Selections: Our picks for the best things to do in Orlando this week

Ariana Grande
Ariana Grande

Thursday-Sunday, 13-16

Star Wars Celebration

Convention season is upon us, and this year's slate starts off with a jump into hyperspace. Star Wars Celebration, a recurring convention (though not necessarily annual) devoted to all things Star Wars, lands at the Orange County Convention Center for the first time since 2012. This iteration of the convention marks both the 40th anniversary of the original 1977 release of Star Wars, as well as the upcoming release of the second film in the latest trilogy, Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Pretty much anyone who's attached to Lucasfilm's pop-culture behemoth will be there, including company president and executive producer Kathleen Kennedy, The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson, and Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill, who will present a tribute to the recently departed Carrie Fisher on Friday evening. If the Force gets too strong for you, stop by the autograph booths to chat with the greatest television hero ever, Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar), who will be there due to her voice work on Star Wars Rebels. With four days full of panels, screenings, droids, workshops, shows, exhibits and every damn cosplayer you can shake a lightsaber at (don't actually do that), you'd better have a good blaster (or Wookiee) at your side, kid. – Thaddeus McCollum

10 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday | Orange County Convention Center, 9800 International Drive | | $75-$85

Friday, 14

Whiskey Business

After a hard day at the office, nothing goes down smoother than a whiskey on the rocks. At this year's Whiskey Business, you'll find plenty of the classic oak-aged spirit, along with scotch, bourbon and rye from around the world. Slip into a cocktail dress or blazer and, with an endless stream of booze on hand, enjoy entertainment from local performers Blue Star, Kissa Von Addams, Tymisha Harris and DJ BMF & the Phat-N-Jazzy Horns, as well as gourmet bites from some of Orlando's best restaurants. If you're one of the lucky few who picked up a discounted designated driver ticket, rest easy: You can still get into the atmosphere by sampling a cigar in the lounge. Indulging your love of Jim Beam and Jack Daniels also comes with the peace of mind that a portion of the event's profits go to the Camaraderie Foundation, a nonprofit that provides support for military families transitioning from the battlefield back to society. – Deanna Ferrante

7-10 p.m. | Cheyenne Saloon, 126 W. Church St. | | $20-$65

Friday, 14

Acid Mothers Temple

Japanese psych-hippie-freakout godparents Acid Mothers Temple have made a "career" out of being louder, heavier, hairier and more thoroughly freaked out than any other group on the "modern" psych scene today. AMT pretty much make every band at, say, Levitation Fest look like accountants or insurance agents. Mainstays Makoto Kawabata and Higashi Hiroshi aren't leaving the band unless it's in a funeral shroud made of blotting paper. Guitarist Kawabata tested the Floridian waters with an Orlando show last year in the company of avant-percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani, and apparently he found the City Beautiful hospitable enough to bring his whole commune. To wit, since 1995 the constantly shifting AMT collective have been wholeheartedly dedicated to spreading the lysergic gospel of out-there psych – Gong, Syd Barrett, Magma, Hawkwind – by living the gimmick to the hilt. Flares, tie-dye, long hair, denim, cult symbology and ear-bleeding inner travels are all hallmarks of the fearsomely prolific band (50 albums and counting). Stand and salute the freak flag, hippie. – Matthew Moyer

with Babylon | 8 p.m. | The Social, 54 N. Orange Ave. | 407-246-1419 | | $13-$15

Friday, 14


Beyond "just" a concert, this bill – more than other recent heavy package tour – is a surprisingly cohesive look at one of metal's many alternate futures. Indulge us for a moment. In 1990-91, pre-grunge and the alternative rock explosion – which led directly to the dominance of nü-metal and bands like Creed, let's be honest – these three different and yet similar bands were the bleeding-edge vanguard of heaviness. New York's Prong were marrying clinical speed metal to the noise-scum scene in their backyard, incorporating progressive discord as practiced by neighbors Swans and Glenn Branca. Brazil's Sepultura evolved at lightning speed from primitive death-thrash to the twin highlights of Arise and Chaos A.D., stretching the death metal template to its breaking point, bringing in Jello Biafra for a collab and covering New Model Army. Finally you had Testament, a band that took the classic California thrash sound and gave it a progressive, secular humanist overhaul that – despite the presence of a bona fide virtuoso or two in the band – never sacrificed an inherent musical bloodlust. And most importantly to us Floridians, high-water mark Practice What You Preach explicitly referenced global fucking warming in the song "Greenhouse Effect" – and hordes of metalheads ate that shit up as gospel. Christ, now we have Slayer posting photoshops of themselves with Donald Trump. All three bands have carried on in the ensuing years, still pushing at boundaries and seeing the zeitgeist realign with them; consider this a long-delayed award tour. – MM

with Sepultura, Prong | 8 p.m. | House of Blues, Disney Springs | 407-934-2583 | | $25-$43

