Festivals in Tampa, Florida

By:   Niki D'Angelo | Published:
Festivals in Tampa, Florida

On the west coast of Central Florida sits a city steeped in history and heritage. Since its inclusion in the United States in 1845, the Tampa Bay region has enjoyed substantial growth as a lucrative center for business, a popular vacation destination and a great place to live. Home to award-winning restaurants, championship sports teams and world-famous theme parks and attractions, Tampa Bay and its surrounding area have year-round opportunities to relax on the Gulf beaches, shop and dine in Channelside or enjoy the evening in Ybor City.

Tampa is a city like no other. Located on the west coast of Central Florida, the Bay area offers plenty of fun-filled events throughout the year. Our music festivals feature world-renowned acts, and our festivals of fine arts and crafts bring the most beautiful creations from around the country straight to our streets. With enough food festivals to fill our stomachs and calendars, Tampa’s annual festivals provide locals and tourists with fun and excitement throughout the year.

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A Place to Eat, Drink, Dance & Play

The City of Tampa boasts the third largest population in the state of Florida and is quickly becoming one of the fastest growing cities in the nation — which is no surprise to anyone who’s ever lived in or visited the home of the Bucs, Bolts and Rays. Our vibrant city is home to people from every corner of the world, filling our neighborhoods with a rich cultural diversity that is showcased in our annual celebrations and festivals.

From food and drink to art, music and more, the dozens of annual festivals in Tampa shouldn’t be missed. We’ve compiled some of the most exciting, delicious and interesting events that make the Tampa Bay area come alive. We invite you to mark your calendars and join us for these unforgettable experiences.

Gasparilla Season

Gasparilla Season

If there’s one annual celebration in Tampa that you absolutely cannot miss it’s the fun-filled Gasparilla Season that stretches from late January until mid-April. This famous festival was named after pirate Jose Gaspar who became infamous for spending parts of the late 1700s and early 1800s tormenting the western coast of Florida. Every year, thousands of residents and tourists alike chart a course for Tampa Bay to take part in a treasure trove of pirate-themed events.

Gasparilla is more than just a single afternoon of high-seas hijinks. It’s an entire season of interesting and interactive events that contain something for the whole family. Between the pirate fest, parade, marathon, classic car show and art, film and music festivals, get ready to make happy memories throughout this piratical party.

1. Gasparilla Pirate Fest Street Festival

When: The invasion begins in late January.

Where: Hillsborough Bay

Forget about Santa Claus coming to town — we are always counting down the days until the pirates arrive. A pirate ship full of hundreds of swashbuckling scallywags marks the beginning of Gasparilla Season with their Gasparilla Invasion. The captain and his crew come ashore to take over the town with food, music and other live events. Grab your own pirate crew and join in for this evening of fun.

2. Children’s Gasparilla Extravaganza

When: This family-friendly parade marches in late January.

Where: Bayshore Boulevard

If your young ones want to join in on the fun, bring them and the rest of the family out to Gasparilla’s Children’s Parade. Let them be the parrot perched atop your shoulder as they watch colorful floats, marching bands, dancers and dozens of pirates from around the community make their way down this mile-and-a-half parade route. They can then watch Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla playfully battle with exciting explosions to end the parade.

Children's Gasparilla Extravaganza

3. Sant’Yago Knight Parade

When: This parade lights up the city in early February.

Where: Ybor City

If you’re a fan of parades, you’re in for a treat. One of our favorite parades during Gasparilla Season is the Sant’Yago Knight Parade. Considered the biggest parade of its kind in the Southeastern United States, dozens of illuminated floats will make their way through Ybor City, throwing hundreds of beads out to happy onlookers.

4. Gasparilla Distance Classic

When: The races begin in late February.

Where: Races start all over Tampa Bay

Lace-up, me hearties, and test your endurance on a race around Tampa Bay. The Gasparilla Distance Classic is an opportunity to exercise in the beautiful Florida weather while benefiting local youth charities. This event has been raising money for children’s recreational programs since 1978, and they’re still keeping their stride. From blood-pumping 15k treks for athletes to manageable 5k stroller races for parents, there are a variety of levels that let every walker, jogger or runner get going and give back to children in need.

5. Gasparilla Festival of the Arts

When: This arts fest transforms downtown in early March.

