It's time to observe the Festival of Lights, starting at sunset Tuesday and ending Dec. 20.
Many congregations seem to be having a great time, because Hanukkah celebrations this year are hilarious. There's a menorah made of fidget spinners at Hanukkah on Ice in Westfield Countryside, and a falafel menorah on Clearwater Beach. There's also a Meshuga Nutcracker including a Klezmer-ized orchestration of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite and lyrics that celebrate Hanukkah. The eight-night celebration is surrounded by tradition. Latkes, potato pancakes traditionally eaten during Hanukkah and fried in oil, remind us of the oil that lasted for eight days in the Hanukkah story. And don't forget doughnuts and chocolate gelt coins. Some Hanukkah gatherings coming this week:
Grand Family Hanukkah Celebration
Chabad of Clearwater lights a falafel menorah at this festival with live multilingual music, a "Mad Science" show, hot latkes, donuts, dreidels, chocolate gelt and a menorah contest. Free. Surf Style Mega Store, 311 S Gulfview Blvd., Clearwater Beach. (727) 265-2770. 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Car Menorah Parade
The Chabad Jewish Discovery Center will have a parade of menorah-topped cars that will depart from the center and convoy to Winthrop Town Center for the Hanukkah Fun Fest. Free. Chabad Jewish Disocvery Center, 1578 Bloomingdale Ave., Valrico. (813) 571-8100. 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Hanukkah Fun Fest
A family festival with balloon art, face painting, the lighting of a 9-foot menorah, balloon sculpting, hot latkes, fire engine, chocolate gelt drop and Hanukah-themed crafts. Free. Winthrop Town Center, Corner of Bloomingdale Avenue and Providence Road at 11109 Winthrop Market St., Riverview. (813) 571-8100. 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Jewish Genealogical Society of Tampa Bay president Bruce Hadburg serves as guest speaker for the Sisterhood of Temple Beth David luncheon with Hanukkah appetizers, salads, kugel, latkes and dessert. $12, $7 members (registration required by Friday). Temple Beth David, 13158 Antelope St., Spring Hill. (352) 592-4930. 11 a.m. Tuesday.
Hanukkah in the City
The Chabad Jewish Center of Greater St. Petersburg hosts a celebration of unity that includes live blues music by Lazer Lloyd, menorah lighting, a fire eater, stilt walker, face painting, Hanukkah crafts, free latkes and donuts, appearances by team mascots and kosher concessions by Locale Market. Free. Sundial St. Pete, 151 Second Ave. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 344-4900. 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Hanukkah Klezmer Festival
Chabad of Brandon and Southshore present this festival with a 9-foot menorah, live Klezmer music by Fraylach Band and New York deli style food available for purchase. Free (food/drink additional). Sun City Center Chamber of Commerce, 1651 Sun City Center Plaza, Sun City Center. (813) 571-8100. 4:30 p.m. Dec. 14
Grand Hanukkah Celebration
Light up the night with Chabad at this annual celebration with a large menorah lighting, entertainment, face painting, hot latkes and doughnuts. Free. The Shops at Wiregrass, 28211 Paseo Drive, Wesley Chapel. (813) 731-2977. 5-7 p.m. Dec. 17.
Hanukkah Chocolate Gelt Factory
Ages 3 to 13 can grind, melt and mold their own chocolate coins. Also, learn how to wire an electric menorah with copper tape, batteries and LED lights. $8. Chabad Jewish Disocvery Center, 1578 Bloomingdale Ave. , Valrico. (813) 571-8100. 11 a.m.-noon Dec. 17.
Hanukkah On Ice
The annual celebration with free ice skating to Jewish music, a menorah built entirely of fidget spinners, hot latkes, donuts, gelt and build your own Lego fidget dreidel. It is free, but RSVPs are required. Free; RSVP required. Tampa Bay Skating Academy at Westfield Countryside, 27001 U.S. 19 N, Clearwater. (727) 789-0408. 5:45-7:45 p.m. Dec. 17.
The sixth night of the eight-day holiday features the lighting of a third 9-foot menorah, donut decorating, Hanukkah crafts, hot latkes and chocolate gelt. Free. Park Square, 16144 Churchview Drive, Lithia. (813) 571-8100. 5 p.m. Dec. 17.
The Meshuga Nutcracker
This Nutcracker story with a Jewish twist includes a Klezmer-ized orchestration of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite and lyrics that celebrate Hanukkah. $16.05 (price may vary by location). Woodlands Square 20, 3128 Tampa Road, Oldsmar. (727) 771-6643. Also being shown at Park Place Stadium 16 in Pinellas Park and Citrus Park 20 in Tampa. 7 p.m. Dec. 19.