Movie fans can check out the slew of promising releases coming out in the next weeks. Will Smith’s The Pursuit of Happyness, a live-action Charlotte’s Web and dragon fantasy Eragon are all hitting theaters on Dec. 15. On Dec. 22, Sylvester Stallone concludes his Rocky saga with Rocky Balboa, Oscar winners Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie star in The Good Shepherd, and Ben Stiller spends a Night in the Museum. Then, on Dec. 29, the much anticipated musical Dreamgirls hits screens, along with dark fantasy Pan’s Labyrinth, futuristic thriller Children of Men, and George Clooney and Cate Blanchett star in The Good German.
In addition, the Tampa Theatre is spotlighting some seasonal favorites. The roster includes such classics as White Christmas (Sunday), Holiday Inn (Dec. 17) and It’s a Wonderful Life (Dec. 24). Since the 80-year-old theater is considered one of the city’s biggest landmarks, taking in a famous flick is not only a fun way to spend the afternoon but also helps support a community treasure.
Busch Gardens has a special holiday celebration running this month. Featuring festive decorations, the park is entertaining guests with a musical holiday show. From Dec. 27-30, the park is ringing in 2007 with nightly fireworks and live entertainment, all leading up to the big New Year’s Eve Celebration.
Downtown Tampa’s Channelside is marking this joyous time of year with nightly snowfalls at 6, 7, 8 and 9. This free event has become an annual tradition at Channelside, and it serves as a perfect complement to the fun, relaxed atmosphere of many of the area’s hot spots.
Also in downtown Tampa, the Henry B. Plant Museum is holding its 25th annual Victorian Christmas Stroll daily until Dec. 23 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. To mark the occasion, the Tampa Bay Hotel will be decorated in Victorian fashion, including 25 holiday trees interspersed throughout. According to PlantMuseum.com, the Southeast Tourism Society selected the event as one of this month’s top 20 events. Offering guests a brief visit to an era long past, this event costs $10 for adults and $4 for children.
Downtown Dade City is once again holding its annual Country Christmas Stroll on Saturday evening, located at the corner of Meridian Avenue and 7th Street. Now in its 22nd year, this event offers holiday music, horse-drawn carriage rides and a number of other festive activities to help guests get into the spirit of the season. Although admission is free, vendors offer a multitude of refreshments to satisfy every taste.
The Pier in St. Petersburg is also going all out this season, as its annual Sounds of the Season returns. Running from now until Christmas Eve, the event features a wide variety of music, including a number of local bands and choirs. This Friday at 6 p.m., the Pier will hold its Lighted Boat Parade, which heads around the Pier and into the waters of the Vinoy Basin.
On New Year’s Eve, The Pier is hosting a one-day cultural celebration with the First Night Organization. Showcasing an array of family-friendly activities, the event runs from noon until 1 a.m., according to StPetePier.com.
Just because school is out doesn’t mean the athletes hang up their pads or leave their shoes in the locker room. The USF women’s basketball team faces Vanderbilt on Dec. 17 at 3 p.m. at the St. Pete Times Forum in a doubleheader with the University of Florida men’s basketball team, which faces Florida A&M at 6 p.m. The USF men’s basketball team plays Wake Forest on Dec. 29 at 7 p.m., also at the Forum, followed by Florida State University’s men’s team facing Providence at 9:30 p.m.
And let’s not forget about the football team. If you didn’t already know, the Bulls will be taking their game all the way to Birmingham, Ala., to battle it out with East Carolina University in the Papajohns.com Bowl. According to Mapquest.com, Birmingham is only nine hours away. Road trip, anyone?
For the more music-minded there are a number of events and concerts taking place during the break.
On Dec. 15, the Czar nightclub in Ybor City is hosting Hallucination Before Christmas. According to the event’s Web site, it’s where Christmas and Halloween collide in holiday havoc. There will be more than 30 musicians, DJs and bands, as well as a number of visual artists and dance performers to entertain the crowd. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online at hallucinationbeforechristmas.com/tickets. Attendees are encouraged to bring two cans of food for America’s Second Harvest.
Skate Park of Tampa is hosting the 4th annual Ghetto Xmas party at Crowbar in Ybor City on Dec. 23. Bands Vaginasore Jr., Nessie and History will be kicking out the jams. There is no cover, but those attending are encouraged to “dress ghetto.” Pabst Blue Ribbon will be provided for free from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Terra will take the stage at midnight to get your feet moving.
The Circus is coming to town. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s 137th edition of “The Greatest Show on Earth” heads to the St. Pete Times Forum on Jan. 3-7. The performance features all the usual tigers, dancing elephants and human cannonballs, plus Bello the clown – voted America’s best clown by Time magazine. For those who want to reminisce or are just looking for something to do, tickets run from $15 to $75 and are available through Ticketmaster or the St. Pete Times Forum box office.
Christmas in the City, an original youth holiday production directed by Jenifer Neale and Ruth Kegel, is running Friday-Sunday and Dec. 15-17 at the Temple Terrace Masque Theatre. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $14 for adults, $12 for seniors and $10 for children 10 years old and under. For more information, go to masquetheatre.net or call (813) 980-3321.
Below are some other events that are going to be happnening over the break.
• Christmas Caberet – Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center until Dec. 31. Tickets are $20. More information is available at www.tbpac.org.
• Orlando Ballet’s The Nutcracker – Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. Dec. 21-23. Tickets range from $18.50 – $54.50. More information is available at tbpac.org.
• Coolio – Janus Landing. Dec. 15. Tickets are $18 in advance and $22 the day of the show. More information is available at januslandingconcerts.com
• Sevendust – Janus Landing. Dec. 31. Tickets are $32.35 in advance and $35 the day of the show. More information is availible at januslandingconcerts.com
• Pablo Francisco – The Tampa Improv. Jan 4-7. Tickets are $20. Shows start at 8 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. More information is available at tampaimprov.com.
• Southern Culture on the Skids – Skipper’s Smokehouse. Dec. 31. Tickets are $40-$50. Starts at 9 p.m. More information is available at skipperssmokehouse.com.