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TOP 10 ANNUAL FESTIVALS

ON THE EMERALD COAST

In addition to the abundant natural beauty surrounding the Emerald Coast, many annual events dot the landscape throughout the year. Here are some of our faves, and remember, while parking passes and free on-site transportation may be provided at some of these, we recommend leaving the car at home and taking GoVetted. You’ll save time, avoid the lines, and get dropped off right in front! Going to the festival? GoVetted!

Crowds enjoying the music at the 30A Songwriters Festival

Photo by SoWal.com

30A Songwriters Festival | Santa Rosa Beach, FL | Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Weekend

The cooler month of January, when the gulf breeze nips at your nose, is the perfect time to gather with friends and listen to the warmest tunes east of the Mississippi. With more than 175 artists, 225 performances, and 25 venues, the 30A Songwriters Festival has presented something for everyone. Past performers include Jackson Browne, Emmylou Harris, John Prine, Graham Nash, Jason Isbell, Lucinda Williams, and Patty Griffin, among many more. Plan your schedule accordingly and take advantage of the free shuttles covering all the venues.

30ASongwritersFestival.com

Runners getting ready to start at the Seaside Half Marathon and 5K Run

Photo by 30a.com

Seaside Half Marathon & 5K | Seaside, FL | February or March

Over several days in Winter, when South Walton is less busy, visitors from around the world take over the gorgeous Town of Seaside to socialize, dine, and prep for this family-friendly “race.” 100% of the profits benefit the Seaside School, a tuition-free, local neighborhood institution serving students who not only live along Scenic Hwy 30A, but come from all over the county. Runners are reminded that their participation helps reduce class sizes and also funds elective classes in gardening, music, art, and an award-winning robotics program.

RunSeasideFL.com

Crowds sampling an array of tastes at the Sandestin Wine Festival

Photo by SandestinWineFestival.com

Sandestin Wine Festival | Miramar Beach, FL | April

Named “Best Annual Event” by Destin Magazine, and known as the preeminent event in South Walton each year, the Sandestin Wine Festival at Baytowne Wharf packs four fun days with unique events and unforgettable experiences. Attending dinners with celebrity chefs, and taking part in tastings showcasing hundreds of wines, are just a couple options. Novices can learn and sample a comprehensive wine selection in all varieties, styles, and price ranges, while wine aficionados can meet winemakers to ask detailed questions and acquire hard to find selections. Chances are you’ll be drinking and living it up all day, so leave the car at home and take GoVetted!

SandestinWineFestival.com

Crowds taking in the art at Digital Graffiti in Alys Beach

Photo by 30a.com

Digital Graffiti | Alys Beach | May

According to Wikipedia, “Digital Graffiti is the act of creating graffiti art using a computer vision system. Various groups and companies have pioneered digital graffiti since technology advances made it possible. Most notably is the Graffiti Research Lab based in the US with their L.A.S.E.R. Tag system.” As you can surmise, this one-of-a-kind cultural jewel, featuring digital artists, filmmakers, musicians, interactive designers, photographers, VJs, producers, celebrities, art, technology and architecture, should not be missed. Thousands of dollars in cash prizes are awarded each year, and digital submissions hail from countries such as Austria, Germany, London, India, France, Italy and China.

DigitalGraffiti.com

Crowds enjoying the music at the Seabreeze Jazz Festival

Photo by ActiveRain.com

Seabreeze Jazz Festival | Panama City Beach, FL | April

Winner of 2018’s Florida’s Festival & Events Association’s Sunsational Award, this long running four-day festival attracts top musicians from the U.S. and the world. Boney James, Michael McDonald, Brain Culbertson, Patti Austin, Candy Dulfer, and many more Smooth Jazz favorites have showcased their unique song stylings at Aaron Besant Park, located on the shores of PCB. An outdoor social scene like no other, bring a chair, find a spot, then roam the grounds sampling the wonderful food and drink vendor offerings. Daytime weather is ideal in April, especially for this genre of music, just don’t be surprised if you find yourself dancing to keep warm when the sun goes down!

SeabreezeJazzFestival.com

Crowds on the beach enjoying the Pensacola Beach Air Show

Photo by SouthCoastGolfGuide.com

Pensacola Beach Air Show | Pensacola Beach, FL | July

Okay, we admit it. This one’s not really a festival. Just don’t tell the thousands of Neck Craners from around the world who attend the annual Pensacola Beach Air Show each summer. The highlight of the weekend is, without a doubt, the hometown heroes — Blue Angels — the U.S Navy’s flight demonstration squadron stationed at Forrest Sherman Field, Naval Air Station Pensacola. Bonus: The Blue Angels, known locally as “The Blues,” hold several practice sessions along the beach in the days leading up to the big event on show day. Wondering what to expect? Go on YouTube and search for “Blue Angels flights along the beach” to get a glimpse of the power and majesty that is America’s elite flight squadron.

VisitPensacolaBeach.com

Crowds rocking it out at the Pepis Gulf Coast Jam

Photo by SeahaveBeach.com

Gulf Coast Jam | Panama City Beach, FL | Labor Day Weekend

Put some two-step in your beach walks with this “Country on the Coast” music fest! Some of the most famous acts in music have performed during this surfside singalong, including Tim McGraw, Jason Aldean, Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton, and many more. One of the most popular events in the southeast, tickets tend to sell-out early, so plan ahead. In addition, a limited number of Early Entry passes are also available for sale so you can gain early entry and snag a prime spot. Grab your bestie and your best flip flops, ‘cause mama, we’re going out dancing!

GulfCoastJam.com

Crowds sampling food at the Pensacola Seafood Festival

Photo by 10Times.com

Pensacola Seafood Festival | Pensacola, FL | September

Winner of 2018’s Florida’s Festival & Events Association’s Sunsational Award, this long running four-day festival attracts top musicians from the U.S. and the world. Boney James, Michael McDonald, Brain Culbertson, Patti Austin, Candy Dulfer, and many more Smooth Jazz favorites have showcased their unique song stylings at Aaron Besant Park, located on the shores of PCB. An outdoor social scene like no other, bring a chair, find a spot, then roam the grounds sampling the wonderful food and drink vendor offerings. Daytime weather is ideal in April, especially for this genre of music, just don’t be surprised if you find yourself dancing to keep warm when the sun goes down!

PensacolaSeafoodFestival.com

Crowds sampling food at the Destin Seafood Festival

Photo by GibsonBeachRentals.com

Destin Seafood Festival | Destin, FL | October

An annual favorite among locals and visitors, this free admission festival serves up 2.5 days of bountiful gulf catch. Stroll along Destin Harbor and take in the sights and sounds while local musicians perform on multiple stages and regional businesses, artists, and food vendors compete for your attention. Make sure to bring the kids because there’s a whole host of scheduled activities throughout the weekend.

DestinSeafoodFestival.com

Pouring Beer at the Baytowne Beer Fest

Photo by Blog.Condo-World.com

Baytowne Beer Fest | Sandestin, FL | October

With Fall temps and Halloween around the corner, October’s a perfect month to roll out the barrel and sample craft brews and ales. This fun and social beer festival, held at the Village of Baytowne Wharf at Sandestin, spotlights specialty beers from around the globe, and all are available for participants to sample and savor. With more than 200 domestic and international craft beers on tap, brewery representatives are on hand to discuss the different types of lagers and ales from a variety of styles. Enjoy live, local music while strolling the grounds under the warm autumn sun.

BaytowneBeerFestival.com

 

Alan Roberts

 

ALAN ROBERTS, Writer and Business Grower Extraordinaire | EMAIL

 

 

 

 

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