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Things to do in Tampa Bay for Christmas Eve

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, giving the tropical gardens a new glow thanks to 500,000 twinkling, environmentally friendly lights. It's open from 5:30 to 9:30. Admission is $2, with no charge for kids 12 and younger, at 12211 Wal­singham Road in Largo.

Hard Rock Cafe: The new multimedia Hard Rock Cafe at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel opened this week to impressive reviews. The 17,500-square-foot cafe puts snappy seating under a neon canopy with tabletop video slot machines and a huge touchscreen table where guests can play games, watch videos and even look at the Hard Rock memorabilia archive before digging into the burger bar or watching go-go dancers. The cafe is open until 4 a.m. at 5224 Orient Road, Tampa; toll-free 1-866-502-7529.

Sports Memorabilia Expo: Sports fanatics can find signed NFL football helmets, sports jerseys, autographed photos and more at the last day of this expo at Tyrone Square Mall, 6901 Tyrone Square in St. Petersburg.

kids and family

Ice skating: They've figured out how to make an outdoor ice rink at Curtis Hixon Park in balmy downtown Tampa. The rink is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and 4 to 10 p.m. on Christmas Day. Skating costs $10 for 90 minutes, which includes skate rentals. The park is at 600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa.

To watch

Disney Prep & Landing, 8 p.m., ABC: Wayne the Elf wants a promotion, but has to train an annoying new assistant instead. So much for a holiday special that helps us escape the monotony of office life.

A Christmas Story, 8 p.m., TBS: A red-blooded American youth is denied his Second Amendment rights by the authorities, so he daydreams about shooting criminals and develops a nasty swearing habit before finally realizing multiculturalism is here to stay. He then has to relive it 12 times over the next 24 hours.

Phineas and Ferb Christmas Vacation, 8:30 p.m., ABC: The boys have to save the day when Dr. Doofenshmirtz covers the town in a cloud of naughtiness.

More to explore

There are plenty of new movies out this Christmas, but are they worth seeing? We've corralled our reviews so you can see what critic Steve Persall had to say. Look for them under the Quick Links label at

Things to do in Tampa Bay for Christmas Eve 12/23/10 [Last modified: Thursday, December 23, 2010 7:12pm]
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