Just one month into 2014, this weekend might turn out to be the most active weekend of the year Downtown in terms of entertainment and activity options.
Festivities begin Friday at 7 p.m. with the "Yachty Gras" lighted boat parade from Metropolitan Park to the Acosta Bridge along the Northbank and Southbank. The parade is presented by the Jacksonville Sail and Power Squadron and will be capped by a fireworks display above the St. Johns River.
At the Jacksonville Landing, the George Aspinall Band, Jacksonville's Jimmy Buffett cover ensemble, perform at 8 p.m.
The Wolfson Children's Challenge is first up on Saturday's schedule. The 55-mile ultra-marathon to benefit Wolfson Children's Hospital will step off the starting line at 4 a.m. at Bragan Field at The Baseball Grounds. A 55-mile team relay race will follow at 4:30 a.m. and a 1-mile fun run is scheduled at 10 a.m.
Winter RAM, the off-season incarnation of the Riverside Arts Market, is 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Northbank Riverwalk Artists Square under the Fuller Warren Bridge along Riverside Avenue.
Community First Saturday returns at 10 a.m. to Jacksonville Jaguars International Plaza at the JAX Chamber parking lot.
Also at 10 a.m., the 2014 Water Education Festival will begin at the Museum of Science & History on the Southbank. Admission is free as the City of Jacksonville Environmental Protection Board and the St. Johns River Water Management District celebrate the river.
At the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, the annual Scholastic Art Exhibition opens with a reception at 2 p.m. for this year's grades 7-12 Gold Key portfolio winners.
For aficionados of acrobats, clowns and elephants, the UniverSoul Circus has an 11-show run today-Sunday at the Prime Osborn Convention Center.
Hoops fans can make a day of it Saturday at Veterans Memorial Arena. The Jacksonville University men's team tips off at 1 p.m. vs. Atlantic Sun Conference opponent Northern Kentucky University. The American Basketball Association's Jacksonville Giants hit the hardwood at 7 p.m. vs. the Fayetteville Flight.
Grammy Award-winning jazz saxophonist Kirk Whalum will perform at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Saturday at the Ritz Theatre and Museum, part of the Ritz Jazz Jamm series.
Merle Haggard, the "Okie from Muskogee," brings his 2014 tour to the historic Florida Theatre at 8 p.m.
The Times-Union Center has two shows in the house Saturday night. At 8 p.m., the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra will perform "Dark Side of the Moon: The Music of Pink Floyd" along with a rock band in Jacoby Hall.
Across the lobby in the Moran Theater, also at 8 p.m., the Artist Series will present "Broadway Rox." Broadway vocalists and a five-piece band will perform songs from 20 hit shows including "Wicked," Mamma Mia." "Rent," "Hair" and "Jesus Christ Superstar."
Who said there's not much to do Downtown?