1. Arts & Entertainment

Top things to do in Tampa Bay this weekend: Nov. 29-Dec. 1

The original host of ‘Mystery Science Theater’ riffs one last time and a history museum gets hooked on fishing, plus Christmas displays light up the region.
Largo Central Park's holiday lights display features a carousel and a seven-story Ferris wheel starting Nov. 28. [Tampa Bay Times (2016)]
Largo Central Park's holiday lights display features a carousel and a seven-story Ferris wheel starting Nov. 28. [Tampa Bay Times (2016)]
Published Nov. 27, 2019


Joel Hodgson, the original host and creator of the movie-riffing cult TV series, returns with his robot sidekicks for Mystery Science Theater 3000. This time they will be mocking the 1986 film No Retreat, No Surrender, about a teenage boy who learns martial arts from the ghost of Bruce Lee. There’s a difference between riffing on bad movies for a single TV viewer, and doing it in front of a crowd of more than 1,000. “You get so much more from a live audience, right?” Hodgson said in a recent interview with the Tampa Bay Times. “We have between 500 and 700 riffs a show, and so they’re laughing the whole time. Maybe every 30 seconds. Or 10. And you have to manage that." It’s worked well so far. Hodgson is in the midst of what he says will be his final live tour with his trusty robots Crow, Tom Servo and Gypsy, trading snarky one-liners in theaters across America. After more than 30 years, he’s ready to hang up his jumpsuit and steer his Satellite of Love to new horizons (though he will continue working with Netflix’s MST3K revival, should they keep making new episodes). $39.50-$59.50. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Ferguson Hall at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. (813) 229-7827.

"Mystery Science Theater 3000" creator Joel Hodgson will perform at the Straz Center in Tampa on Dec. 3. [Courtesy of Gary Glover]


Since the early 20th century, sport fishing developed into a major tourist draw and spurred the establishment of fishing clubs and tournaments in Florida. It also attracted famous residents like Thomas Edison and authors Zane Grey and Ernest Hemingway. "The Lure of Florida Fishing,” the new exhibit at the St. Petersburg Museum of History, looks at how they got hooked. More than 100 artifacts, including artwork, historic images, trophies, fish mounts and tackle, help tell the tale of sport fishing in the Sunshine State. The exhibit explores the fishing habits of the indigenous peoples and the big game fishing scene that has centered on the tarpon, the “silver king” known for its fierce fighting spirit. Also included in the exhibit is the art of Chessy Rica, a Florida Studies graduate student at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg whose oil paintings of Florida fish and sea life transform the walls of the Local Art gallery space. There’s a lot of construction going on around the museum, so admission is just $6 during the disruption. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sundays. 335 Second Ave. NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 894-1052.

A tarpon looks at tourists at Robbie's Marina in Islamorada. The game fish grow 5 to 8 feet long and weigh 80 to 150 pounds. [AP]


Now that Thanksgiving has arrived, the Christmas displays are opening this weekend to get the holidays roaring — or at least give you something to do with those visiting relatives. Here are some of this week’s openings:

  • The Florida Botanical Gardens spectacular Holiday Lights in the Gardens returns Friday through Jan. 5. The gardens are bedecked with 1 million LED lights and they also throw in some lasers and sparkling figures to illuminate the gardens for a dazzling walk. Pets are welcome. $5, 12 and younger free. 5:30-9:30 p.m. daily. 12211 Walsingham Road, Largo. (727) 582-5800.
Holiday lights at the Florida Botanical Gardens are a popular attraction starting Nov. 29. [Times (2015)]
  • Now that the Enchant Christmas spectacle is set up at Tropicana Field, two nights of the event will let dogs join their humans to sniff through the “world’s largest Christmas light maze” for Paws 'n Claus and get a photo with Santa. The dogs have the run of the place on Sunday and also Dec. 16. Dog tickets ($18.99) must be purchased in advance at Admission is $19.99-$32.99 for adults, $14-$25.99 youth. 4-11 p.m. Sunday. Tropicana Field, 1 Tropicana Drive, St. Petersburg.
  • ZooTampa at Lowry Park brings Christmas in the Wild, running weekends through Dec. 23. Animals roam with a 50-foot Christmas tree as a backdrop for the zoo’s party with story time with Mrs. Claus and meet and greets with Santa and his elves. New this year is a “Melitta Market,” a European marketplace of German food and unique merchandise. $26.95. 4 p.m. Friday-Saturday. 1101 W Sligh Ave., Tampa. (813) 274-8184.
ZooTampa at Lowry Park's Christmas in the Wild will open on Nov. 29 with one big holiday lights display. [Tampa Bay Times (2016)]
  • The Ferris wheel and carousel rides return starting Thursday through Jan. 1 for the Holiday Lights in Largo Central Park. The 70-acre park is filled with more than 2 million lights, dominated by a seven-story Ferris wheel. Free, $5 rides. 6 p.m. daily. 101 Central Park Drive, Largo. (727) 587-6700.
  • The grounds of the Florida Strawberry Festival will be transformed into Christmas Lane starting Friday. The winter wonderland features Santa, 1.5 million sparkling lights, 40-foot trees, live entertainment, living Nativity scenes with real animals and a KidZone. $5, $3 ages 4-12, 3 and younger free. 6 p.m. daily. 2508 W Oak Ave., Plant City. (813) 478-0494.
  • The illuminated St. Petersburg Santa Parade and Tree Lighting begins at 6 p.m. Saturday at Albert Whitted Park and ends in Straub Park for the city’s tree-lighting ceremony with Mayor Rick Kriseman. Free. Bayshore Drive and Fifth Avenue NE, St. Petersburg.


  1. Patron vie for beads while attending in the 103nd Gasparilla Invasion and Parade of the Pirates presented by Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla on Saturday, January 25, 2020, in downtown Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  TImes]
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