Gasparilla: There's no bigger party in Tampa Bay. Thousands line the downtown Tampa waterfront Saturday to watch the pirate ship Jose Gasparilla sail in with pirates hanging off the rigging, cannons booming and a huge flotilla. Then satisfy your need for beads at the huge parade, with floats, marching bands and pirate krewes along Bayshore Boulevard. All day there's a street festival near Curtis Hixon park with vendors, music and fireworks.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day: The kids are out of school today; perfect for checking out the parades. Downtown St. Petersburg has one of the biggest MLK parades in the country, with beads, candy, marching bands and thousands of people lining Central Avenue, starting at 11 a.m. In Tampa, the annual parade starts at noon at 15th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Free
Kids and Family
Festival of Chocolate: Today is the last day to indulge in all things chocolate at Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry. It's a showroom of demos, contests and oodles of chocolate vendors. The festival is included with MOSI admission: $21.95, senior $19.95, age 2-12, $17.95; $10 for museum members (chocolate is extra). New this year is the Great American Candy Run, a sweets-themed obstacle course race every half-hour today ($10). festivalofchocolate.com.
Kumquat Festival: The tiny sweet-tart fruit is the star of this charming festival in Dade City. Sample pies, ice cream, salsas and smoothies, along with arts and crafts, a children's area and entertainment. It's free, starting at 9 a.m. Saturday. (352) 567-3769.
Eddie Money: The rocker unplugs for an acoustic show, featuring him at the piano, Wednesday at the Capitol Theatre in Clearwater ($25-$45). Also at the Cap is the harmony group Manhattan Transfer, doing an intimate show peppered with stories and new material, on Thursday ($48-$78). Both shows: (727) 791-7400.
On stage: Two big plays open this week in St. Petersburg. At Freefall Theatre is The Normal Heart, a searing play about the dawning days of the AIDS epidemic (also an HBO movie this fall). It opens Saturday, with previews Friday night and Saturday matinee [$20-44; (727) 498-5205]. At American Stage is another in the August Wilson cycle, 2 Trains Running, set in the aftermath of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination. It opens Friday, with preview Thursday [$29-$49; (727) 823-7529].
More to explore
Times food critic Laura Reiley talks about her picks for the top 50 restaurants in Tampa Bay. Video at tampabay.com/things-to-do.