The Shops of Wiregrass Symphony of Lights & Ice skating

Location: Wesley Chapel, Florida
Cost: Free!
2022 Dates: November 12th-December 31st from 6:00-9:00pm.

The Shops of Wiregrass, an upscale open air shopping center, is one of the nicest malls in the Tampa Bay area. The holiday season is an especially fantastic time to plan a visit. During the season, the shopping center is beautifully decorated. Also, a number of special festivities fill up the calendar.

The Shops of Wiregrass Symphony in Lights - Wesley Chapel, Florida
The beautiful Christmas Tree at The Shops of Wiregrass in Wesley Chapel, Florida

The grand 55 foot tall tree dances along to the music of Trans Siberian Orchestra in a wonderful choreographed show. Add in fake snow, and you have a great little holiday activity. An outdoor synthetic ice rink and photos with Santa add to this mini winter wonderland. Plan a holiday shopping date at Shops of Wiregrass. It’s as festive a holiday shopping experience as you will find in the Tampa area.

Check out a video of the show featuring fake snow and the music of Trans Siberian Orchestra!

Oakdale Christmas House

Location: St. Petersburg, Florida
Cost: Free!
2023 Dates: November 24th-January 3rd from 6:00-10:00pm

With over half a million lights, the Oakdale house in St. Petersburg, is easily the most decorated house in the Tampa Bay area. It has been featured on various TV specials over the years including HGTV’s All Out Christmas special and on The Today Show as one of the top 3 decorated houses in the US. 2023 marks the 47th year of the decorating extravaganza.

The house is quite a sight to see, and a striking contrast in comparison to the barren blocks with no lights around it. If you are looking for a house with a lot of lights, you have found it at Oakdale. Be prepared for a unique display (emphasizing quantity over quality for sure) of crazy, over-the-top strangeness.

Note this display is very cheesy and over-the-top (I have never seen so many stuffed animals and random decorations), however, worth it for a fun Christmas themed activity if you are already doing something else in the area. Also note that there is heavy Evangelical advertising as part of the display.

Heavy on the cheese factor, but very colorful!

Oakdale house holiday lights in St. Petersburg, Florida
Oakdale house holiday lights in St. Petersburg, Florida
Oakdale house holiday lights in St. Petersburg, Florida
Oakdale house holiday lights in St. Petersburg, Florida
Oakdale house christmas light display frosty decoration - St. Petersburg, Florida

Safety Harbor Holiday Parade & Tree Lighting Ceremony

Location: Safety Harbor, Florida
Cost: Free!
2022 Date: December 2nd

Each year John Wilson Park in Safety Harbor (a small Gulf coast community about 20 minutes from Clearwater), is home to the city’s Christmas tree. A holiday lighting ceremony, complete with live music and visits from Santa, kicks off the season. Later in the month, a festive parade down historic Main Street, gives you a much needed break from holiday shopping.

Safety Harbor, Florida Christmas tree

Downtown Main Street is home to many shops, restaurants, and bars. It is also home to the Safety Harbor Resort and Spa, said to be the location of the Fountain of Youth. The holiday events in Safety Harbor do not draw as big crowds, and thus, you should check out the event lineup if you are seeking more of a laid-back atmosphere.

Holiday Movies at CineBistro

Location: Tampa, Florida (Hyde Park neighborhood)
Cost: $5 per movie, plus food costs
2022 Dates: Check the Cinebistro website for details

Each December, CineBistro in Hyde Park Village offers several holiday movies as part of their Tuesday night classic movies series. For 2022, A Christmas Story, Four Christmases, The Polar Express, and Christmas Vacation are on the lineup. At this popular dinner and a movie theater, you will be able to enjoy a full meal (a full menu including options such as: Pan Seared Salmon, Blue Crab Cakes, Orange Roasted Chicken, and dinner sized salads are available) while watching your favorite holiday classics. Before or after your movie, you can take in the beautiful lights around Hyde Park Village. Plenty of shops and bars in the area too if you feel like making it a full night. Buddy Brew serves delicious coffee and hot chocolate!

Cinebistro at Hyde Park Village in Tampa, Florida
Hyde Park Village Christmas lights

Holiday Classics at the Tampa Theater

Location: Tampa, Florida
Cost: $10 per movie
2022 Dates: Check the Tampa Theater website for screening times.

Each year, Tampa’s historic theater screens a few holiday classics. This gorgeous theater is a prefect place to see a holiday classic on the big screen. It was rated one of the most beautiful theaters in the world, so really a perfect place to take a date or enjoy a quiet night out in the city. 2022 screenings include Elf, It’s a Wonderful Life, and a Frozen sing along.

Tampa Theater in downtown Tampa, Florida

A few more seasonal events & activities to check out

*Wild Wonderland at Zoo Tampa. This festive seasonal event features more than a million lights, visits from Santa, and special treats. Unfortunately, this zoo lights event does not compare with big city zoos, but is a festive event nonetheless.

*Christmas Town at Busch Gardens. If theme parks are your thing, then you will love the festive holiday lights and activities at Tampa’s famous theme park.

*Ice skating at the Tampa Bay Skating Center. Nothing says the holidays quite like ice skating. Although there are many outdoor rinks around the area this time of year, skating inside in the cold just feels more wintry and festive. Grab your coat, hat, and scarf and enjoy a night skating at this fantastic indoor rink.

If you want to combine some holiday shopping head over to Countryside Mall in Clearwater for an afternoon of shopping and skating.

Ice skating at Countryside Mall in Clearwater, FL

*Tampa Holiday Boat Parade. There are no shortage of holiday boat parades in Hillsborough and surrounding counties. A Florida boat parade is definitely a unique activity to get yourself into the holiday spirit. This particular parade takes place in Tampa’s Channelside District. 2023 parade is Dec. 23rd.

*Nights of Shimmering Lights. This event at the Hillsborough County Fairgrounds features a drive thru light show.

*Downtown Tampa Christmas Tree & Ice skating rink. Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park is home to the city’s Christmas tree. Tampa’s Downtown on Ice is the only outdoor city rink in the area. Enjoy the unique experience of skating alongside palm trees! Also there is a festive and free choreographed show to enjoy!

Christmas show in downtown Tampa, Florida


Please check each individual attraction website for updated dates/hours for the current year.

I hope you have enjoyed browsing through my list of seasonal holiday activities. There is still time to visit many of these great events (Festival of Lights, Largo Central Park Lights, The Shops of Wiregrass, and the Oakdale Christmas house). For those events that have already taken place, there is always next year!