Christmas is a busy season, especially if you have a long shopping list. Sometimes it’s after the New Year before you realize that the entire season has gone by and you didn’t do one jolly thing. This year, however, you can combine your normal shopping and fun, festive activities with the help of Tampa retailers.
The Shops at Wiregrass provides the most comprehensive calendar of events and activities designed to bring good cheer to the whole family. Enjoy their impressive Symphony in Lights performances every evening, as this open-air shopping village synchronizes their 250,000 lights; 2,000 watts of sound; and 10 tons of holiday dècor to the music of the Trans Siberian Orchestra. Their Center Court truly transforms into a winter wonderland of snow flurries.
Wiregrass also hosts a community performance program, free holiday gift wrapping services (Donations are welcome.) and a synthetic ice skating. Events are being held through December 24. Be sure to check their website for more details. The Shops at Wiregrass hosts a Symphony in Lights several times nightly throughout the holiday season — Photo courtesy of The Shops at Wiregrass
Visitors to Tampa’s exclusive International Plaza and Bay Street shopping mall will be delighted by their beautiful holiday Ice Palace. Features include a 30-foot ice dome, complete with falling snow, an impressive light show and free interactive exhibits.
This year’s exhibits include a 360-degree arctic immersion with video footage from BBC Earth and its award-winning program Frozen Planet. Families will also have the opportunity to check out larger-than-life snow globes and sit on the Ice Throne. At the end of the adventure, the kids can visit with Santa. The Ice Palace is open through December 24.
If you’re looking to experience the warmth and charm of an old-fashioned Christmas, then take part in the Victorian Christmas Stroll at the Henry B. Plant Museum. Housed in what used to be Tampa’s most luxurious hotel, the museum captures the spirit of a Victorian Christmas with 14 rooms decorated with festive trees and antique holiday accessories.
There are fun games and activities to take part in, and complimentary spiced cider and savory cookies are served on the wide veranda. Where’s the shopping, you ask? Check out their museum store where they offer a large selection of holiday ornaments, serving pieces and accessories as well as unique gifts. Admission is not required to visit the store, but there is a charge to explore the Museum's exhibits.
These are just a few of the festive activities and entertainment options available to shoppers visiting Tampa area malls and retailers. Other good options include the Enchanted Tree’s Holiday Light Show and Santa’s Cottage at the Hyde Park Village shopping district, taking place through the holiday season. Also, stop in at the Art in the Park holiday event being held in historic Ybor City on Saturday, December 14, followed by Tampa’s Third Annual Snow on 7th Holiday Parade.