Are you trading in a white snowy Christmas for a white sandy Christmas on the Gulf Coast of Florida this year? Then this is just the blog post for you. Here are the holiday highlights and events you need to know about. Bring your family and your friends for a coastal Christmas that’s sure to please.
Holiday Lights in the Garden at the Florida Botanical Gardens
November 25-December 31, 2016; Daily from 5:30-9:30p.m.
Light up your night at the Florida Botanical Gardens during its annual Holiday Lights in the Garden holiday event. With over 750,000 shimmering and sparkling lights, this holiday paradise is the perfect place to take an evening stroll, enjoy free live entertainment with the family, and even grab a bite to eat and a warm hot chocolate. Keep your eyes open for Santa spottings! A suggested donation of $4 is appreciated for those over the age of 12. Parking is offered free of charge. Mark your calendar for the Gift & Plant Sale on December 11 from 10a.m. to 4p.m. You’ll want to make this part of your family’s holiday tradition on the Gulf Coast each and every year!
Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Tampa
Select dates in November and December 2016; Closing Times Vary
Another locally-loved holiday tradition is waiting to be unwrapped during this season at Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Tampa. The theme park transforms into a holiday wonderland set aglow amidst two million twinkling lights. Highlights include thrilling rides, holiday shopping, festive treats and plenty of live entertainment to get you in the holiday spirit. You can even meet Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer! Christmas Town is included in your park admission, so it’s like a holiday bonus just for you.
Holidays at the Village in Heritage Village
November 26-December 31, 2016; Closed Mondays and Tuesdays
Not only does history come to life in Heritage Village, but so do the holidays. Holidays at the Village allows you to immerse yourself in the Christmas decorations and traditions of yesteryear in the House of Seven Gables, Plant-Sumner House, Union Academy, Walsingham House, McMullen House, and H.C. Smith Store. Garland and greenery adorn buildings throughout the Village to create a festive experience throughout the 21-acre open-air living history museum located in the heart of Pinellas County. Admission is free, but donations are always welcome.
John’s Pass Christmas in the Village
Christmastime at John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk offers up the usual amazing opportunities to shop, dine, find adventure or just stroll the boardwalk but with a coastal touch of holiday flair all its own. Favorite holiday events during the month of December include the Jingle Bell Fishing Tournament (more details later in this post) for the kids on December 3, the holiday tree lighting at 6p.m. that same day, visits from Santa, and all of the festive fun you’ll ever need to warm your heart this season.
Holiday Tree Lighting in Indian Rocks Beach
December 2, 2016 at 7p.m.
Indian Rocks Beach kicks off the holidays in grand Gulf Coast style with its annual IRB Holiday Tree Lighting event on Friday evening, December 2, at 12th Avenue Park. You can expect the 3 C’s of the holiday seasons: cookies, caroling and cocoa. This is a community-favorite Christmas event, so join in the merriment. The weather prediction is for the usual warm and sunny day on Florida’s Gulf Coast with a chance of a few snowflakes that evening.
Jingle Bell Kids Fishing Tournament in Madeira Beach
December 3, 2016 at noon
Bring your family and don’t forget to grab your fishing poles on your way to the Jingle Bell Kids Fishing Tournament at John’s Pass Village in Madeira Beach. It’s absolutely free for kids ages 14 and under and promises reel fun this holiday. Light bait and tackle are provided and an awards ceremony follows later in the day. Stay around for the tree lighting event and visit from the Big Guy in Red himself, along with tasty holiday treats to snack on. You can pre-register for the Jingle Bell Kids Fishing Tournament here.
Indian Rocks Beach Holiday Street Parade
December 4, 2016 at 1p.m.
The annual IRB Holiday Street Parade weaves through town on Sunday, December 4 beginning at 1p.m. on East Gulf Boulevard and ending at Kolb Park. Join the City Commissioners, the City Manager, the Parade Grand Marshals and the rest of the Indian Rocks Beach community during this family-friendly holiday event. See you there!
Madeira Beach Holiday Boat Parade & Concert
December 10, 2016 at 6:30p.m.
Be a part of the holiday fun and festivities at R.O.C. Park in Madeira Beach on Saturday, December 12th from 4-11p.m. with music, food, boat parade viewing, and a fireworks show. Enjoy a benefit concert on the day of the 49th Annual Festival of Lights Boat Parade. Come out to the official viewing party of the parade with kid-friendly activities all night long, live music by Greg Billings band and other local acts, food and drinks for purchase, and an amazing firework show to end your holiday celebration with a bang.
Clearwater Holiday Lighted Boat Parade
December 10, 2016 8:30p.m.
The annual Clearwater Holiday Lighted Boat Parade is a local favorite. Festively decorated boats parade past Coachman Park around 8:30p.m. From there, the fleet cruises under the Memorial Causeway Bridge turning into the Clearwater Marina Channel, then proceeds south through the navigable canals to Clearwater Point. This holiday event is free and family-friendly, and loads of fun.
Redington Beach & Indian Shores Lighted Boat Parade
December 11, 2016 at 6p.m.
Festively decorated boats meander through the intracoastal waterways from the Tom Stuart Causeway to the “The Pub” restaurant in Indian Shores. The Redington Beach and Indian Shores Lighted Boat Parade kicks off at 6p.m. and is totally free and family-friendly!
Indian Rocks Beach Lighted Boat Parade
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Musical in Clearwater
December 22, 2016 at 3p.m. or 7:30p.m.
The spirited cast brings new energy to this holiday favorite which transports audience members into the television special (that originally aired in 1964). The songs drive the plot while familiar and nostalgic set design are brought to life. Classic songs, dialogue and lovable puppets help showcase the charming “roughness” from the television show’s stop-motion effects. The matinee performance begins at 3 p.m. and the evening show at 7:30p.m. at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. You can purchase Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer performance tickets here.
Christmas Eve Cruises in Tampa and Clearwater
December 24, 2016; Early and Late Evening Cruises
Experience Christmas Eve on the water with a scenic holiday cruise complete with a bountiful buffet, spirited decorations, and a DJ spinning classic and modern holiday tunes for your listening and dancing pleasure. Christmas Eve voyages are hosted by Yacht Starship Cruises and last for two hours with departures from two locations in Tampa and Clearwater. Hurry, availability is limited and these cruises sell-out quickly. To learn more about Christmas Eve Cruises, availability and pricing, follow the link.
Coming Soon: New Year’s Eve on the Gulf Coast of Florida
As you can see, there are always plenty of options when it comes to a Gulf Coast Christmas. We haven’t even touched on New Year’s Eve events, but stay tuned for a follow-up holiday post on the best ways to ring in the New Year on the Gulf Coast of Florida. It’s coming soon! Also don’t forget to follow Plumlee Realty’s blog, so you don’t miss a thing. We’ll keep you updated on everything you need to know. Happy Holidays!
Are you spending Christmas on the Gulf Coast of Florida this year? Are any of these Gulf Coast holiday events part of your celebration? Hope so!