Sun Coast Happenings

Year-round outdoor festivals, with tantalizing fare and spectacular sounds can be explored on the Sun Coast. Indoors, the live performances command audiences at the Mahffey Theatre January through May, and the Tampa Bay Performing Art Center almost year-round. Spectacular shows and concerts at the St. Petersburg Times Forum offer more than 150 events, annually, including ice shows, the circus and indoor sports. Enjoy year-round walking tours of the Downtown St. Petersburg Historic District, or party in Palm Harbor during their First Friday’s events, when the historic district transforms into a large block party, with live entertainment and art exhibits.

In January, convene with colorfully costumed Pirates during the Gasparilla Pirate Festival in downtown Tampa, or explore over 100 area artisans at the Dunedin Fine Art Festival. February brings one of Tampa’s signature annual events celebrating the Latin Heritage of Ybor City during the Sant’Yago Knight Parade and Family Festival. Experience the best of Seafood and Blues at the Annual Sea Blues Festival in Clearwater’s Coachman Park, or “Mardi Gras on Main Street” in Downtown Dunedin.

March plays host to the annual Gasparilla Festival of Arts where hundreds of sculptors, photographers and various artisans, from around the globe, display their work in downtown Tampa. Just in time for the onset of April, St. Petersburg gears up to host it’s Annual Folk Fair featuring ethnic villages, and authentic costume, with demonstrations of time-honored craftsmanship and ethnic cuisine.

In April and May the three-week Clearwater Fun N’ Sun Festival plays host to over 40 events, with musical venues ranging from classical and jazz to that cool Latin beat. This is also the month for the highly anticipated Hyde Park Village Art Fair taking place in Tampa’s trendy downtown area with courtyards and tree-lined streets. Spectacular surroundings augmented by amazing sculpture, photography and one-of-akind jewelry. May brings the Annual Tampa Bay International Dragon Boat Races in Garrison Channel featuring team paddling in a fiercely competitive fashion.

In June and throughout the summer months, spend a night under the stars with some of nature’s most amazing animals at the Lowry Park Zoo’s Summer Safari Nights. Things begin to crank up come October with the NSRA Southeast Street Rod Nationals where vintage auto collectors from around the globe gather at the Tampa Florida State Fairgrounds. This show features over 1,400 pre-1949 vehicles in the “largest street rod show in the Southeast.” In the Lively Latin District “Guavaween” the annual celebration in Ybor City attracts thousands from around the world to the spirited parade and magnificent music venues.

Sample the freshest seafood fare in November, with vendors and restaurants treating visitors to their famous seafood specialties during the Ruskin Seafood and Arts Festival, or if you’re so inclined, sample some of the finest Cigars in the world at the Ybor City’s Annual Cigar Heritage Festival. This festival brings amazing aromas, great food, live music, drinks and fun for the whole family. A host of parades, both on and off the water, holiday concerts and seasonal performances are featured, annually, during the holidays on the Sun Coast. Experience the charm of the 19th Century holiday at the Tampa Bay Hotel during the Victorian Christmas Stroll at the Henry B. Plant Museum, chosen one of the Southeast Tourism Society’s Top 20 Events in December.

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