What's New in Jacksonville, Fla. Winter/Spring 2011 | Arts & Culture

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What's New in Jacksonville, Fla. Winter/Spring 2011

Winter in Jacksonville is mild, and spring temperatures and festivals are just around the corner.  This season, visitors to Northeast Florida get excited about an inaugural lacrosse tournament, The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens 50th Anniversary celebration, the new Aloft Jacksonville Tapestry Park – Jacksonville’s first LEED certified hotel and new diverse activities and experiences. 

Special Events (February - April)  


Bella Luna: Dessert Under the Stars

Feb. 12

Bring your valentine to the Museum of Science & History (MOSH) to enjoy the view of the Downtown skyline from MOSH’s rooftop.  The romantic, child-free evening will include a special valentine-themed Cosmic Concert, music, stargazing and time to explore the museum.  Sweet treats, beer and wine will be served.  Bella Luna takes place 7 - 10 p.m. 

26.2 with Donna: The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer

Feb. 13

Participate or join thousands of spectators for this annual marathon in its fourth year.  As the only marathon in the country dedicated solely to raising money to fight breast cancer, the funds raised will be donated to The Donna Foundation and Mayo Clinic for breast cancer research and its multidisciplinary Breast Clinic, which specializes in the detection and treatment of breast cancer.  A half-marathon and relay is also scheduled. 

Your Park! Your Heritage! 13th Annual Kingsley Heritage Celebration

Feb. 19, 26

Celebration explores the rich cultural traditions found in modern American society, originating during the plantation period. Rodney Hurst, local historian and author of It Was Never About a Hot Dog and Coke, will be the featured speaker on Feb. 19th, 2 p.m.  Following Hurst, Auntie Roz, a Broadway actress, singer, and creative producer, will perform excerpts from her new play A Walk in Their Shoes: A Reenactment of the Underground Railroad.

Feb. 26, the African Caribbean Dance Theater pays tribute to the enslaved of Kingsley Plantation in Homage to the Ancestors: A Guinea West African Dance at 2 p.m. and again at 3:30 p.m.  Also appearing is Master Storyteller and children’s writer, Mama Koku.  Her presentation From Freedom to Slavery to Freedom explores the black experience from Africa to America.

Moe’s Southwest Grill Sunshine Classic

Feb. 20

Lacrosse is one of the fastest growing sports in the South and Jacksonville is proud to host the inaugural Sunshine Classic at EverBank Field, home of the NFL Jacksonville Jaguars.  A double-header starts at noon with Georgetown University taking on the hometown Jacksonville University Dolphins.  At 3 p.m., a rematch of last year’s NCAA championship game pits power houses University of Notre Dame and Duke University. 

Amelia Island Film Festival

Feb. 24-27

The Amelia Island Film Festival celebrates local and regional filmmakers in venues throughout historic downtown Fernandina Beach.  Visitors can walk or take a horse-drawn carriage to all events.  Program includes a meet-and-greet with filmmakers, writers, artists, songwriters and other events. 


Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance

March 11-13

The 16th annual event celebrates classic cars and the people who admire them.  Events take place at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island and The Golf Club of Amelia Island at Summer Beach.

Gate River Run

March 12

An extraordinary 15k run through Downtown Jacksonville and its bridges.  The event is in its 34th year with nearly 20,000 runners and walkers participating in the largest 15K in the United States.  It’s sure to be an exciting event to run in or watch from the sidelines. 

Great Atlantic Seafood and Music Festival

March 19

Family-fun, arts and crafts and of course lots of seafood are featured at this annual Jacksonville Beach event held at the oceanfront Sea Walk Pavilion in downtown Jacksonville Beach. 

Jacksonville Fashion Week

March 24-26

The inaugural Jacksonville Fashion Week will host a number of events over the course of three days to Downtown Jacksonville featuring emerging and established designers. The majority of the participating designers have ties to Jacksonville, including Lauren Rossi, Chabri, Richard & Bancroft, Yleya Vega Atelier, Bobby K and Love Brigade, among others.  Retail buyers, boutique owners and consumers will have the opportunity to view the latest collections in runway shows and affiliated events.


George’s Music Annual Springing the Blues

April 1-3

Bring the entire family to celebrate Blues music and the arts. The three-day oceanfront event is free and features a number of renowned blues performers, as well as numerous displays and activities geared for the entire family. The annual event is held at the Sea Walk Pavilion in Jacksonville Beach.

