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Plan your weekend: New Year's Eve, Harry Potter and the Florida Orchestra, comic Jim Gaffigan, snow days, WWE Live Holiday Tour

By Sharon Kennedy Wynne
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mario lopez
Mario Lopez

Parties

New Year’s Eve: As 2018 approaches, the Tampa Bay area is ready to celebrate with champagne toasts and views of fireworks and — extra! extra! — dimpled Extra host and Saved by the Bell alum Mario Lopez, inset, who will be in Tampa to ring in the new year at the Pied Piper New Year’s Eve party ($75 and up at piedpiperproductions.com). And there will be midnight firework displays in downtown St. Petersburg, Tampa’s Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park, Clearwater Beach and Apollo Beach. For a full list of parties, go here.

Fireworks?  Here's where to see them across Tampa Bay

Comedy

Jim Gaffigan: On New Year’s Eve, family-friendly comic Jim Gaffigan, pistured, will be at Tampa’s Amalie Arena to entertain fans. From his food choices to his pale complexion to his large Catholic brood, he has always mined his life for comedy. And for his "Noble Ape Tour," his sixth full hour of original comedy, the more serious topic of his wife’s brain tumor is on the table as well. On April 18, Jeannie Gaffigan’s tumor — which was wrapped around her brain stem — was removed in a nine-hour surgery. "The brain tumor is gone — along with my ability to ever win another argument," Gaffigan cracked. It’s $32-$66 for the bedtime-friendly show at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Amalie Arena.

Click here to read more from our interview with Jim Gaffigan.

Cold outside

Snow Days at the Aquarium: Florida kids get to play in the snow this week as the Florida Aquarium brings back Snow Days at the Aquarium. From noon till 5 p.m. through Sunday, the snow play area for kids is included with admission. Insider tip: Wear closed-toed shoes and bring gloves to keep hands warm. A change of clothes might be handy as well. Also included with admission is a new 4-D Theater, which is screening with sensory effects such as bubbles, wind and scents daily through Jan. 11. The aquarium is open 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. $28.95, $26.95 seniors, $23.95 ages 3-12, 2 and younger free. Prices are generally about $2 cheaper if you buy them online at flaquarium.org. (813) 273-4000.

EDM

Slushii, Sam Feldt, Slander: The Ritz Ybor is planning to be an EDM wonderland all weekend. On Friday, bassheads will throw down as Slander ($20 and up) takes the stage for a special, noggin-throttlin’ edition of Pound Fridays. On Saturday, things will get more tuneful as Dutch deep and trop house DJ Sam Feldt ($20 and up), whose recent two-album collection Sunrise to Sunset featured vocals from singers as disparate as Akon and Joshua Radin, and even includes a cover of Eagle-Eye Cherry’s Save Tonight. Headlining the whole shebang on Sunday is Slushii ($30 and up), whose melodic, at times ethereal new album Out of Light belies the innately crowd-pleasing live chops he displayed at this year’s Sunset Music Festival. Each show starts at 10 p.m. at the Ritz, 1503 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. (813) 390-0397. theritzybor.com.

Wrestling

WWE Live Holiday Tour: The wrestling show coming to Amalie Arena is called the WWE Live Holiday Tour, because what says holiday spirit more than a piledriver between friends? The WWE will send a gift to their Tampa fans in the form of four championship matches and more 30 WWE stars for a night of action and pageantry that’s just for them, with no live TV coverage to interfere. The WWE Championship is on the line when A.J. Styles puts his belt up against the Modern Day Maharaja, Jinder Mahal and Tampa resident John Cena in a triple threat cage match. $20-$115 for a ringside seat. VIP experiences available for $349-$599. 7:30 p.m. Saturday. 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. (813) 301-2500. amaliearena.com.

Take the kids

Winterfest: A Palm Harbor winter wonderland with 20 tons of snow brings sledding on a 60-foot snow covered hill, snowman building, ice fishing, frozen turkey bowling, snowball toss, skiing, bounce house and an ugly sweater contest. Sessions available from 12:30-4:30 p.m. and 6-10 p.m. $8, $15 both sessions; $22, $40 both sessions (family). Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, 1555 Windmill Pointe Road, Palm Harbor. (727) 785-1117. 12:30-4:30 p.m. Saturday, 6-10 p.m. Saturday.

Hobbies

Anime Day: No matter what level of anime (Japanese animation) fan you are, Saturday’s marketplace features a more than 2,000-dealer room with a variety of anime, fantasy, comic and hobby dealers. Learn from fan panels, play video games, enter a video game tournament and try to win prizes through raffles and giveaways. There will be costume contests, but there are some guidelines, so visit animeday.net and click on the Tampa event before you start creating yours. The event runs from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at the Embassy Suites Tampa-Brandon, 10220 Palm River Road. Admission is $4 at the door, and free for military and kids 10 and younger.

What to Watch: There's a new season of Black Mirror to binge, and more

Music

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: The Florida Orchestra will play John Williams’ score to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets for three shows while the movie plays on a giant high-def screen in the Straz Center for the Performing Arts. If you can, swing by Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions in Diagon Alley before shows at 7:30 p.m. today-Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday. 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $49-$99. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org

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