Florida folks know that festivals abound in the Sunshine State, particularly when winter plagues the rest of America. Tampa festivals are a category of their own. In addition to the massive Gasparilla Season of events, there are even more to be discovered. Whether they happen on the beach, on the bay, or in a park, you’re in for a day of great food and good fun. Here are a few of our favorites.
St. Pete’s biggest art event returns each October. This internationally known festival is one of the most celebrated events in the city of St. Pete. With a mix of local, national and international artists, this festival draws a huge crowd. SHINE has received attention from around the world as one of the premier outdoor art exhibitions.
Chalk art has a rich and long history in the art world and the Sarasota Chalk Festival pays tribute to that beautiful, magical history. 3-D pavement paintings are a hallmark, and it is the first international Chalk Art Festival, each year's theme carried out by professional artists from around the globe. All visitors are invited to participate in making art, and other performing artists and musicians round out the theme. Food trucks, beer gardens, vendors and family fun activities make this one for everyone.
Howl-O-Scream is a seasonal Halloween event that occurs during the month of October at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. The parks remain operational during the day and transition to Howl-O-Scream at night. The event features haunted houses, scare zones, and live entertainment that brings fear to the next level.
Over 750 swashbuckling pirates aboard the pirate ship Jose Gasparilla “invades” Tampa Bay in January, launching a packed day of pirate-themed events. A celebration with a four-mile long Parade of Pirates continues into the evening for the Gasparilla Pirate Fest Street Festival with live music, food, and entertainment. Guests are encouraged to dress in pirate-themed garb and join in on the fun!
A little iffy about the twisty, tumbly rides at Busch Gardens? You might be more inclined to enjoy this taste adventure! Discover new, delicious flavors with all kinds of dishes, paired with the perfect wine, craft beers and cocktails. The festival takes place on weekends in March and May and is included in the park admission. Hint: eat after the rides!
Sometimes having the Blues can be really fun! As in this award-winning festival that features three days of the biggest acts in blues accompanied by bay breezes, local cuisine, adult beverages, and arts and crafts for sale. If that doesn't make you happy...
Take a picture, because these amazing sculptures won't last! The self-proclaimed "#1 Sand Sculpting Festival in Florida" attracts over 200,000 visitors over 17 days. Walk through a sheltered area to view amazing works of art that only exist for a short time. The Pier 60 location provides more to do with music, food, street performers, fireworks and more.
More than movies, the casual atmosphere of this Film Fest is perfect for rubbing elbows with industry pros, and features an educational element that informs newbies about getting started and working in the film industry. A variety of ticketing options are available so you can dig in to the networking extras as you please, or just enjoy the films.
Gasparilla Music Festival brings a weekend of music and food in February. The event features musical acts from a wide variety of genres on several stages and cuisine from the region’s top restaurants like Big Red BBQ, Cafe Hey, Ichicoro and Ella's Folk Art Cafe to name a few. Produced by the Gasparilla Music Foundation, which also supports music education through the Recycled Tunes program, it gives donated instruments to schools and music programs at drives throughout the year.
You don't have to love wearing an eye patch to have a great time at festivals on the west coast! And if you do love to party like a pirate, you're in for a real treat. Either way, there are lots of fun festivals to be discovered.