Are you ready for the weekend? Us too.
If you don’t have plans yet, we’re here to help.
Here’s a hand-picked guide to fun times around Bradenton, Sarasota, Tampa Bay and beyond.
Are we missing a big event? Drop us a line at email@example.com.
Fun for everyone
Friday Fest at Van Wezel: Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall’s free outdoor summer concert series wraps up on Friday with a performance by Ari and the Alibis.
The band has a funky fusion sound that combines jazz, blues, funk, soul and rock into a smooth sonic concoction.
The party happens on the Bayside Lawn. Blankets and lawn chairs are welcome; outside food and drink are prohibited.
Details: 5-9 p.m. Friday. Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Free.
Rocktoberfest at Darwin: Darwin Brewing is kicking of the fall festivities early with Rocktoberfest — an Oktoberfest with a rockin’ twist.
The event includes live music from Dovydas (blues rock) and Ship of Fools (a Grateful Dead cover band), food trucks (including bratwurst and beer-infused dishes), a photo booth and a visit from Bradenton mayor Wayne Poston.
The brewery will also tap a limited supply of German beers.
Details: 2-10:30 p.m. Saturday. Darwin Brewing and Taproom, 803 17th Ave. W., Bradenton. Free.
Supermarket party: Gourmet grocer The Fresh Market is showing some customer appreciation this Saturday with a day of in-store festivities.
From 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., shoppers can enjoy free coffee, juice and a continental-style breakfast; free samples from the grill and vendors including Cremaschi Wines, Gelato Patrini, Holy Smoke BBQ Sauce and Motorworks Brewing will be available from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
A wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano will be cracked at 2 p.m. (with more free samples), and there will also be a raffle for gift cards and baskets.
The first 250 guests will receive a free reusable bag.
Details: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. The Fresh Market, 6701 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton. Free.
Info: 941-795-1800. thefreshmarket.com.
Cowboy Hoedown at Joyland: Joyland Country Music Night Club will host a night of line dancing and live music for a special cause on Saturday.
Bradenton country rockers Rebel Heart will play starting at 9 p.m.
The event includes a raffle and auction, and it will benefit the Sarasota Future Farmers of America Alumni Association; the group supports agricultural education by funding scholarships, field trips, contests and other community outreach.
Details: 6-11:30 p.m. Saturday. Joyland Country Music Night Club, 5520 14th St. W., Bradenton. $15.
At the museum
Discover the origins of mythic monsters: As it turns out, not all mythical creatures are a complete fantasy.
“Stories of mythical beings have been with us for thousands of years,” the Bishop Museum of Science and Nature says. “ ’Giants, Dragons & Unicorns: The World of Mythic Creatures’ traces the natural and cultural roots of some of the world’s most enduring mythic creatures.”
The exhibit includes interactive stations where visitors can build virtual dragons, create models of giant skeletons from mammoth bones and snap a photo with a fire-breather.
Details: Through Jan. 5, 2020. Bishop Museum of Science and Nature, 201 10th St. W., Bradenton. $10-$19.
At the theater
Steel Magnolias: The Island Players 2019-2020 season opens with a classic play full of comedy, drama and perseverance through tragedy.
“ ’Steel Magnolias’ is set entirely in a beauty salon in a small town in Louisiana where women gather to laugh, gossip, cry and offer friendship and understanding to each other,” the Island Players says. “The group’s strength and love is a tribute to friendship and the power of the human spirit as the women support each other through good times and bad.”
Details: Through Sept. 29. The Island Players Theater, 10009 Gulf Dr., Anna Maria. $23.
Info: 941-778-5755. theislandplayers.org.
Grey Gardens: Described as tragic, funny and unforgettable, this musical tells the story of a mother and daughter who fall from a posh, high-society lifestyle to a lonely and eccentric existence in a crumbling estate.
The stage work is based off of the the 1975 documentary of the same name.
Details: Through Sunday. Manatee Performing Arts Center, 502 Third Ave. W., Bradenton $27-$40.
Info: 941-748-5875. manateeperformingartscenter.com.
Clean up the coastline: Saturday is International Coastal Cleanup Day, and it’s a good chance to get outdoors and help the planet, too.
Alternatively, just head out to a favorite park or beach and pick up some trash.
Details: International Coastal Cleanup Day is Saturday.
