The holiday season forces even the hardest-charging of us to put the brakes on, which can be either liberating or uncomfortable. The week on either side of December 25th is downtime for a lot of arts venues, too – and who can blame them? But we dug up a few gems, some perfect for enjoying with family, and others the perfect chance to get away from them.
Hip Hop 4 Tots–December 23—The Local 662
No, it’s not actually a concert for kids – anyone taking a child to Local 662 is asking for trouble. But a dozen local hip hop artists are collecting toys for needy kids in lieu of admission, and this should be an excellent way to decompress before family time goes into full effect.
Free with a new unopened gift
7 p.m.-3 a.m.
662 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg
Artists and other info here
Elfzlandia–Safety Harbor Art and Music Center
This one looks like a sure thing. One-upping the standard Christmas light show, artists Kiaralinda and Todd Ramquist and Heather Richardson have put together a funky-looking display of found objects and unusual materials and populated it with some very unconventional (but generous!) elves. The installation is reportedly exerting some unique gravity, attracting artists and oddballs of all types.
6-9 p.m., Daily through Monday December 26
706 2nd Street North, Safety Harbor
More info here
Floridays–Florida Botanical Gardens–Daily through December 31
This one’s for your out-of-town family – especially those from the frigid north. The Florida Botanical Gardens are a stunning showcase of our (still-blooming, still-green) natural beauty, and the park is dressed up in lights for the holidays. Oh, and after a nice sunny walk, it won’t take much looking to find a decent slice of Key Lime Pie in this neck of the woods.
12175 125th Street North, Largo, FL
The Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker–Monday Dec 26 and Tuesday December 27
In case you haven’t had enough by Monday, here’s a chance to keep your Christmas going. This elaborate staging of the Nutcracker features rich props and sets originally designed and built in Russia, including a 60-foot Christmas tree.
Mahaffey Theatre, 400 First Street South, St. Petersburg
Tickets and Info Here
Bret Michaels, Kip Winger and Lita Ford–Thursday, December 29—Ruth Eckerd Hall
Michaels, former frontman of Poison, is joined by two other titans of the hair metal era, for a show that promises to Wreck the Hall. For my money, I’m betting Ford steals the show – The Runaways was, clearly, the best band anyone in this lineup ever belonged to. How can you possibly say no?
1111 McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater
Tickets and Info Here
Ugly Sweater Party at the Bends. Saturday Dec 24. St. Pete’s best artsy bar offers the perfect chance to strut your cheesiest holiday gear.
Even More Christmas Lights. They might not be art, but they’re definitely culture. The Tampa Bay Times has a solid guide to light installations from Spring Hill to St. Pete. Many run through December 31st.