Saturday, 15

Ariana Grande

If you didn't already know, "young Ariana run pop." The ponytailed Ariana Grande and her siren-like vocals have dominated Billboard charts with hits like "Side to Side," "Problem," "Break Free" and one of her latest, "Dangerous Woman." Critics and some Mariah Carey fans dismiss the 23-year-old as another bubbly, catchy moment in pop that won't stand the test of time, but take a seat – Grande might not enunciate well (theater performances aside) but this Grammy Award-nominated artist has the goddamn range required for a diva legend. Like most pop icons, Grande has an underlying message she wants to convey to young fans, and while it's still not clear, the Boca Raton native has a lot of time to get there. See Grande this weekend in Orlando for a night of vocal prowess and, likely, too many cat-ear headbands. – Monivette Cordeiro

with Little Mix, Victoria Monet | 6:30 p.m. | Amway Center, 400 W. Church St. | 407-440-7900 | | $26.95-$196.45

Saturday, 15

Orlando Philharmonic: The Final Frontier

From John Williams' operatic leitmotifs in the soundtrack to Star Wars to the wordless jazz freakout of the opening music to the original Star Trek, science fiction has a long tradition of entwining memorable music into its forward-looking gaze. The Orlando Philharmonic pays tribute to these timeless themes today with a program devoted to the music behind such classics as Lost in Space, E.T., Star Wars and Star Trek. And to really drive that theme home, they've enlisted a man who knows all about boldly going: Jonathan Frakes, known for portraying Commander William T. Riker, on the all-time best Star Trek incarnation, Star Trek: The Next Generation. The suave second-in-command of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D under the command of Capt. Jean-Luc Picard was known for being a music lover, though we doubt that Frakes will be joining in on the trombone to any of the pieces on the program. Instead, he'll be lending his baritone to the narration of the program, which we hope means chiming in with a good ol' "Space. The final frontier." – TM

2 & 8 p.m. | Bob Carr Theater, 401 W. Livingston St. | 407-246-4262 | | $20-$94

Saturday, 15


It's no secret that a good night in downtown Orlando can leave you stumbling through the streets of the City Beautiful. If you're one of those downtown pub crawlers that finds yourself aimlessly walking the streets most Saturday nights, then this event could be for you because this year, the Hope & Help Center of Central Florida is hosting the annual Orlando AIDS Walk: Twilight, which – you guessed it – takes place in the evening. Starting at the Walt Disney Amphitheater at Lake Eola Park, this stroll for a cause takes walkers around Orlando's downtown area for a night filled with live music, an art show and most notably, food trucks, because who doesn't get hungry by the time they get all the way around Lake Eola? Entry for the walk is free, but donations are welcome. – Rachel LeBar

4-7:30 p.m. | Lake Eola Park, 512 E. Washington St. | | $25 donation

Sunday, 16

Poca's Hottest Cook-off, Concert and Food Drive

How do you define heat? Is it the temperature of a Florida afternoon, the burn of a fiery chili, the ooh-lawd shiver that makes you fan yourself when a particularly fine specimen walks by, or maybe the moment a bassline goes from making you nod your head to making you whip your hair? Whatever your poison, the annual Poca's Hottest Cook-off will have ladlesful of it – music from G. Love, Beebs and Her Money Makers, Kaleigh Baker, Milka and more; chiliheads battling for best dish made with Poca's own line of sauces; plus Will's Pub teeming inside and out with lots of people ready to show off their most flattering warm-weather getups for the first time in 2017. Sounds hot. – Jessica Bryce Young

2 p.m. | Will's Pub, 1042 N. Mills Ave. | | | $20-$40 (bring five nonperishable food items to donate for $5 off admission

Sunday-Monday, 16-17

Chris Rock

Craving a cookie for your recent streak of successfully completed routines and somewhat acceptable parental habits? Know that you won't receive it from the societal barometer and eye-raising genius Chris Rock when he digs into Orlando for two separate nights of abrasive and humorous critiques concerning the polarizing world that surrounds us today. The Saturday Night Live alum's first nationwide tour in nearly a decade comes hot off the heels of his signing of a contract with Netflix that commits him to two comedy specials. Deliciously enough, one of those specials will be filmed during this Total Blackout Tour, so you can imagine that those attending will be seeing the soon-to-be-streamable content in person before the Netflix-using public. If these dates fail to meet your schedule, know that there are two shows in Tampa on the days leading up to the Orlando stops that you can catch. – Nick Wills

7:30 p.m. Sunday, 8 p.m. Monday | Walt Disney Theater, Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, 445 S. Magnolia Ave. | 844-513-2014 | | $49.50-$450

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