Kid-Friendly (and Kid-Free) Guide To New Year’s Eve in Tampa Bay

New Year's Eve in Tampa Bay

Happy 2018! While you polish those resolutions and get ready to make the most of the year ahead, let’s send the old year out with a bang! From kid-free to kid-friendly, here’s a look at things to do on New Year’s Eve in Tampa Bay.

Date Night

If your idea of New Year’s Eve is filled with glitz and glitter, let the kids spend the night at grandma’s and get all dressed up for these big-ticket events.

Rooftop Eve

Downtown Tampa
9 p.m.-2 a.m.
Age 21+
Quite possibly the swankiest New Year’s Eve party in Tampa Bay takes place in a parking garage. Wait…what? Yep, Rooftop Eve rings in the new year with million-dollar views from high atop the Ft. Brooke Parking Garage in downtown Tampa. It’s pricey, with pre-sale tickets starting at $175 – and going up from there. Your ticket includes a full open bar, live music, DJ, dancing and champagne all night. You can reserve a private table or a whole cabana for an additional cost.

New Year’s Eve Cruise

Yacht Starship
Downtown Tampa and Clearwater Beach
Age 21+
What’s better than a romantic cruise on New Year’s Eve? Take to the seas and enjoy an open bar, souvenir boarding photo, hors d’oeuvres, food stations, music and dancing, fireworks views, and a midnight champagne toast. Both Tampa and Clearwater cruises board at 10 p.m., with the party continuing dockside until 1 a.m. Tickets are $149.95 + $2 marine fee and tax.

Aqua Eve

Florida Aquarium
Channelside District, Tampa
9 p.m.-1 a.m.
Age 21+
This New Year’s Eve extravaganza is also a fundraiser for the Florida Aquarium, so you can have a good time while doing a good deed. In addition, you can tour the aquatic exhibits while you enjoy food and drinks, live entertainment, a champagne toast and fireworks. Ticket prices start at $130 with VIP packages also available.
Check out this list of other New Year’s Eve events in Tampa Bay, including bars and lounges hosting parties that won’t break the bank.

Family Fun

Bring the kids along for these fun-filled, family-friendly events to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Tampa Bay!

Outback Bowl Parade

7th Ave., Ybor City
5:30-7:45 p.m.
All Ages
Before the South Carolina Gamecocks and Michigan Wolverines square off in this year’s Outback Bowl, let’s have a parade! Marching bands and cheerleaders from both schools, along with local high school bands, floats and more march down 7th Avenue in Ybor City in a colorful spectacle, while a pep rally tops things off at the end of the parade route. Best of all – it’s free! Check out photos from previous years’ parades.

New Year’s Eve Fireworks

RiverWalk, Downtown Tampa
10 p.m. – Midnight
All Ages
For years, Channelside Bay Plaza hosted the annual downtown Tampa New Year’s Eve fireworks spectacular. With the plaza under construction in preparation for a whole new Channelside, the best fireworks viewing moves to Cotanchobee Park in 2017. Bring your blankets and chairs and settle in to enjoy the show.

First Night St. Petersburg

Downtown St. Petersburg
4 p.m. – Midnight
All Ages
St. Pete’s annual New Year’s Eve party celebrates its 25th anniversary this year! An early fireworks show for the littles starts at 8 p.m., and a second fireworks spectacular kicks off at midnight. Be sure to buy an event button in advance – it gets you into all the events, and serves as your ticket to ride on the parking shuttle! Ticket prices are $12 for adults and $5 for kids ages 6-12 before December 29th. After that, it goes up to $15 for adults and $10 for kids. You can download a handy PDF version of the complete schedule of First Night St. Petersburg events from the website.

Light it Up Clearwater

Clearwater Beach
All Ages
Put your toes in the sand and watch the sky light up with Clearwater Beach’s annual fireworks display. You can check out the parties hosted by some of the bars, restaurants and hotels along the beach beforehand, or just grab a blanket and settle in for the midnight show.

You’re sure to find a fireworks display to help you celebrate New Year’s Eve in Tampa Bay.

Noon Year’s Eve

Lowry Park Zoo, Tampa
All Ages
If the kids can’t make it to midnight, you can always welcome the new year at the strike of noon! Lowry Park Zoo has a kid-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration complete with a countdown and a “toast” to 2018. It’s lots of fun and included in your zoo admission.

Apollo Beach New Year’s Eve Bash

Circles Waterfront Restaurant
6 p.m.-2 a.m.
If you’re in the Southshore area and don’t want to make the drive to Tampa, Circles restaurant in Apollo Beach hosts what they bill as the largest New Year’s Eve fireworks display in the state. Admission is free, and it’s advertised as a kid-friendly event.

Staying In

I actually love staying home on New Year’s Eve and watching the poor souls freezing in Times Square from the comfort of my couch. Chill some bubbly for yourself and some apple juice for the kiddos and choose your favorite channel for New Year’s Eve music, entertainment, and people-watching. (Or check out the Simpsons marathon on FX if you’re totally over the New Year’s Eve thing!)

  • Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest, 8 p.m., ABC
  • New Year’s Eve Live, hosted by Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen, 8 p.m., CNN
  • Fox’s New Year’s Eve With Steve Harvey: Live From Times Square, 8 p.m., FOX
  • New Year’s Eve With Carson Daly, 11:30 p.m. (after Sunday Night Football), NBC
  • Live From Lincoln Center, 9 p.m., PBS
  • ACL Hall of Fame New Year’s Eve, 11 p.m., PBS
  • The Simpsons 10-hour marathon, 8 p.m., FX
Kathy K
Kathy’s family moved to Tampa when she was 5, and aside from a few years at the University of Florida (Go Gators!), she’s never lived anywhere else. She’s Irish by heritage, Greek by marriage, and mom to one brilliant little boy. She’s an avid sports fan and lived her Disney-geek dream as a member of the 2015 Disney Parks Moms Panel. A former TV producer and PR pro, Kathy now proudly sports the title of stay-at-home mom. Follow her sports-loving, Disneyfied, Tampa-centric antics on Twitter @kathyk671.