Where: Downtown Tampa

If you’re in search of treasure, you’ll love the sights to behold at the Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts. Watch as downtown Tampa is transformed into a gallery for acclaimed artists to show off their amazing artwork. The weekend features live entertainment, art activities for children and, of course, inspiring works of art including photography, watercolor, sculpture, glass and other great mediums.

Gasparilla Festival of the Arts

6. Gasparilla International Film Festival

When: The film reels start rolling in late March.

Where: Various theaters in the Tampa Bay area

Take a break from the high-seas action and enjoy the silver screen for a few hours. The Gasparilla International Film Festival celebrates the film industry of Tampa Bay. View films and learn more about the many great projects being produced locally and nationally.

7. Gasparilla Music Festival

When: This music festival sounds off in early March.

Where: Multiple venues in downtown Tampa

The Gasparilla Music Festival has only been around for a few short years but has already received consecutive awards as the Best Festival in Tampa Bay. Spanning two full days, this festival features four stages of dozens of local and national acts. With plenty of food options and activities for kids, it’s a great way to spend one of the last weekends of Gasparilla Season.

8. Gasparilla Concours d’Elegance

When: The motor vehicles roll out mid-April.

Where: Curtis Hixon Park, Tampa

Unfortunately, even pirate parties must come to an end — but not without attending the newest addition to the Gasparilla festivities. The Concours d’Elegance fills Curtis Hixon Park with rare and historic automobiles and motorcycles. Bring the family out to admire these marvelous vehicles while benefitting Tampa area charities.

Food and Drink Festivals in Tampa

Of course, there’s much more going on in Tampa than Gasparilla, especially when it comes to tasty treats. There are some wonderful food festivals in Tampa throughout the year that are sure to keep your stomach and your calendar full from season to season.

Food and Drink Season

1. Festa Italiana

When: This springtime food festival occurs in April.

Where: Centennial Park, Ybor City

Here’s an offer you can’t refuse — two full days of delicious Italian food located right next to Tampa Bay. The Festa Italiana Italian food and culture festival features the best Italian food Tampa has to offer since 1997. This festival, hosted by The Italian Club of Tampa, celebrates the culture of the Italian community by bringing guests a taste of Italy. Sample mouth-water dishes, sip delicious wines, view cooking demonstrations and learn about the Italian heritage — all while benefiting The Italian Club Building & Cultural Trust Fund.

2. The International Cuban Sandwich Festival

When: Savor the flavor of Cuban cuisine during the end of March.

Where: Centennial Park, Ybor City

One of the Top 10 Food Festivals in the state of Florida, The International Cuban Sandwich Festival brings this iconic sandwich to the streets of Tampa. This free festival is great for the whole family, featuring live entertainment and plenty of Cuban sandwich vendors from around the world. Each year they feed the homeless with their world-record largest Cuban sandwich and provide fundraising for others in need. With cooking and art contests for kids, this is a fun-filled festival for all to enjoy.

3. SeaGrapes Fine Wine and Food Festival

When: This unique festival brings you face-to-face with sea creatures every April.

Where: The Florida Aquarium on Channelside Drive

While many of Tampa’s food festivals take place in the city, SeaGrapes takes you to the sea. SeaGrapes Fine Wine and Food Festival is hosted inside The Florida Aquarium where you’ll sample hundreds of wines and delicious food from local restaurants while getting up close and personal with stunning sea life. Dress in your finest cocktail attire and support youth education and conservation programs while enjoying live entertainment. If you’re looking for a fun and unusual evening out, this festival always delivers.

4. Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival

When: Running on select weekends between March and April.

Where: Inside the world-famous Busch Gardens Tampa Bay theme park

Imagine combining the fun and excitement of an amusement park with the tastes and smells of an amazing food festival. Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival is a Tampa favorite. Grab your ticket to a day unlike any other as you wander around this exciting theme park sampling scrumptious dishes. Enjoy cocktails, wine and craft beer as you enjoy an afternoon of rides, live entertainment and more than 300 species of animals at Tampa’s largest zoo. The best part? You can come back again and again.

5. Taste of South Tampa

When: Sample the flavors of South Tampa’s neighborhoods every May.

