Downtown KC prepares to welcome the Big 12 Men’s Basketball Championships back to Sprint Center this week with a series of Fan Fests and good times.

The Big 12 Men’s Tournament returns to KC this week, marking one of the BIGGEST weeks of the year for locals and visitors to flock Downtown for basketball, dining, drinking, arts and entertainment. (Insert smiley face here.) Roll the highlight reel for an amazing week in arts, culture, music and theater in the Big Town – Monday to Sunday, Mar. 11-17:

Big 12 Men’s Basketball Championship – Downtown Kansas City will host the 2019 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship on Wednesday through Saturday at Sprint Center. This year marks the 17th time for the Big 12 dance to be played in KC. It is currently scheduled to return each year through 2022. The 2019 tournament begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday with first round action; followed by quarterfinal sessions at 11:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Thursday; semi-finals beginning at 6 p.m. Friday; and the title game at 5 p.m. Saturday. Click here for complete information about Fan Fests and tournament preparations.

Big 12 Run returns to the streets of Downtown beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday. Choose from 1 mile, 5K, or 12K distances. Runners of all experience levels are encouraged to participate in this family-friendly event. Strollers are welcome for the 1 mile and 5K race. Celebrate college basketball and wear your team’s colors for this fun running event! Click here for the course map and more information.

John McEuen makes his first appearance at the Folly Theater on Friday, as part of the new Americana series with 90.9 The Bridge.

Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th St. – This week, back-to-back world-class performances, including:

  • John McEuen and The String Wizards – The founder of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band makes his first appearance at the Folly, as part of the The Folly + 90.9 The Bridge Americana Series, at 8 p.m. Friday;
  • Emanuel Axthe Grammy-winning classical pianist and Julliard faculty member, performs in the Harriman-Jewell Series at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Kansas City Tornadoes – This weekback home to face Tampa Bay at 7 p.m. Friday and Monday (March 18) at HyVee Arena.

‘Love is never a sure bet.’ The Lyric Opera of Kansas City presents this Mozart classic beginning Saturday at the Kauffman Center.

Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, 1601 Broadway. This week, featuring the sitar and a Mozart ballet. including:

  • Sitar player and composer Anoushka Shankar is a singular figure in the Indian classical and progressive world music scenes. Deeply rooted in the Indian classical music tradition, she began studying sitar at age 9 with her father and guru, the late Ravi Shankar. This special performance is set for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Helzberg Hall.
  • The Lyric Opera of Kansas City presents Cosi fan tutte by composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart for four performances beginning at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Muriel Kauffman Theatre.

Knuckleheads, 2715 Rochester, This week, 12 blazin’ shows including Tyler Hilton with special guest Frank Viele at 8 p.m. Wednesday; Rockstar, a rock ‘n’ roll dream show presented by Next Level Live at 8 p.m. Saturday; and Chubby Carrier & The Bayou Swamp Band at 9:30 p.m. Saturday.

The Midland, 1228 Main – This week, primed and ready for a blockbuster week, featuring:

  • John Mellencamp – His career in music has spanned more than 35 years, during which he transitioned from pre-fab pop idol to one of the most highly regarded mature songwriters of a generation. The Mellencamp Show is set for 8 p.m. Thursday.
  • Maren Morris – “Can I get a hallelujah, can I get an amen?” sings Texas-born, Nashville-dwelling Morris on “My Church,” the lead single from her self-titled LP. She will bring her pulpit the Big Town at 8 p.m. Friday. Special guest is Cassadee Pope, winner of NBC’s The Voice in 2012.

Maren Morris will deliver us to “My Church” in a long anticipated concert on Friday at the Midland.

Power & Light District – This week, two great reasons to party – March Madness and St. Patrick’s Day with:

The Truman, 801 E. Truman Rd. – This week, Citizen Cope with special guest David Ramirez at 8 p.m. Wednesday; and Jukebox The Ghost & The Mowgli’s with Arrested Youth at 7:45 p.m. Saturday.

AND, LIVE MUSIC is on tap most nights at these Downtown clubs and joints: Blue Room Jazz ClubBlack Dolphin, The BrickGreen Lady Lounge, Hush, The Majestic Jazz ClubMutual Musicians FoundationThe Phoenix, Prohibition Hall, The Record BarThe Ship, and throughout the Power & Light District.

‘Anastasia,’ the new Broadway musical opens Tuesday at the Music Hall.

LIVE THEATER is thriving on Downtown stages, including six productions this week:

  • Anastasia – With its opulent settings, dazzling costumes, and a soaring score including song favorites from the hit animated film, this  spectacular new musical is a story of discovering who you are and defining who you’re meant to be. The Kansas City Broadway Series presents this touring Broadway musical from Tuesday through Sunday at the Music Hall.
  • Nelly Don: The Musical – This original musical celebrates the American entrepreneurial experience of Kansas City’s own Nelly Don, an improbable heroine whose life’s mission was to champion the beauty of women through fashion. Romance, fashion, glamour, justice and gangsters await you for this world premiere musical sensation that opens Thursday and runs through March 31 at MTH Theater at Crown Center.
  • Mr. Popper’s Penguins – In this charming musical adaptation of the beloved book, Mr. and Mrs. Popper’s lives take an adventurous turn when a mysterious box arrives on their doorstep with a penguin inside. Performances continue through March 31 at The Coterie at Crown Center.
  • Polkadots – This new musical follows 8-year-old Lily Polkadot, the first Polkadot in an all Square school.  Inspired by American civil rights history, this Theatre for Young America production runs through March 23 at City Stage at Union Station.
  • School Girls – Jocelyn Bioh’s hilarious re-imagining of the Mean Girls story is a loving exploration of the real lives of young African women trying to negotiate the confusion of Western beauty ideals. The Girls runs thru Sunday at the Copaken Stage of the KC Rep.
  • Songbook of the 50s – Perhaps no decade had more personalities to its music than the 1950s, as will this dynamite cabaret revue that opens Friday and dazzles through April 7 at the Quality Hill Playhouse.

For more of what’s happening in Downtown and Kansas City, check out ArtsKCGo and