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Scene Calendar: ‘Songs of the Season,’ Jack Hartmann and more – Gainesville Sun

MUSIC

Third Friday Concert Series: 6:40 p.m. Friday, St. Patrick Catholic Church, 500 NE 16th Ave. Free. (bit.ly/47bjwQv) Gainesville Harmony Show Chorus has been entertaining audiences in North Central Florida since 1974. They are part of Sweet Adelines International, a worldwide organization of women singers, and they sing a variety of musical styles, including show tunes, pop, country, gospel and traditional barbershop tunes.

Alexa Tarantino Quartet: 7 and 9 p.m. Friday, UpStage at the Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road. Tickets: $50 for 7 p.m., $35 for 9 p.m., $12 UF students. (performingarts.ufl.edu) UpStage is an intimate, cabaret-style setting on the Phillips Center Mainstage. The 7 p.m. seating includes heavy hors d’oeuvres and cash bar; the 9 p.m. seating includes desserts and cash bar. Alexa Tarantino is an award-winning jazz saxophonist. Named one of the Top 5 Alto Saxophonists by JazzTimes Critics’ Poll, Tarantino has established herself as a high-octane, dynamic performer. While she and her bandmates approach the set with tradition firmly in mind, they bring an invigorating way of looking forward. 

Dwight Yoakam: 7 p.m. Friday, St. Augustine Amphitheatre, 1340C A1A South, St. Augustine. Tickets: $49.50-$124.50. (904-209-0367, theamp.com) Dwight Yoakam has sold more than 25 million albums worldwide, and he is a 21-time nominated, multiple Grammy Award winner. He has 12 gold albums and nine platinum or multi-platinum albums, with five of those albums topping Billboard’s Country Albums chart and another 14 landing in the Top 10.

“Songs of the Season”: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jackson N. Sasser Fine Arts Hall, Northwest Campus of Santa Fe College, 3000 NW 83rd St. Free. (sfcollege.edu) The winter holidays get an early start when the Santa Fe Singers, with special guests the Gainesville Youth Chorus, perform “Songs of the Season.” The winter holidays include Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and more. A musically diverse program that will include classical choral music, Hebrew folksongs and popular music.

Luca Mundaca: 7 and 9 p.m. Saturday, UpStage at the Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road. Tickets: $50 for 7 p.m., $35 for 9 p.m., $12 UF students. (performingarts.ufl.edu) UpStage is an intimate, cabaret-style setting on the Phillips Center Mainstage. The 7 p.m. seating includes heavy hors d’oeuvres and cash bar; the 9 p.m. seating includes desserts and cash bar. With more than 138,000 monthly listeners and millions of plays on Spotify, Luca Mundaca is an artist in her prime. Mundaca uses her stunning voice to bring about great intimacy and emotion. Her work has been featured in movies including “End of Watch” and “The Visitor,” TV shows such as “Californication” and “Mistresses,” and the Brazilian telenovela “Ti Ti Ti.”

Floyd Nation: 8 p.m. Saturday, Florida Theatre, 128 E. Forsyth St., Jacksonville. Tickets: $35-$55. (floridatheatre.com, 904-355-5661) Floyd Nation is a U.S.-based Pink Floyd Tribute Band that performs all of the band’s popular hits from the vast collection of Pink Floyd albums such as “The Wall,” “Dark Side of the Moon,” “Wish You Were Here” and “The Division Bell.” 

UF Carillon Studio Recital: 1:55 p.m. Sunday, Century Tower Carillon, 375 Newell Drive, University of Florida campus. Free. (arts.ufl.edu) Listeners are encouraged to find a location at least 100 feet from the tower for an optimal listening experience.

An Evening With Bruce Hornsby: 8 p.m. Sunday, Ponte Vedra Concert Hall, 1050 A1A N., Ponte Vedra Beach. Tickets: $81.50-$121. (pvconcerthall.com) Based out of Williamsburg, Virginia, Hornsby first rose to national prominence with “The Way It Is,” his 1986 Grammy-winning debut album with The Range. The title track became the most-played song on American radio in 1987 while Tupac Shakur’s timeless song “Changes” built on “The Way It Is” and set the stage for many subsequent versions of the track.

Rumours of Fleetwood Mac: 8 p.m. Tuesday, Florida Theatre, 128 E. Forsyth St., Jacksonville. Tickets: $39-$65. (floridatheatre.com, 904-355-5661) Channeling the spirit of Fleetwood Mac at their very best, Rumours of Fleetwood Mac offers a unique opportunity for fans, both old and new, to rediscover the songs and performances that have ensured Fleetwood Mac’s place as one of the most loved groups of all time. 

THEATER

Anthony Jeselnik: 7 p.m. Friday, Florida Theatre, 128 E. Forsyth St., Jacksonville. Tickets: $35-$75. (floridatheatre.com, 904-355-5661) Anthony Jeselnik is a stand-up comedian from Pittsburgh. He can currently be seen on his podcast, “The Jeselnik And Rosenthal Vanity Project,” alongside co-host Gregg Rosenthal. His most recent stand up special, “Fire in the Maternity Ward,” premiered on Netflix to critical acclaim. 

“Annie Jr. Musical — Cast B”: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, Star Center Theatre, 11 NE 23rd Ave. Tickets: $15 general admission, $12 students. (starcenter.ticketleap.com/annie-jr-musical—cast-b) Based on the popular comic strip by Harold Gray, “Annie,” the worldwide phenomenon, was the winner of seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The beloved book and score by Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin features theatre hits including “Tomorrow” and “Hard Knock Life.”

Jack Hartmann: 1 p.m. Saturday, 5701 Venue, 5701 NW 34th Blvd. Tickets: Starting at $20, free ages 1 and younger. (bit.ly/3udm6XO) An 80-minute concert with a 20-minute intermission with Jack Hartmann Live. Meet-and-greets will take place directly after the concert.

Welcome to Night Vale: 8 p.m. Saturday, Ponte Vedra Concert Hall, 1050 A1A N., Ponte Vedra Beach. Tickets: $29.50-$49.50. (pvconcerthall.com) Night Vale’s unforgettable live shows bring the audience into the story in surprising and thrilling ways. Over the years, the live shows have become the heart of the Night Vale experience. They are unique theatrical evenings that take you to the weird little town in a way you can’t get from listening to the podcast at home. This live show is entirely stand-alone and does not require any knowledge of the podcast.

“A Magical Cirque Christmas”: 6 p.m. Sunday, Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road. Tickets: $46-$86. (performingarts.ufl.edu) The Roberts Group presents a holiday variety show.

“Ancient Aliens Live: Project Earth”: 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Florida Theatre, 128 E. Forsyth St., Jacksonville. Tickets: $39-$59. (floridatheatre.com, 904-355-5661) An experiential extension of “Ancient Aliens” that explores the theory that extraterrestrials have visited Earth for millions of years. The 90-minute live experience celebrates the long-running program on The History Channel and features leading theorist Giorgio A. Tsoukalos, investigative mythologist William Henry, aerospace engineer and intelligence expert Travis Taylor, UFO investigator Nick Pope, and real-life Indiana Jones David Childress as they discuss thought-provoking extraterrestrial theories on fan-favorite topics from Ancient Egypt to the moon.

Henry Rollins: 8 p.m. Monday, Florida Theatre, 128 E. Forsyth St., Jacksonville. Tickets: $29.50-$39.50. (floridatheatre.com, 904-355-5661) The comedian will perform as part of his “Good To See You” tour.

“The Addams Family”: 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 10; no performance Thanksgiving day, Gainesville Community Playhouse, 4039 NW 16th Blvd. Tickets: $23 general admission, $19 seniors, $12 students. (gcplayhouse.org) In the kooky, upside-down world of the Addams family, to be sad is to be happy, to feel pain is to feel joy, and death and suffering are the stuff of their dreams. Nonetheless, this quirky family still has to deal with many of the same challenges faced by any other family, and the spookiest nightmare faced by every family creates the focus for this musical: the Addams kids are growing up.

DANCE

Harn Museum Sounds Moves: Music and Dance: 1 p.m. Saturday, Harn Museum of Art, 3259 Hull Road. Free. (harn.ufl.edu) Inspired by the exhibition “Metamorphosis: Reshaping Contemporary Art,” six undergrad and graduate composers from the UF School of Music premiere works in a collaboration with New York-based BlackBox Ensemble, featuring the performance of undergraduate dancemakers under the direction of Dr. Joan Frosch, School of Theatre and Dance. This one-of-a-kind sonic/somatic dialog is suitable for all ages.

ET CETERA

Movie Night: 6 p.m. Friday, High Springs Church of God, 23765 NW 182nd Ave., High Springs. Free. (bit.ly/hscogmovie23) Bring your own chair (lawn chair, sports chair, blanket). There will be popcorn, drinks, and snacks available for donation.

Suwannee Lights: 6-10 p.m. nightly through Dec. 30, Suwannee Music Park and Campground, 3076 95th Drive, Live Oak. Tickets: Prices vary; see website for more information. (suwanneelights.com) Annual Christmas light display featuring more than 10 million lights, live entertainment and more.

Light the Tree: 6:30 p.m. Friday, Celebration Pointe, Celebration Pointe Avenue. Free. (bit.ly/3ui2tgU) Annual holiday event featuring tree lighting plus performances by Danscompany of Gainesville, RADDSports Cheer and the Williams Elementary School choir.

Tioga Movie Night: 7:30-9:30 p.m. Friday, Tioga Town Center, 13085 SW First Lane, Newberry. Free. (bit.ly/3QQnicq) Rescheduled movie night screening featuring “Back to the Future.” An eccentric scientist builds a time machine that accidentally transports a high school student back to the 1950s, where the teen inadvertently interferes with the budding romance between his future parents. The boy must figure out how to set things right or risk completely altering the future.

Country Way Town Square Newberry Pro-Rodeo: 8-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, CountryWay Town Square, 1739 SW 248th Drive, Newberry. Tickets: $25 general VIP admission, $20 ages 5-12 VIP admission, $13 general admission in advance, $16 general admission at gate, $8 ages 5-12 in advance, $10 ages 5-12 at hate, free ages 4 and younger. (bit.ly/3SwC7lt) Annual family event featuring bull riding, bronc riding, barrel racing and more.

Pumpkin Run 5K: 8-10:30 a.m. Saturday, Town of Tioga, 13085 SW First Lane, Newberry. Cost: $45. (runsignup.com/Race/FL/Newberry/Pumpkin5KRunGainesville) All proceeds go to feed hungry children in Alachua County, the Navajo Nation, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East. Every registrant receives a race shirt, runner’s medallion (while supplies last) and a runner’s bib. This is an event for all ages — including pets!

Bikers on Parade: 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Santa Fe College, 3000 NW 83rd St. Cost: Free to watch parade; $25-$40 to ride in parade. (bit.ly/3FSFICX) North Central Florida’s largest motorcycle charity ride is a fundraiser to raise awareness for veterans and first responders in need.

Fall Festival: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, downtown Newberry. Free entry; items and food for sale. (bit.ly/3QRsdcR) Fall family event featuring vendors, arts and crafts, children’s activities, live entertainment, food trucks and concessions.

Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park Sinkhole Guided Walk: 10 a.m. Saturday, Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park, 4732 Millhopper Road. Cost: $4 per vehicle, $2 pedestrian or bicyclist. (bit.ly/devilsmill) Ask questions and learn about the area and its history while exploring the park with a ranger.

Guided Hike on Rim Ramble: 10-11 a.m.-noon Saturday, La Chua Trail Horse Barn, 4801 Camp Ranch Road. Cost: $4 per vehicle. (prairiefriends.org) Rangers from Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park will lead adventures through the La Chua Trail. Limited space available to the first 25 people who are present at the time of each event. Heavily suggested items for the trip include hiking shoes, comfortable clothing, binoculars, camera, drinking water and field guides. Insect repellent is highly recommended in warmer weather.

Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation Tour: 10 a.m.-noon Saturday, Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation, 8528 E. County Road 225. Tickets: $25 adults, $10 ages 2-11, free ages 1 and younger; $45 motorized-vehicle tours. (carsonspringswildlife.org, 468-2827, contact@cswildlife.org) Take a tour — on foot or in a tour vehicle — of Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation with big-cat feeding demonstrations and up-close encounters with the animals.

Historic Haile Homestead Tour: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays, noon-4 p.m. Sundays, Historic Haile Homestead, 8500 Archer Road. Entrance: $5 ages 12 and older, free ages 11 and younger. (hailehomestead.org) The Historic Haile Homestead is unique in the nation for its “Talking Walls.” 

Rooterville Animal Sanctuary Self-Guided Tours: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, Rooterville Animal Sanctuary, 5579 Darwood St., Melrose. Cost: Suggested $15 donation per person or $45 for a family of four. (rooterville.org) Take a map of the sanctuary at the gate to see highlights of Rooterville to help you find your way. Trolley tours at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Downtown Festival and Art Show: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, downtown Gainesville around Bo Diddley Plaza, 111 E. University Ave. Free entry; items and food for sale. (bit.ly/3QtHVd3) North Florida’s largest free street festival featuring 100-plus bands and performers, five stages, and 200-plus local and national artists displaying original oils and acrylics, vibrant watercolors, unique sculptures, dazzling jewelry, decorative ceramics and vivid photography.