Beaches Sandcastle Contest & Parade

April 23-24

The beaches officially welcome visitors as temperatures become warmer and families head for a day in the sun.  A sandcastle contest kicks off the weekend with prizes in several categories.  On Sunday, a lively parade marches through Jacksonville Beach. 

World of Nations Celebration

April 28 – May 1

Each spring, Jacksonville celebrates its cultural diversity with the World of Nations Celebration, presented by the City of Jacksonville.  Metropolitan Park transforms into a multi-ethnic marketplace of cuisine, crafts and entertainment of people from around the world. 

Florida’s Birding and FotoFest

April 28-May 1

This event features professional photographers giving hands-on advice and nature excursions throughout Northeast Florida.  Headquartered at Guana Environmental Education Center, attendees can experience a butterfly house, vendors and other family activities. There is no cost to visit the education center and excursions range in price. 

Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival

April 28 – May 1

There is no better way to taste Northeast Florida’s freshest seafood.  This unique celebration is complete with pirate invasions, a juried arts show, kids’ activities, craft and antique booths and more.  The festival takes place in historic downtown Fernandina Beach. 

Arts & Culture

The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens – One of the Southeast’s largest arts museums is celebrating its 50th anniversary with special events and exhibits in 2011.  The Cummer Legacy was unveiled Jan. 7 and will be on display through May 22.  This exhibition brings together the paintings that comprised Ninah and Arthur Cummer's original gift to the museum, including such masterpieces as Winslow Homer’s The White Rowboat, St. Johns River and Peter Paul Rubens’ The Lamentation of Christ

In addition, the Tudor Room re-opens Jan. 15 as a part of the anniversary season.  The Tudor Room incorporates paneling, flooring, furnishings, a fireplace and a selection of art from the Cummers’ home to recreate the domestic sphere in which their collections were originally displayed.  Archival photographs and documents in the Millner Gallery will further illustrate how the Cummers’ lived with their collection.

The Riverside Avondale neighborhood is one of the American Planning Association’s 10 Great Neighborhoods in America for 2010.  It is the first neighborhood in Florida to win this honor. A free, self-guided multimedia tour is now available of the historic district as well.  The tour begins at RAP’s popular Riverside Arts Market (RAM).  Visitors with video-enabled players can enjoy vintage photographs of the various sites on the tour.  The walk lasts approximately an hour and covers two miles, winding through and around some 20 blocks of historic Riverside.  Discover the Rochester House, a haunted house that once played host to Abraham Lincoln’s widow, and then walk by the office of Leonard Skinner, the former coach who gave his name to one of Jacksonville’s most famous bands, Lynyrd Skynyrd. 

The Artist Series Presents is Jacksonville’s major presenter of national and international performing acts.  Highlights of the 2010-2011 season continuing in the New Year include Capitol Steps Jan. 19-23, Glenn Miller Orchestra Jan. 27, Cirque Illuminations Dream Feb. 15-20 and Shrek May 10-15.  Shows are performed at the Wilson Center for the Arts and The Times-Union Center for Performing Arts. 

Hairspray at Alhambra Theatre & Dining opens Feb. 16 and runs through April 3.  The comedic musical, recently popularized by a film production, is sure to be a family hit.   Another musical, Seven Bridges for Seven Brothers, runs April 6 - May 22.  This transformed MGM movie promises to be a rambunctious, energetic good time. 

The Platters, Coasters, Drifters and Temptations Salute is now a permanent attraction in St. Augustine at Fort Menendez at Old Florida Museum.  This engaging show stars Myles Savage, star lead singer from the Platters, and Ira Greig, star lead singer from the former Beary Hobbs of the Drifters.  Savage and Greig will be performing The Platters, Coasters, Drifters and Temptations Salute at Fort Menendez at Old Florida Museum every Saturday at 7 p.m.  

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Jacksonville, located in the heart of Downtown, presents The Art of Seating: 200 Years of American Design, Jan. 21 - April 3.  Also this spring, the museum showcases Wind Weaver and the Whirling Wheel: A Tale of Wolfbat Romance, Feb. 3 - March 20 and FUSION: Ceramic Works by the FIRM, March 24 - May 1. 

The Farmers Market (FRAM) at the Riverside Arts Market (RAM) opened Jan. 8.  The inaugural produce market showcases local Florida produce, much of which is in season in the winter months, while the full market takes a winter break, reopening March 5.  FRAM at RAM is open Saturdays from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. beneath the Fuller Warren Bridge. 

The Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra continues their 2010-2011 season with An Evening with Bernadette Peters on Jan. 19, Valentine’s Romance Feb. 11-12 and Mahler’s Fourth March 25-26.  Performances are held in Florida’s only dedicated symphony hall, Jacoby Symphony Hall at The Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts. 

The Florida Theatre, one of Florida’s last remaining picture palaces, showcases a diverse selection of performances throughout the year.  This season, Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith perform Feb. 16; Hot Tuna Blues takes stage Feb. 27; George Lopez brings his comedic act to Jacksonville March 4; and Kathy Griffin rolls in April 3. 

The Beaches Museum & History Center presents A View from the Atlantic through March 1.  The gallery exhibit features the works of Gordon Russell, Lyn Nix and Bruce Ann Ferguson. 

Sports, Outdoors & Adventure

The World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum celebrates one of the true legends in golf history with its latest special exhibition, “Nancy Lopez: Pride Passion & Personality.”  The special exhibit features more than 100 pieces of memorabilia from her electric career, including LPGA Championship trophies, her trophy from the inaugural Solheim Cup and even the legendary Ray Cook putter she used to win so many of her 48 LPGA titles.

Lopez will visit the World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum on Saturday, Jan. 15 to officially open her special exhibition, which has been on preview since Dec. 17.  A special public event is planned for that day from 4-6 p.m.  Guests will have the opportunity to tour the museum, the Lopez exhibit and attend a speaking program with her in the museum’s Shell Hall.  Advance tickets to this limited seating event are $25.  

The new Jacks or Better Casino is now sailing from Mayport, offering visitors the opportunity to enjoy a five-hour day or night cruise into the Atlantic Ocean with a variety of foods, drinks, entertainment and gambling. 

Kayak Amelia, a popular outdoor adventure tour company, now has Stand Up Boards (SUP Boards) available for tours of the picturesque estuary.  First-time users receive instructions and the calm, flat inland waters will put new users at ease too.  Several popular, specialized guided tours will now be offered regularly, including Yo-gak-ing, which is now offered once a month.  Yo-gak-ing is a kayak excursion followed by a peaceful yoga routine.  Groove and Grub nights with music and food on the marsh will also now be held every third Saturday from February to November. 

Pat Croce’s St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum opened in December 2010 after relocating from Key West.  The museum is offering an exclusive discount on admission when visitors check-in with the social media application Foursquare.  The museum offers $1 off the ultimate pirate experience to visitors on their first Foursquare check-in to the museum.  The museum features one of the world’s largest collections of pirate artifacts dating back to the 16th century. 

The Jacksonville Suns, the 2010 Southern League Champions, begin their 2011 season April 7 against the Huntsville Stars.  The season runs through Sept. 5, playing all home games at The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville in Downtown.  The Suns are the Double A minor league affiliate of the Florida Marlins. 

The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has added a new program to its education series - Seniors After Dark Adventures engages guests 55 years and up to explore animal conservation and other topics.  The first event takes place Jan. 26 from 6-10 p.m.  This month’s program, “Bird Rehabilitation and Care,” invites participants to meet some of the zoo’s rehabilitated bird ambassadors, learn what it takes to nurse birds back to health and get an update on the efforts to save the avian refugees from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf.

Jacksonville Maritime Museum has moved to a larger location and reopened at The Jacksonville Landing.  The free museum’s new location has five times more space for visitors to explore scale model ships, paintings, artifacts and photographs related to maritime history of Jacksonville bring incredible tales of the past to life.  A volunteer staff is available to further detail one of Jacksonville’s most colorful pasts. 

Dining, Nightlife & Shopping

SUITE, a premium lounge and restaurant is now open at the St. Johns Town Center.  SUITE serves an extensive list of unique cocktails, spirits and select wines that compliment a chef-driven small plates menu.   Innovative cocktails include a selection from the SlimList – all cocktails have less than 123 calories, and for the adventurous, NTinis, martinis chilled to -320 degrees, infused with liquid nitrogen. 

