Holiday excitement builds as communities and organizations throughout Pinellas County celebrate with a myriad of events designed to delight young and old alike. December calendars are filled with the unique and the traditional, including the following.
Winter Fest and Tree Lighting
SEMINOLE — The city of Seminole’s annual Winter Fest and Tree Lighting returns Saturday, Dec. 12, from 4 to 10 p.m., at Holland G. Mangum Recreation Complex, 9100 113th St.
The event will include carnival rides and games, free make-and-take crafts, roaming entertainers and stage entertainment, a visit from Santa, a gift market, and food.
This event is free to attend, but carnival rides require a $7 wristband. Carnival rides and the gift market begin at 4 p.m. The tree lighting is at 7 p.m. and entertainment is throughout the night.
COVID-19 safety standards will be followed. Adults must wear a mask while on festival grounds.
Seminole City Center Holiday Extravaganza
SEMINOLE — The third annual Holiday Extravaganza & Tree Lighting is set for Saturday, Dec. 12, 4 to 7 p.m., at Seminole City Center, 11201 Park Boulevard N., Seminole.
This socially distanced event is free and open to the public.
The holidays are such a special and wonderful time of the year and Seminole City Center, a premier shopping and entertainment destination in Pinellas County, is delighted to present the third annual event and celebrate with neighbors and those visiting the area. There will be tons of fun family-friendly activities planned, including a visit from Santa Claus.
Seminole City Center’s retailers are also getting into the spirit of the season. Some will be on hand at the event with giveaways and samples to add to the holiday cheer.
The event will feature socially distanced photos with Santa, who will be positioned by a beautifully decorated antique sleigh as the perfect backdrop. Also, personalized holiday caricature sketches will be available for the whole family. Photos and caricature sketches are each available in exchange for a new, unwrapped toy or a $5 cash-only donation. All contributions benefit the Red Sled Initiative, which supports an estimated 3,500 foster kids throughout Pinellas County.
A special Santa’s Workshop will be a highlight of the event. Children may visit the workshop to decorate their own ornaments and write personalized letters to Santa and drop them in the large Santa’s Mailbox that will be mailed directly to the North Pole. The event will conclude with a Christmas tree lighting. There will be treats and hot chocolate for guests to enjoy, as well as entertainment including a live DJ spinning favorite holiday tunes, dancing, a balloon artist, holiday stilt walkers, and more.
Guests will have the chance to win raffle prizes throughout the event. Other chances to win include an online photo contest. Visit the Selfie Stations to take family photos, tag them with #SCCHolidays, and enter them into the Seminole City Center Facebook contest.
This is a socially distanced affair. Masks are required.
Breakfast with Santa in Largo
LARGO — The sleigh has just pulled into town with the man in the big red suit, and he’s ready to have breakfast with children ages 8 and younger.
Breakfast with Santa will be presented Saturday, Dec. 19, at the Largo Community Center, 400 Alt. Keene Road, Largo. Two time slots are available, including 8 to 9:30 a.m. and 10 to 11:30 a.m. The event will include breakfast with Santa, crafts, games, a story from Mrs. Claus and a Santa selfie. The cost is $7 per person. Advanced ticket purchase is required by Dec. 14 due to limited capacity. Each time slot will be limited to 50 patrons.
For more information, visit LargoEvents.com or call 727-518-3131.
For more information on how Largo is playing smart and staying six feet apart, visit PlayLargo.com/PlaySmart or call 727-587-6720.
Holiday lights, rides in Largo Central Park
LARGO — The city of Largo will present holiday lights and rides in the park, running through Jan. 3, at Largo Central Park, 101 Central Park Drive, Largo.
This family-friendly annual tradition features spectacular holiday light displays, the whimsical flying elephant-themed Jumbo ride, and a seven-story Ferris wheel that offers a breathtaking aerial view of the 70-acre Largo Central Park and more than 2 million twinkling LED lights. Park admission is free. Rides are $5 each or five for $20. Food and beverage vendors will also be on site. The rides are open nightly from 5 to 11 p.m. through Jan. 3. The holiday light displays are on till 10 p.m.