Florida Tiny House Festival: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Gainesville Raceway, 11211 N. CR 225. Tickets: $15 in advance, $20 at gate. (unitedtinyhouse.com/tickets) Annual event featuring tiny houses, skoolies, DIYs, professional builds and private home owners plus workshops, speakers, presentations, live entertainment, vendors, artisans, food concessions and more.

Sunflower Festival: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, The Bryer Patch, 5700 SW 250th St., Newberry. Cost: $12 per person, free ages 2 and younger. (bit.ly/3QgoUdQ) Inaugural fall event featuring vendors, food trucks, pre-picked pumpkin patch, u-pick sunflower and zinnia patches, access to large sunflower field, access to crop maze, hayride, farm animal petting, access to play paddock, photo ops, activities and games.

Horse Feeding: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Mill Creek Farm Retirement Home for Horses, 20307 NW CR 235A, Alachua. Entrance: Bag of carrots. (millcreekfarm.org) The Retirement Home for Horses provides lifetime care to elderly horses seized by law enforcement agencies, rescued by the SPCA or humane societies, as well as horses retired from government service such as police patrol or state and federal parks.

Downtown High Springs Artwalk: Noon-5 p.m. Saturday, downtown High Springs. Free entry; items and food for sale. (facebook.com/downtownhighsprings/events) Monthly event featuring local artists and makers, as well as specials from downtown businesses.

Christmas Craft Fair: Noon-5:30 p.m. Saturdays through Dec. 23, North Central Florida YMCA, 5201 NW 34th Blvd. Cost: $2 admission fee, free ages 2 and younger. (bit.ly/3FONhux) Inaugural event features local vendors. Admission fee gives a $2 discount off items inside the Winter Wonderland Gainesville Gift Shop.

Camp Crystal Lake 75th Anniversary Celebration: 12:30-5:30 p.m. Saturday and Dec. 9, Camp Crystal Lake, 6724 Camp Crystal Road, Starke. Free. facebook.com/leavingcoolatthegatesince1948/events) Celebration featuring family-oriented activities such as fishing, arts and crafts, archery and hayrides as well as a high-ropes course. There also will be an ongoing slideshow featuring different decades of camp. Collectable 75th anniversary T-shirts will be available for purchase. Proceeds from this event will go toward summer program scholarships.

Two Hawk Hammock Happy Hour: 5-7:30 p.m. Saturday, Two Hawk Hammock, 17950 NE 53rd Lane, Williston. Tickets: $5 ages 13 and older, free ages 12 and younger. (twohawkhammock.com) Live music, food and drinks, and barn animals. 

The Good Work: 5-9 p.m. Saturday, Swamp Head Brewery, 3650 SW 42nd Ave. Free entry; items and food for sale. (bit.ly/3FXsd4M) A family friendly concert and fundraiser event benefiting families in Zimbabwe with live music, food trucks, painting, games and other activities. Performances by Captive Eddies, SENECA, Purple Kloud, Marley the Messenger, Nate Turner and DJ Klarc Shepard. Live painting by Johnny Dame. Hoola Hoops by Onna. Soccer juggling competition.

Sunday Assembly: 11 a.m. Sunday, Pride Center located in the Springhill Professional Center, 3850 NW 83rd St., Suite 201. Free. (SundayAssembly32601@gmail.com, sagainesville.weebly.com) Sunday Assembly will host David Dale as the facilitator of the meeting. Dale is a marketing data scientist. He is on the Sunday Assembly Planning Team and contributes much time and energy into helping to organize the monthly gatherings. He will lead a group gratitude exercise at the upcoming meeting. Music will be provided by Sunday Assembly musicians with the opportunity to sing along. It also is possible to attend via Zoom.

Thanksgiving in the Park: 11 a.m. Sunday, Lois Forte Park, 120 NW 260th St., Newberry. Free. (bit.ly/49xJa3I) Annual event featuring worship service and a free meal. Also giving away groceries and free turkey vouchers to families in need of a turkey for Thanksgiving.

Tea Time with Santa Claus: 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Teatime Tranquility and Treasures, 14603 Main St., Alachua. Cost: $55. (santatea.santaticket.com/event/orderticket/eventid/1543) Step into a world of festive charm as you behold the mansion adorned with glittering lights, lush garlands, and fragrant wreaths, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere that captures the true spirit of the season. The highlight of the event is none other than a visit from Santa Claus, who will make a grand entrance by descending the mansion’s majestic staircase. His joyful laughter and heartwarming stories of the North Pole will fill the air, setting the tone for an unforgettable Christmas experience.

Sweetwater Wetlands Park Wednesday Bird Walks: 8:30-11 a.m. Wednesdays through May 29, 2024, Sweetwater Wetlands Park, 325 SW Williston Road. Admission: $5 per vehicle; $2 for pedestrians, vans and bikes. (alachuaaudubon.org) Discover the rich diversity of birds at one of north central Florida’s premier birding hotspots during a two- to three-hour guided walking tour. Birders of all levels welcome. Walks are led by volunteers from Alachua Audubon Society with assistance from Sweetwater Wetlands Park rangers.

Barnyard Buddies: 3-4 p.m. Wednesdays through May 29, 2024, Morningside Nature Center, 3540 E. University Ave. Free. (bit.ly/barnbuds) Weekly program where youngsters, with an adult, can meet and greet farm animals by helping staff with afternoon feeding. Animals love donations of carrots, squash, apples, sweet potatoes and melons.

Thanksgiving Day 5K Parkrun: 7:30-9 a.m. Thursday, Depot Park, East Overlook, 874 SE Fourth St. Free; registration required. (bit.ly/3u6A9OG) While your turkey is in the oven and house guests switch between the parade and football on TV, come out and get moving! Parkrun is a weekly walk, jog or run at your fitness level and ability.

Turkey Trot Trail 5K/10K: 8:30-11:30 a.m. Thursday, Critter Creek Farm Sanctuary, 12626 NW CR 231. Cost: $30-$45. (bit.ly/3FOO3HX) Part of the race fee will help rebuild Lloyd Clarke Sports after a fire. Run alongside animals from Critter Creek Farm Sanctuary.

Outdoor Thanksgiving S.W.E.A.T.: 9 a.m. Thursday, Hampstead Park, Haile Plantation. Free. (bit.ly/3FPmzSu) This is a HIIT class focused around bodyweight strength activities and cardio. Open to anyone of all levels and ages, including children. Don’t forget water, a towel and a mat if you have one, and get ready to sweat it out before the turkey day meal!

Thanksgiving in the Park: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday, Melrose Heritage Park, 300 SR 26, Melrose. Free. (trinitymelrosefl.org) Thanksgiving meal.

Thanksgiving Feast: 1 p.m. Thursday, High Springs Lions Club, 26900 W. U.S. 27, High Springs. Free. (bit.ly/49rDvfl) A day of food, fun and fellowship. Turkey and ham provided; bring your own sides and dessert.

Thanksgiving Park Ranger-Led Hike: 2:30-3:30 p.m. Thursday, Sweetwater Wetlands Park, 325 SW Williston Road. Cost: Park admission of $5 per vehicle. (bit.ly/3QUuiFf) Join a ranger on a tour of the park and learn about the history of the park, how it came to be, and what park staff do. Bring water, sunscreen and good walking shoes. Walks begin at the boardwalk on Cell 1, not at the restroom area.

Celebration Pointe Fall Farmers Market: 4-7 p.m. Thursdays, Celebration Pointe, Celebration Pointe Avenue. Free entry; items and food for sale. (celebrationpointe.com/events/farmers-market-2023, info@celebrationpointe.com) Weekly farmers market featuring a wide selection of products, including grass-fed local meat, fruit smoothies and hand-poured soy candles. Discover the flavors of the season and support local farmers and small businesses.

Thanksgiving Together: 4-8 p.m. Thursday, The Bull, 18 SW First Ave. Cost: Free-$10. (meizonchurch.com) Family event in support of the LGBTQIA+ community featuring face painting and games for the kids.

Tree Lighting Ceremony Opening Night: 6-11 p.m. Thursday, Poe’s Hawthorne Community Christmas Display, 2605 SE CR 219A, Hawthorne. Free; donations accepted. (bit.ly/poeholiday23) Family holiday walk-through display featuring light displays with more lights added every day. Parking at Eden Baptist Church, 2405 SE CR 219A.

ART

Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention: “Tom Petty: Among the Wildflowers,” exploring the joys, pains and creative awakenings Petty experienced when pouring his soul into his magnum opus, on display through December; “Leonardo da Vinci: Machines in Motion,” featuring 40 full-scale machines that were built after in-depth study of Leonardo da Vinci’s designs by a group of scientists and skilled craftsmen in Florence, Italy, on display through Jan. 7, 2024. Tickets: $12.50, $10 seniors and college students, $7.50 ages 5-17, free ages 4 and younger. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday-Sunday. 811 N. Main St. (371-8001, cademuseum.org) 

Florida Museum of Natural History: “Antarctic Dinosaurs” on display through April 21, 2024. Today, Antarctica is a forbidding land of snow and ice, but 200 million years ago it was a lush, wooded habitat where dinosaurs thrived. Uncover the history of the world’s southernmost continent and the unique species that have called it home in this interactive, family friendly experience. Tickets: $10 adults; $9 Florida residents, seniors and non-UF college students; $7 ages 3-17; free ages 2 and younger, UF students and museum members. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. 3215 Hull Road. (floridamuseum.ufl.edu, 846-2000)

Gainesville Fine Arts Association Gallery: “100 Years of Art” on display through Saturday; “Growth” on display Wednesday-Dec. 20. Gallery hours are 1 to 6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. 1314 S. Main St. (gainesvillefinearts.org, info@gainsevillefinearts.org)

Harn Museum of Art: “Jerry Uelsmann: A Celebration of His Life and Art,” commemorating a beloved UF artist, teacher, colleague and friend through an overview of his creative life, including 37 photographs laid out chronologically, on display through Feb. 18, 2024; “Under the Spell of the Palm Tree: The Rice Collection of Cuban Art” on display through Jan. 7, 2024. “Under the Spell of the Palm Tree” is drawn exclusively from the collection of Susie and Mitchell Rice, and offers a glimpse into the complexity of culture and history that has inspired Cuban art throughout the 20th century and into the 21st century. Guest curators Gabriela Azcuy and David Horta will utilize the work of a broad range of artists in the Rice Collection to display an inclusive view of Cuban art, reflecting on its current dynamic and the existence of new geographies as an essential part of its reality. Through more than 70 works representing 53 artists, the exhibition will present the narrative of a “crossing” — a virtual crossing of the seas as well as a crossing of generations, of artists living or having lived both in Cuba and in the Diaspora; “Gateway to Himalayan Art” on display Feb. 6, 2024-July 2024; “Metamorphosis: Reshaping Contemporary Art,” featuring artists who are rethinking traditional materials and techniques to create innovative works of art, on display through Oct. 26, 2025. Museum hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. 3259 Hull Road. (392-9826)

Matheson History Museum: “Alachua’s Queer History” on display through Wednesday. Temporary gallery interpreting the history of the LGBTQ+ community featuring a recently acquired collection from the Pride Community Center of North Central Florida. The gallery takes a broad view of Gainesville’s queer community and its important institutions during the fight for equality while displaying memorabilia and artifacts from that time. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday. 513 E. University Ave. (378-2280, mathesonmuseum.org)

Melrose Bay Art Gallery: 2023 Holiday Invitational to be held Saturday-Dec. 30 with an Artwalk reception 6-9 p.m. Dec. 1. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday or by appointment. 103 State Road 26, Melrose. (475-3866, melrosebayartgallery.com)

Santa Fe College’s Blount Hall: A large art collection from local collector Hector Puig on display. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Corner of West University Avenue and North Sixth Street.

Sweetwater Print Cooperative: “Alternate Realities,” an exhibit of digital prints by Joanna Clark that offer a slightly skewed look at what is “real,” on display through noon Wednesday. Gallery hours: By appointment. 117 S. Main St. (514-3838)

University Galleries: “Valerie Brathwaite. Works on Paper.” on display through Saturday, features drawings by the Trinidad and Tobago-born artist that transformed the history of Venezuelan art. Curated by Macarena Deij Prado, this exhibition is part of the [On View: Curatorial Studies] series and will be held at the Gary R. Libby Focus Gallery. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. 400 SW 13th St. (arts.ufl.edu/university-galleries)

UPCOMING CONCERTS

Playlist at the Pointe: 7-9 p.m. Nov. 24, Celebration Pointe, Celebration Pointe Avenue. Free. (celebrationpointe.com) A live band will perform. Food will be available from area restaurants.

Music at Holy Trinity: 5 p.m. Nov. 26, Holy Trinity Church, 100 NE First St. Free; donations accepted. (holytrinitygnv.org) The 28th annual St. Andrew’s Day Service featuring the Holy Trinity Choir, bagpipes, Scottish singing and dancing, and conductor/organist John Lowe. Reception (wine and hors d’oeuvres) follow the concert. Live streaming begins five minutes prior to the concert, and also can be viewed afterward.

“Music of the Season” Concert: 12:15-12:45 p.m. Nov. 28, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, 100 NE First St. Free. (holytrinitygnv.org) John Lowe at the Visser-Rowland organ. Live streaming begins five minutes before the concert, and can be accessed at holytrinitygnv.org.

