By Mike Miller Updated November 14, 2021
Some Florida annual events have taken place for many years. One is at least 116 years old. These events are not only fun, they celebrate the history and culture of the state in unique ways.
There are also hundreds of arts and craft festivals, musical events, car shows, boat shows and something that can keep you entertained all year long.
What we have done here is introduce you to 18 annual events that are important to anyone who loves Florida and wants to learn more about the state and its culture.
GASPARILLA PIRATE FEST is an annual event that features an "invasion" of the city by the pirate ship "Jose Gasparilla" and its motley "krewe" of pirates. The waters of Tampa Bay and the Hillsborough River turn into a floating armada of pirates and citizens having a great old time.
DAYTONA 500 is a spectacular NASCAR event that takes place the last weekend of February at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. It is considered the most important race on the entire NASCAR calender and pays the most money to the winner.
SILVER SPURS RODEO is held twice a year in Kissimmee. February is for the Silver Spurs Rodeo and Fair; the Rodeo and Kissimmee Ribfest takes place in October. It was at one time one of the largest rodeos in the United States.
CALLE OCHO FESTIVAL celebrates Latin culture and music every March for one week. It is the grand finale of Carnival Miami. The final event on Sunday is billed as the largest street festival or block party in the world. More than one million visitors come to the festival and the block party, which is the culminating event of Carnival Miami.
DAYTONA BEACH BIKE WEEK is an annual event that usually starts in the first full week of March and extends over a period of 10 days. Almost one half million people attend this event during one or more of the days it is held. That's a huge crowd for a city with a population of only 61,000.
GRANT SEAFOOD FESTIVAL is held each year in Grant, a small town on the western shore of the Indian River Lagoon south of Melbourne, Florida. It is on U.S. Highway 1.
SOPCHOPPY WORM GRUNTIN' FESTIVAL takes place in a small town of the same name. Sopchoppy is on the eastern edge of the Apalachicola National Forest not too far south of Tallahassee. It bills itself as the "Worm Gruntin Capital" of the world.
FLORABAMA INTERSTATE MULLET TOSS is an annual event that has become one of the biggest beach parties anywhere. The Flora-Bama Lounge and Oyster Bar is located on Perdido Beach west of Pensacola. It is on the Florida-Alabama state line, hence its catchy name.
FLORIDA FOLK FESTIVAL is a huge event that is a must see for Florida history and music lovers. It takes place every May on Memorial Day Weekend at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park on the Suwannee River near White Springs in North Florida. The 2019 festival is the 67th, so it's been around longer than most Florida events.
MUG RACE is billed as the "worlds longest river race" for sailboats, and I haven't heard anybody dispute that title. It is sponsored by the Rudder Club of Jacksonville, and has been a standard spectacle for many years. The May 2019 Mug Race will be the 66th annual one.
SUNFEST in West Palm Beach was first started in 1982. It bills itself as Florida's largest waterfront music and art festival. Every year almost 270,000 people crowd into downtown West Palm Beach for the fun. The activities all take place along the Intracoastal Waterway on Flagler Drive between Banyan Boulevard and Lakeview Avenue.
FIESTA OF FIVE FLAGS celebrates Pensacola's history of living under five different flags. The event is always held the first two weeks in June, and the 10 day event is one of the largest festivals in Florida. It has been held every year since 1949.
FLORIDA SCALLOPING SEASON is a state tradition that goes back many years. Thousands of Floridians and northern visitors gather at various locations on the Gulf of Mexico with their snorkel gear and buckets and take as many of the little clam-like creatures from the shallow Gulf bottom as the law allows.
WAUSAU POSSOM FESTIVAL takes place every year in a village of 400 people in Northwest Florida. It usually takes place on the first weekend in August, and attracts up to 10,000 visitors who fill the streets of this small town. They've been having this festival for almost 50 years now, and even attracted Governor Rick Scott one year.
FLORIDA GEORGIA FOOTBALL GAME is one of the nation's oldest and fiercest football rivalries. It is usually played at the end of October or beginning of November. The rivalry began in 1915, and since 1933, this football game has been played in Jacksonville at what was known for many years as the Gator Bowl. It is currently played at the same location but in the successor to the Gator Bowl, TIAA Bank Field. This stadium on the banks of the St. Johns River is home to the Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL. The pre and post game festivities related to this game were known for years as "The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party."
RATTLESNAKE FESTIVAL is held annually on the third Saturday in October in the small town of San Antonio northeast of Tampa. Rattlesnakes have always held a morbid fascination for mankind, so why not have a festival to celebrate them and learn about them?
WINTERFEST BOAT PARADE is an annual tradition that has been held every December in Fort Lauderdale since 1970. It is still known by many native Floridians as the Fort Lauderdale Christmas Boat Parade. In recent years the event has been sponsored by the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. More than 100 boats from 20 feet long to huge megayachts dress up in all kinds of lights and decorations and cruise along the New River and Intracoastal Waterway in Fort Lauderdale and Pompano Beach.
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