Since 2003, the Jacksonville Film Festival has annually served as one of the city's most anticipated cultural events, screening international and independent films and hosting some of Hollywood's most accomplished names. The first deal plunks cinephiles squarely on the red carpet with access to Saturday's special event, a screening of The Six Wives of Henry Lefay, starring Tim Allen, Elisha Cuthbert, and Andie MacDowell. Young film critics that already possess Roger Ebert's critical eye and Gene Shalit's bushy mustache can attend the kids' red-carpet event, which will screen the zany kid-friendly comedy Finn on the Fly. The third options gets you into the world premiere of Thespians, which documents the theater programs at two Duval County high schools as they prepare for the Florida State Thespians theater festival. Afterward, stay for a Q&A with the filmmakers and special guests.
For three days, the Jacksonville International Car & Truck Show turns the Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center into the nation’s most exciting parking lot. Deluxe rides from the likes of Lotus, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche dazzle attendees with sleek lines and plush interiors, and innovative autos such as the Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Volt show off their efficient electric engines. The newest models from more than 25 other manufacturers line the floor, doors open for guests to lean back in the seats or measure how large a ham can fit in the glove compartment. During daylight hours, a lineup of drivable cars idle outside to give curious patrons the chance to try their dream rides.
Britney Spears hurtles back into the earth’s stratosphere, pulling out all the stops, raising roofs, and dousing all of mankind’s melancholia in glitter and beatitude on her fiery Femme Fatale tour. From Mouseketeer to multifaceted entertainer, Britney Spears has seared dance floors throughout her career with infectious sonic shrapnel while soothing countless ears scarred by the sound of exploding chalkboards. Unleashing fresh cuts dripping with danceable dubstep beats and tireless techno melodies, the Femme Fatale tour shares its stagecoach with a lineup of glam girl-powered acts. Spunky electropop outfit Jessie and the Toy Boys and the feisty twisted-sister duo of NERVO round out a night stuffed with golden vocals, brick-thick beats, and floor-shaking choreography that will undoubtedly awaken the arena’s downstairs neighbors.
Jackrabbits, one of Jacksonville’s primary downtown live music venues, is an intimate home for local and national bands like The Hives, Slightly Stoopid, Incubus and many others. The newly renovated bar area serves beer and wine only – though the selection, while focused, features many otherwise hard-to-find craft brews. Though this venue can get quite crowded depending on the act, tickets are reasonably priced and guests can always get an up close and personal experience, thanks to the limited floor space. The nondescript entrance can be hard to spot, as it’s little more than a gray door with the name Jack Rabbits scrawled across. The décor is typical dive bar, dark and grayish with sturdy seating, while most of the focus is on the stage, where lighting and sound are top-notch.
The Jacksonville RollerGirls’ derby divas, members of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, deliver fast-paced, four-wheeled fun to crash-craving audiences. The group of more than 70 wheeled warriors is split into four teams, composed of hip-checking hustlers such as Crash Register and Kat Von Skratchereyezout, who whip around corners toppling opponents like human bowling pins in search of points and respect in the streets. This year’s home-opening bout features two of the Jacksonville RollerGirls’ teams—the River City Rat Pack and New Jax City Rollers—skating against Knoxville’s Hard Knox Roller Girls to determine which team gets to join the NFL.
Mardi Gras Jax celebrates Mardi Gras with a themed pub crawl across eight bars and restaurants, recreating the Bourbon Street experience without the hassle of cramming an entire parade float into an overhead compartment. A ticket earns proto-revelers a wristband for admission that yields discount drink specials, automatic entry into numerous prize drawings, and a handy way to differentiate between right and left. A souvenir drink glass and beads decorate participants like a belt over a boxer's shoulder, and scavenger-hunt maps and cards give clues that will lead an industrious partier to the mysterious grand prize. The after-party, hosted by Bo's Coral Reef, serves drinks until 2 a.m. and features the crowning of a king and queen of Mardi Gras Jax—fledgling potentates gain a hefty reward for their newfound royalty and an ethanol-fueled crowning ceremony to make it official––and the costume contest rewards eccentrically outfitted participants. The grand prize of the evening is a cruise for two from Budweiser, perfect for a happy couple, bonding siblings, or a probation officer and ward.