The Best Things You Can Do This Weekend: Celebrate trees, sand, art and good reads
As the weather cools (finally!), the holiday season heats up, meaning this weekend is full of festive things to do. Authors, sand sculptures, craft art, Christmas trees and a local business bazaar are all on the docket.
Today-Sunday: 10th Annual Sanding Ovations Sand Sculpting Competition and Festival. Amazing is an over-used word these days, but it’s the right word to describe what the international artists in this competition are able to create using sand and water. You can watch them in action on the beach today and tomorrow, vote on the finished products on Saturday, and enjoy live music by local favorites like Ella Jett and Sarasota Slim from Friday through Sunday as well as a food court and crafts market. Opens 8 a.m. daily. Treasure Island Beach Trail Park, 10400 Gulf Blvd. Free.
Friday-Sunday: 34th Annual Festival of Trees. OK, sorry to use the word again, but this is amazing stuff, too — a forest of Christmas trees decorated with unstoppable imagination by local volunteers and businesses, all on sale (wreaths, too) to benefit The Arc Tampa Bay Foundation’s programs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Plus, local vendors and musicians, a Children’s Village and that guy in the red suit. 9-5 Friday, 9-8 Saturday, 10-5 Sunday.The Long Center, 1501 N. Belcher Rd., Clearwater. $5
Saturday: Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading.The event for people who love to read. The Times‘s invaluable festival brings close to 60 writers to the USF St. Pete campus and environs this year, everyone from best-selling novelists (Robert Olen Butler, Michael Koryta, Gary Shteyngart) to local literary lights (Erica Dawson, Ray Arsenault, Karen Brown) to the Times‘s own critics and Politifact reporters. The schedule of readings and signings is packed full throughout the day, so choose your authors wisely; I’m hoping to catch superchef Jose Andres at 1, who’ll read from his book about bringing meals to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, and Tayari Jones at 3, whose An American Marriage has won rave reviews and the Oprah’s Book Club seal of approval. If you want to shop for all the readers on your list (including yourself), there’s a book market featuring 40-plus vendors. 10-4 Saturday, USF St. Petersburg, 6th Ave. S. Free.
Saturday: Shopapalooza.LocalShops1’s annual festival takes place this weekend on the Saturday before Thanksgiving and next weekend, too (the Saturday after Thanksgiving, aka Small Business Saturday). The festival features more than 150 local businesses and 5,000 shoppers each day, and this year the organizers have added the Mermosa Wine + Beer Lounge, an expanded children’s zone, and performances by Competitive Edge Dance Academy.10-5, Saturday, South Straub Park, 198 Bayshore Drive NE, Downtown St. Pete. Free.
Saturday-Sunday: 21st Annual CraftArt Festival. Florida CraftArt’s gift to St. Pete — a juried showcase of supremely talented craft artists in all kinds of media from Florida and the U.S. — is also a cornucopia of gift ideas for your holiday shopping. You’ll also find demonstrations of glass-blowing, wood-turning and wheel-thrown ceramics, kids’ activities, food trucks, wine, craft beers and music. 10-5 Saturday, 10-4 Sunday, Central Ave. between 4th and 6th Streets, Downtown St. Pete. Free.