James David Larson (center, standing up with his stand-up bass) and the cast of "The Night Before" at freeFall. Photo: Joseph Michael-Kenneth.

Weekend Top 10: Holiday fun and shopping in the sun

It’s why we live here, right? Wearing shorts and flipflops in December while our friends up north freeze their patooties off? There’s no end of fun to be had this weekend, holiday-themed and otherwise.

The Night Before

Matthew McGee, Michael Raabe and “a surly house cat named Stephen Sondheim”? Sounds like a party! In McGee and Raabe’s new holiday musical, it’s snowing in sunny Florida when a group of friends (and the aforementioned cat) gather around the piano for a night of fun and games. A cast of four (Hillary Lewis, Sara DelBeato, James David Larson and Raabe) will be playing instruments, singing holiday songs and puppeteering. Dec. 4-24, with previews Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 2, freeFall Theatre, 6099 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, freefalltheatre.com.

The Brenda McMahon Gallery in Gulfport.

ArtJones

Jonesing for some good art? Gulfport’s Fifth Annual ArtJones Open Studio Tour might be just the fix you need: 28 artists working in a variety of mediums, ready to share their creations in studios all around town. Download a map here.  Sat., Dec. 4, 10 a.m.-5 p.m;  Sun., Dec. 5, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., artjonesstudiotour.com.

The Sister-Mothers of Gulfport

Speaking of that always-lively town by the bay, it’s the setting of this world premiere play by William Leavengood (Webb’s City), in which two sisters battle for control of their teenaged niece/daughter in a play that the director describes as “very funny, but not a comedy, and often dramatic but not a drama.” Dec. 2-12, Studio Grand Central, 2260 1st Ave. S. (main entrance on 23rd St.), studiograndcentral.com.

The Winter Village at Curtis Hixon Park. Photo: Keir Magoulas/Visit Tampa Bay.

Tampa Christmas Parade, Santa Fest and Tree Lighting

Tampa kicks off the holidays on Saturday with hours and hours of fun, beginning with a downtown parade featuring floats, Krewes, dance groups, Scout troops, marching bands, superheroes and princesses, culminating at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park with Santa Fest, the Tree Lighting Ceremony and an outdoor screening of The Grinch. Sat. Dec. 4, 1:30 p.m.- 8 p.m. 

Johnny Mathis Christmas Concert

Your grandmother’s, your mother’s and possibly your coolest teenager’s favorite singer has been crooning his way into our hearts for 64(!) years, recording indelible hits like “Misty” and “Chances Are” and six, count ‘em six, Christmas albums. As Ruth Eckerd’s promo says, “It’s just not Christmas without Johnny Mathis.” Fri., Dec. 3, 8 p.m., Ruth Eckerd Hall, rutheckerdhall.com.

Photo: Visit St. Pete Clearwater

Lighted Boat Parades on the Beaches

Hang a shining star upon the highest prow! This weekend, boaters are decking their decks with holiday cheer and, of course, plenty of lights. Watch the waterborne action in St. Pete Beach on Friday night, where there’ll be a viewing party in Horan Park featuring live music, a tree lighting ceremony and food vendors from 6-8 p.m. The boat parade launches near Sea Hags at 6 p.m. and will pass the park around 6:30 p.m. The Treasure Island holiday celebration begins at 5 p.m. on Saturday at Treasure Bay Recreation Facility, 10315 Paradise Boulevard, with the boat parade leaving at 6:20 p.m. A DJ, a visit by Santa and Mrs. Claus, interactive entertainers, and food/beverage concessions will be available at Treasure Bay.

St. Pete Distillery, Dark Door Spirits and Kozuba & Sons are the local distilleries whose products are being used in Whiskey Wonderland.
Photo: I Love the Burg

Whiskey Wonderland

Sample craft cocktails created by local restaurants using whiskeys from local distilleries and vote on your favorites; shop at vendors assembled by small business advocate LocalShops1; and nosh on goodies from popular food trucks. It’s all happening on Saturday at Coastal Creative in St. Pete’s Grand Central District. $30 general admission gets ya 10 whiskey cocktail samples. Two time slots — 12-3 p.m. and 5-8 p.m. — with VIP tasting hours available, too. A portion of the proceeds go to HOOAH Inc., a nonprofit that supports forward deployed servicemen and women and their families and returning veterans.  Sat., Dec. 4, 2201, 1st Ave. S., St. Petersburg.

Friday Art Market at Creative Clay

Pinellas County Schools’ Transition student artists get the chance to sell their wares on Friday in the courtyard of Creative Clay. “The Transition class is excited to debut their new pieces, including one-of-a-kind hand-painted wooden earrings, key chains, and jewelry boxes,” said Amanda Drewes, ESE Teacher, Extended Transition. Other items include hand-painted masks and painted ceramic snowmen. Live music by Emily Turnage and the food truck  British Food Stop will add to the fun, and there will be tables with items from Creative Thrift, Creative Clay’s pay-what-you-wish store for repurposed art supplies, frames, books and more. Fri., Dec. 3, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Creative Clay, 1846 First Ave. S., St. Petersburg, creativeclay.org.

St. Pete Indie Flea Holiday Market

Tampa Bay’s “artisan flea market” does the holiday thing on Saturday in a new open-air, shaded location in St. Pete. Shop from an array of locally made and curated hand-crafted goods, vintage housewares, decor, mid-century furniture, vintage clothing, antiques, plants, collectibles, food, art and more. Sat. Dec. 4, Noon-4 p.m., 14 18th St. S., St. Petersburg.

Chanukah FIRE & ICE

South Tampa’s Chabad Chai Center invites the public to celebrate the penultimate night of Chanukah at Sparkman Wharf’s Winter Wonderland. Highlights include a giant menorah lighting, a menorah ice sculpture, hot latkes, delicious doughnuts, chocolate gelt, kids’ activities and more. Sun., Dec. 5, 6 p.m., Sparkman Wharf. RSVP at chabadchaicenter.com