Compiled by Kathy L. Collins, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Are you looking for something fun to do to celebrate holiday season? The Greater Brandon area and Tampa have tons of activities going on over the next few weeks to allow everyone to enjoy the holidays. Let this be your guide to locate fun events in the area. Whatever you do, have fun and enjoy the holiday season.

Santa is coming to Bella Garden on Friday, December 17 from 7 to 9 p.m. Come out and enjoy refreshments and music and get a picture with Jolly Old St. Nick? Bring a new toy to go to foster children living at A Kid’s Place in Brandon. You can see a demonstration of Flying Wish Paper. The first 25 people to register and attend will receive a free gift. Bella Garden is located at 5664 FishHawk Crossing Blvd. in Lithia. For more information, call 662-1300.

Children 10 and under will delight in Bits ‘N Pieces Puppet Theatre’s presentation of “Winter Tales,” a charming holiday event. “Winter Tales” offers three great holiday shows: The Elves and the Shoemaker with hand puppets; Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates with shadow puppets; and Scrooge’s Sing-A-Long with marionettes. The shows are on Friday, December 17 and Saturday, December 18 at Bits ‘N Pieces Puppet Theatre located at 12904 Tom Gallagher Rd. in Dover. Call 659-0659 or visit for more information.

Another fun event for the children is Center Place’s presentation of “Santa’s Holiday Revue.” The show is at 7 p.m. on Friday, December 17 at Center Place located at 619 Vonderburg Dr. in Brandon. Tickets are $7 for non-members and $6 for members. For more information call 685-8888 or visit

If you fear that Scrooge might be lurking beneath the surface, and you need a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday shopping, why not take the family for some old fashion holiday fun with outdoor ice skating at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in downtown Tampa? The outdoor rink is open now through January 2, 2011. You can enjoy ice skating on real ice. Admission, including skate rental, is $10 for 90 minutes. The rink is open daily Monday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday 12 to 8 p.m. For more information please visit,

Want to see local actors put a Broadway style show? Stagedoor Performing Arts and the Valrico Village Players have brought together their extraordinarily talented members to present “Rent!” This rock opera tells the story of one year in the life of a group of bohemians struggling in modern day East Village New York. This story contains adult content and strong language. All shows are held at the historic James McCabe Theatre located at 506 5th St. in Valrico on Friday, December 17 and Saturday, December 18 at 8:15 p.m. Tickets are $12.

If you long for a more serene and traditional holiday, why not try visiting “Christmas in the Country” at Cracker Country. You can enjoy an old fashion country Christmas and see what life was like in the 19th century in rural Florida. “Christmas in the Country” is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, December 18. You can enjoy Christmas carols, traditional decorations and more. Tickets are $7 for adults; $6 for children 6-12 and Seniors; and children under 5 are free. Cracker Country is a rural Florida living history museum located at the Florida State Fairgrounds (4800 N. U.S. Hwy 301, Tampa). For more information, call 627-4225or visit

What would a Florida holiday be like without a lighted boat parade? On Saturday, December 18, come out and enjoy the Apollo Beach Christmas Lighted Boat Parade beginning at 6 p.m. at the South Channel. Boats will proceed through some of the major deep canals in Apollo Beach. If you do not live on the water, you can view the parade from Circles Waterfront Restaurant located at 1212 Apollo Beach Blvd. in Apollo Beach.

If you are looking for the perfect gift for that hard to shop for person, then try giving a Tortuga Rum Cake. Franks and Subs located at 13428 Boyette Rd. in Riverview is offering a tasting of this delicious cake on Saturday, December 18. For more information, call 409-3856.

You can ring in the season at Lowry Park Zoo at its “Winter Wonderland.” Come out and enjoy millions of lights, animatronic displays, free zoo rides and activities. You can even get a photo with Santa and see real live reindeer! “Winter Wonderland” will be open Friday, December 17, Saturday, December 18 and Sunday December 19 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets are $13 for adults; $11 for children 3-11; and free for children 2 and under. The Lowry Park Zoo is located at 7530 North Blvd. in Tampa. For more information call 935-8552 or visit

The Tampa Theatre will be hosting screenings of the holiday classic “It’s A Wonderful Life” on Friday, December 17 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, December 18 at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, December 19 at 3 p.m. There will also be a Holiday Sing-A-Long with the might Wurlitzer Theatre Organ. The Tampa Theatre was built in 1926. In its day, it was one of America’s most elaborate “movie palaces.” What better way than to enjoy a holiday classic at this beautiful landmark. The Tampa Theatre is located at 711 N. Franklin St. in Tampa. For more information, please visit

What would the holidays be like without the classic ballet performance of “The Nutcracker?” You can recapture the nostalgia and magic of this holiday classic at Ruth Eckerd Hall on Saturday, December 18 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and on Sunday, December 19 at 2 p.m. The Florida Orchestra will play Tchaikovsky’s timeless score as the beautiful dancers of the Moscow Classical Ballet dance to E.TA. Hoffman’s classic, “The Nutcracker.” For more information and tickets, call 727-791-7400.

Email with any upcoming arts and entertainment events you would like to include in this weekly column.

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