Park visitors are encouraged to wear a holiday face covering and practice social distancing. For more information, call 866-666-3247.
Safford House Museum decorations
TARPON SPRINGS — The “elves of Tarpon Arts” and volunteers have beautifully decorated the Safford House, and it is ready to welcome Tarpon Springs residents and visitors through Jan. 6 for docent-led tours.
The Safford House Museum is at 23 Parkin Court off of Grand Boulevard in Tarpon Springs. The museum is open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with docent led tours. Tickets are $5 per person for ages 18 and older. As a special holiday gift for Tarpon Springs residents, the ticket price is only $3 per person for ages 18 and older. Tarpon Springs residents are asked to show a driver’s license or a form of identification to prove residency to receive the discount. Tarpon Arts members are free per their membership benefits. The final tour begins at 2:30 p.m. Masks are required and group size is limited.
For information, visit TarponArts.org or call 727-942-5605. The Safford House will be closed during city holidays, including Dec. 24 and 25 and Jan. 1.
‘The Santa Clause’ at Centre Field
PALM HARBOR — A free family movie night will take place Friday, Dec. 18, at Centre Field at the Centre, 1500 16th St., Palm Harbor.
The movie will be “The Santa Clause.” Gates will open at 5:15 p.m. Food sales will start at 5:30 p.m. Dinner will be available for $5, which includes the choice of a hot dog, hamburger or cheeseburger with chips and dessert. The movie will begin at sunset. Guests will receive free popcorn with a donation of a new, unwrapped gift or giving tree donation.
DUNEDIN — The Dunedin Express has returned for its fifth run. The express got underway Dec. 4 and will continue through Dec. 16, with modifications due to COVID-19. The Dunedin Express is presented at the Dunedin History Museum, 349 Main St., Dunedin.
Activities at the North Pole will be held indoors, and outside under tents and will include marshmallow toasting and arts and crafts and live holiday music. Admission times will be staggered to ensure each family has their own time at each activity. All participants, families, the conductor, the elves, and Santa and Mrs. Claus will be required to wear face masks during this event. All events will have hand sanitizer available at each activity site.
Families will drive their own vehicles to the North Pole and can expect to spend the usual 45-50 minutes there. The conductor will punch tickets upon entering and exiting the North Pole. A selected elf will guide each family through holiday-themed activities during their visit. Santa and Mrs. Claus will visit with families and children may sit on a chair between the Clauses instead of on their laps.
The event will be presented Tuesdays through Fridays and will have three time choices from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.; and on Saturdays and Sundays, from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m., there will be four time choices to choose from. This is a first come, first serve event. Tickets are limited and required. Participants will choose the date and time to visit the North Pole and receive a code to print out their tickets. Families must print out their own tickets using that code. An elf will be contacting each family for information regarding the children who will be visiting Santa. If a child has visited the North Pole via the Dunedin Express each of the last four years, include that information.
Tickets are available now and can be paid with PayPal or credit cards. Tickets may be purchased for $20 a person by visiting the events page under the Dunedin Express at Dunedinmuseum.org. For further information, call the museum at 727-736-1176.
Breakfast with Santa in Oldsmar
OLDSMAR — Breakfast with Santa will take place Saturday, Dec. 12, 9 to 10:45 a.m., at R.E. Olds Park, 107 Shore Drive W., Oldsmar.
Tickets will have selected timeslot for arrival and includes admission, meal, and photo with Santa. Cost is $6 a person and preregistration is required by Friday, Dec. 11. For information, call 813-749-1152.
Golf cart parade
OLDSMAR — Golf cart enthusiasts will gather for a decorated holiday golf cart parade Saturday, Dec. 12, 6 p.m., at Bicentennial Park, 423 Lafayette Blvd., Oldsmar.
There is a $5 registration fee per golf cart. The registration deadline is Friday, Dec. 11. For information, call State Street Center at 813-749-1155.
Celebration of Lights in Shady Hills
SHADY HILLS — The Celebration of Lights event will be presented through Dec. 20 at the Concourse, 11919 Alric Pottberg Road, Shady Hills.
