by Alyssa Morlacci | September 24, 2019

A Cultured-Fan Favorite: Foo Foo Festival

Pensacola, the cultural capital of the southeast, buzzes as an artistic hub every fall with this anticipated 12-day event.

Pensacola embraces Fall and Foo Foo

Pensacola is a natural host for the annual Foo Foo Festival, a 12-day cultural celebration for art-enthusiast families, couples, travelers and locals alike. The Panhandle destination is the only city on the Gulf Coast from Mobile, Ala., to Tampa, Fla., with “the big five”: an opera, ballet, symphony, theater and museum. From Oct. 31 to Nov. 11, guests can experience all of these artistic avenues during back-to-back events, celebrity performances and creative collaborations.

“Foo foo” is a borrowed term from 19th-century ship crew members, who used it to define the unrehearsed musical collaborations that would take place on board. It’s a fitting title for this annual event that brings together art, music, dance, theater and much more. Strategically positioned around and during some of Pensacola’s most popular events, Foo Foo also includes the Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival at Seville Square from Nov. 1 to 3; the Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show at the NAS Pensacola on Nov. 8 and 9; the Pensacola EggFest at the Blue Wahoo Stadium on Nov. 10; and the Frank Brown International Songwriters’ Festival, which is held in two dozen different venues on the Gulf Coast. 

symphony performance
Find the big five at Foo Foo: opera, ballet, symphony, theater and collaborative museum installations.

Changing each year is the performance line up, which this fall spotlights the internationally acclaimed classical piano virtuoso Garrick Ohlsson; the contemporary swing revival band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy; multi Grammy-award nominated musician Marsha Ambrosius; and a new play called “The Savannah Sipping Society.” Installations include “Skulptures,” a 3D display of skateable concrete structures featuring the professional American street skater Rodney Mullen, and “Fire and Rain,” a sea of billowing holographic strands suspended above the historic Intendencia Street. While some shows are ticketed, many events are free, like Sax on the Sixth (which, you guessed it, takes place on Nov. 6) and a book signing with Eleanor Randolph, author of “The Many Lives of Michael Bloomberg” on Nov. 9.

multi Grammy-award nominated musician Marsha Ambrosius
Multi Grammy-award nominated musician Marsha Ambrosius

Year-round offerings also include historic walking tours, a large farmer’s market, quaint shops, food trucks, brewery tours and more. But Foo Foo Festival attendees proclaim that the best time to visit Pensacola is during the nearly two-week event. With pristine sugar-white beaches and a captivating history, the city itself is an artful backdrop for this annual showcase of thought-provoking and mind-extending happenings.

Professional American street skater Rodney Mullen
Professional American street skater Rodney Mullen

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