Santa Claus is Coming to Town! Tampa’s Tree Lighting, Santa Fest and Christmas Parade

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Tampa is kicking off the holiday season with the  City of Tampa’s Official Tree Lighting Ceremony, and the 38th Annual Santa Fest and Christmas Parade!


Tampa’s Tree Lighting Ceremony will be held on Friday, December 6, with festivities beginning at 6 p.m. at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.  Sing along with Late Night Brass as they perform your favorite holiday carols. Magic 94-9 Morning Show’s Danielle and WFLA New Channel 8’s Keith Cate will join Mayor Castor to officially light the Tree at approximately 7:20 p.m. (new time!).

Just after the Tree lights up; the holiday family-favorite movie, Elf, will be shown on the big screen.  The movie is presented by the Friends of Tampa Recreation, Inc.  Stick around after the movie for a choreographed light show in the park.


Tampa’s Christmas Parade will roll out in on Saturday, December 7, at 11 a.m. This year’s parade is the largest Christmas Parade ever with 90 colorful units and three marching bands! There will be beads, candy and other goodies tossed to onlookers as the floats, Krewes, dance groups, Girl & Boy Scouts, Star War, princesses & superheroes, and others take part in this much anticipated annual event. Be on the lookout for Hillsborough County Public Library’s MILO Bus and Jr. League who will be passing out books along the parade route!

The parade begins at Madison and Pierce Streets. Heads west on Madison Street then turns north onto Ashley Drive, and ends at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.  The best viewing area is along Madison Street from Pierce Street to Tampa Street. 


Parade viewers are encouraged to arrive by 9 a.m. to avoid road closure and to get a good spot along the parade route.  For parking options, please visit the City of Tampa Parking Division for a list and map of parking lots/garages.


After the parade, the fun continues in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park with 38th Annual Santa Fest.  Bring your little elves to Santa Fest for a free keepsake photo with Santa sponsored by the Friends of Tampa Recreation; continuous holiday entertainment, interactive games, bounce houses, a rock wall, presented by AdventHealth, and Meet & Greets with your favorite characters.  New this year – kids can test their physical skills on the inflatable obstacle course and their sleuthing skills on the Candy Cane Photo Hunt. Find all the candy canes and win stocking!


Tampa’s Tree Lighting and Santa Fest are sponsored by Magic 94.9, Tampa Bay Times/tbt, and presented by the City of Tampa Parks & Recreation Department and Friends of Tampa Recreation, Inc. 


For more information, please visit the Friends of Tampa Recreation on the web at or on Facebook.

Santa Fest

Contact: Kitty Lyons 

(813) 966-5505

Friends of Tampa Recreation, Inc.