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 29, Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road. Tickets: $45-$75, $20 UF students. (performingarts.ufl.edu) Make the holidays swing with Big Band Holidays. A celebrated tradition under the music direction of Wynton Marsalis, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra features vocalist Ashley Pezzotti. An uplifting event perfect for the entire family. Celebrate the most wonderful time of the year alongside fellow music lovers with soulful arrangements of classic holiday songs.

UF Carillon Annual Holiday Concert: 1:55 p.m. Dec. 3, Century Tower Carillon, 375 Newell Drive, University of Florida campus. Free. (arts.ufl.edu) Annual holiday concert. Listeners are encouraged to find a location at least 100 feet from the tower for an optimal listening experience.

“Music of the Season” Concert: 12:15-12:45 p.m. Dec. 5, First United Methodist Church, 419 NE First St. Free. (fumcgnv.org) The Gainesville Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.

Jazz on the Green: 7-9 p.m. Dec. 9, Celebration Pointe, Celebration Pointe Avenue off of Interstate 75 and Archer Road. Free. (celebrationpointe.com) Live music on the stage in the promenade, food and drinks, lawn games and more.

Christmas Cantata: 7 p.m. Dec. 10, North Gainesville Baptist Church, 6203 NW 39th Ave. Free. (bit.ly/xmascantata23) A Christmas cantata is a cantata, music for voice or voices in several movements, for Christmas. 

“Music of the Season” Concert: 12:15-12:45 p.m. Dec. 12, First Presbyterian Church, 106 SW Third St. Free. (1stpc.org) The Gainesville Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.

Playlist at the Pointe: 7-9 p.m. Dec. 15, Celebration Pointe, Celebration Pointe Avenue. Free. (celebrationpointe.com) A live band will perform. Food will be available from area restaurants.

Gainesville Orchestra Presents: Season’s Greetings: 7:30-9:30 p.m. Dec. 15, Santa Fe College, Jackson N. Sasser Fine Arts Hall, 3000 NW 83rd St. Tickets: $15-$45. (gainesvilleorchestra.com) A symphonic season’s greetings. Ring the bells … resound the organ! An international celebration of the most joyous time of the year, including Saint Saens’ exalted “Organ” symphony, “Dances” with Tchaiskovsky, special guests, surprising favorites and a finale sing-a-long.

Florida Carillon Festival: 6:15 p.m. Dec. 16, Century Tower Carillon, 375 Newell Drive, University of Florida campus. Free. (arts.ufl.edu) Listeners are encouraged to find a location at least 100 feet from the tower for an optimal listening experience.

New Year’s Eve Eve: 7-10 p.m. Dec. 30, Tioga Town Center, 13085 SW First Lane, Newberry. Free. (bit.ly/nyee23) Elio Piedra will perform under the stars. Piedra is a musician, drummer, entertainer, singer, arranger, composer and voting member at LARAS & NARAS Academy. He was born in Cuba and began his musical career at the age of 10 at the Arts Conservatory Raul Sanchez. At 15, he gained entry into the National Conservatory of Music Carlos Hidalgo, where he continued to hone his craft, even touring Cuba with the symphony orchestra. Piedra immigrated to the United States at the age of 20 and began playing with many notable musicians in Miami. He eventually relocated to Gainesville, where he lives with his wife. Highly in demand, Piedro splits his time between live shows, drum instruction and touring with his group, Elio’s Quartet. Visit the Town Center restaurants for dinner before the show, or to grab take-out to enjoy during the concert.

American Spiritual Ensemble: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 18, 2024, Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road. Tickets: $20-$40, $12 UF students. (performingarts.ufl.edu) American Spiritual Ensemble began as a dream of performing and preserving the music of the American slave spirituals to keep the art form alive. These songs now stand as a testament to the strength found through faith during times of hardship as well as a unifying force among all people. The chorale is made up of some of the finest classically trained soloists in the United States who have sung in opera houses and theaters around the world.

Young Concert Artists on Tour: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 30, 2024, Squitieri Studio Theatre, Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road. Tickets: $35, $12 UF students. (performingarts.ufl.edu) Young Concert Artists on Tour is a new program that brings together a unique chamber ensemble of the most extraordinary young artists to cities in North America. This dynamic performance features rarely heard instrumentation that combines voice with violin, cello and piano. 

Twisted Pine: 7 and 9 p.m. Feb. 1, 2024, UpStage at the Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road. Tickets: $50 for 7 p.m., $35 for 9 p.m., $12 UF students. (performingarts.ufl.edu) UpStage is an intimate, cabaret-style setting on the Phillips Center Mainstage. The 7 p.m. seating includes heavy hors d’oeuvres and cash bar; the 9 p.m. seating includes desserts and cash bar. New roots string band Twisted Pine draws audiences across the UK and the U.S. with their lush harmonies and daring, forthright and charismatic songwriting. Of bluegrass origin, this quartet has developed its own unique style with layered sound that echoes Indie pop. Their voices blend into unexpected harmonies and grooves together in instrumental interplay.

Alfredo Rodriguez Trio: 7 and 9 p.m. Feb. 2, 2024, UpStage at the Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road. Tickets: $50 for 7 p.m., $35 for 9 p.m., $12 UF students. (performingarts.ufl.edu) UpStage is an intimate, cabaret-style setting on the Phillips Center Mainstage. The 7 p.m. seating includes heavy hors d’oeuvres and cash bar; the 9 p.m. seating includes desserts and cash bar. Over the past decade, Cuban-born pianist Alfredo Rodriguez has gone from a young local artist to a globally recognized Grammy nominee with three critically acclaimed releases. Schooled in the rigorous classical conservatories of Havana, Rodriguez’s riveting artistry is informed as much by Bach and Stravinsky as by his heritage and jazz roots. Discovered at the 2006 Montreux Jazz Festival by Quincy Jones, Rodriguez has distinguished himself as the definition of jazz and improvisation without boundaries. 

The String Queens: 7 and 9 p.m. Feb. 8, 2024, UpStage at the Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road. Tickets: $50 for 7 p.m., $35 for 9 p.m., $12 UF students. (performingarts.ufl.edu) UpStage is an intimate, cabaret-style setting on the Phillips Center Mainstage. The 7 p.m. seating includes heavy hors d’oeuvres and cash bar; the 9 p.m. seating includes desserts and cash bar. Praised for authentic, soulful and orchestral sound, The String Queens is a dynamic trio that inspires audiences to love, hope, feel and imagine through stirring musical experiences. With a repertoire that spans from Baroque to jazz to the Hot 100 Chart, The String Queens act as a bridge between classical music and mainstream pop with an exhilarating journey through time and musical genres with arrangements from the heart.

Detroit Symphony Orchestra: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 13, 2024, Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road. Tickets: $40-$65, $20 UF students. (performingarts.ufl.edu) The internationally acclaimed Detroit Symphony Orchestra crafts each performance with thoughtful consideration toward creative ways to merge the power of music with the spirit of exploration.

New York Voices: 7 and 9 p.m. Feb. 15, 2024, UpStage at the Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road. Tickets: $50 for 7 p.m., $35 for 9 p.m., $12 UF students. (performingarts.ufl.edu) UpStage is an intimate, cabaret-style setting on the Phillips Center Mainstage. The 7 p.m. seating includes heavy hors d’oeuvres and cash bar; the 9 p.m. seating includes desserts and cash bar. New York Voices has taken the best classic jazz and moved it to new levels. Shaped by Brazilian, R&B, classical and pop influences, their performances at top venues including Carnegie Hall allow them to be considered one of the most exciting vocal ensembles in the country. 

Six One Five Collective: 7 and 9 p.m. Feb. 16, 2024, UpStage at the Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road. Tickets: $50 for 7 p.m., $35 for 9 p.m., $12 UF students. (performingarts.ufl.edu) UpStage is an intimate, cabaret-style setting on the Phillips Center Mainstage. The 7 p.m. seating includes heavy hors d’oeuvres and cash bar; the 9 p.m. seating includes desserts and cash bar. Steeped in a mix of Americana, folk, country and pop, Six One Five Collective is a Grammy-nominated collaborative effort and creative brainstorm of four artists reminiscent of bands like Fleetwood Mac and Little Big Town. With an eclectic mix of high-energy music, original pieces and hit songs they have written for artists such as George Strait, Kesha, Kelly Clarkson and Sister Hazel, Six One Five Collective has carved a distinctive niche for themselves. 

Arod Quartet: 2 p.m. Feb. 25, Squitieri Studio Theatre, Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road. Tickets: $35, $12 UF students. (performingarts.ufl.edu) The Arod Quartet skyrocketed to international attention when they won the coveted First Prize at the 2016 ARD International Music Competition in Munich, having already taken First Prize at the Carl Nielsen Chamber Music Competition in Copenhagen in 2015. They later served as the BBC New Generation Artists from 2017 to 2019. Since then, they have firmly established themselves in performance and recording at the forefront of string quartets by dazzling audiences around the globe. 

Ladysmith Black Mambazo: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 27, 2024, Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road. Tickets: $25-$45, $12 UF students. (performingarts.ufl.edu) Ladysmith Black Mambazo has celebrated more than 60 years of joyous and uplifting melodies. Within this music are the intricate rhythms and harmonies of their native South African traditions. The a cappella vocal group has created a spirit that has touched a worldwide audience, and garnered praise and accolades from a wide body of people, organizations and countries.

Ying Li: 2 p.m. March 17, 2024, Squitieri Studio Theatre, Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road. Tickets: $35, $12 UF students. (performingarts.ufl.edu) Twenty-four-year-old pianist Ying Li has received top awards in numerous national and international competitions. Beginning piano at the age of 5, she has studied in Beijing, Philadelphia and at The Juilliard School. Since then, Li has performed with many leading orchestras such as The Philadelphia Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony and the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie, among others.

Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy: 7:30 p.m. March 19, 2024, Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road. Tickets: $20-$40, $12 UF students. (performingarts.ufl.edu) Canada’s reigning couple of Celtic music is coming to the Phillips Center — and they are bringing their family with them! Natalie and Donnell Leahy’s high level of skill and palpable joy at playing the fiddle together has earned them both industry acclaim and built up a loyal fan base. They combine their talents to give audiences an electrifying musical experience.

Pat Metheny: 7:30 p.m. March 20, 2024, Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road. Tickets: $40-$60, $12 UF students. (performingarts.ufl.edu) Twenty-time Grammy Award-winning guitarist Pat Metheny is known to bring something unique to every performance. This show is no exception, focusing on the various ways of playing solo he has explored across the decades in an evening that will be very special. The set features personal and fan favorite tracks from his nearly 50-year career, creating an almost orchestral range from bass to soprano within the realm of guitar.

Academy of St. Martin in the Fields: 7:30 p.m. March 24, 2024, Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road. Tickets: $45-$75, $20 UF students. (performingarts.ufl.edu) Music director and virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell returns to the stage to lead the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. Retaining the flexibility and spirit of their origin as a small, conductorless ensemble, the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields has gained an enviable international reputation as one of the world’s finest chamber orchestras. Renowned for their polished, innovative interpretations of distinctive orchestral music, they present both symphonic and chamber repertoire on a grand scale at prestigious venues around the globe.

Harold López-Nussa: 7 and 9 p.m. April 11, 2024, UpStage at the Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road. Tickets: $50 for 7 p.m., $35 for 9 p.m., $12 UF students. (performingarts.ufl.edu) UpStage is an intimate, cabaret-style setting on the Phillips Center Mainstage. The 7 p.m. seating includes heavy hors d’oeuvres and cash bar; the 9 p.m. seating includes desserts and cash bar. Pianist Harold López-Nussa reflects the richness of Cuban music with his distinctive combination of classical, folkloric and improvisation. This fresh take is an exhilarating personification of the ritmo of the modern music scene’s bustling soul. With astonishingly fresh performances that showcase the full range and richness of the genre, López-Nussa has earned significant national and international awards in the classical and jazz worlds.

The Crane Wives: 7 and 9 p.m. April 12, 2024, UpStage at the Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road. Tickets: $50 for 7 p.m., $35 for 9 p.m., $12 UF students. (performingarts.ufl.edu) UpStage is an intimate, cabaret-style setting on the Phillips Center Mainstage. The 7 p.m. seating includes heavy hors d’oeuvres and cash bar; the 9 p.m. seating includes desserts and cash bar. A four-piece indie band, The Crane Wives defies musical stereotype with eclectic instrumentation and lively stage presence. They perform homegrown Indie folk with candor and touching, soulful harmonies, and are not afraid to experiment with jazz influences and instruments. 

UPCOMING EVENTS

Kirby Family Farm’s Christmas Train: 6-10 p.m. Nov. 24-25, Dec. 1-2, Dec. 8-10, Dec. 15-17, Dec. 2-23 and Dec. 26, Kirby Family Farm, 19630 NE 30th St., Williston. Tickets: $17.99 general admission in advance, $20 general admission at gate, $10.99 ages 3-9 in advance, $15 ages 3-9 at gate, free ages 2 and younger. (kirbyfarm.com/the-christmas-express) Annual family holiday event featuring 20-minute journey around through thousands of Christmas lights on authentic, narrow-gauge historic locomotive. Plus, visit with Christmas friends throughout the evening; dance party; visit with Santa; see some of the cutest critters that would have been at the manger, and some of their friends too; a 1950 fully restored Smith and Smith ferris wheel!; Christmas magic show; tractor ride to a lost Christmas town; Secret Elf Shoppe for ages 10 and younger, who will get to pick out one free gift for themselves or someone special; Italian carousel; carnival rides, vendors and more.

