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Things to do Planner: A sneak peek at 'Downton Abbey,' party dresses and tennis shoes at a gala, Hanukkah fun begins

CROWN JEWEL:Preview 'Downton Abbey'

It may not be good manners to sneak a peek at a lady, but fans of the PBS darling Downton Abbey can get an advanced look at the one-hour Season 6 opener at locations across the Tampa Bay area in the coming weeks before savoring the last season of the British melodrama. It's hard not to love Lady Cora, Carson or Mrs. Hughes, not to mention the puffed sleeves, high collars and opera gloves. But it's the withering stare from the Dowager Countess — played by the great Dame Maggie Smith — who slays us with her quips and put-downs. Here's are favorites from Lady Violet, The Dow G:

"The presence of strangers is our only guarantee of good behavior."

"Vulgarity is no substitute for wit."

"I have plenty of friends I don't like."

"What is a week end?"

But what is truly hilarious are live tweets from comedian Patton Oswalt during each show, such as "Give us a record pledge drive or the Dowager Countess books passage on the Lusitania. #DowntonPBS."

Here's where you can book passage on the Downton train, which doesn't premiere until Jan. 3, at free previews hosted by WEDU:

• Sarasota Opera House, 61 N Pineapple Ave., Sarasota. 7:30 p.m. Friday.

• Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

• Tampa Theatre, 711 Franklin St., Tampa. 7 p.m. Wednesday.

• Pasco-Hernando State College. 7 p.m. Dec. 10, 2727 Mansfield Blvd., Wesley Chapel.

All events are free, and tickets are at wedu.org/downtonabbey. Call (813) 739-2949 or e-mail events@wedu.org.

HANUKKAH: 8 crazy nights begin Sunday

"Put on your yarmulke, it's time for Hanukkah," Adam Sandler is reminding us. In Tampa Bay we'll have menorahs made of marshmallows, carved in ice and filled with candy in just a few of the fun twists on the Festival of Lights. There will be break dancers and a gyroscope at a free celebration at 5:30 p.m. Sunday at Tampa's City Hall Plaza, 315 E Kennedy Blvd. The Chase the Dreidel 5K will have runners following a giant dreidel through the streets of St. Petersburg Sunday; $45 at tinyurl.com/chasethedreidel. The Chabad of Pinellas County is hosting Hanukkah on Ice at Westfield Countryside mall in Clearwater on Sunday with free ice skating at 5:30 p.m. and the Ironman Robot (RSVP for free tickets at YIChabad.com/ice). Hanukkah at Clearwater Beach will have a giant marshmallow menorah and the Nerdy Noah comedy show starting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at Surf Style Megastore at 311 S Gulfview Blvd., Clearwater Beach. And in St. Petersburg, the Hanukkah Extravaganza in Straub Park will have an eight-foot "candy land" menorah on Monday at 5:30 p.m. 250 Bayshore Drive NE, St. Petersburg.

LACE UP: Ties and Tennis Shoes Gala

One of the more comfortable dress codes for a fancy fundraising gala is Friday's Ties and Tennis Shoes Gala at Tropicana Field where patrons dress sharply in cocktail attire, but they complete the look with sneakers so they can play like kids at the air hockey tables, as well as table tennis, field goal kicks and soccer. The night includes craft beers and food and shopping for holiday gifts. The sneakers and the 5K the next day remind patrons that this benefits kids through the Take Stock in Children scholarship and mentoring program. Tickets are $40 at pinellaseducation.org. The gala is 6-10 p.m. Friday at Tropicana Field, 1 Tropicana Drive, St. Petersburg.



Things to do Planner: A sneak peek at 'Downton Abbey,' party dresses and tennis shoes at a gala, Hanukkah fun begins 12/02/15 [Last modified: Thursday, December 3, 2015 2:41pm]
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