State of the Nightlife: Downtown 2017

December 14, 2016 4 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

So seemingly without notice, Downtown's nightlife has actually begun to seriously happen. Weekend nights are packed with events and entertainment, there are people walking most of the core streets, its hard to find parking anywhere. More importantly the crowds now look like the City of Jacksonville. Symphony goers and hipsters aren't the only people downtown anymore. Its actually kind of massive if you compare the weekend downtown at night with the same place 15 years ago. Partially its because its happened so gradually. Or as the publisher of the Daily Record, Jim Bailey often says: We don't only need home runs. We need a bunch of first and second bases as well. Well, the bases are finally loaded. Here is a two part series of just how busy the downtown is becoming.

The  Large Theatres and Performance Halls

There are surprisingly more large venues for performances downtown than most people readily think.

Most Jvillians, in a pinch, could name the Florida Theater, the Times Union Symphony Hall, and the Veterans Arena, but probably aren't aware of just how many large spaces there actually are.

For starters, the Times Union Center is actually three separate performance halls.  The Symphony lives there, in Jacoby Hall, but that is a separate performance stage from the Moran Theater.  Most people don't even realize that there is a smaller venue---the Terry Theater--for performances with a couple of hundred audience members.

Similarly, the role of the Karpeles Museum in the life of independent productions and performances simply cannot be understated.  Everything from poetry slams, to musical retrospectives to original work by Noble Lee Lester and performances by The 5&Dime;, A Theatre Company are produced there.

Likewise with the Ritz Theatre.  If pressed, people will recall it is there, but can seldom tell you what is performing there.  But as it turns out, there are a few others.

All in all, not counting the major auditoriums of the downtown churches (places like First Baptist, Bethel Baptist, the excellent musical program at First Presbyterian, and Immaculate Conception---which feature constant musical and theatrical performances year round) there are 13 large venues in downtown.

Often times, by 730 pm, there is nowhere to park on the streets, which are buzzing with activity as people are trying to get from dinner to a show in a hurry.

1. The Ritz Theater  The Ritz actually has a pretty hopping calendar of events, a museum with rotating shows and one of the more dynamic Museum Directors of the institution's history.

2. Auditorium/Theater, Downtown Florida State College at Jacksonville (During the TEDx2016 Event)

Photo credit to Ed Bittof
3. Karpeles Manuscript Museum and Library. A frequent host of independent theater and musical performances like 5&Dime;'s recent production of "Never the Sinner"

4. The Florida Ballet

5. The Veteran's Memorial Arena

6. Hemming Park Events

7. Museum of Contemporary Arts Jacksonville Theater.  Features an independent performance season and frequent lectures.

PAGE 1: The Big Venues Map
PAGE 2: Big Venues
PAGE 3: The Hot Bars and Clubs Map
PAGE 4: The Hot Bars and Clubs
PAGE 5: Whats to Come.

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