. (813) 482-2312. 4-8 p.m. Dec. 3.

Winter Village Ybor

Ybor transforms into a holiday wonderland with free games and crafts for kids, red carpet family photos with the tree and drink specials from area restaurants and bars for adults. Free. Centro Ybor, 1600 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. (813) 482-2312. 4-8 p.m. Dec. 3.

Tierra Verde Christmas Tree Lighting

Tierra Verde’s tree lighting celebration includes snow sledding, games, crafts, pet parade, live music and a visit from Santa and his Elves. Free. Downtown Tierra Verde, 1110 Pinellas Bayway S, Tierra Verde. (727) 510-3587. 4-7 p.m. Dec. 2.

Victorian Christmas Stroll

Christmas trees ranging in height from a few inches to more than 14 feet, 40,000 lights and hundreds of feet of garland, plus vintage fashions and antique toy decorations create an old-fashioned holiday feel. Event runs Dec. 1 through 23 with live music from 6 to 8 p.m. $15, $13 seniors, $9 children; Discount Days: $11, $10 seniors, $7 children (Dec. 4-5 and 11-12 only). Henry B. Plant Museum, 401 W Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. (813) 254-1891. 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Dec. 1-3.


Cotee River Christmas Boat Parade

The nighttime boat parade launches from Miller’s Bayou at 6:30 p.m. featuring brightly lit boats and watercraft cruising down the Pithlaschascotee River to Sims Park in downtown New Port Richey. Free. Sims Park, 5547 Main St., New Port Richey. (727) 842-8066. 6:30 p.m. Dec. 2.

Dunedin Holiday Boat Parade and Tree Lighting

Decorated boats will travel south down the Intracoastal Waterway to the Dunedin Marina. Santa arrives on the last boat to light the city’s large Christmas tree in Edgewater Park. Free. Dunedin Marina, 51 Main St., Dunedin. (727) 738-2920. 6-9 p.m. Dec. 2.

Alafia Lighted Boat Parade

The 34th annual parade of lighted boats starts at the 301 bridge, goes to the "Diddy" and ends at River’s Edge Bar. Spectators free, $25 boat entry. Riverview Civic Center, 11020 Park Drive, Riverview. (813) 672-3687. 5 p.m. Dec. 2.

Santa Fest and Christmas Parade

The waterfront park is transformed into a winter wonderland for the holiday party. The parade steps off at 11 a.m at Morgan Street and Madison Street, travels west to Ashley Drive and ends at the park where the party continues with crafts, games, holiday entertainment and photos with Santa. Free. Curtis Hixon Park, 600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa. (813) 274-8854. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 2.

Pass-a-Grille Holiday Boat Parade and Festival

Stroll the waterfront lit with luminaries at the pre-parade festival with photos with Santa, barbecue and caroling. Then boat parade departs from Merry Pier at dusk. Free. Merry Pier, 801 Pass a Grille Way, St. Petersburg. (727) 360-1400. 5 p.m. Dec. 2.

Snowfest and Santa Parade

The day starts with the annual Santa Parade beginning at Central Avenue and Fifth Street. After the parade, 65 tons of snow are blown into St. Petersburg’s North Straub Park for family snow related activities. Free, $5 wristband. North Straub Park, Fifth Avenue NE and Bayshore Drive, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7441. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Dec. 2.

Magical Night Dade City

The Christmas season officially kicks off in downtown Dade City with a parade down Seventh Street, entertainment, bands, seasonal displays, Santa Claus and the annual Christmas tree lighting on the courthouse lawn. Free. Downtown Dade City, Meridian Avenue and Seventh Street, Dade City. (352) 567-3769. 7 p.m. Dec. 1.

Theme Parks and Attractions

Christmas in the Wild

The animals come out at night for the zoo’s holiday party with carolers, a 50-foot animated Christmas tree, holiday themed animal show, holiday treats and visits with Santa in the new elf village. Included with admission, or $24.95 after 4 p.m. on event days. Runs through Dec. 30 on select nights. $32.95, $24.95 ages 3-11, 2 and younger free. Lowry Park Zoo, 1101 W Sligh Ave., Tampa. (813) 935-8552. 4-10 p.m. Dec. 1-2.

