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Empath Health is Featured for Lights of Lake Park in Tampa Bay Times 11/22/17

Here’s where to see Christmas lights in Tampa Bay

Once the Thanksgiving leftovers are put away, you can stop grumbling about it being too early for Christmas lights and decorations. Let the grand illuminations begin!

Despite our tropical climate, or maybe because of it, Tampa Bay goes all out when it comes to winter wonderlands. From neighborhood streets to botanical gardens to waterways, here are some promising places to take the family in search of dazzling displays.

If you know of a grand holiday display that should be added to our list, send information to calendar@tampabay.comor tweet @TB_Times.

Wonderland of Lights

This 1-mile drive-through light show at the Hillsborough County Fairgrounds has more than 100 scenes. It ends with a walk to Santa’s Village for pony and camel rides, face painting, games, the Wolves of the World educational exhibit, horse-drawn wagon rides through the lights, the Animals of Bethlehem petting farm and a magic show by Santa. It opens tonight and runs select nights through Dec. 30. Times vary by night. $20 per carload, $75 buses. Hillsborough County Fairgrounds, 215 Sydney Washer Road, Dover. Toll-free 1-800-377-4625.

Holiday Lights in the Gardens

Stroll through more than 1 million twinkling lights at the Florida Botanical Gardens. It’s set to music with lasers, entertainers and visits with Santa along the pathways. This year, Mondays are “Paw Night.” Put your leashed dog in a holiday-themed costume and take them for photos among the lights. Opens Friday and runs from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. nightly through Dec. 31. $4 suggested donation, 12 and younger free. 12520 Ulmerton Road, Largo. (727) 582-5800.

Oakdale Mega Light Display

Featured on HGTV’s All About Christmas special, the annual Christmas display (also known as the Kresge house) in St. Petersburg’s Oakdale neighborhood includes 10 semitrailer truck loads of lights, an 18-train HO scale model railroad, inflatables, flying planes, water fountains, a working carnival, bubble machines, games and a pond. Opens Friday and runs from 6 to 10 p.m. nightly through Jan. 3. Free. 2719 Oakdale St. S, St. Petersburg. (727) 822-5562.

St. Petersburg Waterfront Display

Mayor Rick Kriseman lights St. Petersburg’s official tree at 5 p.m. Friday, setting off a nightly walk-through display in Straub Park that features thousands of snowflake lights, decorations and a display of giant greeting cards created by teens from local recreation centers. Begins Friday and starts at 5:30 p.m. nightly through Jan. 1. Free. Beach Drive and Fifth Avenue NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7441.

River of Lights

The Pirate Water Taxi on Tampa’s Riverwalk takes guests on a 45-minute cruise up the Hillsborough River to see festively lighted bridges and shimmering downtown skylines. Includes hot cocoa, cookies and Christmas carols. Departs hourly 6 to 10 p.m. select nights Dec. 1 through 30. $25, $15 ages 4-12, 3 and younger free. 333 S Franklin St., Tampa. (813) 223-7999.

Symphony in Lights

The Shops at Wiregrass’ holiday light show has been running for more than a week already, featuring snow and a 55-foot tree with more than 250,000 LED lights choreographed to holiday favorites by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Runs hourly from 6 to 9 p.m. through Dec. 31. Free. 28211 Paseo Drive, Wesley Chapel. (813) 994-2242.

Forbes Family Holiday Light Display

The Masons in Wimauma have more than 250,000 LED lights choreographed to music with a 24-foot decorated tree, leaping arches, 21 singing mini trees and a giant light wall. 5:30 to 10 p.m. nightly Dec. 1 through Jan. 1. Free. Masonic Park and Youth Camp, 18050 U.S. 301 S. (813) 634-1220.

Celebration of Lights

A 1-mile drive-through light display in Pasco County has holiday music and interactive games for kids that lead to Jingle Bell Junction, where you can meet Santa and enjoy seasonal snacks. 6 to 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday and Dec. 11-24. $10 per carload. The Concourse, 11919 Alric Pottberg Road, Shady Hills. (727) 233-2968.

Lights of Lake Park

For more than 20 years, a route of elaborately decorated homes has raised donations for Suncoast Hospice in memory of a neighbor who died of cancer. Motorists have dropped more than $780,000 into buckets as they cruise a 3-mile stretch through the Lake Park Estates, Wieker, Lakeside Estates, and Lake Seminole Village neighborhoods. Runs from 6 to 10 p.m. nightly from Dec.1-31. Route starts at 10742 95th St. N., Seminole. (727) 523-3420.

Chick-fil-A Christmas Lights

A Tampa branch of the fast food restaurant dazzles with its annual lights display, decorations and hourly “snow” falls. Lights come on Friday through Dec. 31 from 6 p.m. to closing Mondays through Saturdays. Free. 6299 W Waters Ave., Tampa.

Largo Holiday Lights

See a life sized blue whale among more than six scenes made with 2-million LED lights. Take a ride on the ferris wheel to see the lights from above. 5 to 11 p.m. nightly Dec. 2 through Jan. 1. Free, $5 ferris wheel and carousel rides. Largo Central Park, 101 Central Park Drive, Largo. (727) 587-6740, ext. 5014.

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