Start 2016 off with a bang. Here's where you can see fireworks on New Year's Eve in the Tampa Bay area:
Clearwater Beach: Fireworks will be shot off Sand Key in a midnight display that can be seen along all of Clearwater Beach at midnight.
Busch Gardens: The Tampa theme park will have rides all night, pumping live music and fireworks at midnight. The park opens at 9 a.m. Thursday and goes until 1 a.m. $97, $92 for ages 3-9. Busch Gardens, 3605 Bougainvillea Ave., Tampa. (888) 800-5447.
Channelside: The free Channelside Lights Up the Bay waterfront party starts at 8 p.m. with fireworks at midnight at Channelside Bay Plaza, 615 Channelside Drive, Tampa. You'll also be able to see the fireworks from Aqua-Eve, a 21 and older party at the Florida Aquarium with live music, food and drinks, and a champagne toast. The aquarium also offers a cruise around the harbor aboard the Bay Spirit II with a view from the water. Tickets are $120, $140 early entry, $180 cruise combo.
Downtown St. Petersburg: There will be fireworks at both 8 p.m. and midnight as part of the family friendly First Night celebration along the waterfront. The alcohol-free celebration starts 4 p.m. in Straub Park with live music, art and entertainment at more than 25 venues. It's free to wander around and see fireworks, but you need a button for activities ($15, $10 ages 6-12, 5 and younger free day of).
Jackson's: An indoor-outdoor party at Jackson's Bistro 601 S Harbour Island Blvd. in Tampa, has its own professional fireworks show set off from a barge in the channel. The party is 9 p.m. till 3 a.m. Tickets are $25 -$129 VIP at piedpiperproductions.com. (813) 277-0112.
Apollo Beach: Circles Waterfront Restaurant hosts a fireworks show they claim is three times bigger than the one at Channelside. Set to choreographed music (tun into 101.9 FM to hear), the fireworks will be set off from a barge floating in the center of Bal Harbor. Circles offers the best viewing, but several adjacent empty commercial lots are also available, 1212 Apollo Beach Blvd., Apollo Beach. There's live music at a free party starting at 6 p.m.
Contact Sharon Kennedy Wynne at [email protected] or (727) 893-8595. Follow @SharonKWn.