TAMPA, Fla. — Editor's note: Video is from last year's Winter Village event.
We may not have snow or super cold weather down here in the Tampa Bay area, but you can still get into the holiday spirit with the return of Tampa's Winter Village!
The Tampa Downtown Partnership's Winter Village, presented by the Tampa Bay Lightning, returns Nov. 19.
Back again this year is the outdoor, real ice rink in Curtis Hixon Park.
New this holiday season is a Tampa Bay Lightning-themed 360-degree holiday light show with illuminated trees synchronized to music.
"We're always looking for ways to enhance the Winter Village experience, and this will be our most memorable year yet," Shaun Drinkard, the senior director of public programming and operations at the Tampa Downtown Partnership said in a statement. "We're excited to partner with the Tampa Bay Lightning this year! You will see a lot of new holiday decorations in honor of our back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions."
And, this year, the festivities are expanding! "Sweet Street at the Square" will take place at Lykes Gaslight Square Park and will feature Sweet Mama's Ice Cream shop and "beautiful lighting, local shops and activations every Sunday."
"We are growing the celebrations throughout Downtown Tampa and creating a destination that everyone can enjoy for the entire holiday season," said Lynda Remund, president and CEO of the Tampa Downtown Partnership. "We're also happy to support our small businesses who can help you find the perfect gift for everyone on your list."
The 5,000 square-foot ice skating rink at Curtis Hixon Park will be open seven days a week. Tickets need to be bought online in advance and reservations are subject to weather and rink conditions.
The Winter Village Express will also be back this year. The "family-friendly excursion" will take you from downtown's Whiting Station to Ybor and back on the TECO Line Streetcar.
The ride is a one-hour trip that features a holiday sing-along, holiday trivia, milk and cookies and "added surprises along the way." You'll only be able to catch a ride on Sunday evenings.
"We are thrilled to bring back the Winter Village Express," added Remund. "As we continue to return to normalcy, we are resuming some of the attractions people have grown to love and adding in new ones every year, while also keeping safety protocols in place to ensure everyone stays healthy this holiday season."
The Tampa Downtown Partnership says many things at the Winter Village are free. And, Santa is expected to make a few surprise appearances.
For more information and to buy tickets for the ice rink and Winter Village Express, click here.