Where: The Tampa Garden Club

For over a decade, the annual Taste of South Tampa has given food lovers a taste of some of South Tampa’s most popular restaurants. The Tampa Garden Club opens up their doors to host this Sunday afternoon event. General admission provides unlimited samples of food and drinks, access to the beer garden and the opportunity to enjoy live entertainment. VIP ticket holders even receive exclusive access to VIP vendors. While all proceeds benefit local nonprofits, attendees can also walk away as winners with free prizes and giveaways.

6. Best of Tampa Bay

When: The Best of Tampa Bay takes place during one of the best months in Tampa — April.

Where: The riverfront along the Straz Center

If the unlimited free samples of food don’t convince you to attend, then the full open bar should sway your decision. The Best of Tampa Bay is just that — the best. This all-inclusive festival features food and drinks from around the Bay area. An annual event for over 30 years, this festival features plenty of live music from fantastic bands. With so many restaurants and microbreweries, you’ll have plenty to sample!

Best of Tampa Bay

7. Tampa Bay’s Tailgate Taste Fest

When: Come out during the best time for tailgating — during football season in October.

Where: Curtis Hixon Park, Tampa

There’s no season quite like football season, and the home of the Buccaneers hosts an annual free festival that is a touchdown for the whole family. Tampa Bay’s Tailgate Taste Fest is the perfect party for the diehard sports fanatic and those who simply love food, music and fun. Featuring games for kids and adults, corn hole tournaments, live local bands and some of the best food from local and national eateries, Tampa Bay Tailgate Taste Fest is a not to be missed fall event.

8. Tampa Bay Margarita Festival

When: Have the time of your life every year at the end of May.

Where: Curtis Hixon Park, Tampa

Grab your friends and grab a drink for this adults-only festival that features two stages of live music. Get your hands on some delicious grub from a variety of food vendors, take your pick of margaritas and then join in on the 2.5-mile margarita run. For a little extra, you can also take part in the Grand Tequila Tasting. Tequila, tacos and the time of your life — if you haven’t given Tampa Bay Margarita Festival a shot, what are you waiting for?

9. Bern’s Winefest

When: Let your cup runneth over with multiple events on select days in April.

Where: Events are held at Bern’s Steak House, the Haven or The Epicurean

If you’re looking for Central Florida’s premier wine tasting experience, then this eight-day food and wine festival in Tampa is exactly where you want to be. Bern’s Winefest features over a dozen unique events and allows you to sample some of the finest wines from around the world. View fine artwork at the Art, Bubbles and Bern’s Brunch. Attend the Port & Chocolate or Oyster & Champagne seminars. Experience The Grand Tasting or Bern’s Legacy Dinner. Fine food and fine wine come standard at this spring festival in Tampa.

Music Season

Music Festivals in Tampa

Feeling full from all of the amazing food and drink festivals around Tampa Bay? Instead of raising a glass, raise your voice during one of Tampa’s awesome music festivals.

1. Tampa Riverfest

When: Jam out along the river during the beginning of May.

Where: Along the Tampa Riverwalk

If you haven’t yet noticed, spending time along the Riverwalk is a favorite year-round pastime, and there’s no better way to head into summer vacation than by hanging out at the Tampa Riverfest. Filled from end-to-end with music, food and fun, this free two-day event celebrates all things Tampa Bay. There are plenty of family-friendly activities to take part in as you stroll along the river learning about the fine cultural institutions. With new and exciting activities each year, it’s a perfect weekend to celebrate our city.

2. 98Rock Fest

When: Rocking Tampa Bay during late April.

Where: Amalie Arena, home of the Tampa Bay Lightning

For those about to rock, we’ve got a show for you. Each year, local station 98Rock brings nearly a dozen of the biggest names in hard rock under one roof for a night of adrenaline-packed action. 98Rock Fest has hosted legendary rock bands like Alice in Chains and Soundgarden, platinum-selling groups like Stone Sour and Staind and Florida-based four pieces like Shinedown and Trivium that have become global sensations. 98Rock Fest is an amazing way to rock out with the best bands in today’s rock scene.

98Rock Fest

3. The Tampa Bay Blues Festival

When: Spend a few days in April tapping your toes to some of the best jazz music around.

