Renaissance Festival & 'Hamilton' Highlight Holiday Weekend Events


The events and descriptions below were compiled by Tampa Bay Times entertainment and events reporter Sharon Wynne. Click Here to check out all of the weekend events courtesy of the Tampa Bay Times.

Pet Weddings at SPCA Tampa Bay: Let your pets “Tie the leash” and get married to the one they love. Benefits the SPCA Tampa Bay. 11 a.m. Saturday. SPCA Tampa Bay, 9099 130th Ave. N, Largo. $30-$150. (727) 586-3591


  • Bert Kreischer: Can we call Bert Kreischer the pride of Jesuit High? They might not always love his subject matter, but he’s arguably the biggest comic ever to come from Tampa. He has 3 shows - 7 p.m. Thursday and 7 and 10 p.m. Friday at the Tampa Theatre.
  • Jo Koy: A one-time Chelsea Lately regular who has become one of the busiest working comics and podcasters in America. 8 p.m. Saturday at Tampa Theatre.
  • Marlon Wayans: Funny runs in the Wayans’ family DNA, and it certainly didn’t skip Marlon who is appearing at the Improv Tampa this weekend. Friday and Saturday. $35, $45 VIP. 1600 E Eighth Ave. (813) 864-4000.


  • The Planets: The Florida Orchestra will be playing a “stellar show” when the Florida Orchestra and Master Chorale of Tampa Bay Women’s Choir perform Gustof Holst’s seven-section suite traversing the solar system while eye-popping NASA images grace a big screen. The show is sold out Friday at the Straz Center in Tampa and Saturday at the Mahaffey in St. Petersburg, but there were still tickets available 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. $33 and up, free for 18 and younger in advance. (727) 892-3337.
  • Herbie Hancock: We have an interview on with the 78-year-old jazz legend, who talked about the blowback he got when his 2007 album River: The Joni Letters won the Grammy for Album of the Year over Amy Winehouse. He also talked about being a key producer on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly. He peforms at 8 p.m. Friday. Ruth Eckerd Hall.
  • Whigfest: Why the name? "If you were a Whig back in the day, you were a badass, you were a rebel, you were a revolutionary," founder Tony Casoria said. "Whigfest felt like a natural fit for the type of party we were having, and the type of vibe we were trying to do." The festival, which has stutter-stepped in and out of venues in St. Petersburg and Ybor City since 2013, has settled on a lineup that emphasizes Americana and singer-songwriters. Newgrassers Trampled By Turtles (Saturday) and Americana singer-songwriter Tyler Childers (Sunday) lead a bill heavy on local voices, spread across five stages at the Ritz Ybor, the Attic, Gaspar’s Grotto and First Chance Last Chance. $55 and up per day, $90 and up for the weekend.


As we head into week two of the Florida State Fair, the midway is cranking with rides, food, exhibits, animals, shopping and a candy exhibition and it’s open through Monday, Presidents' Day, if you have the day off.

Wednesday and Thursday you can see the finals of the state fair Ranch Rodeo in the Charlie Lykes Arena. Daily shows to check out include the All-Star Stunt Dog Splash, where all sorts of dogs leap into the air to catch flying discs and complete stunts in the Grove Area, such as jumping rope, walking backward and doing paw-stands. And don’t miss the daily Hollywood Racing Pigs, where Kim Kardashi-ham and Notorious PIG race for the gold medal, as determined by the audience cheers. 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Sunday and 10 a.m.-9 p.m. on Monday. $11, $6 for age 6 -11, free for 5 and younger. 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. (813) 740-4640.


  • Hamilton: We are now deep into the throes of Hamilton fever in Tampa Bay as Lin-Manuel Miranda’s groundbreaking hip-hop Broadway musical occupies a month-long residency at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts. You still have a chance to snag $10 tickets in the show’s nightly lottery at or via the official Hamilton app. If you manage to snag a ticket, check out the many Hamilton-themed food and drink options the Straz chefs have rolled out. Dine on “Chicken Alexander” or the “Salmon of Tonight” at Maestro’s Restaurant. (Here's my story on that
  • The Odd Couple: Female Version. Felix and Oscar become Florence and Olive in Neil Simon’s classic comedy, but the archetypes of the neatnik and the slob remain, as does the humor. It runs through Feb. 24 at Ruth Eckerd Hall’s Murray Theatre $24. 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. (727) 791-7400.


  • French Fry Festival in North Straub Park at 6 p.m. Friday. Thirty food trucks assemble to present their best rendition of everyone’s favorite savory potato treat, from shoestring to hefty thick-cut wedges. Think of all the ketchup that will be dispatched! 400 Bayshore Drive NE, St. Petersburg.
  • The Tampa Bay Chocolate Festival brings nearly 50 food trucks and local food vendors together to incorporate chocolate into select savory and sweet dishes at the Carrollwood Cultural Center in Tampa. 2 p.m. Saturday. 4537 Lowell Road, Tampa.
  • Tampa Bay Collard Green Festival: The centerpiece is a collard green cook off, but there will also be healthy food vendors, talks on urban agriculture, a kids zone and celebrity chef Sallie Ann Robinson, “The Gullah Diva,” cultural historian and cookbook author. 9 a.m. Saturday. Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum, 2240 Ninth Ave. S, St. Petersburg. Free.
  • Beer, Bourbon and BBQ Festival: The fifth annual “pork-out” brings some of the South’s pleasures to Tampa including beer, bourbon, barbecue, boots, bacon, biscuits, bluegrass and cigar smoking. Includes all-you-can-sample of beer and bourbon. Noon Saturday. Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, 600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa. $25-$75.


  • Hello Kitty Cafe Truck: First, let’s all be clear that Hello Kitty is not a cat, but a girl. But the mania over Sanrio’s beloved character continues when the very adorable Hello Kitty Cafe Truck rolls through the parking lot at WestShore Plaza on Saturday, expect a crowd. Satisfy your sweet tooth with giant Hello Kitty chef cookies, petit fours and macarons. Grab some limited edition Hello Kitty merch, including a lunchbox, thermal bottles, keychains and bow headbands. Find it in the parking lot near H&M from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. 250 Westshore Plaza, Tampa.
  • Cruisin’ at the Cap: The sixth annual street party in downtown Clearwater will have live music by Sail On: The Beach Boys Tribute and a display of classic cars from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday on the street in front of the Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. Free.


Bay Area Renaissance Festival

The event that started our “This Week in Dress-Up” feature in the first place returns!  

Knights in armor, fairies, pirates and royalty all make themselves at home at the Bay Area Renaissance Festival, which opens this weekend and runs through March 31 on the grounds next to Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry. But as we know it’s not just the entertainers and vendors who dress up, it’s the festival goers themselves who put on a pirate outfit or dress as a merry maiden.

This weekend’s theme is Highland Fling, celebrating Scottish heritage with Highland games, dancers and a Men in Kilts Contest. Grab a meaty turkey leg and step into the time-travel village of jousting, jugglers, mimes, madrigals, archery contests and a human chess match. Some new elements this year include a “Living Unicorn,” axe throwing, sky aerial acrobatics, giant puppets and Pickle Jousting, in which two horsemen from the crowd (riding toy stick ponies) charge at each other wielding pickles instead of lances. The festival runs 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday at MOSI, 11315 N 46th St., Tampa. $21.95, $17.85 seniors, $13.95 children 5-12, 4 and younger free.

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