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  1. Arts & Entertainment

Top things to do in Tampa Bay: Feb. 24-March 1

Plant City’s popular Strawberry Festival opens, Mardi Gras marks the start of Lent and top skateboarders head to the Skatepark of Tampa.
Strawberry shortcake is among the attractions at Plant City's Florida Strawberry Festival, which will kick off on Feb. 27. [Tampa Bay Times (2016)]

Florida Strawberry Festival: One of the biggest fairs in the country draws legions of fans to Plant City for shortcakes, shakes and a top-notch lineup of concerts over 10 days. The festival opens Thursday when the Oakridge Boys kick things off ($25) and Rascal Flatts ($51) end the night. The weekend also brings 98 Degrees on Saturday ($35) and a sold-out show by Reba McEntire on Sunday. Gates open at 10 a.m. and close at 10 p.m. daily through March 8. $10, $5 children 6 and older. 303 BerryFest Place, Plant City. (813) 752-9194. flstrawberryfestival.com.

Fat Tuesday: A bash better known as Mardi Gras kicks up on Tuesday to mark the last day of feasting before Lent. We may not have the parades and pizzazz of New Orleans, but there are celebrations to be found at Ybor City’s Big Easy, the Blue Note in Tampa and St. Petersburg’s 3 Daughters Brewing.

Tampa Pro: One of the top competitions of the year for professional skateboarders returns to the Skatepark of Tampa Thursday through Sunday with numerous parties and competitions. New this year is the first Women’s Open with female pros and top amateurs competing for a $2,500 purse. $10-$20 daily, $35 weekend. 4215 E Columbus Drive, Tampa. skateparkoftampa.com.

The best skateboarders in the world will hit the Skatepark of Tampa this week for Tampa Pro. [Times (2016)]

MUSIC

John Tesh: An audience favorite delivers songs and stories from the grand piano. $39 and up. 7:30 p.m. Friday. David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. (800) 955-1045. strazcenter.org.

John Tesh will perform at the Straz Center in Tampa on Feb. 28. [Roslan and Campion Public Relations]

St. Petersburg Jazz Festival: Expect nightly concerts starting with Brazilian group O Som Do Jazz Wednesday. Thursday brings Brazilian percussionist Rafael Pereira. Jazz-funk fusion group the Conglomerate from Orlando plays Friday, and virtuoso steel pan artist Leon Foster Thomas performs with Tal Cohen and his quartet Saturday. Vocalist Alexis Cole and the 18-piece Helios Jazz Orchestra round things up Sunday. 7:30 p.m. $25-$35. Palladium, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 822-3590. mypalladium.org.

Joe Bonamassa: Possibly the biggest star in blues performs a double-shot of shows at 8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday. $87 and up. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. (727) 791-7400. rutheckerdhall.com.

Little Big Town: Another double-dipper, the country hitmakers are playing two sold-out shows. 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. Ruth Eckerd Hall.

Sheléa: This R&B and jazz vocalist, songwriter and pianist featured on PBS in Quincy Jones Presents: Shelea performs with former New York Yankee Bernie Williams. $39-$65. 8 p.m. Thursday. Nancy and David Bilheimer Capitol Theatre. 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. atthecap.com.

Gina Chavez: The bilingual folk pop singer’s intelligent story-songs won her acclaim as a 10-time recipient of the Austin Music Award. $10.50. 7:30 p.m. Monday. Straz Center.

Il Volo: The acclaimed powerhouse Italian pop trio is on a world tour in celebration of their 10-year anniversary. $50 and up. 7:30 p.m. Monday. Straz Center.

Florida Orchestra Coffee Concerts: All About Tchaikovsky: Some of the most famous music in the world including Romeo and Juliet, 1812 Overture and Capriccio Italien will be featured on Wednesday at Ruth Eckerd Hall and on Thursday at the Mahaffey, 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg. Stuart Malina conducts. Free coffee and doughnuts. $24-$42. 11 a.m.-1 p.m. (727) 892-3337. floridaorchestra.org.

UFO: The English hard rock band has a sold-out show for what original frontman Phil Mogg says is his last tour. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Capitol Theatre.