Dalí like you’ve never seen it: An exhibit on display at The Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg allows visitors to explore the surreal through augmented reality.
What does that mean, you ask? A quick download of “The Dalí Museum” app onto a smartphone lets you interact with eight of the painter’s masterworks in all new ways.
“Dalí himself constantly challenged reality in his work and life, and explored the emerging technologies of his time,” museum staff says. “We believe he would enjoy AR as an interpretive aid to his multilayered, complex images.”
Pro tip: On Thursdays from 5-8 p.m., admission to the Dali drops to $12 for adults and $8 for children.
Travel Time: About 30 minutes.
Details: Through Nov. 3. 1 Dali Blvd., St. Petersburg. $10-$25.
Theme park fun
Howl-O-Scream opening weekend: It’s the scariest time of the year at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.
The theme park’s after-hours Halloween spectacle returns this weekend with haunted trails and houses and roaming hordes of otherworldly ghouls.
The park is bringing back some old favorites for the event’s 20th year — plus plenty of new scares.
Details: 7:30 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, 10165 McKinley Dr., Tampa. $39.99 and up per night or $84.99 to get in all season.
NEW IN TOWN — Light bites and board games: Opened this week, Bradenton’s first board game cafe invites guests to put down the phones and enjoy each other’s company over a match of Clue, Catan, Rummikub, Battleship or any of more than 450 board games.
A simple menu of handheld bites features croissant sandwiches, finger food boards, hot dogs and snack cups.
To drink, grab coffee, tea, soda, juice, beer or wine.
It’s just $5 to get in and play for a day.
Table Talk SRQ is at 3999 Cortez Road W. in Bradenton.
EAT THIS — Pizza in Parrish: Since taking over last year, new owners are perfecting the pizza game at Raven Pizza and More in Parrish.
Additions include new menu items like a Margherita pizza and Tiramisu. The “Raven Deluxe,” featuring pepperoni, Italian sausage, ham, onions, green peppers, black olives and mushrooms is the top customer favorite.
Other menu items include wings, appetizers, salads, subs, pasta and gluten-free choices.
The restaurant is takeout or delivery only; delivery service extends to the Parrish-Ellenton-East Palmetto area.
Raven Pizza and More is at 8255 U.S. 301 in Parrish.
DRINK THIS — Make time for tea time: Newly opened Fiorella Tea & Flower House on Lockwood Ridge Road in Sarasota is the place for an elegant spot of tea and accompanying snacks like finger sandwiches and scones.
The business offers daily tea service, special events, classes and catering.
You can also shop loose-leaf teas and accessories.
Fiorella Tea & Flower House is at 7628 Lockwood Ridge Road, Sarasota.
Info: 941-358-2227. facebook.com/fiorellateahouse.
DON’T FORGET DESSERT — Authentic old-world pastry: Stop by Mama G’s German Bakery and Coffee House near Sarasota Bradenton International Airport for a sweet taste of European pastry tradition.
Offerings include fruit, cheese and chocolate strudels, cranberry-walnut rolls, almond horns, croissants, tarts and cheesecake.
The pastries pair wonderfully with a hot coffee or cold brew. Daily specials like pizza, Belgian waffles and pretzels are a good excuse to return often.
Mama G’s German Bakery and Coffee House is at 8431 N. Tamiami Trail #2015, Sarasota.
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Live music highlights
Selwyn Birchwood at Blue Rooster
Florida-born blues guitarist and lap steel player Selwyn Birchwood is bringing the blues into the 21st century with style. Following a 2013 win at the International Blues Challenge, Birchwood began touring the world and building a global following and has since released two albums.
Details: 7:30-10:30 p.m. Thursday and 8-11 p.m. Friday. Blue Rooster, 1525 Fourth St., Sarasota. $15-$20.
Jason Haram Group at Mattison’s Riverwalk Grille: Blues, funk, soul and jam sounds are the specialty of four-piece band The Jason Haram Group.
Details: 7-10 p.m. Friday. Mattison’s Riverwalk Grille, Downtown Bradenton, 101 Riverwalk Blvd., Bradenton. No cover.
Eric Von at Cortez Kitchen: Eric Von is a country music singer-songwriter from Cortez with Nashville experience.
Details: 6 p.m. Friday. Cortez Kitchen, 4528 119th St. W., Cortez. No cover. Info: thecortezkitchen.com.