1. Fun

Where to see Christmas lights in Tampa Bay

JIM DAMASKE | Times Lighted gingerbread people in the Cottage Garden overlook the Wedding Garden in a display in the Florida Botanical Gardens holiday lights display starting the day after Thanksgiving.
Published Dec. 24, 2018


Historic Old Northeast Candlelight Tour of Homes

The 21st annual event features tours of private homes in St. Petersburg's Historic Old Northeast neighborhood. All homes are decorated for the holidays. The tour brochure is your admission ticket to each home. A free red trolley is available to take those needing assistance house to house. $25 advance, $30 day of tour. 3-8 p.m. Sunday. Pick up your tour brochure and map at Westminster Palm View, 939 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 289-7663.

Celebration of Lights

A one-mile drive-through light display with holiday music and interactive games for kids leads to Jingle Bell Junction where you meet Santa and enjoy seasonal snacks. $10 car load. 6-9 p.m. today, Dec. 13 and 20; 6-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Dec. 14-15 and 21-22; 6-9 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday, Dec. 16-19 and 23. The Concourse, 11919 Alric Pottberg Road, Shady Hills. (727) 233-2968.

Christmas House at the Old Lutz Schoolhouse

The 22nd annual display of holiday trees decorated with glimmering lights, model railroads and Christmas displays. Free. 6-8:30 p.m. today, Saturday and Tuesday; Also, Dec. 13, 15, 16 and 18, 20-22 and 26. 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. 5:30-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday and Dec. 14-15; 5:30-9:30 p.m. Sunday and Dec. 16. 5:30-9:30 p.m. Dec. 20, 5:30-10 p.m. Dec. 21-22 and 5:30-9:30 p.m. Dec. 23. 2837 S Frontage Road, Plant City. (863) 944-0748.

Clearwater Winter Wonderland

Enter a complete Christmas village with tens of thousands of lights, entertainment, photos with Santa, cookie decorating with Mrs. Claus, petting zoo, pony rides, playground, bouncy house, a Holiday Express train, giant slide and hot chocolate shop. Donations of nonperishable food and unwrapped toys will be accepted. Benefits children of Pinellas County. Free; charge for some rides and refreshments. 6-9 p.m. today-Sunday and Wednesday; Dec. 13-16 and 19-22. At corner of Fort Harrison Avenue and Drew Street. (727) 442-2099.

Holiday Lights in the Gardens

Stroll through garden pathways with more than 1 million colorful, twinkly LED lights, plus laser lights and lighted figures, music synchronization, and Florida-style displays, entertainers, visits from Santa, and food, drinks and ice cream from vendors. $5 suggested; 12 and younger free. 5:30-9:30 p.m. daily through Dec. 30. Florida Botanical Gardens, 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. On Dec. 15, enjoy a holiday craft fair, live entertainment and concessions after a visit with Santa (6:30-9 p.m.). Free, $5 rides. 5-11 p.m. daily through Jan. 1. Largo Central Park, 101 Central Park Drive. (727) 587-6740, ext. 5014.

Lights of Lake Park

Since 1993, the neighborhoods of Lake Park Estates, Wieker, Lakeside Estates and Lake Seminole Village have collected donations for Suncoast Hospice from motorists touring the three-mile route of elaborately decorated homes. Free (donations appreciated). 6-10 p.m. daily through Dec. 31. Lake Park Estates, Bryan Dairy Road and 109th Terrace N, Largo. (727) 467-7423.

Plant City Lights of Winter

More then 45,000 lights on two homes dancing to 14 holiday songs with a character sing-along. Free. 6-10 p.m. daily through Jan. 2. 3212 Bella Garden Lane, Plant City. (813) 857-5304.

Brooksville Night of Lights Tour

Tour the 14-room Victorian mansion decorated for the holidays. There will be games for children, Christmas carols, hot chocolate and cookies. Santa will visit. $5. 6 p.m. Saturday, May-Stringer House Museum, 601 Museum Court, Brooksville. (352) 799-0129.

Nights of Shimmering Lights

Walk at your own pace through this quarter-mile walking trail of dancing lights set to music. Scenes include Old Man Winter, penguins, bears, the Nativity and Star of David. $6, 3 and younger free. 5:30-10 p.m. today-Sunday, Dec. 13-16 and 20-23. Sun Kissed Acres, 2302 N Dover Road, Dover.

Oakdale Mega Light Display

The annual Christmas display (also known as the Kresge 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. daily through Jan. 3. South St. Petersburg MegaLight Display, 2719 Oakdale St. S, St. Petersburg. (727) 822-5562.

River of Lights Christmas Cruise

Board the Pirate Taxi for a 45-minute cruise up the Hillsborough River to see festively lighted bridges and shimmering downtown skylines. Includes hot cocoa, cookies and Christmas carols. $28, $18 children. Departs hourly between 6 and 10 p.m. Friday-Sunday; and Dec. 13-16, 20-21, 23-24 and 26. 333 S Franklin St., Tampa. (813) 223-7999.

Symphony in Lights

The holiday light show features a 55-foot tree with more than 250,000 LED lights choreographed to holiday favorites by Trans-Siberian Orchestra. On Sunday, join Chabad at Wiregrass outside Dillard's for the Grand Menorah Lighting Celebration at 5 p.m. with food and family activities. Free. Hourly 6-9 p.m. through Dec. 31. The Shops at Wiregrass, 28211 Paseo Drive, Wesley Chapel. (813) 994-2242.

