Entertainment under the stars

Published: Sunday, June 1, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, May 30, 2014 at 3:03 p.m.

Every issue, our Key to the City feature uncovers another of Gainesville’s hidden treasures for the community to enjoy.

There’s something about listening to music or watching a movie under the stars that turns a typical summer’s evening into a special event.

In Gainesville, there’s plenty of such entertainment opportunities that only require you to unfold a lawn chair and chill.

The “Free Fridays” concert series in downtown Gainesville, put on by the city’s Division of Cultural Affairs, draws hundreds of music lovers who kick off the weekend to the sounds of local and regional bands. And as the name implies, the concerts are free.

Each Friday night from 8 to 10 p.m., the Bo Diddley Community Plaza fills with a variety of musical styles — from tribute bands to rock to reggae and much more. One highlight this summer: On June 27, the family and friends of the late rock ‘n roll pioneer will perform “The Music of Bo Diddley,” to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the naming of the plaza after this beloved longtime local resident. See Datebook for a complete list of Free Friday events.

Every month at The Square at the Tioga Town Center, you can catch a free movie under the stars (bring your lawn chairs or blankets). Coming up: “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” Friday, June 13, 8 to 10 p.m.; “Frozen,” Friday, July 11, 8 to 10 p.m.; and “Friday Night Lights,” Aug. 8, 8 to 10 p.m. Food and drinks will be available for purchase.

And, last but not least, Fanfares & Fireworks, the longtime annual celebration that combines music and the requisite Fourth of July fireworks in an event that, by tradition, has been held on July 3. It starts at at 7 p.m. at the UF Bandshell at Flavet Field. Three musical groups will perform, with the final performance during the fireworks by the Gainesville Community Band, under the direction of Gary Langford. Skylighters of Florida will handle the fireworks. The event is presented by WUFT-TV/FM, WRUF-AM/FM/TV and the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications.

As always, the event is free and open to the public.

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