Gosh, we love Christmas lights around here. Maybe it’s because the weather doesn’t change that much in Florida, so we need to drape every nook and cranny with lights to show it’s the holiday season.
This year brings an all-new way to trip the Christmas light fantastic. Enchant Christmas, billed as the world’s largest Christmas light maze, is set to open Friday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, with ice skating, a market, sleighfuls of lights and an ice bar.
The maze, which will be set up in the outfield, will have a series of paths and spaces that lead you through Christmas trees, huge snowflakes and giant candy canes. At its center will be an 80-foot lighted pine tree.
Kids can run around the maze and find clues to hunt for Santa’s missing reindeer. Adults can find the drink stand in the maze and lots of places to make selfie stops.
The ice skating trail will wind through brightly lit archways of greenery. Christmas music will be piped in through the stadium speakers and fake snow will fall. Dozens of vendors will sell gifts in a market. For food and drinks, you’ll find German-inspired food, healthy bowls, a sweet shack and a 40-foot ice bar with cocktails, spiked Kahwa coffees and local beers.
Though it’s a first for St. Petersburg, this is not the first Enchant Christmas. It debuted in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, in 2016 and followed the next year in Arlington, Texas. It turned Seattle’s Safeco Field into a winter wonderland the last two seasons and transformed Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.
For two nights during the event, dogs will be allowed to join their humans for “Paws ‘n’ Claus.” Your four-legged friend can sniff through the maze before getting a photo with Santa on Dec. 1 or 16.
- You’ll find cheaper tickets and lighter crowds on weekdays or the last two hours of the evening, when the price is discounted.
- Strollers are allowed on site but not in the maze. A free stroller valet is available.
- You can bring your own ice skates. Skate rentals are $4.67 for kids, $9.35 for adults.
- Though there will be fake snow, don’t expect a chilly environment. “Dress as you normally would,” a spokeswoman said.
Prices: $19.99-$32.99, depending on the date (Tuesdays are cheapest), $14.99-$25.99 for kids 4-14. There are discounts for military, emergency workers and students. A family four-pack is $58-$88 depending on the night, and you can get a season pass for $70. Tickets for animals on the dog-friendly nights are $18.99 and must be purchased in advance. enchantchristmas.com.
OTHER PLACES TO SEE LIGHTS AROUND TAMPA BAY
There are lots of other ways to dazzle the family with light displays. Some are opening this weekend.
Christmas Town: Since 2012, Busch Gardens has transformed the Tampa theme park into a twinkly wonderland with a tropical twist. You’ll find bright pink flamingo lights and giant poinsettia trees. The Sing-Along Train has gotten a makeover this year, and there’s a new show called “The Most Wonderful Time,” “a classy Christmas soiree, complete with jazzy piano solos, a live band and heart-melting vocal performances.” The “Christmas on Ice” show returns, as does the song-filled “Elmo’s Christmas Wish.” The park’s new launch coaster Tigris is also dressed for the holidays with new light displays inspired by the attraction. The event runs nightly through Jan. 6 and is included with admission. 10165 N McKinley Drive, Tampa. (813) 884-4386. buschgardens.com.
Symphony in Lights: The Shops at Wiregrass has a giant display of holiday decor, snow and lights dancing to music by Trans-Siberian Orchestra. 6-9 p.m. daily through Dec. 31. Free. 28211 Paseo Drive, Wesley Chapel.
Christmas House at the Old Lutz Schoolhouse: For two decades the annual display of holiday trees has been a favorite for its decorations of glimmering lights, model railroads and Christmas displays. Free. 6-8:30 p.m. Dec. 10, 12, 14, 17, 19, 20, 21, 26 and 27. 18819 U.S. 41. (813) 244-2256.
Christmas Trail: Walk through woods transformed into several different Christmas storybook scenes with thousands of twinkling lights, snow, snowball fights, giant Christmas trees, Santa, Jack Frost, face painting, music and animated characters. Free, $5 parking. 5:30-10 p.m. Friday through Sunday starting Dec. 6 with an extra day on Dec. 23. 2837 S Frontage Road, Plant City. (863) 944-0748.
Holiday Lights in the Gardens: Stroll trough the pathways of the Florida Botanical Garden, decorated with more than 1 million colorful, twinkly LED lights, plus laser lights and lighted figures, music synchronization, Florida-style displays, entertainers, visits from Santa and food, drinks and ice cream from vendors. $5 suggested donation, 12 and younger free. 5:30-9:30 p.m. daily Nov. 29-Jan. 4. 12520 Ulmerton Road, Largo. (727) 582-5800.
Largo Holiday Lights: The 70-acre park plays host to a light display with multiple scenes constructed of 2 million LED lights, a carousel and a seven-story Ferris wheel. Free, $5 rides. 5-11 p.m. daily Nov. 28 through Jan. 1. Largo Central Park, 101 Central Park Drive.
Plant City Lights of Winter: More then 45,000 lights on homes dancing to 14 holiday songs with a character sing-along. Free. 6-10 p.m. daily Nov. 28 through Jan. 4. 3212 Bella Garden Lane, Plant City. (813) 857-5304.
Nights of Shimmering Lights: Walk at your own pace through this quarter-mile trail of dancing lights set to music. Scenes include Old Man Winter, penguins, bears, the Nativity and the Star of David. $6, 3 and younger free. 5:30-10 p.m. Nov. 30 through Dec. 22. Sun Kissed Acres, 2302 N Dover Road, Dover.
Oakdale Mega Light Display: The annual Christmas display, also known as the Kresge family house, includes 10 trailer-truck loads of lights, an 18-train model railroad, inflatables, flying planes, water fountains, a working carnival, bubble machines, games and a pond. Free. 6-10 p.m. Nov. 28-Jan. 3. 2719 Oakdale St. S, St. Petersburg. (727) 822-5562.