“The Ultimate Christmas Show”: 7 p.m. Wednesdays-Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays Nov. 24-Dec. 23, Hippodrome Theatre, 25 SE Second Place. Tickets: $20-$50. (thehipp.org) This audience favorite is back! “The Ultimate Christmas Show” (abridged) bursts with festive, slapstick fun as these cheerful comedians celebrate all of our favorite holiday traditions — at the same time.

Cane Boil and Fiddle Fest: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Nov. 25, Morningside Living History Farm, 3540 E. University Ave. Free. (friendsofnatureparks.org/events) Experience the making and bottling of sugar cane syrup, live string bands, guided nature walks and living history interpreters bringing a country day in 1870 back to life.

“A Christmas Carol”: 1 and 4 p.m. Saturdays, 7 p.m. Sundays Nov. 25-Dec. 23 plus 7 p.m. Dec. 20, 2 p.m. Dec. 21, 1 p.m. Dec. 22 and 3 p.m. Dec. 22, Hippodrome Theatre, 25 SE Second Place. Tickets: $20-$50. (thehipp.org) “Bah, humbug!” to dashing through the snow and sleigh rides in Florida. Staying true to the weighty themes of the original novel while delivering a gripping story, cheerful holiday music and genuine laughs for the whole family, “A Christmas Carol” is one of Gainesville’s favorite holiday traditions.

Holiday Market: 1 p.m. Nov. 25, The Vineyard North, 14365 U.S. 19, Chiefland. Free entry; items and food for sale. (thevineyardnorth.com/events) Annual holiday market.

Country Christmas Festival: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 1, Douberly Farms, 14351 NE CR 339, Trenton. Free entry; items and food for sale. (bit.ly/CCF23A) Family event featuring more than 75 vendors, food trucks, live music, Santa, and more.

Paula Poundstone: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1, Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road. Tickets: $30-$50, $12 UF students. (performingarts.ufl.edu) Described as one of the bravest and best improv comics of our time, Paula Poundstone can be heard regularly on NPR’s news quiz “Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” and podcast “Live from the Poundstone Institute.” Poundstone’s shows are a steady stream of self-deprecation, sarcasm, current events, and stories about her cats and kids.

Tree Lighting and Holiday Market: 8 p.m. Dec. 1, Shoppes at Thornebrook, 2441 NW 43rd St. Free entry; items and food for sale. (shoppesatthornebrook.com) Thornebrook decorated in winter wonderland attire as organizers herald the holiday season with an annual tree lighting. Featuring music on the outdoor stage and arts and crafts vendors throughout the plaza. Participating stores will be open late.

“The Christmas Express”: 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays Dec. 1-Dec. 20, 8 p.m. Dec. 21, 2 p.m. Dec. 23, High Springs Playhouse, 23416 NW 186 Ave., High Springs. Tickets: $15 general admission, $10 students and ages 65 and older. (highspringsplayhouse.com) “This is the most hopeless place in the world!” Hilda intones as she and Satch, her assistant, argue over what time it is. She dreams of faraway places and only finds tedium in running the Holly Railway Station. That is, until Leo Tannenbaum drops in out of nowhere the day before Christmas Eve. Suddenly, an old radio that hasn’t worked in years springs to life, the local group of carolers (that usually yowls like a gang of wet cats) begins to sound like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the whole town gets the Christmas spirit. Coincidence? Or is Leo doing all of this? Even Satch changes his tune when it turns out that Leo might be on the run. This nostalgic theatrical greeting card is full of eccentric small-town characters, wise-cracking their way to finding the true wonder of Christmas. And, on the way, they make us all wish we could take a ride on the Christmas Express.

“Twelfth Night”: 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, Dec. 1-17, Acrosstown Repertory Theatre, 3501 SW Second Ave., Suite O. Tickets: $25 general admission; $20 students, seniors, military and teachers. (acrosstown.org) Shakespeare’s most sophisticated comedy is a riotous tale of hopelessly unrequited passions and mistaken identity. Duke Orsino is in love with the noblewoman Olivia. She, however, has fallen for his servant Cesario, who is actually Viola, a woman disguised as a man, who loves Orsino — confusion is rife. Meanwhile, Olivia’s arrogant steward Malvolio is cruelly tricked by her uncle Sir Toby Belch, his friend Sir Andrew Aguecheek, and the maidservant Maria into believing his mistress loves him. 

Cane Festival: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Dec. 2, Dudley Farm Historic State Park, 18730 W. Newberry Road, Newberry. Cost: $8 per vehicle; correct change required and limit eight people per vehicle. (friendsofdudleyfarm.org) See an original Florida working farm as they grind sugar cane and boil it into syrup. Old-time demonstrations include woodworking, blacksmithing and butter churning, quilt drawing, children’s games and toys, old-time music and washday. Also the Dudley Farm Market and vendors.

Country Christmas Festival: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 2, Douberly Farms, 14351 CR 339, Trenton. Free entry; items and food for sale. (bit.ly/ccf23a) Family holiday event featuring more than 75 vendors, food trucks, live music, Santa and more.

Christmas Chaos Fun Show: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 2, Williston Horseman’s Park, 803 SW 19th Ave., Williston. Tickets: See website for more information. (willistonhorsemans.com) Equestrian event featuring fun for children and those who still play like them.

UF Craft Festival: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 2-3, Stephen C. O’Connell Center, 250 Gale Lemerand Drive. Cost: $6 general admission; $5 general admission with coupon; free ages 13 and younger, and military with ID Children; $4 UF students; $3 UF students with coupon. (oconnellcenter.ufl.edu) Annual event that showcases handmade crafts from more than 200 vendors.

Town of Bell Christmas Parade: Small Town Christmas: 2 p.m. Dec. 2, Railroad Lane, Bell. Free. (bit.ly/bellparade23) Annual event in its 43rd year.

Holiday at Santa Fe College: 2-3 p.m. and 6-7 p.m. Dec. 2, Santa Fe College, Fine Arts Hall, 3000 NW 83rd St, Tickets: $15 adults; $9 seniors, students and military; free ages 12 and younger. (showpass.com/holiday-at-santa-fe-2) SF Performing Arts, SF Teaching Zoo, SF Planetarium and SF Little School collaborate to bring a thrilling performance to young and adult imaginations alike. Watch Perry the mouse and Santa Claus journey through the forest to make it snow in the Fine Arts Hall. Enjoy holiday music during this interactive and educational performance, followed by a meet and greet with the animals in the lobby.

Light Up Tioga: 5-8 p.m. Dec. 2, Tioga Town Center, 13085 SW First Lane, Newberry. Free entry; items and food for sale. (bit.ly/lighttioga23) Annual tree-lighting and holiday festival featuring live entertainment, Santa visit, food trucks, dance performances, surprise appearances, arts and crafts, local vendors and more.

High Springs Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony: 6-8 p.m. Dec. 2, 23517 NW 185th Road, High Springs. Free. (facebook.com/HSChamberOfCommerce) Annual holiday festival. 

Parade of Lights and Fireworks Display: 6:30 p.m. Dec. 2, along the Suwannee River, Fort Fanning Park, Fanning Springs. Free. (bit.ly/pol23a) Boat Parade of lights and fireworks display on the Suwannee River at dark. The best public viewing areas are at Fort Fanning Park, Anderson boat ramp just across the bridge, or the Suwannee Belle restaurant.

A Country Christmas: 5-9 p.m. Dec. 8 plus Dec. 15-16, Elrod Acres, 3679 Thunder Road, Green Cove Springs. Tickets: $10 general admission, free ages 1 and younger, $35 four-pack. (acountrychristmasllc.ticketleap.com/a-country-christmas-event) Annual holiday event in its second year featuring Santa, streets will be lit with more than 750,000 Christmas lights, hot chocolate, food trucks, vendors, live Nativity, live music, holiday characters and more.

Festival of Lights: 5-9 p.m. Dec. 8-24, Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park, 11016 Lillian Saunders Drive, White Springs. Tickets: $4, free ages 2 and younger. (stephenfostercso.org/event-4573763) Annual family holiday event featuring complimentary popcorn, hot cocoa, marshmallows by the bonfire, Santa, food and craft vendors, kids’ crafts and more.

Santa Crawl: 7 p.m. Dec. 8, downtown Gainesville. Tickets: $25; purchase online. (Facebook.Com/GainesvilleSantaCrawl, santacrawlgnv.com) Annual event in its 13th year supporting the Humane Society and Catholic Charities Weekend Hunger Backpack Program.

“Cinderella”: 7 p.m. Dec. 8-9 plus 1 p.m. Dec. 9, Phillips Center for Performing Arts, 3201 Hull Road. Tickets: TBA. (bit.ly/cinder23) Annual holiday performance presented by Danscompany.

Tioga Outdoor Movie Night: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8, Tioga Town Center, 133 SW 130th Way, Newberry. Free. (tiogatowncenter.com) Tioga movie night featuring “The Santa Clause.” Bring your lawn chairs and blankets, and enjoy the movie under the stars.

Christmas in Columbia Holiday Market: 9 a.m. Dec. 9, Olustee Park, 169 N. Marion Ave., Lake City. Free entry; items and food for sale. (bit.ly/xmasincolumbia23) Holiday event featuring arts and crafts vendors, children’s activities, food trucks and live entertainment.

Old-Fashioned Christmas: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Dec. 9, Trenton City Park, Southeast Fifth Avenue, Trenton. Free entry; items and food for sale. (bit.ly/ofc23trenton) Craft and vendor event.

“Little Scrooge”: Matinee performances scheduled; see website for more information, Dec. 9-10, PK Yonge Performing Arts Center, 1080 SW 11th St. Tickets: TBA. (pkyonge.ufl.edu/extracurricular/performing-arts-season) “Little Scrooge” is an extremely creative, kid-friendly adaptation of the Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol.” When an adolescent Eben Scrooge strikes it rich and makes $1 million by inventing a popular phone app called “Where’s Fluffy” that can help a person find a lost pet, he loses sight of what really matters in life. Eben’s own life is taken over by greed. Worse, he actually stole the idea from his best friend, Bobbie Cratchitt, who now works for Eben, trying to raise money to buy the medicine that will help heal her little brother, Tiny Tim, who has crippled legs. The show is loaded with lots of Christmas songs, sung a cappella. There also is a talking mirror to jolt Eben into seeing the reflection of the way his life will be if he doesn’t change. The Ghost of Christmas Past (a surfer dude), the Ghost of Christmas Present (a beautiful spirit with an attitude) and the Ghost of Christmas Future (an eerie figure in white) help Eben to discover the true meaning of Christmas. Suitable for kids of all ages.

Christmas in the Quarry: 5:30-8 p.m. Dec. 9, Dec. 16-17, Dec. 20 and Dec. 22-23, Cedar Lakes Woods and Gardens, 4990 NE 180th Ave., Williston. Tickets: $10 adults, $5 ages 6-13, free ages 5 and younger, free for quarry members. (cedarlakeswoodsandgarden.com/upcoming-events) Walkthrough light show designed to dazzle. Families can stroll amongst billions of lights among the 20-acre botanical garden while enjoying treats from a cookie and cocoa station, and join in some of the family holiday crafts for kids to take home. Santa also will visit.

High Springs Christmas Parade: 6 p.m. Dec. 9, Main Street, downtown High Springs. Free. (facebook.com/HSChamberOfCommerce) Annual Christmas parade.

Holiday Open House: 6-8 p.m. Dec. 9, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park,18700 S. CR 325, Cross Creek. Cost: TBA. (marjoriekinnanrawlings.org/event-5130023) Annual holiday event. More info TBA.

Holiday Mingle: 2-5 p.m. Dec. 10, Prairie Creek Lodge 7204 SE CR 234. Free; donations welcome in support of ACT’s conservation efforts. (alachuaconservationtrust.org) Outdoor celebration of this year’s conservation victories with light food, drinks and holiday cheer. Picnic blankets and chairs from home are recommended for the musical performance.

“A Christmas Story” 40th Anniversary: 7 p.m. Dec. 10 and Dec. 13, Regal Butler Town Center 14, 3101 SW 35th Blvd. Tickets: $15.05 general admission, $12.90 children. (fathomevents.com/events/A-Christmas-Story-40th-Anniversary) Special screening of the holiday classic. It’s the final days before Christmas in early 1940s Cleveland, and 9-year-old Ralphie wants one thing from Santa more than anything else: a Red Ryder Carbine Action Air Rifle. As he trudges through the snow to school, faces the neighborhood bully and visits a malevolent department store Santa Claus, Ralphie connives, conspires and campaigns for the most fabulous Christmas present ever in this heartwarming, hysterical and sweetly nostalgic holiday film. Based on stories by Jean Sheppard.

“The Nutcracker”: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 15, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16, 2 p.m. Dec. 17, Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road. Tickets: $30-$60. (performingarts.ufl.edu) Presented by Dance Alive National Ballet. Everyone needs a hero, and in this case she’s a girl. Clara saves the Nutcracker prince, and to thank her, he brings her on a magical journey to the Kingdom of the Sweets, where the exquisite Sugar Plum Fairy puts on a regal show. 