'70s Fest: Pull out your bell bottoms and platform shoes for the third annual event starring Little River Band, Lords of 52nd Street (Billy Joel’s band) and John Waite (Every Time I Think of You). There will also be a ’70s marketplace and a classic car show. $35-$70. 5 p.m. Friday. Ruth Eckerd Hall.

DATE NIGHT

Florida Orchestra: Out of this World: For its space-themed program, the orchestra has tapped an astronaut for assistance: Clearwater native Nicole Stott, who recently appeared in a Super Bowl ad. The show will feature interstellar selections from Star Trek, Star Wars, E.T. and Holst’s The Planets with images and videos from space. 8 p.m. Friday at the Straz Center and 8 p.m. Saturday at the Mahaffey Theater.

Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival: The annual festival of foodie delights begins Saturday with a concert by Collective Soul. The Commodores play on Sunday. This year brings another large selection of wines, craft brews and cocktails and a variety of food cabins set around the park. Weekends through April 26. 10165 N McKinley Drive, Tampa. (813) 884-4386. buschgardens.com.

Comedy: There are a variety of choices for comedy fans this week, including stoner comic Doug Benson at the Improv in Ybor City on Thursday. Saturday Night Live alum Colin Quinn is at the Murray Theater at Ruth Eckerd Hall on Friday, and Tampa Theatre has four shows by Chelsea Lately regular Jo Koy on Saturday and Sunday.

Nude Nite Tampa: Don’t miss this annual collection of body-focused art, burlesque and body painting, which kicks off at 6 p.m. Thursday. Through Saturday. $35. Popup location behind Columbus Plaza at 5050 E 10th Ave., Tampa. eventbrite.com.

Andy Mann: From Summit to Sea: The award-winning filmmaker and photographer aims to bridge the gap between science and policy with stunning images of our rapidly changing planet. $20 and up. 7 p.m. Tuesday. Straz Center.

The Office: A Musical Parody: The critically acclaimed TV show was already a parody. Now see the unauthorized musical version of a day at the Dunder Mifflin paper company. $35-$70. 8 p.m. Friday and 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday. Capitol Theatre.

Che Malambo: The all-male Argentinian dance company performs in the South American cowboy (gaucho) tradition of furious footwork, drums and throwing weapons of long cords with stones tied to the ends. $29. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Straz Center.

Gasparilla Festival of the Arts: Recognized as one of the top-rated outdoor fine art festivals in the country, the Tampa tradition moves this year to Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park. More than 235 artists are selected through a juried process to exhibit their work for $80,000 in award money. Free. 9 a.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. Sunday. 1001 North Blvd., Tampa. gasparillaarts.com.

KIDS AND FAMILY

Florida’s Gulf Coast EggFest: Barbecue pitmasters compete at this festival centered around Big Green Egg grills, with live music, kids’ activities and a barbecue seminar. The $25 Taster Ticket gets you samples of the entries. 12 and younger free. 10 a.m. Saturday. Tabellas at Delaney Creek, 5818 Causeway Blvd., Tampa. flgulfcoasteggfest.com.

UniverSoul Circus: The traveling circus with international roots brings artful feats of strength, jump-roping dogs, trapeze work and dance. $24-$46. Tuesday through Sunday. Tent in the parking lot of Westfield Brandon, 459 Brandon Town Center Drive. universoulcircus.com.

Wild Kratts Live: A theatrical stage show based on the popular animated television series features its stars Martin and Chris Kratt, who engage the audience in a classic story. $24.50-$54.50. 6:30 p.m. Friday. Mahaffey Theater.

Bay Area Renaissance Festival: This weekend’s theme is Pirates and Pups and for $10 you can bring your dog along for a pet costume contest or wiener dog races and catch up with pet rescue organizations. Fill out a pet registration form on the festival’s website and bring a photo and shot records of your dog. $22.95, $18.95 senior, $14.95 5-12, 4 and younger free. The festival runs weekends through March 29. MOSI, 11315 N 46th St., Tampa. (813) 983-0111. bayarearenfest.com.

MORE TO EXPLORE

Find other things to do at tampabay.com/things-to-do.

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