Once the Thanksgiving leftovers are packed away, the Tampa Bay area offers loads of things to do with the family and any out-of-town visitors this weekend.
There are light shows you can drive through, ice skating rinks have popped up in balmy waterfront locations, and sand sculptures and kites are dotting the beaches.
If you are looking for an excuse to get out of the house, here are some ideas.
The lights, ice skating and Santa will return to Tropicana Field starting Nov. 26, and new this year is a North Pole night sky simulated with thousands of synchronized lights on the stadium’s ceiling.
The light maze, which will run through Jan. 2, was a big hit when it opened in 2019, with many sold-out weekends. It did not happen in 2020 because of the pandemic. Tickets start at $25, $20 for ages 3-17. Seniors, military and EMS workers can save $3 on regular adult tickets. Prices rise, depending on the date selected, at EnchantChristmas.com.
Downtown Tampa’s Curtis Hixon Park and the St. Pete Pier both have waterfront ice rinks that have opened for the holiday season. Winter Village in downtown Tampa has a tented ice rink open 11 a.m.-11 p.m. daily on the riverfront. It is using a paperless ticketing system at wintervillagetampa.com, where $17 gets you skate rental and 75 minutes on the ice. At the St. Pete Pier, it is also $17 for skate rental and 75 minutes of skating time at winterbeachstpete.com/ice-skating.
There is a kite festival on the beach this weekend and also an encore weekend of Sanding Ovations, the annual sand sculpting competition on Treasure Island. Kites fly 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday through Sunday, and you can also see the sand sculptures along the Treasure Island Beach Trail Park, 10400 Gulf Blvd., Treasure Island.
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ZooTampa at Lowry Park has upped its holiday game with Christmas in the Wild. There are six new illuminated light zones, including two light shows across the entire manatee circle. Shows are every 15 minutes. And you can dance and play reindeer games at the Wallaroo Wrap Party.
The zoo’s Africa tunnel will be turned into an Ice Cavern of glowing lights, and the Roaring Springs area will be transformed into Tacky Christmas, where holiday decorations get silly.
Admission is $29.95; $5 reservation fee for members refunded as a voucher; zootampa.org/christmas-in-the-wild/. It runs 4-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and on select nights through Dec. 30. 1101 W Sligh Ave, Tampa. (813) 935-8552.
A number of locations will hit the switch on dazzling light displays starting Friday. Holiday Lights in the Gardens will illuminate Largo’s Florida Botanical Gardens with 1 million twinkling LED lights in a multitude of colors. Vibrant laser lights and lighted figures round out the display to wow guests of all ages. Suggested donation: $10 for ages 13 and up. It opens 5:30-9:30 p.m. nightly starting Friday at 12520 Ulmerton Road, Largo. (727) 582-2117. flbgfoundation.org. In Brandon, the Festival of Lights is a nearly 2-mile drive-thru of continuous light features followed by a festive walking visit to Santa’s Village. The elaborate light displays themed to Florida and traditional winter holidays are complemented by individual presentations representing Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. $25 per car (up to 8 people). 6-10 p.m. nightly starting Friday at the Hillsborough County Fairgrounds, 215 Sydney Washer Road, Brandon. (813) 737-3247. hillsboroughcountyfair.com. In Plant City, Glorious Night: A Drive-In Christmas Light Show is a 30-minute drive-in light show featuring Christmas songs, a story of hope and thousands of programmed Christmas lights. Free. 6-10 p.m. nightly starting Friday. First Baptist Church Plant City, 3309 James L. Redman Parkway, Plant City. (813) 752-4104. fbcpc.com