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Photograph: Courtesy Ultra/Philippe Wuyts

The 11 best festivals in Florida

Looking for a festival in Florida? These 11 annual events are worth the trip to the Sunshine State

Megan duBois
Written by
Megan duBois
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From events that spotlight anything from rock and roll to strawberries and shrimp, festivals in Florida offer a different side of the Sunshine State beyond its beaches and theme parks. At most of the state’s festivals, you’ll experience a mix of local music acts, arts and crafts booths, and plenty of down-home fun (like eating contests, taste tests, and more). And along with food-focused events, a steady stream of music festivals pour through Florida thanks to the warm weather—a year-round excuse to spend time outside.

No matter what time of year you visit, you’re bound to find something to round out your trip in any part of the state. From Tampa to Jacksonville and even Key West, take a look below at our list of the best Florida festivals this year, and get ready to celebrate.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Florida

Best festivals in Florida

When: January 29, 2022
Where: Tampa

One of the biggest festivals in the state continues to be Gasparilla Pirate Fest. Yes, you read that right: the day-long festival celebrates pirates and has taken place since 1911. The spectacle starts off with a bang (a.k.a. a blast from a real cannon), and the historic festival now uses a real, fully-operational pirate ship to help “pirates” take over the city Tampa. After pirates invade the city there’s a pirate parade, much like a Mardi Gras parade, when all sorts of goodies are thrown out into the crowd. The single-day festival also includes concerts before and after the parade.

When: February 11-13, 2022
Where: Everglades City

If you’re making your way to south Florida, consider making a stop at the Everglades Seafood Festival. Think of this more as a seafood fair rather than a small local festival; the annual event celebrates all things seafood with plenty of sweet and savory bites, local beers, great music, carnival rides, and more. Bringing the family? Aim to arrive on “family night” so you can catch a firework display once the sun sets over the water. Keen to try local beer? Make sure to bring cash—while the festival is free to enter, any beer purchases are cash only.

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When: March 3-13, 2022
Where: Plant City

Strawberries are one of Florida’s biggest fruit exports, so it’s no wonder that there’s a festival dedicated to the state’s star fruit. The 10-day Florida Strawberry Festival takes place each spring (at the height of strawberry season, naturally). The festival is known for its strawberry shortcake, which is served up by the hundreds each day. Along with other strawberry-themed moments—including a mascot—there are also carnival rides, livestock showcases, and plenty of live entertainment from bands like The Beach Boys, Jake Owen, and Lady A.

When: March 2-July 4
Where: Orlando

When most people think of Orlando they think about the theme parks. And while there are plenty of theme park festivals to choose from, one of the best is the EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival. Taking place every spring, the festival brings together traditional food and drinks from around the world with thousands of blooms. As part of the festival, Disney brings in some top musical talent to perform each night at the park, including Kool & The Gang, The Spinners, and Plain White T’s.

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When: April 29-May 1
Where: Amelia Island

In the northeast corner of Florida, Amelia Island is known for its shrimping business—to celebrate the local industry, the island hosts a springtime shrimp festival. The Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival has so much to do for the entire family, from eating shrimp in just about every way possible to a family-friendly parade, and an ice cream eating contest. The festival is always packed and parking can be hard to find, so get there early to secure a good spot.

When: July
Where: Key West

Every July, Key West celebrates the life and legacy of author Ernest Hemingway, the famed writer who once lived on the island (his home is still open for tourists to visit). During Hemingway Days, the celebration includes a Hemingway look-a-like contest that takes place at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, one of Hemingway’s local haunts, as well as a deep-sea fishing contest, a paddleboard and 5k race, and a 100-mile bike ride from Key Largo to Key West.

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When: September

Where: St. Augustine

The nation’s oldest city comes alive every September with the Sing Out Loud Music Festival. The annual event takes place all over town at a dozen different venues including the St. Augustine Amphitheater and the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall. Between sets, take time to explore the city by swinging by spots like the St. Augustine Distillery, the historic Castillo de San Marcos, and St. George Street. One great thing about this festival is that a portion of each ticket goes to a set of local charities including a youth homeless shelter and an animal shelter.

When: January 25-29
Where: Key West

One of the biggest music festivals in the state is the Mile 0 Fest in Key West. The festival takes place over five days and includes 80 different artists and over 100 shows. Tickets can be purchased by the day or as a weeklong pass, the latter of which is the better option if you want to get into every show. Parking at the amphitheater site can be challenging, so the festival’s coordinators suggest walking, taking a rideshare, or renting a golf cart to get around the island to the festival.

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  • Things to do
  • Concerts

When: February 25-27
Where: Tampa

Gasparilla Music Festival takes place in Tampa every year and brings in some of the best local and national musical groups. Tickets for the 2022 festival are currently on sale and can be purchased as one, two, or three-day tickets (there’s an option to get VIP add-ons if that’s your thing). Some of the announced headliners include Black Pumas, The Revivalists, and The Allman Betts Band. No matter who you choose to go see at this festival, it’s sure to be a blast.

  • Music
  • Music festivals

When: March 25-27
Where: Miami

Miami comes to life every spring in more ways than one, but it’s the Ultra Music Festival at Bayfront Park that really takes the season over the top. The electronic music festival brings in the best of dance and house music with names like Adam Beyer, Afrojack, and Alesso. The 18-and-over festival is basically an all-night dance party with thousands of your closest friends. Three-day tickets are for sale with the opportunity to add on a VIP or Premium General Admission option (which includes a dedicated entry, lounges, and more).

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When: May 26-29
Where: Jacksonville

Fans of jazz music will want to make their way to the Jacksonville Jazz Festival which takes place every May in the Bold New City of the South. The festival brings some of the top jazz artists to the city to play over the weekend. Those who have a special musical talent can register to take part in the Jacksonville Jazz Piano Competition to find out if they have what it takes to beat out the competition. Every year there’s also a decadent brunch to top off the weekend—who doesn’t love a jazzy brunch?

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