Polar Express 4-D Experience

The new 4-D Theater gets into the holiday spirit with a screening of Polar Express, in which a young boy takes a train trip to the North Pole where he learns about friendship, bravery and the spirit of Christmas. The 4-D experience combines the screening of a 3-D film with sensory effects such as bubbles, wind and scents. Shows daily through Jan. 11. Included with admission. $28.95, $26.95 seniors, $23.95 ages 3-12, 2 and younger free. Prices are generally about $2 cheaper if you buy them online at the aquarium’s site. Florida Aquarium, 701 Channelside Drive, Tampa. (813) 273-4000. 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Nov. 29-Dec. 3.

River of Lights Christmas Cruise

Board the Pirate Taxi for a 45-minute cruise up the Hillsborough River to see festively lighted bridges and shimmering downtown skylines. Includes hot cocoa, cookies, carols and Christmas carols. Departs hourly between 6 and 10 p.m. $25, $15 ages 4-12, 3 and younger free. Pirate Water Taxi, 333 S Franklin St., Tampa. (813) 223-7999. 6-10 p.m. Dec. 1-2.

Christmas Town at Busch Gardens

More than 2 million twinkling lights transform the park into a holiday wonderland with Rudolph, Sam the Snowman, Christmas-themed entertainment and visits with Santa. Included with admission on select nights through Dec. 31: $99, $79 ages 3-9, 2 and younger free. Busch Gardens, 10165 N McKinley Drive, Tampa. Toll-free 1-888-800-5447. 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Dec. 1-2.

Holiday Lights in the Gardens

Stroll through the gardens with more than 1-million twinkly lights, music synchronization, lasers and Florida-style displays, entertainers and visits with Santa along the pathways. Every Wednesday is "Wacky Wednesday." Guests are invited to put on their craziest holiday sweater, hat, tie or vest, take a photo in the light display, and share it on social media. Donation of $4 suggested; 12 and younger free. Florida Botanical Gardens, 12520 Ulmerton Road, Largo. (727) 582-5800. 5:30-9:30 p.m. Nov. 29-Dec. 3.

Winter’s Wonderland

Kids can pose with "Winter Claus" at the aquarium’s party with Santa dive presentations and lots of decorations. Included with admission. $22.95, $20.95 ages 60-older, $17.95 ages 3-12, 2 and younger free. Clearwater Marine Aquarium, 249 Windward Passage, Clearwater. (727) 441-1790. 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 29-Dec. 3.


The resort has 2 million pounds of hand-carved ice sculptures created by artists brought in from China and 40 tons of snow. It’s only 9 degrees inside, but they supply you with heavy parkas. Still, gloves and warm socks are recommended. This year features Christmas Around the World theme, eight lanes of snow tubing, a Holiday Bear scavenger hunt and the new Cirque Dreams Unwrapped. Runs through Jan. 7. From $28.99, $26.99 seniors, $14.99 ages 4-12, 3 and younger free. $20 parking. Gaylord Palms Resort, 6000 W Osceola Parkway, Kissimmee. (407) 586-4423. 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Nov. 29-30, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Dec. 1-2, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Dec. 3.

Candlelight Processional at Epcot

Epcot’s World Showcase comes alive during the holidays with the grand Candlelight Processional. A giant tree shaped choir of cast members is joined by a 50-piece orchestra, select choirs and celebrity guest readers nightly at 5, 6:45 and 8:15 p.m. through Dec. 30. This week features Ana Gasteyer (Nov. 29-30) and Whoopi Goldberg (Dec. 1-3). Included with daily admission: $97-$114 ,$91-$108 ages 3-9 (price based by season). Epcot at Walt Disney World, 1515 N Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista. (407) 934-7639.

Macy’s Parade at Universal Studios

Minions and characters from Madagascar and Shrek join Santa in a holiday parade with towering balloons similar to those used in the actual Macy’s Day Parade. Included with admission. $105, $100 child. Universal Orlando, 6000 Universal Blvd., Orlando. 1-800-837-2273. 5 p.m. Nov. 29, 5:30 p.m. Nov. 30-Dec 3.

SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration

SeaWorld’s celebration welcomes guests with everything from a sparkling Sea of Trees, classic holiday tunes, an ice skating show, a Christmas market and Rudolph’s Christmas Town. Stroll through life-sized storybook vignettes of Rudolph’s story on your way to meet Rudolph, Clarice, Bumble and Yukon Cornelius. Included with park admission. $99, $94 ages 3-9. SeaWorld, 7007 SeaWorld Drive (Interstate 4, Exit 71), Orlando. (800) 327-2424. 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Dec. 1, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Dec. 2, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Dec. 3.

Holiday in the Gardens

Stroll through the gardens and watch local groups decorate trees, then vote for your favorite. Decorating will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 2, but the public can view them all and vote through the first of the year. Free admission, $25 to sponsor/decorate a tree. Nature Coast Botanical Gardens, 1489 Parker Ave., Spring Hill. (352) 600-7707. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Dec. 2.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Disney’s ever popular after-hours Christmas celebration with Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, holiday themed fireworks extravaganza, holiday characters and "snow" on Main Street. Held on select nights through Dec. 22. $89-$109, $84-$104 children. Walt Disney World, 1515 N Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista. (407) 934-7639. 7 p.m.-midnight Dec. 1 and 3.


Streamside Holiday Display

Approximately 55,000 LED lights synchronized to music on 88.3 FM with a 17-foot tall Mickey Mouse, the Grinch and more. On 6-9 p.m. Mon.-Thur. and 6-10 p.m. Fri.-Sun through Dec. 31. Free. Tampa Holiday Display at Residence, 11048 Streamside Drive, Tampa. (813) 960-7750. 6-9 p.m. Nov. 29-30, 6-10 p.m. Dec. 1-3.

Symphony in Lights

The holiday light show featuring a 55-foot tree with more than 250,000 LED lights choreographed to holiday favorites by Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Shows run hourly through Dec. 31. Free. The Shops at Wiregrass, 28211 Paseo Drive, Wesley Chapel. (813) 994-2242. 6-9 p.m. Nov. 29-Dec. 3.

Tampa’s Tree Lighting Ceremony

Join the countdown as Mayor Bob Buckhorn lights the city’s tree before a free movie screening. Free. Curtis Hixon Park, 600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa. (813) 274-8854. 6 p.m. Dec. 1.

Candy Cane Acres

The annual Christmas event includes photos with Santa, cookie decorating, a Parade of Trees and holiday lights, Legos and a model train display. Continues Fridays and Saturdays Dec. 1 to 16. $10 per carload, includes 10 free tickets. Additional tickets are 50-cents each. Hernando County Fairgrounds, 6436 Broad St., Brooksville. (352) 796-4552. 6:30-9:30 p.m. Dec. 1-2.

Chick-fil-A Christmas Lights

A Tampa branch of the fast food restaurant dazzles with an annual display, decorations and hourly "snow" fall. Free. Chick-fil-A, 6299 W Waters Ave., Tampa. (813) 880-0808. 6 p.m. Nov. 29-Dec. 2.

Forbes Family Holiday Light Display

More than 250,000 LED lights choreographed to synchronized music with a 24-foot decorated tree, leaping arches, 21 singing mini trees and a giant light wall. Free. Masonic Park and Youth Camp, 18050 U.S. 301 S, Wimauma. (813) 634-1220. 5:30-10 p.m. Dec. 1-3.

Holiday Trolley Light Tour

Sit back, sip on egg nog and let the trolley take you to some of Tampa’s best light displays. $21.40, $18.20 seniors, $16.05 ages 12 and younger. OMG Trolley Company, 601 S Harbour Island Blvd., Tampa. (855) 664-8765. 8:30 p.m. Dec. 2.

Largo Holiday Lights

See a life sized blue whale among more than six scenes constructed of 2-million LED lights. Take a ride on the Ferris wheel or carousel for a different view. Free, $5 ferris wheel and carousel rides. Largo Central Park, 101 Central Park Drive, Largo. (727) 587-6740, ext. 5014. 5-11 p.m. Dec. 2-3.

