Mark The Calendar
Looking for some family fun or maybe something just for Mom and Dad? Try one of these five Florida festivals or seasonal events for an enjoyable day out.
February: The annual Florida State Fair
is a tribute to the state's best in agriculture and equestrian industry including an abundance of shows, exhibits, music, rides, food and shopping for twelve consecutive days. Exhibitors come from all over the state to show off their handiwork and children participating in 4H and FFA are eager to show their skills and animals. There are several concerts throughout the duration of the fair. Most offer free seating with paid fair admission and are available on a first come, first serve basis. You can also purchase closer or guaranteed tickets for an upgraded cost. The Florida State Fair is held each year during February and is located seven miles east of downtown Tampa. Parking is free with wheelchair accessible parking spaces available at each gate. There is a free weekend park and ride shuttle service that runs continuously from 9:00 a.m. until midnight.
Florida State Fairgrounds, 4800 US HWY., 301 N., Tampa. FL. Hours: Daily, 9am-TBD; Admission: Monday through Friday: Adults: $10.00; Children 6-11: $5.00; Saturday & Sunday: Adults: $12.00; Children 6-11: $6.00; Children five and under: Free
March: Florida Strawberry Festival
This event celebrates the area's biggest crop and typically includes all things strawberry with vendors offering everything from berry-themed crafts to flats of the red fruit. Held each year in March, the Florida Strawberry Festival offers over 60 thrilling rides, daily live entertainment, petting zoos, and more. Agricultural shows are a must for every fair. Some of the highlights include the swine show, steer show, beef breed show, dairy show, lamb show, poultry and rabbit show. You can also participate in or watch the pageants from Strawberry Festival Queen in the feature parade. For younger children, they also have a youth parade and baby parade.
303 North Lemon St., Plant City, FL 33563-4706. Admission: Adults: $10.00; Children 6-12: $4.00; Children five and under: Free
March: Daytona Bike Week
As the traditional opening to spring riding season, Daytona Bike Week is a motorcycle event and rally held annually in Daytona Beach, Florida. Approximately 500,000 people make their way to the rally area for the ten day event, usually held on the first full week of March. The festivities include motorcycle racing, concerts, parties, and street festivals. Biketoberfest is another bike event held in Daytona Beach. Biketoberfest is an international award-winning motorcycle festival that offers participants an extended weekend get-away brimming with plenty of sun, beaches, bikes and fun! Popular annual activities include motorcycle shows and rallies that showcase new, vintage and custom bikes; demonstration rides on the newest machines from top manufacturers; and on-track motorcycle action at the world-famous Daytona International Speedway.
Daytona Beach, FL. Hours and admission vary with different events.
What do ranchers do for fun after the ranch work is done? Every week local cowboys and cowgirls compete in action-packed events like bull riding, calf roping and barrel racing. All this takes place at the Kissimmee Sports Arena's Friday Night Rodeo. Whether it is February or June, it's time to lasso a heap of family fun at the Silver Spurs Rodeo where the country's top cowboys and the most unpredictable livestock mix it up for high-kickin', heart-stoppin' action. Rodeo fans will be amazed by the pulse-elevating events such as bull riding, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, bareback riding and barrel racing; as well as, be entertained by crowd-pleasing cowboy clowns.