One Ocean Resort Hotel & Spa will host a premiere event for Northeast Florida, bringing together the best of the best in Florida’s First Coast cuisine with prominent area chefs creating a five-course benefit dinner in partnership with the renowned Friends of James Beard Foundation on April 9.  The exclusive team assembled includes Chef Ted Peters and Pastry Chef Nancy Slatsky of Azurea, Chef Tom Gray of

Bistro Aix, Chef Matthew Medure of Matthew’s and Chef Brian Siebenschuh of Orsay.  All wine

pairings for the spring season courses are from the Foley Family Wineries.  The benefit dinner is hosted at Azurea, the signature restaurant of One Ocean Resort, where every seat overlooks the ocean.

For the third consecutive year, Northeast Florida’s Amelia Island is serving up its popular Restaurant Week, a seven-day showcase of some of the island’s favorite spots for food and fun.  Running Jan. 23-30, this year’s Restaurant Week features 23 different island restaurants, ranging from fine dining to flip-flop-friendly.  Each participating restaurant will offer a special fixed menu (priced at either $19 or $29 per person) that includes three courses and a beverage.  Participating restaurants include, PLAE, The Verandah, Crab Trap, Slider’s Seafood Grill and more. 

The Bold City Grill is now open at the Sheraton Jacksonville.  The restaurant takes its name from the local Bold City Brewery, exclusively serving Bold City beers on tap with a menu of comfort foods.  Pieces of Jacksonville history serve as the décor. 

James Beard nominated Chef Tom Gray, features a new seasonal menu at Bistro Aix, located in historic San Marco, and the restaurant recently unveiled 12 new winter dishes.  The winter menu includes Roasted Organic Beets served in creamy truffle vinaigrette, Lamb Kefta (a spicy Moroccan meatball), Stilton Blue Cheese Pizza from the wood-burning oven and Risotto with house-made Duck Confit. 

St. Augustine Premium Outlets conveniently located off I-95 offers 85 outlets from the world’s leading designers and name brands.  The shopping destination has recently opened two new stores – DKNY and Travelpro.  White House | Black Market opens in April. 



Aloft Jacksonville-Tapestry Park opens Jan. 13.  The new construction property features approximately 3,600 square feet of meeting space to accommodate guests, as well as stylish accommodations.  The new aloft is designed to meet an extensive set of criteria outlined by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System.  This is Jacksonville’s first LEED-certified hotel. 

The hotel will also be part of a Starwood pilot program for keyless entry along with a check-in process that can occur through a smart phone application.  After checking-in, guests receive a text from the hotel with their room number and will use their phone to enter their hotel room. 

The Crowne Plaza Jacksonville Airport received the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 2010 Renovation Award for their successful completion of major modernizations and renovation programs during the past year.  The multi-million dollar renovation included improvements to the meeting space, lobby, guest rooms, restaurant, lounge and hotel exterior. The hotel has 317 rooms, two suites and over 10,000 square feet of meeting space. 

One Ocean Resort Hotel & Spa in Atlantic Beach is expanding its meeting space, opening the Solaria in February.  The Solaria is 2,000 square feet of naturally lighted space that can be divided equally into two spaces and also opens onto the 1,600 square feet of oceanfront, outdoor space.  The addition brings the total meeting space of the resort, built in 2008, to 10,000 square feet. 

The Crowne Plaza Jacksonville Riverfront has partnered with Checker Cab Company to offer guests complimentary shuttle transportation within a two-mile radius from 6-10 a.m. and 5-9 p.m. The hotel is located along Downtown’s riverfront with art galleries, restaurants and other attractions in the immediate neighborhood.   Airport transfers are now available for $26 each way.


The Jacksonville Aviation Authority has added several new flight services, making transportation to and from Northeast Florida accessible.  Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) will soon service passengers with the following flights: JetBlue Airways will now offer service from JAX to Luis Munoz Marin International Airport (San Juan, PR), beginning in May 2011; Southwest Airlines will begin service to Denver International Airport (DEN) in June 2011; and Delta Airlines is offering flights to Miami International Airport (MIA), beginning in March 2011. 


A new partnership formed by American Airlines and JetBlue Airways will make it easier for Northeast Florida travelers to reach overseas destinations.  Travelers to/from JAX will be able to easily connect between 14 of Americans international destinations departing from JFK and Boston, including Barcelona; Rio de Janeiro; and Tokyo, and 18 JetBlue domestic markets, including Portland, Maine; Rochester; and Richmond. 


The University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute is a LIVESTRONG Community Impact Project award recipient.  As the only proton therapy facility in the southeastern United States, UF Proton Therapy Institute plans to apply the awarded funds to a program integrating health care and the arts for pediatric patients treated at the Jacksonville facility.

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