A decade ago, Busch Gardens
launched Christmas Town, covering the Tampa theme park with millions of lights, holiday themed shows and displays, and festive food and drinks. Ten years later, Christmas Town is still hopping and expanding every year. Even the roller coasters are decked out for the holidays in red and green (or in Tigris’ case, orange) lights.
Fan-favorite attractions include visits with Santa, storytime with Mrs. Claus, the popular Holly Jolly Express train, Elmo’s Christmas Wish, and Christmas on Ice in the Moroccan Palace Theater. Christmas Town at all of SeaWorld Entertainment parks also have meet and greets with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and his friends as well as themed holiday merch.
New this year are three shows: Christmas with the Celts, a light and projection show on the Serengeti Overlook building, and the Holiday in the Sky fireworks show on the Festival Field next to Iron Gwazi.
Beyond lights and shows, spread around the park are festival booths serving holiday drinks, treats, and local holiday wares. There are more than a dozen kitchens offering dishes like braised beef and roasted garlic smashed potatoes, wild mushroom tart with Boursin cheese crema, and red curry shrimp with jasmine rice. There are even booths just for wine and chocolate truffles and a “decorate your own cookie” cabin for kids. Plus, there are several spots to grab a mug of Christmas Town Hot Chocolate in regular, peppermint, or gingerbread flavors (make it “jolly” is you need some booze).
Christmas Town at Busch Gardens runs nightly through Jan. 9, and is included with park admission. Food and drink purchases are, of course, separate.Sampling lanyards are available to taste your way around the festival starting at $40. More information and tickets are available via buschgardens.com