Silver Spurs Arena, 1875 Silver Spur Ln., Kissimmee, FL 34744. Hours: Saturday: Doors open at 6:30pm; Sunday: Doors open at 1pm; Admission: Adults: $15.00; Children 10 and under: Free
July - September: Scalloping
Bay scallops, a smaller version of the common sea scallops you see seared on restaurant menus, are not for sale, so the only way to enjoy this bounty from the sea is to strap on a mask and fins and swim. You will find these in water anywhere from 2 to 8 feet deep. Here are some of the rules to keep in mind when scalloping. Open harvest season for bay scallops is July 1st thru September 10th. State waters in the Gulf of Mexico open to scallop harvest extend from the Pasco-Hernando county line to the west bank of the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County. Recreational harvesters are limited to two gallons of whole bay scallops in the shell or one pint of bay scallop meat, per day during the open season. Bay scallops may be harvested only by hand or with a landing or dip net. Recreational harvesters need a Florida salt water fishing license to harvest bay scallops, even when scalloping from shore.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Farris Bryant Building, 620 S. Meridian St., Tallahassee, FL
October: Holidayfest and Craft Extravaganza
This is the first craft show of the holiday season, featuring over 100 crafters and artisans on reindeer way and a large kids area filled with fun on candy cane lane. Kids can enjoy games, bounce houses, face painting, caricatures, meet Santa, get mascot autographs, a pumpkin patch, and more. Taste a variety of cuisine including American, Cuban, Mexican and French. Enjoy the sounds of Christmas as holiday music plays throughout the fairgrounds. I am so excited that the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation has teamed up with this awesome event in 2010. One dollar from every admission will go towards this foundation to help raise a cure.
Port Charlotte Fairgrounds, 2333 El Jobean, Port Charlotte, FL 33981 Hours: Daily, 10am-6pm; Admission: $6.00 & $2.00 for parking
October: St Augustine's annual Greek Festival
Hosted by the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox church, this annual festival features a delicious assortment of Greek foods, pastries and beverages along with nonstop entertainment, dancing and live Greek music. If you haven't tried Greek food before, this is something you don't want to miss. There is also a market with a huge selection of products imported directly from Greece. The Greek festival is not only about food, it's also about music and heritage.
St Augustine Special Events Field, also known as Francis Field, 895 Palm Valley Rd.,
October-November: International Food & Wine Festival
Held at Walt Disney World's Epcot Theme Park, this event brings the regional cuisine of six continents together in one sensational event with specialty food items, culinary events, sophisticated parties and live musical entertainment. Try delicious cuisine from around the world at special food booths set up along World Showcase Promenade. Explore specialty marketplaces featuring regional foods, wines and beers. Learn from renowned chefs and winemakers at special programs and demonstrations, and sample the finest cuisine from around the globe at spectacular culinary events. Participate in Disney's Race for the Taste 10K or 3K. The evening concerts are scheduled daily at 5:15, 6:30 and 7:45 p.m. and are included with regular Epcot admission. Entrance to the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, plus select wine and beer seminars, cooking demonstrations, culinary exhibits and all attractions are included with regular Epcot admission. The weekly Party for the Senses grand tasting, Food and Wine Pairings at select Epcot restaurants, Signature Dining, Epcot Wine Schools, Sweet Sundays and other specialty events require reservations and separate event admission.
West Buena Vista Dr., Orlando, FL 32830; Prices and hours vary, depending on daily event.
November - January: ICE!
Gaylord Palms ICE! Experience is a new favorite holiday tradition for our family. How they put together this incredible display left me awestruck. ICE! is a winter wonderland hand-carved from two million pounds of ice. Each creation is designed and crafted by a team of 40 international artisans from Harbin, China. The popular family experience gives guests a chance to visit a whimsical winter wonderland of interactive environments and larger-than-life, three-dimensional ice monuments and sculptures. The enormous structure used to house ICE! -- dubbed "The Florida Fridge" -- is cooled to a chilly nine degrees, making it necessary for the resort to provide over-sized parkas for visitors to wear.
The Gaylord Palms Resort, 6000 W. Osceola Pkwy., Kissimmee, FL 34746. Hours: Vary daily; Admission: TBD
November: Florida Seafood Festival
This two day event is held at the mouth of the Apalachicola river under the shady oaks of Apalachicola's Battery Park. The festival features delicious seafood, arts and crafts exhibits, seafood related events, Musical Entertainment. Some of the notable events include Oyster Eating and Shucking Contest, Blue Crab Races, Parade, 5K Redfish Run, Blessing of the Fleet, and a Festival Pageant honoring "Miss Florida Seafood."
Battery Park, Apalachicola, Florida 32320; Friday, 10am-10pm; Saturday, 7am-11pm; Admission: Friday: Free; Saturday: Adults: $5.00; Children under 12: Free.