The secret to finding fun things to do is to keep your eyes open and seek out things that interest you. There is a multitude of opportunities in Gainesville fitting a wide variety of interests, and students often receive discounts at various venues. These many local resources will help you settle into your new home and find a life outside of graduate school.
- University of Florida Performing Arts – University of Florida Performing Arts (UFPA) represents many of the entertainment venues on campus including the Phillips Center, Squitieri Studio Theater, University Auditorium, and the Baughman Center. This is where you’ll find information regarding many upcoming performance events on campus including traveling Broadway shows, international orchestras, jazz concerts, etc. Student tickets are $10.
- Exactech Arena at the O’Connell Center – The Stephen C. O’Connell Center (aka O’Dome) on UF’s campus hosts Gator athletic events as well as many popular music concerts.
- Florida Museum of Natural History – Located on the University of Florida’s campus, this museum features a wide variety of different exhibits ranging from fossils to cutting-edge technology. One of the highlights is the Butterfly Rainforest. The Butterfly Rainforest is a 6,400 square foot screened-in facility containing hundreds of butterflies as well as some birds. Entrance to the Museum of Natural History is free for everyone, and the Butterfly Rainforest is free for UF students with a Gator1 card (you may want to double check this before going, as it wasn’t always free).
- Harn Museum of Art – The University of Florida’s art museum houses many varieties of art including African, ancient American, Asian, contemporary and other modern art.
- UF School of Music – UF has some excellent musicians who perform in and near the Music Building, including carillon recitals in Century Tower, and organ recitals in the University Auditorium. Most of the recitals are free.
- Hippodrome Theater – (Downtown at 25 SE 2nd Pl) The Hippodrome offers live theatre with local performers, films, gallery exhibits, classes, and special events. The cinema shows one movie at a time and usually features foreign or independent films. Tickets are $5.50 on student night – every Wednesday and Sunday. If you make it a regular habit, a membership is well worth your while. The upstairs theater books small, quirky productions. A Christmas Carol in late November through December is always popular. Student tickets are $12.
- Gainesville Community Playhouse – (Located in northwest Gainesville at 4039 NW 16th Blvd) The Gainesville Community Playhouse is one of the oldest community theaters in the state of Florida. Their first play was produced in 1927, and they have been producing quality plays and musicals ever since using local performers. Student tickets are $12.
- Artwalk – The last Friday of every month, the art studios in downtown Gainesville become galleries. It’s a self-guided tour that combines exciting visual art, live performances, and events.
Festivals & Annual Events
- Downtown Festival & Art Show– The streets of downtown Gainesville get transformed into an arts bazaar with lots of local and out of town artists coming to sell their work. It’s a great place to shop around for art as well as a great way to see local performing arts groups in action. Held annually in November.
- Winter Arts Fair at Tioga Town Center – Another art and music festival held annually just west of Gainesville in March.
- Friends of the Library Book Sale– While not technically a festival, this is a can’t miss event for all bibliophiles and record collectors. It’s the largest book sale event in the state of Florida and is hosted twice a year – during the fall and spring seasons (usually April and October).
- Hogtown Craft Beer Festival – A very well run beer fest worth checking out. Held in April.
- Hoggetowne Medieval Faire – Step back in time and cheer on jousting knights, wander through the medieval marketplace where hundreds of artisans sell their wares, witness a battle on the living chess board, partake in olde world games and rides and feast on food fit for a king. Enjoy nine stages of entertainment where the forgotten skills of full-flight falconry, gripping aerial acrobatics, and old-world magic come to life. Jugglers, knife throwers and gypsy dancers add to the excitement as they fill the streets of Hoggetowne. Held annually at the Alachua County Fair Grounds.
- Micanopy Fall Festival – Micanopy, Florida is a quaint and scenic location for this fall arts & crafts festival. Micanopy is “the town that time forgot” and a treasure to explore as it is bustling with activity as the vendors pour into town and fill Cholokka Boulevard.
- The McIntosh 1890’s Festival – McIntosh, Florida is just south of Micanopy and this October festival features musical entertainment (including bluegrass), as well as arts, crafts, and antique vendors.
- The Fest – 300+ bands play across downtown Gainesville over the span of a 3 day weekend. The bands playing are mostly associated with the punk music genre given that Gainesville has a rich music scene and history. It’s a great mix of small bands, up and coming acts, as well as national headliners.
- Corn Mazes – Each fall there are cornfield mazes around Gainesville, each with their own personality. Rogers Farm, Coon Hollo, and Newberry Cornfield Maze are some worth looking into.
Live Music Around Town
- The Atlantic Nightspot – Motown and pop dance nights, local bands on weekends.
- Boca Fiesta, Back Yard Bar, Palomino Pool Hall – underground and local bands, some national acts.
- Loosey’s – Smaller shows but a variety of types of music, local and national acts.
- High Dive – Attracts larger national touring acts of all scenes, but an emphasis on hipster.
- Satchel’s Pizza – Local groups – primarily blues, bluegrass, folk, etc.
- The Wooly– Lots of shows, mostly up and coming local bands as well as national acts.
- Phillips Performing Arts Center – houses your cultural offerings, blues, symphonies, opera, etc. (see first section above)
- The O’Connell Center – this sports arena turns into a live music venue for big names like Drake. (see first section above)
- Lots of other small venues host acoustic sets and various open mic nights. Stay tuned to Gainesville Shows.