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  • Tara Crutchfield

LKLD Best of 2023- Arts & Entertainment



BEST PARK

BONNET SPRINGS PARK

400 Bonnet Springs Boulevard, Lakeland

(863) 732-7000

FB: Bonnet Springs Park

IG @bonnetspringspark

Bonnet Springs Park rests on 168 acres of repurposed land near downtown that once helped Lakeland thrive. “Bonnet Springs Park is a place within walking distance to our city’s urban core where art, recreation, fun, and tranquility intersect by design. This blended urban/natural park provides spaces to escape, engage, and explore with one another and with nature while experiencing and learning about the extraordinary history of Central Florida.” The park features a Welcome Center with a gift shop, history gallery, and coffee shop, Heritage Gardens, the Florida Children’s Museum, the Depot Cafe, a family lawn, playground, botanical gardens, butterfly house, nature center, tree house, canopy walk, and more.

2nd: Common Ground Playground

3rd: Barnett Family Park


BEST DATE NIGHT

THE JOINERY

640 E Main St, Lakeland

(863) 808-4025

FB: The Joinery

IG @thejoinerylkld

Food, drinks, flowers – everything you need for the perfect date night! The Joinery is a modern food hall and craft brewery on the banks of Lake Mirror. Their selection of vendors suits any craving and can make a date night compromise easy to reach. You get pizza, and I’ll get ramen! Currently filling the food hall are Ato sushi burritos and poke bowls, Ava Neapolitan wood-fired pizza, Gallito Taqueria, Sabu ramen, Blue Dog Craft Barbeque, Super Duper Spot badass burgers, and Mayday Ice Cream. Grab a craft cocktail at the bar and a funky fresh bloom from Bloom Shakalaka for your sweetheart on the way out!

2nd: Silver Moon Drive-In Theatre

3rd: Rec Room


BEST GOLF COURSE

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS GOLF COURSE

2900 Buckingham Ave, Lakeland

(863) 834-2377

FB: The Heights At The Cleveland Heights Golf Course

Hole in one for Cleveland Heights Golf Course! This 27-hole municipal facility is open to the public and boasts a full-service Pro Shop, golf instruction, practice areas, and a restaurant. They also have a full driving range with small, medium, or large buckets available for purchase. Green fees vary according to the season, but annual memberships are available. After playing a few rounds, stop in for some chicken wings or shepherd’s pie at 1916 Irish Pub located at Cleveland Heights Golf Course.

2nd: Lone Palm Golf Club

3rd: The Club at Eaglebrooke


BEST DANCE STUDIO

ULTIMATE DANCE CENTER

2980 Lakeland Highlands Rd, Lakeland

(863) 333-0567

FB: Ultimate Dance Center

IG @udclakeland

Ultimate Dance Center (UDC) is Polk County’s elite dance center. They offer dance education for all ages and all levels. Offering a variety of dance styles, students can learn in their state-of-the-art dance studio in the heart of Lakeland. The classes at UDC deliver a dance experience with staff and instructors emphasizing technique. “There are opportunities for those dancers who want to be professional dancers to perfect their current skills and acquire new ones,” says UDC. They offer homeschool, special needs, and toddler options too! Ultimate Dance Center has a World Dance Championship nationally ranked competition dance team and in-house non-profit contemporary dance company called FrediDance Project. One parent writes, “Quite the brilliant school for my kid. Talent, inclusivity, diversity, and a true sense of belonging. Lucky to have found them in town.”

2nd: Tammy’s Dance Company

3rd: Just Dance Academy of Dance & Etiquette


BEST LIVE MUSIC

VENUE UNION HALL

1023 Florida Ave S, Lakeland

(863) 288-0372

FB @unionhallevents

IG @unionhallevents

Union Hall is an intimate Dixieland listening room with lofty ceilings, exposed terracotta brick from the 1920s, art deco accents, and concrete bar tops. Grab a cocktail at the bar and enjoy the show or book the space in advance for a private event. One Union Hall patron wrote, “The perfect place in Lakeland for Private events and live music! They also have Karaoke on Wednesday nights. The outdoor patio is perfect for hanging out and eating. The staff here is amazing.” Check out their website to see what bands are coming to Union Hall next.

2nd: Swan Brewing

3rd: The Yard On Mass


BEST ANNUAL COMMUNITY EVENT

MAYFAIRE BY-THE-LAKE

Established in 1971 as a small crafts fair on the lawn of the Lakeland Public Library, Mayfaire by-the-Lake has become one of Florida’s largest and most celebrated annual outdoor art festivals. It is presented on Mother’s Day weekend every year and features more than 150 artist booths on the shores of Lake Morton. Artist tents feature jewelers, clay artists, painters, and photographers displaying their creations. One of the oldest arts festivals in Central Florida, Mayfaire has been ranked among Sunshine Artist Magazine’s “200 Best Art Shows” for ten years in a row.

2nd: (TIE) Lakeland Christmas Parade

2nd: (TIE) Pride in the Park

3rd: Art Crawl


BEST MUSEUM

POLK MUSEUM OF ART AT FLORIDA SOUTHERN COLLEGE

800 E Palmetto St, Lakeland

(863) 688-7743

FB: Polk Museum of Art

IG @polkmuseumofart

Some 140,000 visitors come to the Polk Museum of Art annually. Admission to the Museum is free and exhibits typically change every few months. PMA patrons can enjoy their diverse collection of more than 2,800 objects with a focus on collecting and exhibiting contemporary art, Asian art, Pre-Columbian art, African art, and decorative art. Some exhibitions are from their collection, but many are from local, nationally, and internationally known artists such as Pablo Picasso, Albert Paley, Miriam Schapiro, Donald Sultan, James Rosenquist, Andy Warhol, and many others. In 2022, the Museum announced plans for a $6 million expansion and renovation project slated for completion in the summer of 2024.

