By Kathy L. Collins

The holidays are just around the corner, and so are the many area Christmas tree lighting ceremonies, movies, parades and festival. Be sure to check out all that the area has to offer and have fun getting into the holiday spirit.

The Annual Enchanted Tree Lighting Ceremony in Hyde Park will kick off the holiday season on Saturday, November 18 from 5 to 9 p.m. This is a free, family friendly event featuring photos with Santa, live music by Late Night Brass, food and beer trucks, a Kids’ Zone, balloon animals and more. Hyde Park Village is located at 1602 W. Snow Ave. in Tampa.

On Thursday, November 30 you will not want to miss Lights of Love, the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony in historic downtown Plant City at McCall Park located at 100 N. Collins St. This event runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. At 5:30 p.m., you can get photos with Santa. The tree lighting ceremony will take place at 6:30 p.m., and the tree will officially be lit at 7 p.m.

Come back to Plant City on Friday, December 1 for the Annual Christmas Parade from 7 to 9 p.m. The parade begins at the intersection of Collins St. and Alsobrook St. in downtown Plant City. The parade will run down Collins St., turn right on Reynolds Ave. and end just past the Plant City Courthouse. You can bring chairs and comfortably watch the majesty of this annual tradition in Plant City.

On Friday, December 1 Winthrop Arts presents its Annual Christmas Tree Lighting in Winthrop Town Centre in Riverview. This annual event is fun and free for the whole community. You will enjoy a performance by the Brandon Ballet, Dance Dynamics, singers and more. The tree lighting ceremony will begin at 6:30 p.m. The tree will be lit at approximately 7:15 p.m. and a holiday themed movie will be shown on the lawn behind the tree following the lighting of the tree. Winthrop Town Centre is located at the intersection of Bloomingdale Ave. and Providence Rd. in Riverview.

The City of Tampa will hold its Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony on Friday, December 1 at 6 p.m. in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in downtown Tampa. The event is free and includes a count-down to light the tree with Mayor Bob Buckhorn. A movie will be shown after the lighting in the park.

The 36th Annual Downtown Tampa Christmas Parade will be held the next day, Saturday, December 2 beginning at 11 a.m. The parade will wind throughout downtown, but the best place to view the parade is along Madison St. Take the family over to beautiful Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park for the Annual Santa Fest from 12 to 4 p.m.

On Wednesday, December 6 Center Place will host its 33rd Annual Christmas Tree Lighting. Dawn Galia, Executive Director of Center Place said, “We have an eclectic group of performers for our 33rd Annual Christmas Tree Lighting.” Galia added, “We usually have a packed house for this free community event. We look forward to this event every year.” Santa Claus who will be on hand to help light the tree and take photos with children. Center Place is located at 619 Vonderburg Dr. in Brandon.

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