Exploring Northwest Florida festivals is a great way to add a little "lagniappe" (Cajun for "something extra") to your visit. You can sample fresh seafood, tap your toes to a mix of musical styles, browse the booths for local art, or just hang out with the locals.
Special events happen year-round on the gulf coast, whether it's jazz, wine, seafood, arts & crafts, nature-based festivals, even rodeos. To keep up with it all you need a detailed calendar and I just happen to have one for you; actually several, one for each month of the year. With so much happening all across the region, I found that creating separate calendar pages was the best way to organize it.
There are several major seafood celebrations in the fall that take place in Pensacola, Destin, Panama City Beach, and Apalachicola. There's also the Great Southern Gumbo Cook-off in January at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in South Walton and the Annual St. George Island Charity Chili Cook-off & Auction in March on St. George Island.
Oh, and don't forget the biggest party of all, Mardi Gras with celebrations taking place all across Northwest Florida. "Laissez les bons temps rouler!" Let the good times roll!
Cultural events are plentiful as well. The Florida Chautauqua Assemblyis a four-day celebration of learning featuring keynote speakers, performances, and educational activities that takes place each January to February in Defuniak Springs. There are also several art events including the ArtsQuest Fine Arts Festival in Seaside and the two-week long Plein Air Paint-Out in Bay, Gulf and Franklin Counties, both in May.
The Great Gulf Coast Arts Festival in Pensacola in November is a three-day gathering of 200 artists from across the country who display their creations and talents.
Put on your track shoes for the 15K Double Bridge Run in downtown Pensacola each February and the Gulf Coast Triathlon in Panama City Beach in May. There's also the Sandestin Triathlon in August, just to keep you moving after all that food.
There's always something happening somewhere along the gulf coast and Northwest Florida festivals usually involve food and fun. Visitors who come in the fall, or “snowbirds” who come down for the winter and early spring, have a variety of seafood, jazz and wine fests to choose from. Additionally, the weather is sunny and cool, the sunsets are outstanding, and the beaches are clear.
Summer means pirate invasions, Fourth of July celebrations, and fishing tournaments. The beaches are more crowded, but then, meeting new friends is part of the fun of a Florida vacation. Fishing tournaments generally run through the summer and some of the biggest fish ever caught in the Gulf of Mexico have been weighed in on tournament scales. The Destin Fishing Rodeo takes place the entire month of October and in June it's the Big Bend Saltwater Classic in Carrabelle.
There are hundreds of events all along the gulf coast, so be sure to check out the annual festivals and events calendar. It changes frequently as we post new events so be sure and check back often for updates. Then pack the car and head out for a weekend of fun. With so many Northwest Florida festivals to choose from, the party never ends.