by Jessica Giles | February 24, 2020

23 Events Around the Sunshine State You Won’t Want to Miss This Spring

Whether you're looking to go worm gruntin' in Sopchoppy or sample 200 different kinds of soda in Sebring, here's a complete guide to Florida's springtime celebrations

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Due to Coronavirus pandemic, please check event websites for cancelations or postponements


NORTH FLORIDA


Jamey Johnson, a 10-time Grammy-nominated country artist, will headline this year’s Word of South festival. Photography courtesy of Word of South

WORD OF SOUTH FESTIVAL

Tallahassee
April 3-5

Wordsmiths descend on Cascades Park for a weekend of literary and lyrical bliss. This three-day-long marriage of music and literature hosts nationally touring musicians and popular authors for collaboration, performances, live readings and Q&A sessions. The 10-time Grammy-nominated country singer behind That Lonesome Song, Jamey Johnson, will headline this year’s festival, joined by young adult writer Jason Reynolds, poet David Kirby, Memphis-based musician Valerie June and others. Catch conversations with Florida Book Award winners and playful partnerships between featured guests. With authors and artists performing across seven stages and spanning the spectrum of genres, there’s something for all tastes. Even kids can let their imaginations roam at the Story Fort tent with writers and musicians especially for them. wordofsouthfestival.com


UNWINED

Panama City Beach
March 20-21

Custom cocktails, local boutiques and some of the area’s best chefs come together for a two-day culinary festival featuring performances by alternative rock bands Death Cab for Cutie and Joywave. visitpanamacitybeach.com


Little girl holding worms
A child examines a bucket of worms at the Worm Gruntin’ Festival. Photography by Jerry Brown

WORM GRUNTIN’ FEST

Sopchoppy
April 11

Get down and dirty beside the Sopchoppy River for this delightful-yet-disgusting occasion where children compete to see who can scare the most worms to the surface in the worm gruntin’ contest. wormgruntinfestival.com


TALLAHASSEE FILM FESTIVAL

Tallahassee
April 15–19

Cinematic visionaries and film aficionados descend on the All Saints arts district for special screenings, filmmaker encounters and parties at this year’s film festival. tallahasseefilmfestival.com


Man in a bathing suit throwing a mullet
A man prepares to chuck a mullet across the state line. Photography by Ricki Stewart

FLORA-BAMA INTERSTATE MULLET TOSS

Pensacola 
April 24–26

For the past 34 years, revelers have been flinging dead mullet across the state line at the Gulf Coast’s biggest beach party. Proceeds go to local youth charities and the local birds get a free meal of mullet. florabama.com


Hook your own dinner at this year’s Fish to Fork. Photography courtesy of Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort

FISH TO FORK

Amelia Island 
May 7–10

The flavors of the South take center stage at this year’s foodie weekend, where guests can fish for their own fresh catch alongside world-renowned chefs, who compete to create the best dock-to-dish specialty at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort. Chefs will draw on family recipes to tell their culinary stories in honor of Mother’s Day. omnihotels.com


A pixelated image is projected onto a home in Alys Beach during the Digital Graffiti festival. Photography courtesy of Alys Beach

DIGITAL GRAFFITI

Alys Beach 
May 15–16

The white walls of Alys Beach are a backdrop for stunning projections at this unconventional art festival, where artists use animation and technology to cast their handiwork on buildings. digitalgraffiti.com


CENTRAL FLORIDA


A sand artist etches the final touches into his alligator sculpture. Photography courtesy of City of Clearwater

PIER 60 SUGAR SAND FESTIVAL

Clearwater
April 10–26 

Watch horses gallop in the Kentucky Derby, survey the New York City skyline and come face-to-face with literary greats, all without ever leaving the shores of Clearwater Beach. At this 17-day sand spree, 14 artisans craft an elaborate walk-through art exhibit of detailed scenes and sculptures out of 1,000 tons of pure white sugar sand. Each masterpiece is handcrafted without molds. Visitors can see the sculptors in action as they etch scales on an alligator or wrinkle lines in a face with brushes and dentist tools. The theme changes every year, inspiring completely original masterpieces. This year’s topic, “SANDimals, An Animal Adventure,” will prompt a set of never-before-seen wild creations. Feeling inspired by the ornate artwork? Stick around for a free sand sculpting workshop and the speed sand demonstrations. sugarsandfestival.com


FLORIDA STRAWBERRY FESTIVAL

Plant City
Feb. 27–March 8

Reba McEntire, Rascal Flatts and Lynyrd Skynyrd take the stage at this year’s event in honor of the local berry harvest. Go for a spin at the Midway and eat strawberries in every form imaginable (think: pizza, sandwiches and kettle corn). flstrawberryfestival.com


WEEKI WACHEE SWAMP FEST

Weeki Wachee 
March 6–8

Only in Florida do swamps get their own celebration. Browse over 100 vendors, and don’t be surprised to see creatures wandering the park draped in layers of Spanish moss and duckweed for the Swamp Monster costume contest. swampfestweekiwachee.com


Race cars speed through the streets at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Photography courtesy of Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

