Snowfest and Santa Parade: Festivities start with the free Santa Parade in downtown St. Petersburg, then move to North Straub Park, where kids can dive into 65 tons of blown-in snow. There are also toboggan rides, activities and Santa visits. $5 wristband.
Tampa Holiday Parade: The parade steps off at Morgan Street and Kennedy Boulevard on Saturday morning with floats, bands, dance troops and an appearance by Santa Claus. Then in Curtis Hixon Park, it's Santa Fest, with games, crafts and entertainment, including TubaChristmas. Free.
97X Next Big Thing: The showcase of up-and-coming talent includes veterans such as Rise Against, Bush, Silversun Pickups and Fun. all day Saturday. This year, the show moves from Tampa's 1-800-Ask-Gary Amphitheatre to St. Petersburg's Vinoy Park (just around the bend from Snowfest, on the same day). $45 advance, $60 at gate. 97xonline.com.
Louis C.K.: The star of FX's Emmy-nominated show Louie might be the hottest comedian around, which explains why his two Tampa shows Thursday at the Straz Center are essentially sold out. (813) 229-7827.
Idina Menzel: The Broadway star of Wicked and Rent, not to mention Rachel's mom on Glee, will perform for the Straz Center's 25th Anniversary Gala on Saturday. Tickets start at $39.50. (813) 229-7827.
Kids and Family
Christmas Town: Busch Gardens wants a piece of the theme park holiday festivities too, so it's launching this nighttime wonderland of lights, concerts, ice shows, penguins, nightly snowfall and Santa visits. This separate ticket event starts Friday: $29.99 in advance, $39.99 at gate. Children ages 3-9 $9.99 in advance, $14.99.
Tree lightings: Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn is busy as an elf, lighting one tree in Centro Ybor on Wednesday and another in Curtis Hixon Park on Friday. Also in the park is American Idol contestant Michael Lynche and a screening of How the Grinch Stole Christmas movie. Both events are free. In Largo Central Park on Saturday, a tree lighting and display will have a million lights, but who's counting? There's also a toboggan snow slide and a visit from Santa (free, but $5 parking). In Dunedin, Santa rides in the boat parade Saturday before lighting the tree in Edgewater Park.
The Nutcracker: This charming production by the St. Petersburg Ballet Co. runs Friday through Sunday at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg. $10-$20. (727) 822-3590.
more to explore
Find a sleighload of Christmas events at tampabay.com/things-to-do.