Plan your weekend
Next Big Thing More often than not, this annual year-end rock festival put on by local alt-rock station 97X picks some young bands that go on to, well, much bigger things. Think OK Go and fun. This year, the lineup includes Thirty Seconds to Mars, Jimmy Eat World, Stone Temple Pilots with Linkin Park's Chester Bennington and up and comers Saints of Valory. Saints of Valory scored Next Big Thing's opening slot on Saturday, an honor that has become something of a vote of confidence from 97X. Gates open at noon Saturday for the festival at Vinoy Park in downtown St. Petersburg. Tickets are $65 though Friday via Ticketmaster, $80 at the gate if available. At 9 p.m. Friday, there will be a free Next Big Thing kickoff party featuring an acoustic performance by the Dirty Heads at Hogan's Beach, 7700 Courtney Campbell Causeway, Tampa. For details on 97X Next Big Thing, see 97xonline.com.
Chill out A Florida twist on Christmas will help chill things out this weekend: Snow for suntanned kids to play in. Some 65 tons of snow will be blown into St. Petersburg's North Straub Park on Saturday for the Snow Fest and Santa parade starting at 10 a.m. In Clearwater, Friday's Winter's Miracle on Cleveland Street will have a snow slide and an outdoor skating rink in the 400 Block of Cleveland Street. At the Snow Place Like Tarpon Springs party, snow will be falling on Tarpon Avenue for this party with real reindeer, holiday hay rides, shopping, vendors, music, food, carriage rides and visits with Santa. Free. 4-9 p.m. Friday. Tarpon Avenue, Alt U.S. 19 and near N Ring Ave., Tarpon Springs. And finally, Tampa's Tree Lighting Ceremony Festivities won't have snow, but there's ice skating on real ice in Curtis Hixon Park and after the tree lighting at 6 p.m. there will be a free showing of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Visitors are asked to bring a teddy bear that will be donated to children in local hospitals. Blankets, low back chairs, coolers and dogs on leashes are allowed. 6 p.m. Friday at Curtis Hixon Park, 600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa.
Deck the hulls
Boat parades Yet another Florida twist on the holiday, there will be several light brigades of decorated boats in holiday boat parades this weekend. There's one Sunday at dusk at Lowry Park, 7525 N Boulevard, Tampa. On Saturday at the Dunedin Marina, 51 Main St., Dunedin as well as Sims Park, 6341 Bank St., New Port Richey. On Friday the St. Pete Beach boat parade starts at 6 p.m. at Blind Pass Bridge and heads south to the Bayway Bridge and also on Friday, Tarpon Landing Marina, 21 Oscar Hill Road, Tarpon Springs.
Death By Chocolate Indulge in decadent chocolate treats and sweets at the 18th annual Death By Chocolate, a Rotary Club of Largo fundraiser with all-you-can-eat chocolate creations, holiday lights on display in Largo's Central Park, complimentary champagne, entertainment and silent auctions. It's 7 to 9 p.m. Friday at Largo Cultural Center, 105 Central Park Drive, Largo. $25. (727)424-3205.
Tampa Am 2013 One of the Skatepark of Tampa's signature events, the Tampa Am is the most respected contest in amateur skateboarding, often marking a turning point in a skater's career before they turn pro. And this year the Skatepark of Tampa is celebrating the contest's 20th anniversary. Doors open at 9 a.m. each day and contests will start at noon daily. Tonight's welcome party at 7 p.m. includes music by Samurai Shotgun, Reese, Road to the Riches, DJ Cub and MP3J, a bowl jam, art show and an open bar starting at 7 p.m. Spectator admission today is $5, Friday through Sunday is $10 at Skatepark of Tampa, 4215 E Columbus Drive, Tampa. Saturday includes a live broadcast, street qualifiers, three skater jams, best trick contest, an open bar courtesy at the SPoT 21 Year Anniversary Party with live music at the Cuban Club. (813) 621-6793
— Sharon Kennedy Wynne [email protected]