15 Tampa Bay area December events

Take in the holiday lights, listen to merry tunes, shop for holiday gifts, and more at these local celebrations.


Make sure you pack your camera for the Holiday Lighted Boat Parade.

Photo via @cityoftampa

‘Tis the season for (fake) snow, hot cocoa and toddy, presents (wrapped with care), and our own festive Tampa Bay area traditions.

Now that we’ve officially crossed into December, here’s a few events to mark on your calendar:

Editor’s note: This is just a handful of our area’s offerings this month. Find more local celebrations in our events calendar.

  • Snowfest | Saturday, Dec. 2 | 9 a.m.-2 p.m. | North Straub Park, Fifth Ave. NE and Bayshore Dr., St. Petersburg | $5 | Celebrate the season with toboggan slides (for adults and children), inflatables, arts + crafts, and food trucks.
  • SantaFest and Tree Lighting | Saturday, Dec. 2 | 1 p.m. | Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, 600 N. Ashley Dr., Tampa | Free | Watch the festive parade make its way through downtown Tampa, enjoy the party at SantaFest at Curtis Hixon, the tree lighting (all seven of them), and a holiday classic movie.
  • The Heights District Sixth Annual Holiday Tree Lighting | Saturday, Dec. 2 | 5-9 p.m. | Armature Works, 1910 N. Ola Ave., Tampa | Free | This year’s event features visitors from the North Pole, live performances, a holiday market, seasonal cocktails for purchase, a toy drive, and of course, the tree lighting.
  • “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” | Sunday, Dec. 3 | 3 p.m. | Tampa Theatre, 711 N. Franklin St., Tampa | $0-$10 | Grab your popcorn and sit back and watch the beloved 1989 flick in which Clark Griswold attempts to make his family’s Christmas the best ever.
people mill around lit trees

The glitzy new neighborhood is decked out for the holidays.

  • The Holiday Promenade | Thursday, Dec. 7 | 5-9 p.m. | Water Street Tampa, 615 Channelside Dr., Tampa | Free | Shop goods from local vendors + enjoy seasonal activities and performances while taking in the neighborhood’s holiday décor.
  • Chanukah in the City | Thursday, Dec. 7 | 5:30 p.m. | City Hall Plaza, E. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa | Free | Celebrate Chanukah with hot latkes, doughnuts, crafts, raffle prizes, a rock wall, an obstacle course, DJ tunes, a photo booth, and more.
  • Chanukah in the City | Thursday, Dec. 7 | 5:30 p.m. | South Straub Park, 250 Bayshore Dr. NE, St. Petersburg | Free | The waterfront park celebration includes a menorah lighting, aerialist performance, Chanukah gelt drop, latkes + donuts, and raffles.
  • Onbikes Winter Wonder Ride | Saturday, Dec. 9 | 2-10:30 p.m. | Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, 600 N. Ashley Dr., Tampa | $55-$125 | Bike through downtown Tampa dressed in 80s and 90s retro garb, then stay to watch LOCASH rock the stage.
  • 5th Annual Jingle Bell Bazaar at Ybor | Sunday, Dec. 10 | 12-6 p.m. | Centennial Park, 1800 E. Eighth Ave., Tampa | Free | The fifth annual market features live music, dance performances, tons of vendors, face painting, local food trucks, a video gaming truck, and a Santa’s Wonderland featuring Mr. Kringle.
  • Hanukkah Street Fair | Sunday, Dec. 10 | 5-7 p.m. | Krate at the Grove, 6105 Wesley Grove Blvd., Wesley Chapel | Free | Head to the outdoor venue for the helicopter gelt drop, cirque adventure and aerialist show, stilt walkers, live DJ beats, rock climbing, bungee trampoline, and 60-ft obstacle course.
  • Florida Orchestra: “Holiday Pops” | Friday, Dec. 15 | 8 p.m. | The Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N. MacInnes Pl., Tampa | $20-$75 | Conductor Bruce Hangen, former guest conductor of the Boston Pops, and the orchestra put on a legendary seasonal show.
  • The Nutcracker | Thursday, Dec. 21-Saturday, Dec. 23 | Times vary | The Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N. MacInnes Pl., Tampa | $21-$131 | Next Generation Ballet performs the holiday tale complete with dazzling dancing sweets, sword-fighting rodents, and timeless music.
  • Trans-Siberian Orchestra: “The Ghosts Of Christmas Eve” | Saturday, Dec. 23 | 2:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. | Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Dr., Tampa | $38-$110 | Join for a Christmas Eve Eve performance of the allegorical rock opera.
  • Holiday Lighted Boat Parade | Saturday, Dec. 23 | 6 p.m. | Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, 600 N. Ashley Dr., Tampa | Free | Hole up at the downtown park or the Riverwalk to watch the festive flotilla make its way down the Hillsborough River — or register your own boat for a fee to join in the contest.
  • Kwanzaa St. Pete Celebration | Tuesday, Dec. 26 | 5-8 p.m. | St. Pete Youth Farm, 1650 12th St. S., St. Petersburg | Free | Join St. Pete Youth Farm and Gallerie 909 for the 10th annual celebration on the first night of Kwanzaa, Umoja (unity).