FIRESTONE GRAND PRIX OF ST. PETERSBURG

St. Petersburg
March 13–15

Waterfront streets become an IndyCar speedway at this racing weekend. The addition of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA adds more track action than ever. Take in sights like the Dalí Museum, attend driver autograph sessions and relax in the beer garden. gpstpete.com


WINTER PARK SIDEWALK ART FESTIVAL

Winter Park 
March 20–22

Admire works from 225 artists at one of the nation’s largest outdoor art festivals. Here, music, food and art mingle beneath the canopy of oak trees lining Park Avenue. wpsaf.org


Actor Greg Kinnear speaks at the 2019 Sarasota Film Festival. Photography courtesy of Sarasota Film Festival

SARASOTA FILM FESTIVAL

Sarasota
March 27–April 5

More than 100 films are screened at this celebration of motion pictures. With past guests including Sophia Loren and Jason Momoa, who knows what star power will surprise Sarasota this year. sarasotafilmfestival.com


SEBRING SODA FESTIVAL

Sebring
April 3–5

Historic downtown transforms into a soda pop shop with more than 200 beverages to try and buy. Stick to traditional colas or get adventurous with flavors including candied bacon and peach cobbler. sebringsodafest.com


aisles of bookshelves in the St. Petersburg Coliseum
Rows of shelves fill the Coliseum at the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair in St. Petersburg. Photography by T. Allan Smith

FLORIDA ANTIQUARIAN BOOK FAIR

St. Petersburg
April 24–26

Relive the era of bob cuts and flappers as this year’s fair examines the Roaring ’20s. Browse bound treasures in the Coliseum from Hemingway to Zora Neale Hurston. floridaantiquarianbookfair.com


SOUTH FLORIDA


Guests dine along the yellow lines of Atlantic Avenue at Savor the Avenue in Delray Beach. Photography courtesy of Delray Beach Downtown Development Authority

SAVOR THE AVENUE

Delray Beach
March 23

Grab 1,000 of your closest friends and fill Florida’s longest dining table, stretching five blocks down the middle of Atlantic Avenue. Fifteen of downtown Delray’s finest restaurants put on a four-course meal with a smorgasbord of food for this annual evening of wining and dining. Each table sports a different cuisine, from Italian pasta plates to raw oysters, so choose your seat wisely. This year’s restaurants include 50 Ocean, Elisabetta’s, Lionfish, Racks Fish House & Oyster Bar and more. Food isn’t the only thing you’ll find on the tables. Since presentation is a crucial element of fine dining, restaurants also compete to design the most appealing tablescape on the block. Past tables have been adorned in impressive floral arrangements, towering sculptures and rows of roses. Tables compete to win a People’s Choice Award and prizes from the event’s judges. downtowndelraybeach.com/savortheave


MIAMI SAILING WEEK

Coconut Grove
March 4–15

More than 200 sailboats take to the windward waters of Biscayne Bay to compete in this spring regatta. Watch skippers of all ages tack and heel toward the finish line to raise funds for the city’s youth sailing program. miamisailingweek.com


PELICAN ISLAND WILDLIFE FESTIVAL

Vero Beach
March 7

Master of ceremonies President Theodore Roosevelt commemorates the 117th birthday of this wildlife refuge with historical reenacments, wildlife shows and boat tours. firstrefuge.org


Attendees enjoy the bites & beverages in costume at the Wellington Bacon & Bourbon Fest. Photography courtesy of VMA Studios

WELLINGTON BACON & BOURBON FEST

Wellington
March 21–22

Pair bacon-infused cuisine with over 60 bourbons and whiskeys during this weekend celebrating two American delicacies. Sign up for a seminar to participate in Pappy Van Winkle samplings. baconbourbonfest.com


INTERNATIONAL GAY POLO TOURNAMENT

Palm Beach 
April 4

Arrive early to participate in the over-the-top tailgate, and pack stilettos for the divot stomping. Six polo teams compete for three trophies at the most glamorous tournament in the Sunshine State. gaypolo.com


Revelers swarm Fort Lauderdale Beach for the Tortuga Music Festival. Photography courtesy of Green Room PR

TORTUGA MUSIC FESTIVAL

fort lauderdale
April 17–19

Fort Lauderdale Beach becomes an oceanside honkytonk with some of the biggest names in country music. Miranda Lambert, Tim McGraw and Luke Bryan will play to thousands of fans dancing on the sand at this party for a purpose: supporting ocean conservation efforts. tortugamusicfestival.com


CONCH REPUBLIC INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATION

Key West
April 17–26

March with pirates in the “World’s Looooongest Parade,” tear through the streets on a bed with wheels, board a sunset cruise and toast the Conch Republic’s independence at the quirkiest party in the Keys. conchrepublicdayskeywest.com


Cheers to 100 years of the treasured Bonnet House in Fort Lauderdale. Photography courtesy of Bonnet House Museum & Gardens

CENTENNIAL SOIREE AT BONNET HOUSE

Fort Lauderdale
April 25

Party where Old Florida elite have gone before at the treasured Bonnet House, once owned by renowned artist Frederic Clay Bartlett. Guests will enjoy a lavish dinner, take home a VIP commemorative gift and toast specialty cocktails to the next 100 years. bonnethouse.org

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