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Your weekend arts forecast: ‘Christmas’ begins the day after Thanksgiving

Bill DeYoung



Enchant Christmas opens Friday under the Tropicana Field dome. Photo provided.

Short week, big holiday, long weekend. There’s turkey involved, apparently. Here we go.

It’s “lights out” at Tropicana Field, as the entire ceiling is being hidden this week behind a 39,000-pound blackout curtain.

It’s also “lights on,” as into the curtain are stitched 1,400 RGB light strings, each one 50 feet in length. The little lights twinkle and dance in sync. With apologies to Vincent van Gogh, this will create one big and impressive starry night. Even during the day.

Blacking out the dome and filling the “sky” with “stars” are a small part of the grand illusion of Enchant Christmas, which opens to the public Friday.

The centerpiece of this family-friendly activity, which will remain in place through Jan. 2, is the 90,000 square foot light maze, re-creating a festive village and forest, complete with a 100-foot-tall Christmas tree and a “Smoke Bubble Tree” 25 feet in diameter. This year’s there’s an interactive game called The Mischievous Elf – visitors will embark on an adventure to help save Christmas by finding eight of Santa’s presents, hidden by said elf.

Yes, the old boy in the red suit and white beard will be on hand, too.

Now in its second season in St. Pete, Enchant Christmas (opens at 4 p.m. Thursdays-Sundays) also includes an Ice Skating Trail, an artisan Christmas market, a global holiday treat center, music, a lighted, interactive dance floor and and more.

“We’re thrilled to welcome guests back this holiday season,” said Tampa Bay Rays President Brian Auld in a prepared statement. “Partnering with Enchant to bring so much joy to the community is a great pleasure for everyone at Tropicana Field.”

Tickets and additional information can be found here.

On the other side of the bay, the Hillsborough County Fairgrounds has been transformed into a winter wonderland of its own. Unlike the Trop event, the outdoor Festival of Lights is only open in early evening (6 to 10 p.m., starting Thursday and continuing through the day after Christmas). Info and tickets here.

Mr. Claus and friend at Pinellas Arts Village. Screen grab.

Pinellas Park art

Pinellas Arts Village, 5663 Park Blvd. in Pinellas Park, throws holiday-weekend caution to the wind with its 4th Saturday Block Party (Small Business Saturday, Nov. 27). All of the PAV artisans and their studios will be open for your holiday perusal, in a festive atmosphere that includes a live DJ, food trucks and, yes, pictures with Santa. Participants at the 4 to 9 p.m. event include Swartz Gallery, Bottles Pub, Studios at 5663, Painting with a Twist, Vince Pompei Gallery, The Complete Sweet Shoppe, Wordier Than Thou, Donnelly COVE and the Pinellas Park Art Society. More info here.

Quite the Palooza

Small business Saturday in St. Petersburg would not be the same without Shopapalooza, the big ol’ Localshops1 shop-local event taking over Vinoy Park Saturday and Sunday (10-5 both days). Admission is free. More info here.

Music and theater

Ruth Eckerd Hall will be open for business Saturday, for the 24th annual Dave Koz & Friends Christmas show. The jazz saxophonist is joined on this go-round by guitarist/singer Jonathan Butler, trumpeter Rick Braun, saxophonist Richard Elliot and singer Rebecca Jade. Tickets are here.

Tampa Repertory Theatre’s collaboration with ThinkTank Theatre continues with the multiple Tony Award-winning drama The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-Time, opening Saturday in Tampa (in the Stageworks Theatre space).

Based on the novel by Mark Haddon, Curious Incident – being produced in Tampa Bay for the first time – is running in repertory with the Young Adult drama The Giver. Tickets and info here.

It’s also the first of just two weekends for Jobsite’s re-mount of the musical Shockheaded Peter, which we detailed in a Tuesday story.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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