Lowe’s Kids Workshop: Holiday Delivery Truck: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Dec. 16, Lowes, 2564 NW 13th St. and 15910 NW 144th Terrace, Alachua. Free; registration required. (lowes.com) Calling all little elves! Create a jolly holiday delivery truck that’s also a gift card holder. In-store only. 

Operation Santa Delivery: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Dec. 16, Santa Fe College, North Fields, intersection of Northwest 39th Avenue and Northwest 91st Street. Free entry; items and food for sale. (facebook.com/lifesouth) Come see Santa arrive, not by sled or by reindeer, but by helicopter! This event is a carnival-like celebration featuring Santa’s grand entrance on a ShandsCair helicopter, photos with Santa, and vendors with free games, arts and crafts, and food.

Chip Travers Memorial Christmas Toy Drive: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 16, Williston Horseman’s Park, 1610 SW Eighth Terrace, Williston. Cost: Unwrapped, new toy or monetary donation. (bit.ly/ctmemorial23) Annual toy drive in its second year in remembrance of Chip Travers. All toys go to kids in need at Christmastime.

Winter Outdoor Market: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 16, Williston Horseman’s Park, 1610 SW Eighth Terrace, Williston. Free entry; items and food for sale. (bit.ly/wom23a) Winter outdoor market featuring live music, local vendors, food trucks and more.

Downtown High Springs Artwalk: Noon-5 p.m. Dec. 16, downtown High Springs. Free entry; items and food for sale. (facebook.com/downtownhighsprings/events) Monthly event featuring local artists and makers, as well as specials from downtown businesses.

Class with Clara: 4 p.m. Dec. 16-17, Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road. Tickets: $25, free for spectators. (performingarts.ufl.edu) Join the charming Clara, heroine of “The Nutcracker” ballet, for a princess-style ballet class onstage in the Kingdom of the Sweets. Training not required.  Street shoes acceptable, but participants can dance in socks or ballet shoes. Company dancers will be available to help as well, so participants will have the most possible attention given. Special gifts will be handed out following the class. Intended for children. 

Charity Ball of St. Nicholas: 7-11 p.m. Dec. 16, GFWC Alachua Woman’s Club, 14565 Main St., Alachua. Tickets: $75. (alachuawomansclub.org/charity-ball-of-st-nicholas) Annual holiday event to support the Alachua Woman’s Club “Community Service Projects” supporting youths in the city of Alachua. Featuring silent auction, wine and beer bar, food, DJ and dancing, and a special visit from St. Nicholas, including photo opportunities.

“An History Of Kwanzaa”: 7 p.m. Dec. 27, A. Quinn Jones Museum and Cultural Center, 1013 NW Seventh Ave. Cost: TBA. (bit.ly/49g1iPt) Kwanzaa celebration with music, dance and a food tasting.

New Year’s Eve Party: 8 p.m. Dec. 31, Amvets Post 444, 13751 NE 52nd Place, Williston. Free. (bit.ly/avny23) New Year’s Eve party featuring live music by Hiredguns.

“Little Women”: 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, Jan. 19-Feb. 4, 2024, Acrosstown Repertory Theatre, 3501 SW Second Ave., Suite O. Tickets: $25 general admission; $20 students, seniors, military and teachers. (acrosstown.org) A four-women adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel. Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy transform into women before our eyes and experience love, loss and the ever-glowing warmth of the March family hearth.

Parsons Dance: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 23, 2024, Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road. Tickets: $25-$45, $12 UF students. (performingarts.ufl.edu) Parsons Dance is known for its energized, athletic and joyous style. For more than 30 years, Artistic Director David Parsons has combined his choreographic gifts and talent for training passionate, highly skilled dancers into a solidified position as one of the world’s leading companies. Their stunning work flawlessly combines the movements and gestures of modern dance with the precision and discipline of classical dance to create a program that delivers a spirited evening for all ages.

“Next To Normal”: 7 p.m. Jan. 24-25, 2024, previews, then 7 p.m. Wednesdays-Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays Jan. 26-Feb. 18, 2024, Hippodrome Theatre, 25 SE Second Place. Tickets: $25. (thehipp.org) Get ready for an emotional rollercoaster ride with “Next to Normal,” the groundbreaking Tony Award-winning musical that explores the highs and lows of a modern-day family struggling with mental illness. With an electrifying rock score and heart-wrenching lyrics, this show will leave audiences on the edge of their seats from start to finish.

“Kong’s Night Out”: 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays Jan. 26-Feb. 11, 2024, Gainesville Community Playhouse, 4039 NW 16th Blvd. Tickets: $23 general admission, $19 seniors, $12 students. (gcplayhouse.org) You think you know the whole story of the classic 1933 film “King Kong?” Think again! In the film, Broadway producer Carl Dennam sets out to capture a terrifying 40-foot ape, King Kong. The bait? Beautiful blond actress Ann Farrow. When first mate Jack rescues Ann from the beast, Dennam traps Kong and transports him to Manhattan to star in a Broadway show. But lovelorn Kong has other ideas! He escapes, rampaging throughout the city in search of Ann.Now, here’s the backstory: Producer Myron Siegel’s entire career has been constantly sabotaged by Dennam. So, Siegel is furious when he learns that Dennam has booked a “mystery” show to open in the theater next door to where Siegel’s next show will open the very same night. Siegel gathers his entourage — his sassy, ex-stripper mother, his gangster henchman, his Hungarian backer, and his wide-eyed niece — and concocts a plan to find out what the mystery show is all about and prevent Dennam from ruining his show. As this screwball comedy unfolds, there are mistaken identities, pies in the face, cat fights, kidnapping, ape fights, deceit, underhandedness and even some romance as Siegel and his entourage collide with Dennam, Ann and Jack to save Siegel’s show.

“Boeing, Boeing”: 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays Feb 2-25, 2024, High Springs Playhouse, 23416 NW 186 Ave., High Springs. Tickets: $15 general admission, $10 students and ages 65 and older. (highspringsplayhouse.com) This 1960s French farce adapted for the English-speaking stage features self-styled Parisian Lothario Bernard, who has Italian, German and American fiancées, each a beautiful airline hostess with frequent “layovers.” He keeps “one up, one down and one pending” until unexpected schedule changes bring all three to Paris, and Bernard’s apartment, at the same time.

“Love in the Swamp”: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 10, 2024, Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road. Tickets: $27-$55. (performingarts.ufl.edu) Presented by Dance Alive National Ballet. Nothing says “Happy Valentine’s Day” more than Love, and DANB gives you love in abundance! A fun and fantastic show, it sets the mood with the DANB men in Gator orange and blue dancing exuberantly down the aisles. Brian Chung’s magnificent work of love, “Touch Closer,” and resident choreographer Judy Skinner’s ode to Paynes Prairie, “Another Time … Another Place,” with poetry by Lola Haskins and images from Matheson History Museum following. The finale is a joyous celebration of dance framed by remarkable video projections of Gainesville landmarks by Houston Wells. Family friendly event. 

“Come From Away”: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 21, 2024, Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road. Tickets: $45-$75, $20 UF students. (performingarts.ufl.edu) On Sept. 11, 2001, the world stopped. On Sept. 12, their stories moved us all. This stirring and inspiring musical takes you into the heart of the remarkable true story of the small town of Newfoundland that opened its homes to 7,000 stranded travelers on Sept. 11. During that fateful week, cultures clashed and nerves ran high — but uneasiness turned into trust, music soared into the night and gratitude grew into enduring friendships. Celebrate the best of humankind and the best in all of us. 

“Misery”: 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, March 1-17, 2024, Acrosstown Repertory Theatre, 3501 SW Second Ave., Suite O. Tickets: $25 general admission; $20 students, seniors, military and teachers. (acrosstown.org) “Misery” follows successful romance novelist Paul Sheldon, who is rescued from a car crash by his “No. 1 fan,” Annie Wilkes, and wakes up captive in her secluded home. While Sheldon is convalescing, Wilkes reads his latest book and becomes enraged when she discovers the author has killed off her favorite character, Misery Chastain. Wilkes forces Sheldon to write a new “Misery” novel, and he quickly realizes Wilkes has no intention of letting him go anywhere. The irate Wilkes has Sheldon writing as if his life depends on it — and it does.

Step Afrika!: 7:30 p.m. March 5, 2024, Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road. Tickets: $25-$45, $12 UF students. (performingarts.ufl.edu) Step Afrika! is dedicated to the tradition of stepping, blending percussive styles practiced by historically African American fraternities and sororities, and traditional African and contemporary dance into a compelling experience. Much more than just movement, they integrate songs, storytelling, humor and audience participation. This blend of technique, agility and pure energy makes each performance unique and leaves the audience with hearts pounding. 

“Jesus Christ Superstar”: 7:30 p.m. March 13, 2024, Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road. Tickets: $45-$75, $20 UF students. (performingarts.ufl.edu) Celebrating its 50th anniversary, a mesmerizing new production of the iconic musical phenomenon returns to the stage. Originally staged by London’s Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, this production won the 2017 Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival garnering unprecedented reviews and accolades. Appealing to both theater audiences and concert music fans, this production pays tribute to the historic 1971 Billboard Album of the Year while creating a modern, theatrical world that is uniquely fresh and inspiring. “Jesus Christ Superstar” is set against the backdrop of an extraordinary series of events during the final weeks in the life of Jesus Christ as seen through the eyes of Judas. Reflecting the rock roots that defined a generation, the legendary score includes “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” “Gethsemane” and “Superstar.” 

“Ordinary Days”: 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays March 22-April 14, 2024, Gainesville Community Playhouse, 4039 NW 16th Blvd. Tickets: $23 general admission, $19 seniors, $12 students. (gcplayhouse.org) Experience the beauty of simplicity and the extraordinary in the ordinary with “Ordinary Days.” This intimate and introspective musical follows the lives of Deb, a graduate student who loses the notebook that contains all of her notes for her thesis somewhere on the streets of New York; Warren, a struggling artist and professional cat sitter who finds the notebook; and Jason and Claire, a couple inching toward marriage who can’t seem to completely figure each other out. Through a series of chance encounters and unexpected connections, their individual stories begin to intersect, revealing the profound impact that everyday encounters can have on our lives.

“Giselle”: 2 and 7:30 p.m. March 23, 2024, Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road. Tickets: $35-$65. (performingarts.ufl.edu) Presented by Dance Alive National Ballet. The ultimate romantic ballet, “Giselle” is the tragic story of a beautiful, young peasant girl who falls in love with a nobleman disguised as a commoner. Ultimately dying of a broken heart, she becomes one with the “Wilis,” ethereal ghosts of unmarried girls. Family friendly performances.

“White”: 7 p.m. March 27-28 previews, then 7 p.m. Wednesdays-Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays March 29-April 14, 2024, Hippodrome Theatre, 25 SE Second Place. Tickets: $25 previews, then $20-$50. (thehipp.org) When a major museum seeks to showcase diverse voices in its next exhibition, Gus, an artist, enlists Vanessa’s help to create an audacious new artistic persona of color to get him in the show. From there it all spins out of control in this modern comedy, exploring white privilege, racial politics and the fine line between appropriation and opportunity.

“On Your Feet!”: 7:30 p.m. March 30, 2024, Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road. Tickets: $45-$75, $20 UF students. (performingarts.ufl.edu) The inspiring true story about heart, heritage and two people who believe in their talent — and each other — to become an international sensation: Gloria and Emilio Estefan.

Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express”: 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays April 5-28, 2024, High Springs Playhouse, 23416 NW 186 Ave., High Springs. Tickets: $15 general admission, $10 students and ages 65 and older. (highspringsplayhouse.com) Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxury train is surprisingly full for the time of the year, but by the morning it is one passenger fewer. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed eight times, his door locked from the inside. Isolated and with a killer in their midst, the passengers rely on Detective Hercule Poirot to identify the murderer — in case he or she decides to strike again.

360 Allstars: 4 p.m. April 14, 2024, Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road. Tickets: $25-$45, $12 UF students. (performingarts.ufl.edu) An energy-packed performance for the whole family complete with basketball, breakdancing, beatboxing, acrobatics, BMX biking and more. 360 Allstars is a supercharged urban circus showcasing the phenomenal physical fusion of the artistry from street culture.

“Private Lives”: 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, April 19-May 5, 2024, Acrosstown Repertory Theatre, 3501 SW Second Ave., Suite O. Tickets: $25 general admission; $20 students, seniors, military and teachers. (acrosstown.org) Elyot and Amanda, once married and now honeymooning with new spouses at the same hotel, meet by chance, reignite the old spark and impulsively elope. After days of being reunited, they again find their fiery romance alternating between passions of love and anger. Their aggrieved spouses appear, and a roundelay of affiliations ensues as the women first stick together, then apart, and new partnerships are formed.