2nd: Florida Children’s Museum

3rd: Polk County History Center


BEST MURAL

LET’S RIDE BY GILLIAN FAZIO

1066 S Florida Ave, Lakeland (located at Bent’s Schwinn Cycling & Fitness)

FB: Gillian Fazio Art

IG @gfazioart

This vibrant mural depicts a penny farthing bicycle with colorful foliage, flowers, and a butterfly bursting through the spokes, preceded by floral encased letters reading Let’s Ride. Fazio’s talent can be seen in other colorful, nature-inspired pieces around Polk County, like the CREATE mural at Catapult or the oranges and butterflies in Slice of Happiness in Lake Wales. A Lakeland native, Fazio graduated Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the University of Florida in 2017. Fazio has painted over 20 murals across Central Florida from Tampa to Anna Maria Island and specializes in “murals that are interactive, engaging, colorful & uplifting, used for countless photoshoots and beautification across the country.”

2nd: CREATE at Catapult by Gillian Fazio

3rd: Angel Wing Selfie Wall by Aaron M. Corbitt


BEST VISUAL ARTIST

BUMP GALLETTA

FB: Bump Galletta

IG @bumpgalletta

Bump just can’t be beat! A repeat Best Visual Artist winner, Josh “Bump” Galletta is a Lakeland-based commercial artist and illustrator. “I specialize in creating dynamic designs with an organic feel,” says Galletta. “I don’t wear a suit and tie to work; I roll up my sleeves and get down with paper.” His cool black and white style can be seen on t-shirts and living room walls across Polk County (and beyond). In November 2020, Galletta and Ida Mundell released their Swan City picture book, “Goodnight Lakeland.” In addition to his personal work and commissions, Bump has created for brands like Starbucks, Swan Brewing, Top Buttons, Haus 820, Smoothie King, and many more.

2nd: Sara Savannah Jones

3rd: Scott Audette


BEST BAND

THESE TIMES

Spotify @thesetimes

FB: These Times

IG @thesetimesfl

These Times is a Florida heavy-hearted pop punk band formed in 2015. Current members include Skully Scott on vocals, Kurt Montroy on rhythm guitar/ backing vocals, Chris Olivares on drums/ vocals, Josh Hannah on bass/ backing vocals, and Evan Dyer on lead guitar/ backing vocals. Check out their easycore music on Spotify and follow their social media to see where they’ll play next!

2nd: Smokepoint

3rd: Gary Love and the Moonlighters


BEST DRAG QUEEN

MOMMA ASHLEY ROSE

FB: Rose Dynasty Foundation Inc.

IG @rosedynastyfoundation

Congrats to one of our favorite queens! Momma Ashley Rose is a fabulous and philanthropic drag performer spreading the message that all are “loved, accepted, and wanted.” Along with her husband, Scott DeShazo, Momma Ashley Rose founded the Rose Dynasty Foundation, which has helped to raise thousands of dollars for charities, community outreaches, and non-profits through drag, dinner, brunch, children’s events, and variety shows. Momma’s mission is to “provide a safe and family-friendly atmosphere for all people no matter their gender, race, sexual orientation, and/or religion, through mentoring, fundraising, fostering community, and promoting awareness of resources.”

2nd: Kathryn Nevets

3rd: Marina Maroney


BEST LOCAL MAKER

MAMACITA LIFESTYLE CO.

IG @mamacita.lifestyleco

This Latina and mama-owned Central Florida pop-clothing boutique makes super cute ‘Spanglish’ tees. The Mamacita herself, Jessica Ferguson, told LKLDlense that when she started her brand, she wanted it to be “fun, bold, and rich in Latin pride/culture.” Her on-trend bright tees don phrases like “Barbicita,” “Necesito Cafecito,” and “Muy Festive” for the holidays. She told LKLDlense, “The name itself has everything to do with who I am as a Latina mama who is wholeheartedly so proud of her motherhood journey and beautiful Latin heritage. I believe the combination of all these factors is what sets the brand apart.”

2nd: Swan City Ceramics

3rd: Jaime Jay Handmade


BEST HIDDEN GEM IN POLK COUNTY

ART CENTRIC STUDIO

1035 Florida Ave S #180, Lakeland

(407) 489-0179

FB: Art Centric Studio

IG @artcentricstudio

artcentricstudio.com Art Centric is a cozy art studio in the heart of Dixieland. ACSI-certified art teacher Mrs. Becky started this hidden gem in 2015. The space is a studio for children of all ages in Lakeland, providing authentic opportunities to make and create. Art Centric boasts a stunning studio space with plenty of natural light and large open tables. “Through the step-by-step process of exploring materials, building skills, making mistakes, and creating solutions, you and your child will be taught to work and think like an artist.” Art Centric offers a variety of classes for all ages, homeschool classes, After School ArT, and KiDz NiGhT OuT. The owner “loves art in all its forms and has a growing passion to share it with others. She is excited to encourage creativity at Art Centric Studio and looks forward to seeing you soon!”

2nd: Rose Dynasty Foundation Fundraising Events

3rd: Quinteassence Kava Bar

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