St. Pete Waterfront

Stroll along a pedestrian walkway to see decorations including snowflake lights and a giant greeting card display. In parts of Straub Park, Pioneer Park, Al Lang Park and Albert Whitted Park. Free. 6 p.m. daily through Jan. 1. Beach Drive and Fifth Avenue NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7441.

Dunedin Lights Tour

Enjoy refreshments and holiday music before boarding a bus for a guided tour of area holiday light displays. $8. 6-9 p.m. Dec. 19. Dr. William E. Hale Senior Activity Center, 330 Douglas Ave., Dunedin. (727) 298-3299.

Tampa Winter Village

The riverfront park turns into a winter wonderland with a 360 degree light display set to holiday music, ice skating, the Winter Village Express, 10 pop-up boutiques, food and drink. Hours are for the ice rink, other hours vary. Free (skating/skate rental/trolley additional). 4-9 p.m. today and Dec. 13; 4-10 p.m. Friday and Dec. 14; 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday and Dec. 15; noon-9 p.m. Sunday and Dec. 16; 4-9 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and Dec. 17-19; Hours for Christmas week are: 4-9 p.m. Dec. 20, 4-10 p.m. Dec. 21, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Dec. 22, noon-9 p.m. Dec. 23, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Dec. 24, 4-10 p.m. Dec. 25 and 4-9 p.m. Dec. 26; Various times Dec. 27-Jan. 5. Curtis Hixon Park, 600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa. (813) 221-3686.

Fairgrounds Wonderland of Lights

Drive through 1-mile of animated and still light displays, as well as a Christmas village featuring animals of Bethlehem, camel rides, a comedy show, magic and photos with Santa. $20-$25. 6-9 p.m. today, 6-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 6-9 p.m. Sunday and Wednesday; 6-9 p.m. Dec. 13, 6-10 p.m. Dec. 14-15, 6-9 p.m. Dec. 16-19; Christmas week hours: 6-9 p.m. Dec. 20, 6-10 p.m. Dec. 21-22, 6-9 p.m. Dec. 23 and 6-9 p.m. Dec. 24-26; also at 6 p.m. Dec. 27-29. Hillsborough County Fairgrounds, Corner of Sydney Washer Road and Hwy 60, Brandon. (800) 377-4625.

Homosassa Celebration of Lights

Marvel at Sebastian's Winter Wonderland, a synchronized light and sound show. Refreshments available. $7; $3 children. 5:30-9 p.m. Dec. 19-24 and 26. Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park, 4150 S Suncoast Blvd. (352) 628-5343.

Chick-fil-A Christmas Lights

A branch of the fast food restaurant dazzles with its annual lights display, decorations and hourly "snow" falls. Free. Lights come on Friday through Dec. 31 from 6 p.m. to closing Mondays through Saturdays. 6299 W Waters Ave., Tampa.

Palm Harbor

Don't miss the Indian Trails neighborhood, south of Alderman and east of Omaha Street in Palm Harbor, where homeowners go all out every year, boasting one jaw-dropping scene after the next.

Lights in Bloom

Tropical gardens are transformed into a glowing rainforest with lights depicting giant flowers, butterflies and dragonflies. Children's activities, crafts, entertainment and appearances by Santa and his elves. $25, $20 members, $7 ages 5-12, 4 and younger free. 6-9 p.m. Dec. 20-26; Dec. 27-Jan. 6. Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, 811 S Palm Ave., Sarasota. (941) 366-5731.


  1. Thunderstorms are expected this weekend in Tampa Bay, prompting the cancellation of several outdoor events. CHRIS URSO  |  Times (2014)
    MarineQuest and the St. Petersburg Science Festival have canceled their popular Saturday activities.
  2. Chad Mize, left, and Jay Hoff in front of the "Pride and Love" mural they completed with LGBTQ youth as part of this year's Shine Mural Festival. Courtesy of Annie West Ellzey
    The Shine Mural Festival continues in St. Petersburg, ‘Rocky Horror’ star Barry Bostwick hits Tampa Theatre and ZZ Top performs with Cheap Trick in Tampa.
  3. Susan Kelly of West Palm Beach puts the finishing touches on her "Harry Potter" chalk art at the Clearwater Beach Chalk Art Festival in 2017. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times (2017)
    Peruse the chalk art festival in Clearwater Beach, ‘The Last Podcast on the Left’ visits Tampa Theatre and taste the Flavors of the Gulf at John’s Pass.
  4. Billy Joel will return to Tampa for his Feb. 7 show at Amalie Arena. Times (2016)
    Billy Joel, Graham Nash, the Queers, Andrea Bocelli and more.
  5. The 53rd-annual Rattlesnake Festival will be held Oct. 19-20 at the Pasco County Fairgrounds in Dade City. The weekend event, kicks off with a prelude concert featuring the Bellamy Brothers on Friday, and raises money for the Thomas Promise Foundation. The foundation provides meals for Pasco County school children who do not have regular access to nutritional meals on weekends when school is not in session. "LUIS SANTANA  |  TIMES"  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The annual festival offers a family-friendly outing while raising money to feed school children in need.
  6. Boys II Men perform during at the Grammy Museum gala tribute concert in 2013 in Los Angeles. PAUL A. HEBERT  |  Invision/AP
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    The Bolts are home for games against the Avalanche and Penguins, plus wrestling and volleyball.
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