“Cabaret”: 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, April 19-May 5, 2024, Acrosstown Repertory Theatre, 3501 SW Second Ave., Suite O. Tickets: $25 general admission; $20 students, seniors, military and teachers. (acrosstown.org) In a Berlin nightclub, as the 1920s draw to a close, a garish master of ceremonies welcomes the audience and assures them they will forget all of their troubles at the Cabaret. With the emcee’s bawdy songs as wry commentary, “Cabaret” explores the dark, heady and tumultuous life of Berlin’s natives and expatriates as Germany slowly yields to the emerging Third Reich. Cliff, a young American writer newly arrived in Berlin, is immediately taken with English singer Sally Bowles.

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo: 7:30 p.m. April 23, 2024, Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road. Tickets: $25-$45, $12 UF students. (performingarts.ufl.edu) Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo is a world-famous, all-male, classically trained ballet troupe that delivers hilarious parodies while performing both men’s and women’s roles. Described as “a kick from a steel toe cap in a silky pointe shoe,” this irreverent, beloved dance troupe is celebrating its 50th anniversary season of toeing the line between high art and high camp with their humorous blend of deep knowledge of ballet with absolute silliness. Their performances offer satire of the rigid world of dance through their playful, fresh, tongue-in-cheek concept.

The Harlem Globetrotters: 7 p.m. April 25, 2024, Stephen C. O’Connell Center, 250 Gale Lemerand Drive. Tickets: Prices vary; see website for details. (bit.ly/globetrotters24) The trick-performing basketball team will go head-to-head against the Washington Generals, who will stop at nothing to try and defeat the world’s winningest team.

“Treasure Island”: 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays May 24-June 9, 2024, Gainesville Community Playhouse, 4039 NW 16th Blvd. Tickets: $23 general admission, $19 seniors, $12 students. (gcplayhouse.org) Picture a world where pirates rule what we call Earth. Humanity’s desire to find hidden treasures will take them to heights they never imagined. Based on the masterful adventure novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, “Treasure Island” is an epic adventure from Ken Ludwig. It begins at an inn on the Devon coast of England, and quickly becomes an unforgettable tale of treachery and mayhem featuring a host of legendary swashbucklers including the dangerous Billy Bones, the sinister two-timing Israel Hands, the brassy woman pirate Anne Bonny, and the hideous form of evil incarnate Blind Pew. Sail the vastness of space to find Captain Flint’s treasure in this coming-of-age tale that is out of this world! Join Jim Hawkins as he navigates the universe longing for adventure with the infamous Long John Silver, perhaps the most famous hero-villain of all time. Silver’s greedy quest for gold, coupled with his affection for Jim, cannot help but win the heart of every soul who has ever longed for romance, treasure and adventure.

“Dead Man’s Cellphone”: 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays June 7-30, 2024, High Springs Playhouse, 23416 NW 186 Ave., High Springs. Tickets: $15 general admission, $10 students and ages 65 and older. (highspringsplayhouse.com) An incessantly ringing cellphone in a quiet cafe. A stranger at the next table who has had enough. And a dead man — with a lot of loose ends. So begins “Dead Man’s Cellphone,” a wildly imaginative new comedy by Sara Ruhl. A work about how we memorialize the dead — and how that remembering changes us.

“In The Heights”: 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays July 19-Aug. 11, 2024, Gainesville Community Playhouse, 4039 NW 16th Blvd. Tickets: $23 general admission, $19 seniors, $12 students. (gcplayhouse.org) “In the Heights,” created by Lin-Manuel Miranda, tells the universal story of a vibrant community in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood — a place where the coffee from the corner bodega is light and sweet, the windows are always open and the breeze carries the rhythm of three generations of music. It’s a community on the brink of change, full of hopes, dreams and pressures, where the biggest struggles can decide which traditions you take with you and which ones you leave behind.

“The Wizard of Oz — Youth Edition”: 7 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays July/August 2024, High Springs Playhouse, 23416 NW 186 Ave., High Springs. Tickets: $15 general admission, $10 students and ages 65 and older. (highspringsplayhouse.com) Join Dorothy and her loyal companion Toto as they “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” through the Land of Oz, determined to reach the Emerald City, where the great and powerful Wizard of Oz will help them get home. Of course, along the way, Dorothy encounters witches (both good and bad), Munchkins, talking trees and winged monkeys. But most importantly, she befriends three unique characters: a scarecrow with no brain, a tin man with no heart, and a lion with no “nerve.” Their journey to happiness — and self-awareness — is a glowing testament to friendship, understanding and hope in a world filled with both beauty and ugliness.

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Expanding this Florida airstrip development is plane crazy – Florida Phoenix

Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a bunch of planes! And a helicopter too! And the noise is making all the horses go bonkers!

This is what life is like for the people who own farms around the Marion County community of Jumbolair Aviation and Equestrian Estates.

John Travolta’s home in Jumbolair, via Florida State Archives

Jumbolair, near Ocala, is a gated enclave for the wealthy owners of private planes. It boasts of having “the largest licensed, private runway in North America.” Its most famous resident is onetime Sweathog and cross-dressing musical star John Travolta, who parks his Boeing 707 right in his own driveway.

Now Jumbolair’s owners want to expand it. They want to build 241 houses and 205 townhomes on about 380 acres. They want to add commercial businesses. They may even open the runway to non-residents.

“There is a desire to build hangars on common areas of the property and commercial areas of the property and rent those hangars out to residents and possibly people who do not live in the subdivision,” one Marion County official wrote in a memo about the proposal.

To nearby residents, that means even more planes and helicopters thundering over the surrounding pastures, scaring the livestock, polluting the air, and occasionally dumping the fuel into their “springs protection area,” tainting the aquifer and waterways.

You can see why local ranchers don’t think this is so super, man. You could even call them “neigh sayers.”

“There are people out here who have lived on their property for generations,” said one neighbor, Jonathan Rivera-Rose Schenck, who’s a comparative newcomer. Expanding Jumbolair so dramatically “doesn’t really fit in the community at all.”

Amy Agricola via Facebook

“There are so many safety concerns, it isn’t even funny,” another of the neighbors, Amy Agricola, told me this week. What’s worse, she said, “they tried to push it through under the radar and get it approved.”

It’s another twist in the history of a parcel of land that already has a pretty wild backstory — one that involves everything from elephants to exercise machines to buried bags of cash.

A lair for Jumbo

Jumbolair’s list of past occupants tells you a lot about how bizarre life can be in Florida.

Early on, the place was a horse farm owned by socialite Muriel Vanderbilt of the fabulously wealthy Vanderbilt family. She used the property to train her thoroughbred racehorses. Desert Vixen, born on the ranch, later was inducted into the U.S. Racing Hall of Fame.

Another owner, briefly, was Jose Antonio Fernandez of Miami, whose drug-smuggling operation was so large he had to buy his own bank to hide his profits. He pleaded guilty in 1985 to racketeering, conspiracy, drug trafficking, and fraud. Workers later discovered bundles of crumbling $100 bills buried on the property and (allegedly) turned them all over to the FBI.

Next up was Arthur Jones, who made his fortune creating and selling the Nautilus exercise machine. An avid aviation fan, he built the 7,550-foot runway for his fleet of planes.

In 1984, Jones used one of those planes to rescue 63 baby elephants from a scheduled cull of the herd in Zimbabwe. As a result, he turned the property into an elephant sanctuary. There were also rhinos, a silverback gorilla named Mickey and, after while, quite a few crocodiles.

The elephants were the source of the name. since the land was now a lair for Jumbo.

Arthur and Terri Jones with an elephant, via YouTube

Jones, in his 50s, had married a Revlon “Charlie Girl” model named Terri, then 18, who grew up in Seffner. She was his fifth wife (out of six, if you’re keeping up with the Joneses) and regularly flew to Tampa to get her hair done.

The couple even appeared on “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” where, by one account, the cantankerous Jones pulled a gun on host Robin Leach.

In 1989, the couple divorced. Jones’ ex-wife retained custody of Jumbolair and remarried, this time to a jewelry store owner. Terri Jones Thayer, as she was now known, then created Jumbolair Aviation Estates: 38 residential lots with deeds that provide access to her ex-husband’s runway and taxiways to every back door.

“It’s like a cross between ‘Dynasty,’ James Bond, and the Crocodile Hunter,” she told a then-St. Petersburg Times reporter.

In 2013, a new owner took over: Frank Merschman, founder of Big Top Manufacturing, an airplane hangar and fabric structure maker in Perry and a resident of Jumbolair since 2007.

A year later, Merschman bought another parcel of Jumbolair from a holding company owned by a member of the Qatar royal family. The broker: Donald Trump’s longtime attorney, Michael Cohen, who received a $100,000 brokerage fee. He failed to pay taxes on it, which was one of the reasons Cohen wound up behind bars.

By 2019, Merschman was ready to be rid of Jumbolair. He asked for $10.5 million and, two years later, agreed to sell for $1 million less.

The new owners: Robert and Debra Bull of Melbourne. Bull is founder of CMS Mechanical, a national commercial heating and air conditioning company. He’s also an avid boat-racer.

None of the neighbors knew what a drastic change the Bulls had in mind for Jumbolair until the signs went up.

Reversal of fortune

Alyson Scotti was driving by Jumbolair one day near the end of last month when she noticed a row of yellow signs along the property boundary. But the lettering on the signs was too small to read from the road.

“I pulled over and went to read them,” she told me. When she saw they were about a proposed rezoning, she looked up on the county’s website what the Bulls wanted to do. Her reaction to what she read: “Holy cow, they’re building a city!”

Alyson Scotti via X

This was on a Friday afternoon, Oct. 27. The signs said the rezoning was scheduled to be voted on at the next Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on Monday, Oct. 30.

In other words, only a weekend stood between the Bulls and what seemed like a definite slam dunk.

Upset at what she saw as an attempt to slip something past Jumbolair’s neighbors, Scotti started using her phone and computer to alert everyone about what was going on. She managed to round up quite a few people, many of whom emailed county officials about their objections and signed a petition against Bull’s plans.

At that point, the county staff was recommending a yes vote on both the rezoning and change in land use.

“Mr. Bull and his wife wish to integrate the upscale aviation neighborhood with our beautiful equestrian community to create a premier aviation equestrian oasis, supported with some limited commercial uses,” the county staff’s report said, making it sound like the Bulls would create a haven for flying horses like Icarus.

But by the time the meeting opened on Monday, the staff had changed its tune. They told commissioners they recommended denial. One major concern: increased traffic on the narrow local roads.

Rob Batsel, Jumbolair attorney, via Marion County video

Bull’s Ocala attorney, Rob Batsel, started off his presentation by thanking the county staff for a comprehensive report but then added, “I preferred the staff report that came out on Friday and recommended approval.”

Batsel played down the changes the Bulls had proposed, telling the commissioners, “We’re not asking for too much. We think the property owner is entitled to the highest and best use of the property.”

Meanwhile, the opponents had packed the meeting room. When it was their turn to speak, they did not hold back. They, too, worried about the roads. But many more mentioned their concern about the increased aerial traffic thundering overhead and the environmental consequences.

One of them, James Nelson, called Bob Bull “a noise bully” who frequently flies his copter over his neighbors’ property just above treetop level. He accused the Bulls of planning to ruin a quiet area “just so a millionaire can make more money.”

The helicopter that repeatedly buzzes opponents of the Jumbolair rezoning, via Jonathan Rivera-Rose Schenck

In the end, the planning commissioners voted 3-1 to recommend the county commissioners deny the Bulls’ proposal. Seeing the reversal of the Bulls’ fortunes happen so quickly, Schenck told me, he almost felt sorry for Bob Bull — until later that evening.

“He flew his helicopter over my house for 20 minutes starting at 10 p.m.” he said. “My wife told me, “I feel like I’m in ‘M*A*S*H.’”

He said Bull has repeated the noisy visit every day since then.

“It drives the horses nuts,” he said.

The elephant in the room

The Marion County Commission is scheduled to discuss the Jumbolair rezoning and land use change next week, on Dec. 5. The commissioners are not bound by what their Planning and Zoning Commission recommended. They could hand the Bulls everything they want on a silver platter.

But the Bulls are apparently nervous about what’s going to happen. I say this because they had their attorney invite all the opponents to a convivial little get-together in one of Jumbolair’s hangars on Tuesday night.

“We understand it can be unsettling to receive a letter about development ‘in your backyard,’ but assure you that our goal is to create a wonderful addition to the neighborhood,” Batsel wrote in his invitation.

Jonathan Rivera-Rose Schenck via subject

Schenck said he saw about 75 people in the hangar. Bob Bull was there too, he said, but never spoke, not even when Schenck tried to ask him questions. Instead, Bull’s attorney and engineer ran the show.

Schenck said the main message the pair delivered was: This massively disruptive development, much like the Marvel movie villain Thanos, is inevitable. Therefore, you should stop fighting it. (If you watch Marvel movies, you know this approach did not work out well for Thanos.)

Batsel also insisted that Bull isn’t pushing this project for the money. According to Schenck, that bizarre assertion prompted a lot of people to ask, “If he’s not in it for the money and the neighborhood doesn’t want him to do it, then why exactly is he doing it?”

They got no answer. I suppose you could say Batsel and Bull didn’t want to address the elephant in the room.

Robert Bull via Team CMS Racing

Finally, Schenck said, he and a friend had enough of that Bull — um, I mean hearing about what Bull wanted. They left about 20 minutes before the scheduled end.

But then they stuck around outside the hangar door. They did that so they could buttonhole everyone else as they left, asking them to sign the petition to be submitted to the Marion County commissioners next week. They all did, he said, and now the number of signatures has hit 500.

