Two of the best festival events of the year go virtual this weekend, and I predict they’ll be as much fun as ever. And after a week like we just had (oh, sure, a hurricane, why not, 2020?), we deserve all the fun we can get.
Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading. Always one of the high points of the fall, the Festival of Reading, now in its 28th year, is a bountiful buffet for book lovers. And while we won’t be strolling the sylvan grounds of USF St Pete and browsing booksellers under the sun, we will be able to see as many of the 40+ writer interviews as we like, because most have been pre-recorded so we can watch them at our leisure — no more the ‘Hmm, if I go to that, I’ll miss that, and where the hell is Bayboro Hall?’ Plus, you can register in advance to watch live interviews with the likes of Colson Whitehead, Mary Kay Andrews and the intrepid truth-seekers of Politifact. Free. Nov. 12-14, festivalofreading.com.
Creative Pinellas Arts Annual. Pinellas County’s arts agency, Creative Pinellas, is a past master at staging online arts events (and I’m not just sayin’ this because I’m on the board), so this weekend’s Arts Annual is bound to be a treat. A showcase of top visual and performing artists who have received grants from the agency, it’s both a gallery show (which you can view either online or in person) and a Sunday afternoon livestream festival featuring music, dance, poetry, short film, theatrical performances and more. Plus, you can see works by participating artists at 12 hotels in Pinellas County via Arts Annual Beyond the Walls. Arts Annual Virtual Festival: Sun. Nov. 15, 4-6 p.m., artsannual.org, get tickets here. Gallery show: The Gallery at Creative Pinellas, 12211 Walsingham Rd, Largo, artsannual.org, Nov. 14-Dec. 20, free.
Kate — The Unexamined Life of Katherine Hepburn at American Stage. This latest installment in American Stage’s Digital Theatre Series was supposed to open Wednesday, but got upstaged by a nasty scene-stealer named Eta. But do you think a little thing like a tropical storm can stop the unstoppable Katherine Hepburn! No way! This one-woman show starring the formidable Janis Stevens in the title role is now opening Friday, and advance buzz is encouraging. Opening Fri. Nov. 13, americanstage.org.
Florida Orchestra: Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 & Brass with a Beat. The orchestra is live and in person at the Mahaffey again this weekend, with limited-seating concerts featuring the grace and beauty of Mozart and the bracing sounds of concert brass. Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 and Concert for Flute and Harp with TFO’s Clay Ellerbroek and Anna Kate Mackle: Nov. 14, 2 & 8 p.m.; Nov. 15, 2 p.m. Buy tickets here. Brass with a Beat, featuring works ranging from Bach to Gershwin: Nov. 14-15, 5 p.m. Buy tickets here. Free live-stream of the Mozart program Saturday night at 8; watch online.
Live from the West Side: Laura Benanti. She sings, she acts, she’s funny, she’s the beauteous Benanti! Star of Broadway musical revivals of My Fair Lady, She Loves Me and Gypsy (for which she won a Tony®) and a popular presence on TV (Younger, Nurse Jackie, The Good Wife), she’s coming to us live from NYC on Saturday, thanks to the Straz. The first installment in their livestream series Live from the West Side: The Women of Broadway featured Patti Lupone, who knocked it out of the park (or at least the studio), and I am certain Benanti will do the same. Sat., 11/14, 8 p.m., strazcenter.org.
Lucinda Williams via Ruth Eckerd. The legendary Lucinda, goddess of gravel-voiced authenticity, continues her “Lu’s Jukebox“ livestream series with Southern Soul: From Memphis To Muscle Shoals & More. Nov. 12, 8 p.m. Tickets are on sale now at RuthEckerdHall.com.
Glow Table Dinner. Now that the storms have subsided (well, OK, the storms of nature if not of politics), what could be more soothing than a night under the stars with a breeze blowing in from the water and a glow emanating from your dinner table (and probably from your tablemates, depending on the amount of wine consumed). That’s the special event on tap for Friday night outside the Mahaffey, organized by the accomplished party animals who gave us Chillounge. Between courses of this glowing sit-down dinner, cirque performers will rotate from table to table. Fri., Nov. 13, 7 p.m. Tickets are $160 and can be purchased online.
Tampa Bay Heart Walk Digital Experience. There won’t be a massive in-person walkathon because.. well, you know why. But individual participants and teams are invited to tune in at 9 a.m. to a live broadcast on Facebook featuring emcee Stacie Schaible, anchor at WFLA News Channel 8, as well as some surprise guests and other fun interactive videos and activities. Then Heart Walkers can get moving at home or around the neighborhood and are encouraged to stay tuned to the Facebook event throughout the day and share selfies and walking photos with #TBHeartWalk. Sat. Nov. 14 throughout the Tampa Bay area. To register, visit www.tampabayheartwalk.
Second Saturday Art Walk & WADA Open Air Marketplace. The studios and galleries of St. Pete’s Central Arts District, EDGE District, Grand Central District, Warehouse Arts District and downtown Waterfront Arts District will be welcoming visitors on Saturday, November 14 at various times throughout the day. It’s a great opportunity to knock some items off your holiday gift list, especially with this new addition: the Warehouse Arts District Association’s Open Air Marketplace outside the ArtsXchange featuring paintings, ceramics, jewelry, masks, leather and more. Sat., Nov. 14. Art Walk: Details at stpeteartsalliance.org. WADA Marketplace: Details on the WADA Facebook page.
The Karol Hotel reopens. The beautiful new boutique hotel in Feather Sound opened with a splash in February, and then… pandemic. On Nov. 11 they reopened, but had to contend with an even bigger splash — Hurricane Eta. But Eta’s out of our lives now, so Karol is officially back, with special rates through Dec. 15 and its 12th-story Vantage Rooftop Bar once again serving artisan cocktails with a view. Vantage hours: Wed.-Thurs., 4-9 p.m.; Fri., 4-10 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-11 p.m.; and Sun., 10 a.m.-3 p.m.. TheKarolHotel.com.