Where: Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg

Once voted the Best U.S. Blues Festival, the Tampa Bay Blues Festival brings the Tampa area three days full of great blues music. Touted as one of the best blues festivals in the world, this annual music festival has seen some of the most notable blues performers of the last few decades including George Thorogood, Stephen Stills, Jerry Lee Lewis, Irma Thomas and Jonny Lang. Get front and center with a VIP ticket that includes free food and drinks.

4. Sunset Music Festival

When: Start the summer off right with this huge festival at the end of May.

Where: Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Bucs

What better way to kick off the summer than by grabbing a few thousand of your closest friends and dancing the day away? The Sunset Music Festival has five stages of music in the North Lot of Raymond James Stadium. Move your way from stage to stage, making pit stops around the vendor village to grab some tasty food, ice cold drinks and stylish memorabilia. This rave is perfect for those aged 18 and older who want to party until the sun goes down.

Art Festivals in Tampa

Now that you’ve heard what all the buzz is about with the awesome music festivals around the Tampa area, it’s time to fill the rest of your calendar with another great art form. Tampa Bay is proud to be the home for many artists of every medium and showcases their work in festivals throughout the year.

Art Season

1. Florida CraftArt Festival

When: Get crafty with this cool art festival in mid-November.

Where: Downtown St. Petersburg

Take a quick drive to downtown St. Petersburg and celebrate fine crafts at the Florida CraftArt Festival. A staple of the city for over twenty years, this free premier event brings thousands from the Tampa area to the Central Arts District to view and purchase fine craft art created by some of the nation’s top artists. Watch artist demonstrations, learn about fine art creation and let your kids participate in fun activities. Surround yourself with exceptional artwork, wine, food and live music during this relaxing festival.

2. Suncoast Arts Fest

When: Roll into the New Year with this annual art festival beginning in January.

Where: Just north of Tampa in Wesley Chapel

This winter festival is Pasco County’s largest fine arts and crafts festival. Over one hundred artisans display their work throughout this free two-day event. Benefiting the local art programs for children, the Suncoast Arts Fest features live music, a chalk garden and exhibitions showcasing ceramics, photography, sculptures, paintings, mixed media and other great artwork in various mediums. There’s plenty for the little ones to do too including a kids art garden, art makerspace and a gallery showcasing art from the students of Pasco County schools.

Suncoast Arts Fest

3. Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival

When: This fall festival in Tampa occurs at the end of November and beginning of December.

Where: Only a select theater in Tampa will screen these great films

Since 2014, award-winning filmmakers and film lovers from the Bay area have come together to screen exceptional independent films on the big screen. Taking a slight departure from the typical low-budget “indie films,” the Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival features everything from dramas, sci-fi and animation to LGBT, documentaries and foreign films. Showcasing both Florida-grown flicks and films from around the world, this unique festival is an experience like no other. Grab some popcorn, settle into your seat and experience this “underground” culture scene of Tampa.

4. Bay Area Renaissance Festival

When: You can travel back in time to the 16th Century throughout February and March.

Where: Just off Fowler Ave in Terrace Park

This winter festival in Tampa is a royal event like no other. Rain or shine, the Bay Area Renaissance Festival features specialized themes each weekend. Listen to beautiful Scottish and Celtic music, chow down on a turkey leg and check out all of the handmade crafts by ye olde artisans. The perfect fantasy festival for families and friends, each themed weekend offers new and unique activities, experiences and shows featuring pirates, barbarians, time travelers and plenty of shenanigans.

Our Favorite Festivals in Tampa

Banko Overhead Doors is proud to serve the residents and business owners in a region that cherishes and celebrates cultural diversity. For years, we’ve had the pleasure of getting to know our customers during these exciting local events. We hope that you and your loved ones have the opportunity to get out and explore all of the festivities that this great city hosts.

If you’ve got a favorite festival that isn’t on our list, please let us know. And, as always, if you have any questions about repairing or installing a new garage door, let the experts at Banko Overhead Doors help you out so you can hop in the car and head to one of our great music, food and art festivals without worry.

Since 1984, we’ve had the pleasure of installing and repairing the finest garage doors for residential homes and commercial businesses throughout Hillsborough, Sarasota, Manatee, Pasco, Polk, Pinellas and Hernando Counties. We’ve enjoyed our decades of operation in the Greater Tampa Area and encourage locals and visitors alike to go out and experience the sights, sounds and sensations that you can only find in our lively city.

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