The event will be open Friday and Saturday, 6 to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, 6 to 9 p.m. The cost is $20 per carload. This year’s Celebration of Lights will be a safe and magical drive-thru event throughout the Concourse and Pasco Safety Town. Attendees will have a chance to wave to Santa as they pass Smokey’s Cabin. Tickets are available at the Train Depot for the Grand Concourse Railroad miniature Holiday Train for a festive ride on a brand-new section of track with seasonal decorations and lights. Attendees will receive 50% off a Holiday Train ride ticket when they enter the Celebration of Lights. The Grand Concourse Holiday Train will run on Friday and Saturday nights of the event only.
This community event was founded by Dave Parris, who passed away in 2014. He fashioned this holiday light show after the one in his hometown, with hopes young families would create memories and someday bring their grandchildren.
The Concourse is a private nonprofit unique park venue. The 2020 Celebration of Lights is produced by the Concourse in partnership with Pasco Safety Town, Pasco County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources, the Grand Concourse Railroad, West Pasco Sertoma and Friends of Dave Parris, for the enjoyment and benefit of the community.
Tickets are available at the gate only. Cash, debit and credit cards will be accepted.
For more information, visit www.CelebrationofLightsFL.org.
Christmas in the Country
TAMPA — Experience a 19th century Florida Christmas in the Country, set for Saturday, Dec. 12, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Mildred W. and Doyle E. Carlton Jr. Cracker Country at the Florida State Fairgrounds, 4800 U.S. 301, Tampa.
Cracker Country is a living history museum that represents aspects of home life, commerce and transportation as it was in many rural Florida communities just before the turn of the 20th century. During Christmas in the Country, guests can stroll through the four-acre complex and experience seasonal décor, music and traditions in 13 original buildings, including a train depot, historic homes, general store, post office, blacksmith shop and more. Along the way, guests can create holiday keepsakes like salt dough ornaments and take part in traditional games and activities.
Cracker Country’s General Store features nostalgic and reproduction items, historical toys and games, books, candy and many other unique gift items that are great for holiday giving. Proceeds from sales in the General Store help support Cracker Country's educational programs.
Southern Express Bluegrass Band will perform onstage throughout the day.
Admission to Christmas in the Country is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and children ages 6-11. Purchase tickets online at www.crackercountry.org. Children 5 and younger are admitted free. Parking is $8 per car, $14 per bus or RV. Visitors should enter the fairgrounds via the U.S. Highway 301 entrance.
Celebrate the season safely with the city of Largo
LARGO — Although annual holiday events like the Holiday Tree Lighting in Largo Central Park have been canceled, the city of Largo is working to create a safe, healthy, and jolly environment for families to create meaningful memories this holiday season.
There are many safe ways to celebrate the season. From virtual celebration ideas, tips on hosting a virtual movie night, and a holiday playlist, Largo.com/HollyJolly features several ways to celebrate safely with loved ones. Here you can also find holiday safety tips to avoid theft, fire safety, and ways to stay sustainable during the holidays.
To help residents stay connected with family and friends, the city is encouraging residents to enter to win one of five Amazon Fire HD tablets. Starting Dec. 4 through Dec. 20, complete a sign-up form at Largo.com/HollyJollyPromo. Winners will be contacted via email on Monday, Dec. 21. Please submit one entry per person.
Are your holiday lights the envy of the neighborhood? The city of Largo is encouraging residents, neighborhoods, and businesses with storefronts to decorate and share their holiday lights this year. Simply email a photo or video of your display to email@example.com or send a direct message on the city of Largo Facebook or Instagram page (@CityofLargo). Photo entries will be shared on the city’s social media pages.
Merry Beach Market
MADEIRA BEACH — The Treasure Island & Madeira Beach Chamber of Commerce will present the second annual Merry Beach Market Saturday, Dec. 12, 2 to 6 p.m., at R.O.C. Park, 200 Rex Place, Madeira Beach.
Local vendors will delight holiday shoppers. Live entertainment will keep the energy level high, and food and beverage stands will be in place to help fuel the festive atmosphere. The market is also a collection site for the Christmas Toy Shop to help make the holidays brighter for local children. Better yet, the event is pet- and family-friendly, and will be held rain or shine.