That suggests that the hangar hangout was much less effective than the Bulls expected.

I’ve tried repeatedly this week to pry a comment out of Batsel or the Bulls, without any success. I kept thinking, “Surely they’ll want to respond to the angry neighbors.” But no, they didn’t even tell me to not call them Shirley.

I wouldn’t count Bull out at this point. He seems determined to win permission from Marion County to expand Jumbolair, no matter what. But as he tries to bring this unwieldy craft in for a landing, he better expect a LOT of turbulence. And he should probably end his helicopter harassment. Otherwise, thanks to Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law, he might face some serious anti-aircraft fire.

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Will DRC Opposition Unite Against Tshisekedi in Congo Election? – Foreign Policy


Africa Brief

From Algeria to Zimbabwe and countries in between, a weekly roundup of essential news and analysis from Africa. Delivered Wednesday.

Will the Congolese Opposition Unite?

Many observers believe the only way to defeat President Felix Tshisekedi is to back a single challenger.


Gbadamosi-Nosmot-foreign-policy-columnist10

Gbadamosi-Nosmot-foreign-policy-columnist10

Gbadamosi-Nosmot-foreign-policy-columnist10
Nosmot Gbadamosi

By , a multimedia journalist and the writer of Foreign Policy’s weekly Africa Brief.


Incumbent President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo  Felix Tshisekedi (C) addresses his supporters at the Stade des Martyrs during his first campaign rally as the electoral campaign officially kicks off in Kinshasa on Nov. 19.

Incumbent President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo  Felix Tshisekedi (C) addresses his supporters at the Stade des Martyrs during his first campaign rally as the electoral campaign officially kicks off in Kinshasa on Nov. 19.

Incumbent President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Felix Tshisekedi (C) addresses his supporters at the Stade des Martyrs during his first campaign rally as the electoral campaign officially kicks off in Kinshasa on Nov. 19.
Incumbent President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Felix Tshisekedi (C) addresses his supporters at the Stade des Martyrs during his first campaign rally as the electoral campaign officially kicks off in Kinshasa on Nov. 19. Arsene Mpiana/AFP via Getty Images



Welcome to Foreign Policy’s Africa Brief.

Welcome to Foreign Policy’s Africa Brief.

The highlights this week: A coup attempt in Sierra Leone, severe floods hit Ethiopia and Somalia, and Germany makes a gas deal with Nigeria.


Congo’s Looming Democratic Test

In July, amid a tense political climate, the body of an opposition legislator was found in his car with gunshot wounds on a main highway in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s capital, Kinshasa. Cherubin Okende was a former transport minister-turned-spokesman for leading opposition party Ensemble pour la République (Together for the Republic), whose leader Moise Katumbi is set to compete in Congo’s presidential election in less than a month, on Dec. 20.

Katumbi, a former governor of the mineral-rich province of Katanga and owner of Congolese football club TP Mazembe, claimed at the time that the killing was “a political assassination” and an attempt to silence the opposition. Okende resigned from the government last year when Katumbi left the ruling coalition led by President Felix Tshisekedi.

The murder is part of a series of troubling events leading up to the election, including several arrests of opposition figures that have left critics questioning whether Congo can deliver credible elections at a time when Africans are weary of sham ballots, and when coups in West and Central Africa are on the rise. The last election in 2018, which brought Tshisekedi to power, was heavily disputed.

In total, 23 candidates are in the running against Tshisekedi, including 2018 Nobel Peace Prize winner Denis Mukwege, a renowned gynecologist known for helping victims of sexual violence, and former oil executive Martin Fayulu of the Commitment to Citizenship and Development party, whom many local and international observers consider the true winner of the last election.

The Catholic Church—seen as one of Congo’s most trusted civil society organizations—deployed around 40,000 observers to polling stations during the 2018 election and said that votes counted showed that Fayulu had won. A Financial Times data analysis also alleged that electoral fraud had occurred and that then-President Joseph Kabila may have sought to cling to power through a deal with Tshisekedi, whom the analysis showed should have been the runner-up.

In September, Jean-Marc Kabund, the former head of Tshisekedi’s Union for Democracy and Social Progress party, was sentenced to seven years in prison for “insulting the head of state.” Kabund was arrested last year about a month after creating his own party, called the Alliance for Change. He had denounced Tshisekedi’s government for “mismanagement characterized by carelessness, irresponsibility, enjoyment, and predation at the top of the State.”

As Stephen R. Weissman and Anthony Gambino wrote in Foreign Policy in September, “there is every reason to believe that the grand corruption that marked the earlier Joseph Kabila regime has continued.”

Congo’s electoral commission, known under the French acronym CENI, faces the daunting task of organizing ballots across a vast country with limited infrastructure and widespread violence in the eastern region, where more than 100 armed groups are vying for power.

CENI has always been viewed with a degree of cynicism regarding its independence. In October, CENI President Denis Kadima met with U.S. officials in Washington as part of a “rebranding” campaign to dispel what he referred to as “a very bad reputation.” But criticism persists: Opposition candidates have complained of flaws in the voter registration process during this election cycle.

Although Kadima is an election expert with decades of experience, he is viewed as being handpicked by Tshisekedi’s government to lead CENI (the head of which is meant to be chosen by consensus). The opposition and the Catholic Church did not approve of him, which led to protests in late 2021. Critics accused Kadima of being too close to the president.

“The CENI knows the challenge it faces, and that its credibility is at stake,” political analyst Jean-Luc Kong told France 24 earlier this month. “But what really scares people is the crisis in the east.”

Almost 7 million people have fled their homes in North Kivu province due to a resurgence of fighting between Congo’s army and an armed group called the March 23 Movement (M23). More than one million citizens have been left without voter cards, and some eastern towns will be excluded altogether from voting due to the security concerns.

Some opponents believe that the only realistic chance of beating Tshisekedi, whom analysts predict will secure a narrow reelection since there is only one round of voting, is to form a coalition under a single candidate. Five leading opposition groups met last week in South Africa and chose to throw their support behind Katumbi.

Those supporters include Congo’s former Prime Minister Matata Ponyo Mapon; Seth Kikuni, who was the youngest candidate in the 2018 election; and Franck Diongo, who was imprisoned under Kabila and freed by Tshisekedi’s government only to be jailed again in June for more than a month. All have withdrawn their own presidential bids. (Mukwege, however, has not yet responded to calls for a united opposition.)

“Urgency dictates a single opposition candidate,” Matata said in Pretoria, South Africa, accusing the government of preparing “massive electoral fraud.”

As part of his campaign manifesto, Katumbi has pledged to “consolidate peace, democracy, and fight corruption.” In a statement, he said that “the current cohort of corrupt leaders cannot be trusted to change their ways.” Mukwege launched his campaign from his hometown in the eastern city of Bukavu, promising to end the country’s reliance on aid and foreign troops. (U.N. peacekeepers are resented by Congolese for failing to stop armed violence). “Internationally, we are going to do everything we can to ensure that foreign armies leave Congolese soil, and that the Congolese people learn to take responsibility for their own security,” Mukwege said.

There are some Congolese voters who question whether an election would bring about any change and are intending to stay home. Meanwhile, the Catholic Church has said that it is on watch for any signs of fraud and urged Congolese citizens to vote.

Worryingly, experts suggest that given the potential for a volatile election outcome in Congo, neighboring countries within the Congo Basin could possibly be next in line for a coup.


The Week Ahead

Wednesday, Nov. 29, to Saturday, Dec. 2: The Marrakech International Film Festival, which began on Friday, continues in Morocco. It is being attended by actors Jessica Chastain and Willem Dafoe following the country’s earthquake in September. Other festivals in Egypt and Tunisia have been canceled due to the Israel-Hamas war.

Thursday, Nov. 30: A postponed OPEC+ meeting is scheduled to take place.

Zimbabwean Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube presents the 2024 national budget amid concerns over the impact of weak global economic growth.

Thursday, Nov. 30, to Tuesday, Dec. 12: The U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP28) held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Mohamed Nasr, Egypt’s lead climate negotiator, and the U.K.’s King Charles III are expected to attend.


What We’re Watching

Sierra Leone coup attempt. Sierra Leone on Monday lifted a nationwide curfew imposed after what the government said was an attack by “renegade soldiers” who attempted to break into a military armory in the capital city of Freetown on Sunday, leading to gunfire and explosions across several neighborhoods home to military outposts and killing at least 20 people, including 13 soldiers. Information Minister Chernoh Bah said on Tuesday that “the incident was a failed attempted coup.”

The assailants also attacked a police station and released 2,000 inmates from the central prison. The political situation in Sierra Leone has been tense since President Julius Maada Bio was reelected in June with just over 56 percent of the vote, narrowly avoiding a runoff. The election result was rejected by the main opposition, the All People’s Congress party.

Global tax vote. African nations secured a historic win on international tax negotiations after developing economies overwhelmingly voted to give the United Nations more say on global tax rules and move the discussion out of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a body largely formed by richer nations. A proposal presented by the group of 54 African countries for a U.N. framework on global tax cooperation was backed by 125 countries on Nov. 22 and opposed by 48 mostly high-income countries, including the United States and EU member nations. Kenyan U.N. Ambassador Martin Kimani called the outcome the “clearest Global North vs Global South vote I have seen in recent times.”

Horn of Africa floods. Flooding across the Horn of Africa, which has killed at least 100 people and forced 700,000 from their homes, is expected to last into December. Up to 1.2 million people in Somalia have already been affected. According to the U.N., 4.3 million people—a quarter of Somalia’s population—will face “crisis-level hunger” by the end of the year. In Kenya, at least 70 people have been killed and more than 150,000 displaced from their homes. Meanwhile in northern Ethiopia, 50 people and 4,000 cattle have died in the Tigray and Amhara regions because of severe drought. In the country’s south, 370,000 people have left their homes due to flash floods.

Nigeria’s election challenges. Despite the main petitions against President Bola Tinubu’s election win being dismissed, Nigerian courts are overwhelmed by more than 1,000 cases related to this year’s presidential and regional elections, reports the Nigerian Guardian. Nigeria’s chief justice, Olukayode Ariwoola, said judges would not be intimidated by the “loud voices of the mob” over accusations that judgements have so far favored the governing All Progressives Congress party.


This Week in Natural Resources

Mali and Russia go for gold. Mali’s military government signed a four-year deal with Russia to build a gold refinery in the capital Bamako. The refinery is expected to process 200 metric tons of gold annually. The project will allow Mali to control all gold production in the country and “correctly apply all taxes and duties,” Finance Minister Alousseni Sanou said last Tuesday on state TV. The Russian private military contractor Wagner Group has been accused of gold smuggling and human rights abuses during Mali’s fight against armed groups allied with al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

More German gas deals. Since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Germany has been on a spree to secure gas and oil contracts with several African nations. Nigeria will supply natural gas to Germany at 850,000 metric tons per year in 2026, expanding afterward to 1.2 million metric tons per year. The German firm DWS Group will invest $500 million in renewable energy projects in Nigeria. Germany has faced criticism for investing in environmentally harmful African gas supplies for export to Europe while maintaining African nations’ focus on renewables for their domestic needs.


FP’s Most Read This Week

What Was Hamas Thinking? by Tareq Baconi

America Is a Heartbeat Away From a War It Could Lose by A. Wess Mitchell

Panama’s Mining Future Is at a Tipping Point by Cristina Guevara


What We’re Reading

Rustin’s Zimbabwe. In Africa Is a Country, Brooks Marmon explores the legacy of the American civil rights icon Bayard Rustin and his involvement in African independence movements during the late 1970s following the release of Netflix movie Rustin by Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground. Marmon argues that Rustin’s “controversial relationship with the final stages of Zimbabwe’s independence struggle” is largely overlooked in U.S. discourse, particularly his strong opposition toward Zimbabwe’s main independence movements in favor of groups “willing to collaborate with Rhodesia’s white settlers.”

Napoleon’s pillaged Egypt. Ridley Scott’s new movie Napoleon depicts troops led by Joaquin Phoenix as the French emperor firing cannons at the pyramids of Giza, but Napoleon never actually took “pot shots” at Egyptian pyramids, Becky Ferreira reports in the New York Times. However, France’s invasion of Egypt did lead to many of the country’s greatest treasures ending up in overseas museums and private collections. Napoleon’s troops were the original looters of the Rosetta stone (now in the British Museum after British forces defeated the French in Egypt) and unleashed an insatiable Egyptomania in the West, which gave rise to “outright criminal channels” for the country’s antiquities, Ferreira writes.



Nosmot Gbadamosi is a multimedia journalist and the writer of Foreign Policy’s weekly Africa Brief. She has reported on human rights, the environment, and sustainable development from across the African continent. Twitter: @nosmotg

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The USS Nimitz and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and South Korean Navy warships sail in formation during a joint naval exercise off the South Korean coast.

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Will DRC Opposition Unite Against Tshisekedi in Congo Election? – Foreign Policy


Africa Brief

From Algeria to Zimbabwe and countries in between, a weekly roundup of essential news and analysis from Africa. Delivered Wednesday.

Will the Congolese Opposition Unite?

Many observers believe the only way to defeat President Felix Tshisekedi is to back a single challenger.