Largo’s Holiday Stroll Tree Lighting

The stroll’s official tree lighting ceremony with entertainment, crafts, activities and a stroll through the park’s light display. Free. Largo Central Park, 101 Central Park Drive, Largo. (727) 587-6740, ext. 5014. 6:30-9:30 p.m. Dec. 2.

Lights of Lake Park

Since 1993, the neighborhoods of Lake Park Estates, Wieker, Lakeside Estates and Lake Seminole Village have collected donations for Suncoast Hospice from motorists touring the three-mile route of elaborately decorated homes.The display running nightly Dec. 1-31 is in memory of a neighbor who died of cancer, and more than $780,000 has been raised from motorists dropping cash into donation buckets. Free (donations appreciated). Lake Park Estates, Bryan Dairy Road and 108th Terrace N, Largo. (727) 523-3420. 6-10 p.m. Dec. 1-3.

Lights of Winter

More then 40,000 lights on two homes dance to music. Free. Lights of Winter, 3212 Bella Garden Lane, Plant City. (813) 857-5304. 6-9 p.m. Nov. 29-30, 6-10 p.m. Dec. 1-2, 6-9 p.m. Dec. 3.

Waterfront Light Display

Stroll along a pedestrian only walkway to see thousands of lights and decorations including snowflake lights and a giant greeting card display. Free. Straub Park (Center), at Beach Drive and Fifth Avenue NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7441. 5:30-10 p.m. Nov. 29-Dec. 3.

Wonderland of Lights

This 32 day event incorporates dozens of animated and still light displays, as well as a Christmas village featuring horse-drawn wagon rides, the North Pole Express, a petting zoo, holiday mural coloring, games, camel and pony rides, visits with Santa and holiday food. $20, $75 buses. Hillsborough County Fairgrounds, Corner of Sydney Washer Road and Hwy 60, Brandon. Toll-free 1-800-377-4625. 6-9 p.m. Nov. 29-30, 6-10 p.m. Dec. 1-2, 6-9 p.m. Dec. 3.

Oakdale Mega Light Display

The annual Christmas display (also known as the Kresge house) includes 10 trailer-truck loads of lights, an 18-train HO scale model railroad, inflatables, flying planes, water fountains, a working carnival, bubble machines, games and a pond. Open nightly 6-10 p.m. through Jan. 3. Free. South St. Petersburg MegaLight Display, 2719 Oakdale St. S, St. Petersburg. (727) 822-5562. 6-10 p.m. Nov. 29-Dec. 3.


An Elvis Christmas

Featuring four-time world champion Elvis Presley Tribute Artist winner, Dwight Icenhower, who will perform holiday classic Blue Christmas . 7 p.m. Pasco-Hernando State College Performing Arts Center, 10230 Ridge Road, New Port Richey. $25, $30. (727) 816-3703. phsc.edu/tix

Jingle Bellas

The girls of Bella Electric Strings put a rocking twist on holiday tunes. $34.50-$49.50 advance, $39.50-$54.50 at the door. Central Park Performing Arts Center, 105 Central Park Drive, Largo. (727) 587-6793. 7 p.m. Dec. 3.

Christmas Carillon Concerts

The "Singing Tower" rings out with two 30-minute performances of classic holiday music. Included with admission: $20, $10 ages 5-12, 4 and younger free (gardens and estate); $14, $5 ages 5-12, 4 and younger free (gardens only). Bok Tower Gardens, 1151 Tower Blvd., Lake Wales. (863) 676-1408. 1 and 3 p.m. Nov. 30-Dec. 3.


Chase the Dreidel Run

How fast does a dreidel move? Find out as runners chase a giant dreidel as it runs down the streets on this 5K run. There will be a bounce house, crafts and a potato pancake after-party to get ready for Hanukkah season. $25 advance, $36 day of. Congregation B’nai Israel, 300 58th St. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 344-1017. 4-6 p.m. Dec. 3.

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