Two special treats after the Merry Beach Market are having an ideal vantage point for viewing the start of the 54th annual Madeira Beach Lighted Boat Parade and the official lighting of the Madeira Beach Christmas Tree.
“The Merry Beach Market is the chamber’s way of supporting our local vendors while providing a fun event leading up to the boat parade,” said Missy H. Hahn, chamber president. “It offers the community a more relaxed holiday shopping experience, with the added ‘gift’ of seeing the lighted boat parade.”
For vendor information, call the Treasure Island & Madeira Beach Chamber of Commerce at 727-360-
4121 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
PALM HARBOR — Winter Wonderland will be presented Saturday, Dec. 12, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary, 4600 Alt. U.S. 19., Palm Harbor.
Visitors will have an opportunity to see the sanctuary’s special residents, including Pongo, an amazing orangutan, as well as monkeys, snakes, alligators, and more. Santa will be making an appearance, and there will lots of activities, including a petting zoo and cookie decorating. Social distancing will be in effect throughout the park.
Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for children age 3-10. Proceeds will benefit the sanctuary and its mission to care for animals.
For information, visit www.suncoatprimate.org.
Harbor Holiday Nights
SAFETY HARBOR — Harbor Holiday Nights got underway Dec. 4 at Folly Farm Nature Preserve, 1562 Dr. Martin Luther King St. N., Safety Harbor.
The event will also be presented Friday and Saturday, Dec. 11-12 and 18-19. Hours are 5 to 9 p.m. Admission is $4 a person, which includes a light-up necklace or glasses to view the lights.
Harbor Holiday Nights is a new, all ages event that features food and craft vendors, crafts, s’more making at the campfire, family activities, live entertainment and beautiful lights. Live music will be provided on select evenings, with performances by the Three Masketeers and Blue Skies.
For information, visit www.SafetyHarborRecreation.com.
Scientology Information Center holiday décor
CLEARWATER — On Nov. 23, the Church of Scientology completed its annual holiday décor of the historic 102-year-old exterior which houses the Scientology Information Center.
Traditionally, on the eve of Thanksgiving, the decorations go up with a bang and are visible the following day. This year, three days ahead, the staff set to work with two Christmas trees, 16 wreaths (one for every window), red and gold ribbons, red and green garland, and multiple strands of white lights to dress the building in its holiday best. An additional feature this year were two life-like light trimmed trees on the building’s exterior portico with red velvet covering their base.
“This year, with to the current circumstances, I feel it’s more important than ever to help make the season as beautiful and happy as possible,” said Amber Skjelset, manager of the Scientology Information Center. “Just the other day a woman stopped by with her mother and her two fur-babies who took selfies in front of our Christmas tree. It’s great that we can help inspire a positive spirit for our neighbors with our decor.”
The Scientology Information Center is at 500 Cleveland St. in downtown Clearwater. For information, call 727-467-6966.
American Victory Ship’s Holiday Spectacular
TAMPA — In conjunction with the Tampa Riverwalk’s Holiday Lighted Boat Parade on Saturday, Dec. 19, the American Victory Ship will host its annual Holiday Spectacular from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Experience the Boat Parade from the decorated decks of the American Victory, where the incredible views are sure to get you in the holiday spirit.
See how Santa gets his presents delivered — experience the Christmas Cargo Hold. Celebrate the season aboard the American Victory Ship for the merriest place to view Tampa’s sparkling parade of boats decked in holiday cheer. Enjoy festive DJ entertainment, visits from Santa, Mrs. Claus and their crew, adult refreshments available for purchase by Spunky Spirits, food trucks, auction items to bid on, and other holiday festivities with your family and friends.
The boat parade is expected alongside the American Victory at 7:45 p.m.
This event is predominantly outside in the open air and operating at reduced and limited capacity to allow for open-air social distancing throughout the ship. CDC best practices will be observed, and masks will be required when social distancing is not possible. Tickets are available now at Eventbrite, and Facebook. Tickets are $15 for adults; $14 for veterans, first responders, and seniors; $10 for kids age 4-12. Children age 3 and younger free.
For information, visit www.americanvictory.org.