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Seven things to do on Christmas Day

Once you've had your fill of eggnog and the relatives who come with it, what's left to do on Christmas Day? Not that we don't adore spending some quality time with the family. Really, Aunt Edna, we do. But for those itching to get out of the house or who don't celebrate the day to begin with, we looked around to see what's open — besides the movie theaters — for the restless on Christmas Day.

Holiday Lights in the Garden

Bring the family and even leashed pets to stroll the Florida Botanical Gardens when it is lit up at night with 500,000 twinkling, environmentally friendly lights. It's open from 5:30 to 9:30 nightly including Christmas Day. Admission is $2, with no charge for kids 12 and under, at 12211 Walsingham Road in Largo.

New Granada Xmas Night Extravaganza

This annual reunion of Tampa rockers is packed with an audience grateful to shed the tinsel for quality local acts. The tradition started in 1993 at various venues, most recently New World Brewery. This year you get a CD release party for Jarvik 7, the darkly melodic five-piece band that is celebrating its debut full-length album, The Formal Absence of Precious Things, available for the first time Christmas night. Also performing are Red Room Cinema and the Dark Esquire starting at 9 p.m. Entry is $7 at 1313 Eighth Ave., Tampa. (813) 248-4969.

Vodka Latke

The annual gathering of hot Jewish singles and young couples this year takes place on Christmas Day while all the Gentiles are tossing fruitcake into the trash. The party starts at 8:30 p.m. at Mangroves in South Tampa. Bring two canned goods for the food pantry and you get a free Potato Vodka Latke Martini (that's a martini made with top-shelf potato vodkas such as Ultimat and Chopin). It's $30 at the door, which includes appetizers, a DJ and drink specials at 208 S Howard Ave., Tampa.

Ice skating

They've figured out how to make an outdoor ice rink in balmy downtown Tampa at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, and the rink is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve and 4 to 10 p.m. on Christmas Day. Skating costs $10 for 90 minutes, which includes skate rentals.

Theme parks

Sure they're all open, but how's your crowd tolerance these days? Check the crowd levels at sites like touringplans.com and decide which park you want to visit on which day. For example, according to the "Crowd Calendar," the crowds on Sunday were ranked a 1 out of 10 in annoyance. It rose to 6 out of 10 the next day all the way up to 10 out of 10 from Wednesday to Jan. 1 at Disney.

'A Big Apple Christmas'

Continuing the tradition of a Christmas Day show at Show Palace Dinner Theatre, this year it's an original musical comedy set in 1954 New York City. Doors open two hours before the 8 p.m. show time for cocktails and buffet. Residents outside west Pasco may call toll-free 1-888-655-7469 for information or tickets. Dinner and show, $48; show only, $36.95, plus tax and tip; 12 and younger, $28.45 and $23.45 at 16128 U.S. 19, Hudson; (727) 863-7949.

Zip line in St. Cloud

Imagine soaring over twinkling lights in a wilderness setting. That's the idea behind the Holiday Lights Zipline Safari at Florida EcoSafaris at Forever Florida in St. Cloud, outside Orlando. It's a journey through the treetops, gliding along at speeds up to 25 mph as synched music and lights play below. The actual time spent zip-lining is about 2 1/2 hours, but the experience lasts for four hours since they'll need to brief you on safety. Cost is $85 per person, and there's an age (10 and older) and weight (between 70 and 275 pounds) limit. Check the website at foreverflorida.com/FestivalDays/#xmass for more information. Advance reservations are required, so call (407) 957-9794 or toll free 1-866-854-3837.

Seven things to do on Christmas Day 12/22/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 22, 2010 1:30pm]

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