Gbadamosi-Nosmot-foreign-policy-columnist10

Gbadamosi-Nosmot-foreign-policy-columnist10

Gbadamosi-Nosmot-foreign-policy-columnist10
Nosmot Gbadamosi

By , a multimedia journalist and the writer of Foreign Policy’s weekly Africa Brief.


Incumbent President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo  Felix Tshisekedi (C) addresses his supporters at the Stade des Martyrs during his first campaign rally as the electoral campaign officially kicks off in Kinshasa on Nov. 19.

Incumbent President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo  Felix Tshisekedi (C) addresses his supporters at the Stade des Martyrs during his first campaign rally as the electoral campaign officially kicks off in Kinshasa on Nov. 19.

Incumbent President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Felix Tshisekedi (C) addresses his supporters at the Stade des Martyrs during his first campaign rally as the electoral campaign officially kicks off in Kinshasa on Nov. 19.
Incumbent President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Felix Tshisekedi (C) addresses his supporters at the Stade des Martyrs during his first campaign rally as the electoral campaign officially kicks off in Kinshasa on Nov. 19. Arsene Mpiana/AFP via Getty Images



Welcome to Foreign Policy’s Africa Brief.

Welcome to Foreign Policy’s Africa Brief.

The highlights this week: A coup attempt in Sierra Leone, severe floods hit Ethiopia and Somalia, and Germany makes a gas deal with Nigeria.


Congo’s Looming Democratic Test

In July, amid a tense political climate, the body of an opposition legislator was found in his car with gunshot wounds on a main highway in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s capital, Kinshasa. Cherubin Okende was a former transport minister-turned-spokesman for leading opposition party Ensemble pour la République (Together for the Republic), whose leader Moise Katumbi is set to compete in Congo’s presidential election in less than a month, on Dec. 20.

Katumbi, a former governor of the mineral-rich province of Katanga and owner of Congolese football club TP Mazembe, claimed at the time that the killing was “a political assassination” and an attempt to silence the opposition. Okende resigned from the government last year when Katumbi left the ruling coalition led by President Felix Tshisekedi.

The murder is part of a series of troubling events leading up to the election, including several arrests of opposition figures that have left critics questioning whether Congo can deliver credible elections at a time when Africans are weary of sham ballots, and when coups in West and Central Africa are on the rise. The last election in 2018, which brought Tshisekedi to power, was heavily disputed.

In total, 23 candidates are in the running against Tshisekedi, including 2018 Nobel Peace Prize winner Denis Mukwege, a renowned gynecologist known for helping victims of sexual violence, and former oil executive Martin Fayulu of the Commitment to Citizenship and Development party, whom many local and international observers consider the true winner of the last election.

The Catholic Church—seen as one of Congo’s most trusted civil society organizations—deployed around 40,000 observers to polling stations during the 2018 election and said that votes counted showed that Fayulu had won. A Financial Times data analysis also alleged that electoral fraud had occurred and that then-President Joseph Kabila may have sought to cling to power through a deal with Tshisekedi, whom the analysis showed should have been the runner-up.

In September, Jean-Marc Kabund, the former head of Tshisekedi’s Union for Democracy and Social Progress party, was sentenced to seven years in prison for “insulting the head of state.” Kabund was arrested last year about a month after creating his own party, called the Alliance for Change. He had denounced Tshisekedi’s government for “mismanagement characterized by carelessness, irresponsibility, enjoyment, and predation at the top of the State.”

As Stephen R. Weissman and Anthony Gambino wrote in Foreign Policy in September, “there is every reason to believe that the grand corruption that marked the earlier Joseph Kabila regime has continued.”

Congo’s electoral commission, known under the French acronym CENI, faces the daunting task of organizing ballots across a vast country with limited infrastructure and widespread violence in the eastern region, where more than 100 armed groups are vying for power.

CENI has always been viewed with a degree of cynicism regarding its independence. In October, CENI President Denis Kadima met with U.S. officials in Washington as part of a “rebranding” campaign to dispel what he referred to as “a very bad reputation.” But criticism persists: Opposition candidates have complained of flaws in the voter registration process during this election cycle.

Although Kadima is an election expert with decades of experience, he is viewed as being handpicked by Tshisekedi’s government to lead CENI (the head of which is meant to be chosen by consensus). The opposition and the Catholic Church did not approve of him, which led to protests in late 2021. Critics accused Kadima of being too close to the president.

“The CENI knows the challenge it faces, and that its credibility is at stake,” political analyst Jean-Luc Kong told France 24 earlier this month. “But what really scares people is the crisis in the east.”

Almost 7 million people have fled their homes in North Kivu province due to a resurgence of fighting between Congo’s army and an armed group called the March 23 Movement (M23). More than one million citizens have been left without voter cards, and some eastern towns will be excluded altogether from voting due to the security concerns.

Some opponents believe that the only realistic chance of beating Tshisekedi, whom analysts predict will secure a narrow reelection since there is only one round of voting, is to form a coalition under a single candidate. Five leading opposition groups met last week in South Africa and chose to throw their support behind Katumbi.

Those supporters include Congo’s former Prime Minister Matata Ponyo Mapon; Seth Kikuni, who was the youngest candidate in the 2018 election; and Franck Diongo, who was imprisoned under Kabila and freed by Tshisekedi’s government only to be jailed again in June for more than a month. All have withdrawn their own presidential bids. (Mukwege, however, has not yet responded to calls for a united opposition.)

“Urgency dictates a single opposition candidate,” Matata said in Pretoria, South Africa, accusing the government of preparing “massive electoral fraud.”

As part of his campaign manifesto, Katumbi has pledged to “consolidate peace, democracy, and fight corruption.” In a statement, he said that “the current cohort of corrupt leaders cannot be trusted to change their ways.” Mukwege launched his campaign from his hometown in the eastern city of Bukavu, promising to end the country’s reliance on aid and foreign troops. (U.N. peacekeepers are resented by Congolese for failing to stop armed violence). “Internationally, we are going to do everything we can to ensure that foreign armies leave Congolese soil, and that the Congolese people learn to take responsibility for their own security,” Mukwege said.

There are some Congolese voters who question whether an election would bring about any change and are intending to stay home. Meanwhile, the Catholic Church has said that it is on watch for any signs of fraud and urged Congolese citizens to vote.

Worryingly, experts suggest that given the potential for a volatile election outcome in Congo, neighboring countries within the Congo Basin could possibly be next in line for a coup.


The Week Ahead

Wednesday, Nov. 29, to Saturday, Dec. 2: The Marrakech International Film Festival, which began on Friday, continues in Morocco. It is being attended by actors Jessica Chastain and Willem Dafoe following the country’s earthquake in September. Other festivals in Egypt and Tunisia have been canceled due to the Israel-Hamas war.

Thursday, Nov. 30: A postponed OPEC+ meeting is scheduled to take place.

Zimbabwean Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube presents the 2024 national budget amid concerns over the impact of weak global economic growth.

Thursday, Nov. 30, to Tuesday, Dec. 12: The U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP28) held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Mohamed Nasr, Egypt’s lead climate negotiator, and the U.K.’s King Charles III are expected to attend.


What We’re Watching

Sierra Leone coup attempt. Sierra Leone on Monday lifted a nationwide curfew imposed after what the government said was an attack by “renegade soldiers” who attempted to break into a military armory in the capital city of Freetown on Sunday, leading to gunfire and explosions across several neighborhoods home to military outposts and killing at least 20 people, including 13 soldiers. Information Minister Chernoh Bah said on Tuesday that “the incident was a failed attempted coup.”

The assailants also attacked a police station and released 2,000 inmates from the central prison. The political situation in Sierra Leone has been tense since President Julius Maada Bio was reelected in June with just over 56 percent of the vote, narrowly avoiding a runoff. The election result was rejected by the main opposition, the All People’s Congress party.

Global tax vote. African nations secured a historic win on international tax negotiations after developing economies overwhelmingly voted to give the United Nations more say on global tax rules and move the discussion out of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a body largely formed by richer nations. A proposal presented by the group of 54 African countries for a U.N. framework on global tax cooperation was backed by 125 countries on Nov. 22 and opposed by 48 mostly high-income countries, including the United States and EU member nations. Kenyan U.N. Ambassador Martin Kimani called the outcome the “clearest Global North vs Global South vote I have seen in recent times.”

Horn of Africa floods. Flooding across the Horn of Africa, which has killed at least 100 people and forced 700,000 from their homes, is expected to last into December. Up to 1.2 million people in Somalia have already been affected. According to the U.N., 4.3 million people—a quarter of Somalia’s population—will face “crisis-level hunger” by the end of the year. In Kenya, at least 70 people have been killed and more than 150,000 displaced from their homes. Meanwhile in northern Ethiopia, 50 people and 4,000 cattle have died in the Tigray and Amhara regions because of severe drought. In the country’s south, 370,000 people have left their homes due to flash floods.

Nigeria’s election challenges. Despite the main petitions against President Bola Tinubu’s election win being dismissed, Nigerian courts are overwhelmed by more than 1,000 cases related to this year’s presidential and regional elections, reports the Nigerian Guardian. Nigeria’s chief justice, Olukayode Ariwoola, said judges would not be intimidated by the “loud voices of the mob” over accusations that judgements have so far favored the governing All Progressives Congress party.


This Week in Natural Resources

Mali and Russia go for gold. Mali’s military government signed a four-year deal with Russia to build a gold refinery in the capital Bamako. The refinery is expected to process 200 metric tons of gold annually. The project will allow Mali to control all gold production in the country and “correctly apply all taxes and duties,” Finance Minister Alousseni Sanou said last Tuesday on state TV. The Russian private military contractor Wagner Group has been accused of gold smuggling and human rights abuses during Mali’s fight against armed groups allied with al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

More German gas deals. Since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Germany has been on a spree to secure gas and oil contracts with several African nations. Nigeria will supply natural gas to Germany at 850,000 metric tons per year in 2026, expanding afterward to 1.2 million metric tons per year. The German firm DWS Group will invest $500 million in renewable energy projects in Nigeria. Germany has faced criticism for investing in environmentally harmful African gas supplies for export to Europe while maintaining African nations’ focus on renewables for their domestic needs.


FP’s Most Read This Week

What Was Hamas Thinking? by Tareq Baconi

America Is a Heartbeat Away From a War It Could Lose by A. Wess Mitchell

Panama’s Mining Future Is at a Tipping Point by Cristina Guevara


What We’re Reading

Rustin’s Zimbabwe. In Africa Is a Country, Brooks Marmon explores the legacy of the American civil rights icon Bayard Rustin and his involvement in African independence movements during the late 1970s following the release of Netflix movie Rustin by Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground. Marmon argues that Rustin’s “controversial relationship with the final stages of Zimbabwe’s independence struggle” is largely overlooked in U.S. discourse, particularly his strong opposition toward Zimbabwe’s main independence movements in favor of groups “willing to collaborate with Rhodesia’s white settlers.”

Napoleon’s pillaged Egypt. Ridley Scott’s new movie Napoleon depicts troops led by Joaquin Phoenix as the French emperor firing cannons at the pyramids of Giza, but Napoleon never actually took “pot shots” at Egyptian pyramids, Becky Ferreira reports in the New York Times. However, France’s invasion of Egypt did lead to many of the country’s greatest treasures ending up in overseas museums and private collections. Napoleon’s troops were the original looters of the Rosetta stone (now in the British Museum after British forces defeated the French in Egypt) and unleashed an insatiable Egyptomania in the West, which gave rise to “outright criminal channels” for the country’s antiquities, Ferreira writes.



Nosmot Gbadamosi is a multimedia journalist and the writer of Foreign Policy’s weekly Africa Brief. She has reported on human rights, the environment, and sustainable development from across the African continent. Twitter: @nosmotg

Read More On

Congo
|
Elections
|
Politics

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.

Join the Conversation

Join the conversation on this and other recent Foreign Policy articles when you subscribe now.

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The USS Nimitz and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and South Korean Navy warships sail in formation during a joint naval exercise off the South Korean coast.

The USS Nimitz and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and South Korean Navy warships sail in formation during a joint naval exercise off the South Korean coast.

The USS Nimitz and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and South Korean Navy warships sail in formation during a joint naval exercise off the South Korean coast.

America Is a Heartbeat Away From a War It Could Lose

Global war is neither a theoretical contingency nor the fever dream of hawks and militarists.


A protester waves a Palestinian flag in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, during a demonstration calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. People sit and walk on the grass lawn in front of the protester and barricades.

A protester waves a Palestinian flag in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, during a demonstration calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. People sit and walk on the grass lawn in front of the protester and barricades.

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Biden dressed in a dark blue suit walks with his head down past a row of alternating U.S. and Israeli flags.

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Biden dressed in a dark blue suit walks with his head down past a row of alternating U.S. and Israeli flags.

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U.S. President Joe Biden is seen in profile as he greets Chinese President Xi Jinping with a handshake. Xi, a 70-year-old man in a dark blue suit, smiles as he takes the hand of Biden, an 80-year-old man who also wears a dark blue suit.

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U.S. President Joe Biden is seen in profile as he greets Chinese President Xi Jinping with a handshake. Xi, a 70-year-old man in a dark blue suit, smiles as he takes the hand of Biden, an 80-year-old man who also wears a dark blue suit.

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