Winter Village returns to Curtis Hixon Park as holiday season kicks off in Tampa

The holiday season officially kicked off at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in downtown Tampa Friday evening. Winter Village is back for its sixth season, featuring its popular real outdoor ice rink, the downtown Tampa partnership said. 

The winter attraction opened on Friday at 5 p.m., and it will be filled with activities, shops, festive food and drink options and nightly light shows throughout the season, according to organizers. 

The real outdoor ice skating rink, which is sponsored by the Tampa Bay Lightning, made its return with Winter Village. Officials said visitors will be able to enjoy the rink with the backdrop of The University of Tampa and Tampa Riverwalk. 

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Tickets include skate rental and must be purchased online in advance, according to organizers.

For the first time, Winter Village will be offering visitors Tampa's version of curling. The popular winter sport is available daily for free on a special non-frozen court that simulates ice, and it will be offered on a first-come, first-serve basis, Winter Village organizers said. 

A team based curling league will also run from November 30-December 28 at Winter Village, and it will meet weekly on Wednesdays from 6-10 p.m. Registration for the curling league is $200 and can be reserved online. 

Winter Village will also feature food options from the Icicles Craft Kitchen, Kahwa Coffee, Whatever Pops, and the Shops at Winter Village will also bring in local boutiques, according to officials. 

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Guests can also see a nightly 360-degree light show, making Curtis Hixon Park sparkle during a 10-15 minute display at the top of the hour from 7-10 p.m., organizers said. The Curtis Hixon Choo-Choo will also feature a 12-seat, three-car trackless train that loops around the park Friday-Sunday from 5-10 p.m. for children. 

The Winter Village Express is also back this year for a family-friendly streetcar excursion that goes from downtown's Whiting Station to Ybor City and back on the TECO Line Street Car. Organizers said the one-hour trip features a holiday sing-along, trivia, milk and cookies and an added surprise along the way. 

The express only runs on Sunday evenings and visitors have to buy tickets in advance. 

There will also be Santa Sightings on December 2, 9, 16 where Santa and Mrs. Claus will make stops at three different locations throughout Winter Village. Organizers said the Tampa Theatre will also present two holiday classics at Curtis Hixon Park. 

Guests can catch movie showings for "Arthur Christmas" on November 19 or "Disney's A Christmas Carol" on December 16. Both showings are at 7 p.m.

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Winter Village will be open throughout the season Monday-Friday from 4-11 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. through January 4, 2023. During school holiday breaks, Winter Village is open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., downtown officials said. 

For more information on purchasing tickets for the ice rink and Winter Village Express, visit