March is a phenomenal month in Florida. The weather is warming up, without being too “summer” hot. Spring Break and travel season have begun. And in Tampa Bay, there’s a festival for every flavor and walk of life! This March, if you’re visiting the area, check out at least one of these festivals, sure to be fun for families in Tampa Bay!
This article is produced in partnership with Visit Tampa Bay.
Ahoy! Come stake your claim to Tampa Bay’s Gasparilla Season
The Renaissance, Strawberries, Craft Beer, the Arts, Music, Film, LGBT Pride –even the Cuban sandwich: If you love it, there’s a festival for it in Tampa Bay
Gasparilla Season is upon us! It’s the calm after the raucous annual invasion by the rowdy crew of mythical pirate José Gaspar. For the coming weeks, as Gaspar’s ship lies anchored downtown, the days will get longer, the weather will be gorgeous, and Tampa Bay will throw enough parties to keep two towns busy.
Whether you’re an early bird, a night owl or an odd duck, you’ll find your fun in Tampa Bay.
Bay Area Renaissance Festival, February 9-March 25
‘Zounds! Step back in time when the rogues and royalty from the 16th Century claim their own corner of Tampa Bay with an amazing mix of experiences and crafts. Watch death-defying feats by acrobats. Cheer your favorite knight during the joust. Grab a turkey leg for lunch. It’s a family-friendly Wayback Machine!
Busch Gardens® Food and Wine Festival March 3-April 29
Amid miles of thrilling roller coasters and acres of family fun, foodies will find plenty to peruse each weekend in March and April as Tampa Bay’s premier theme park rolls out its annual food and wine festival. The festival is included in the price of your park admission, letting you nosh your way across the park. End the day with a spectacular concert by big-name stars followed by fireworks.
Florida Strawberry Festival March 1-11
Spring into Tampa Bay’s sweetest festivals. The Florida Strawberry Festival celebrates Tampa Bay’s position as the nation’s winter strawberry source. Guests and foodies travel from all over to get their taste buds on the best strawberries picked in Tampa Bay and the best fresh tasting strawberry shortcake they’ve ever sunk their teeth into. Along with all things strawberry there are agriculture exhibits, eating contests, and top-name entertainment. The festival opens each day at 10 a.m. and closes at 10 p.m.
Gasparilla Festival of the Arts March 3-5
You’ll find incredible works of art at the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts. For two days, this arts festival brings you over 230 artists that will light up Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park with several different pieces, from photography and glass art to wood sculptures, jewelry, pottery, and more. The festival runs 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.
Tampa Bay Beer Week, March 3-11
Celebrate Florida’s hub for craft beer eight days a week! Tampa Bay Beer Week gives you a chance to experience Tampa Bay’s craft beer culture and all that is has to offer at local breweries, distributors, and vendors in the Bay area.
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Gasparilla Music Festival, March 10-11
National and regional acts take to four stages at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park during the Gasparilla Music Festival (GMF). Voted as “Best Festival in Tampa Bay,” GMF is a non-profit organization benefiting local youth music programs and art education. This year’s festival star The Roots, the house band for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Previous festivals have starred Erykah Badu, Modest Mouse, and The Flaming Lips.
Florida State Thespian Society Festival, March 12-16
First of all, this is not your normal festival. There’s no big stage and no hand stamps. What you will find is thousands of high school performers enthusiastically holding impromptu performances all over downtown. They’ll be singing a capella on the street corners or improving their way to their next event. Much of the action happens in and around the Tampa Convention Center, Tampa Riverwalk, and the historic Tampa Theatre. Enjoy the performances and keep an eye out for tomorrow’s stars!
Gasp! The Gasparilla Fringe Festival, March 16
A kaleidoscope of avante garde theater, dance, music, spoken word, visual art, soundscapes, cabaret, and more take over the Tampa Museum of Art and nearby spaces for an evening on the creative edge. Expand your horizons and push your boundaries. Two words: fire eaters.
St. Patrick’s Day, March 17
Put down that Cuban sandwich (just this once) and pick up some corned beef and cabbage. For one weekend a year, Tampa Bay wears the green — from the Hillsborough River (dyed with environmentally safe coloring) to the Irish bars along Howard Avenue. Swing by Hyde Park Village to lift a Guinness at during PaddyFest at Irish 31.This year, we’ll have an extra touch of Blarney beneath the thatched roof of the newly opened Four Green Fields Irish pub at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in the heart of downtown. Join the hunt as Downtown Crawlers sponsors kid-friendly and adult-friendly scavenger hunts throughout downtown.
Gasparilla International Film Festival, March 20-25
Film lovers and film stars mingle at the Gasparilla International Film Festival (GIFF), one of Tampa Bay’s largest film festivals. GIFF hosts thousands of filmmakers, producers and premiere film screenings right in the center of Ybor City. The festival puts the art, education and business of film at your fingertips. Now’s your chance to meet stars and stars-to-be from the Tampa Bay film industry.
Tampa Pride, March 24
Conquer Tampa Bay with PRIDE when the nation’s first LGBT pride festival of the year kicks off in historic Ybor City. The family-friendly parade begins at 9 a.m. and travels down Seventh Avenue, then becomes a neighborhood-wide party, with music, food and fund. Keep the party going as night falls at the many bars and businesses along Seventh Avenue.
Cuban Sandwich Festival, March 31-April 1
Tampa Bay or Miami? Miami or Tampa Bay? When it comes to the Cuban sandwich, the friendly rivalry is intense and well-established. It comes to a head each year in Ybor City when chefs from Tampa Bay and South Florida put their best Cubans forward for the judges. History tells us the Cuban sandwich was invented in the 1890s in Ybor City to feed thousands of Cuban cigar workers who made Tampa Bay the Cigar Capital of the World. Since then, the Cuban sandwich has traveled the world, taking on new dimensions along the way. It even inspired the Tampa Sandwich Bar in South Korea!
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