When people think of Florida, Disney World is the first place that comes to mind, and why not? Disney World creates a world with fun characters, great entertainment, and exciting rides. ButDisney World is not the only entertainment destination in Florida.
The Sunshine State has more to offer than a cartoon mouse. There are many different festivals and fairs that make Florida an enjoyable place to visit. As the people who clean up after majorevents, we know our festivals. Listed below are some of Florida’s top festivals and fairs.
1. St. Petersburg Ribfest
For more than 25 years, St. Petersburg has been playing host to the three-day charity event known as Ribfest. With music from local and national bands, a variety of entertainment, and some of the best ribs in the country, this event is not one that you will want to miss. Ribfest opens to the public in early November. Proceeds go to help a number of youth organizations.
2. Pig Jam State BBQ Championship
Come enjoy live music, fun activities, and finger-licking barbeque during Pig Jam, located at the Randy Larson Softball Four-Plex Stadium in Plant City, Florida. Test your recipe in the professional or amateur categories. The Kansas City Barbeque Society sponsors this annual barbeque cook-off.
Other food-related festivals in Florida to attend include:
• Lake County Pickle Festival
• Possum Festival and Funday in Wausau, Florida
• Key West Lobsterfest
3. The Orange Bowl
Each year two college teams battle each other on the gridiron of Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. This bowl game has been drawing crowds each year since 1935 and is tied for the second-oldest bowl game in the country.
Other college bowl games played in Florida are:
• Champs Sports Bowl
• Capital One Bowl
• Outback Bowl
4. The Arnold Palmer Invitational
This invitational golf tournament at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge begins at the end of each March. The Arnold Palmer Bay Hill Invitation draws golfing enthusiasts from across the country and is one of five invitational tournaments hosted by the PGA Tour.
5. Daytona 500
The Daytona International Speedway is abuzz with the hum of engines and the anticipation of fans each year as February comes to a close. In existence since 1959, the Daytona 500 is one of the most watched televised sporting events in the United States. During the race, drivers from across the world circle the track 200 times, trying to win the Harley J. Earl Trophy and the victor’s purse.
A few other non-traditional sporting events or festivals include:
• Calema Midwinters Windsurfing Festival
• Space and Air Show at Kennedy Space Center
• Roar ‘n Soar flight showcase
6. Florida Film Festival
For more than 23 years, the Florida Film Festival has showcased independent and international films. This festival screens at six different locations in Winter Park and Maitland, Florida. With forums and special guests, the festival runs for 10 days in early April.
7. Sarasota Medieval Fair
Enter a world of knights and knaves at the Sarasota Medieval Fair. For three weekends in November, the Ringling Woods of the Sarasota Fairgrounds return to a time long past with artisan shops, period foods, and exciting entertainment for the whole family. Watch knights joust as you devour turkey legs, or tip back a stein as you watch trained jugglers perform.
8. Leesburg Bikefest
The Leesburg Bikefest is the largest motorcycle and music event in the world, hosting over 300,000 attendees each year. With three days of live music, bike exhibitions, hot body contests, and specialty events, this festival has celebrated entertainment since 1997.
Similar festivals around Florida include:
• Sunnyland Antique and Classic Boat Festival
• Daytona Turkey Run Car Show
9. Spring Break in Daytona Beach
Spring break is the time of year when colleges let out for a week and students are able to let down their hair and have a good time. Daytona is an affordable city for students who want to experience spring break in Florida and not break the bank. With a number of different activities and hot spots, spring break in Daytona is less of a festival and more of a non-stop party.
10. Vietnamese Tet Festival
The Vietnamese Association of Jacksonville celebrates Tet-the Vietnamese New Year-at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds with live music, traditional cuisine, and various entertainment.
This festival commemorates the beginning of a new year in January or early February. The Vietnamese lunar calendar determines this event’s date each year.
11. Zora! Festival
For more than 25 years, the Zora! Festival in Eatonville, Florida has preserved the legacy of famed African American writer and scholar Zora Neale Hurston. The festival includes panel discussions, workshops, concerts, and other various exhibitions the last weekend in January. General admission is free to the public, but concerts require paid admission.
Other festivals that celebrate cultural diversity include:
• Orlando Moon Festival
• Greek Fest in Orlando
• Fiesta Medina, also in Orlando
The Sunshine State has many more festivals celebrating and commemorating the lives of its citizens, their cultural heritage, and the beauty of the land. You can find a festival, fair, or other event in most parts of the state at any given time of year.
Whether you enjoy football, lobster, music, or art, Florida has something for everyone.