Somehow I thought that A&E events would dwindle as December progressed. But noooo… the calendar is dizzying, not dwindling, with so many lures away from home and hearth that I’m choosing 10 categories instead of 10 events.
There’s a lighted boat parade every weekend this month, it seems. On Saturday, Dec. 11 it’s Gulfport’s turn, as the Boca Ciega Yacht Club Christmas Lighted Boat Parade proceeds from the Gulfport Municipal Marina at 6 p.m. to points west and south. If you prefer your parades to remain land-locked, head over to the Holiday Golf Cart Parade through downtown Oldsmar, also on Dec. 11 at 6 p.m.
In Pinellas, there’s a wonderland of illumination to enjoy in Largo, where the annual Holiday Lights in the Gardens event floods the Florida Botanical Gardens with a million LED lights (5:30-9:30 p.m. through Jan. 2, suggested donation of $10). In Hillsborough, ZooTampa at Lowry Park gets into the spirit with Christmas in the Wild, featuring six zones of lights, festive family entertainment — and perhaps some wary creatures with eyes aglow. (Fri.-Sat., 4-10 p.m., $29.95).
Feel like getting Snowed Inn? Then you’ll enjoy the holiday extravaganza planned for Sparkman Wharf on Thursday, complete with falling snow, a Feelin’ Pine Hot Toddy Bar, a specialty ski store pop-up, snow bunnies, snow patrols, a snow beast and eclectic musical performances by snow queens Adriana Sparkle and Mayven Missbehavin. (Thursday, Dec. 9, 5:30-9:30.) If all that snow gives you a chill, don your ugliest holiday attire on Friday night at the Ugly Sweater Party, a poolside fundraiser for Ronald McDonald House featuring top DJs, holiday cocktails, electric reindeer, Santa (of course), and, yes, snow. (WTR Grill at The Godfrey Hotel, Dec. 10, 8 pm.)
The theater scene is remarkably lively this weekend. Two new additions cover the gamut, holiday-wise: Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol, an ‘80s punk rethink of the Dickens perennial at American Stage (Dec. 8-Jan. 2) and ‘Twas a Girls Night Before Christmas, a sequel to Girls Night: The Musical at the Straz (Jaeb Theater, Dec. 10-12). Matthew McGee and Michael Raabe’s original holiday musical, The Night Before, continues at freeFall; The Gabber’s critic calls it “delightful and surprising” (through Dec. 24). Theatre Tampa Bay, the local theater consortium that sends judges to area professional productions, gave two shows in the Tampa Rep/Think Tank partnership its coveted “TBT Recommended” label: The Giver (through Dec. 12) and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (through Dec. 19). Centennial Casting at Early Bird Dinner Theater also got the “TTB Recommended” nod, and another show that’s closing this weekend, Bill Leavengood’s The Sister-Mothers of Gulfport at Studio Grand Central, got a big rave from Creative Loafing’s theater critic (through Dec. 12).
Three beloved holiday music traditions return this weekend: Nate Najar’s Jazz Holiday, returning to The Palladium for its irresistible 13th year (Dec. 10, 8 p.m.); The Florida Orchestra’s Holiday Pops (Dec 10 at the Straz, 8 pm.; Dec. 11 at the Mahaffey, 2 & 8 p.m.; Dec. 12 at Ruth Eckerd, 2 & 7:30 p.m.); and St. Pete Opera’s Holiday Sparkle (Dec. 11-12 at Cage Brewing, 3 p.m., and next weekend at Opera Central and Straub Park). And for a show that’s not exactly Christmas-y but definitely cause for celebration, head to Ruth Eckerd Hall for Motown legends The Temptations and The Four Tops (Dec. 10, 8 p.m.).
St. Pete’s getting all market-y this weekend. The St. Petersburg Holiday of the Arts in Williams Park, a Paragon Events production, promises work by artists from all over Florida and the U.S. (Dec. 11-12). But the really exciting development is the new St. Pete Winter Market, a collaborative effort of the Warehouse Arts District and Deuces Live on Saturday that brings together 150+ artists, makers and galleries along the Pinellas Trail. Shop for art, handmade goods, food and more at 12 participating locations, including The Factory, The Morean Arts Center for Clay, 22 South Food Hall, the Arts Xchange and the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum. (Dec. 11, 3-9 p.m.)
The 2021 Oscar contenders are crowding into theaters and onto home screens right now, but the big event this weekend is West Side Story. There was some apprehension about this remake of a classic, but early reviews are excellent, and with Steven Spielberg directing, and music and lyrics by the never-to-be-topped genius of Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, it feels like a can’t miss. Plus… it’s got Rita Moreno! (Opening in theaters Dec. 10.)
WFLA News Channel 8 will host its 13th Annual Kindness Day on Friday, Dec. 10 at News Channel 8’s visitors’ parking lot located at 200 S. Parker St. in Tampa. Kindness Day supports five Tampa Bay charities — Feeding Tampa Bay, OneBlood, Toys for Tots, Hillsborough Education Foundation, and the Tampa Rough Riders. Donations will be received via a fast and easy, Covid-safe drive-through drop-off system. Viewers can donate a new toy, a new teddy bear, non-perishable food, school supplies and/or give blood to help families in need. Volunteers from each charity will be on-hand to accept donations Friday starting at 6 a.m. and continue until 5 p.m. OneBlood will have two Big Red Buses on site to accept blood donations for those who have time to stop, park and donate. Bonus: Each passing car that donates will be handed one Goody Bag containing gifts and offers from a tempting array of local businesses. (Dec. 10, 6 a.m.-5 p.m.)
The Dalí Museum’s Wish Tree has borne the wishes and dreams of visitors for 10 years now, and on Thursday the museum is hosting A Celebration of Wishes in conjunction with the launch of its new original publication Wishes from The Dalí Museum Wish Tree. Events include a wish reading ceremony at 11:11 am featuring a variety of readers sharing simple and heartfelt hopes and wishes from the last decade. Plus, the Museum’s Executive Director, Dr. Hank Hine, and other community leaders will share wishes for the future. Capacity is limited, register here. Also on tap: pop-up tours of the Avant-garden, holiday photo ops, wish-sharing pop-up stations and half-off adult admission after 5 p.m. when there’ll be live music from the St. Pete Sax Quartet, special offerings from Café Gala, tarot card readings and an evening view of the Wish Tree, illuminated.