The Gasparilla Pirate Fest
Tampa, Florida, in late January is a swashbuckling good time. The Gasparilla Pirate Fest celebrates the legend of Jose Gaspar, a pirate leader during the late 1700s and early 1800s. Held nearly every year since 1904, the festivities kick off with the invasion of Tampa by the pirate ship, Jose Gasparilla. The ship sails towards the city and docks at the Convention Center where the mayor surrenders the key to the pirate krewe. The Parade of Pirates begins to celebrate their victory. There is also the Gasparilla Street Festival in the downtown area. Live entertainment fills the streets all day long. Food vendors are also on hand.
Florida State Fair
The Florida State Fair is a 12-day event held every February. In addition to traditional food vendors and midway rides, the fair hosts numerous agricultural events and contests, craft exhibits and headline concerts. Also on site is the Cracker Country Museum. Visitors can immerse themselves in the history of the Florida pioneers in this turn of the century village.
Gasparilla Festival of the Arts
The Gasparilla Festival of the Arts has been held for the past 42 years. Artists from all over the country compete for the top prize of $15,000 for the best in show. Entries include paintings, sculptures and carvings to name a few. Held at Tampa's waterfront park in early March, the festival attracts almost a quarter of a million patrons annually. Many children's events are also held during the festival including lessons, and the Art Collector in Training program, whose purpose is to instill a love of art in youth.
Encompass Insurance Pro-Am Tournament
Golf lovers will enjoy the Encompass Insurance Pro-Am Tournament held in April. This event teams PGA tour professionals with celebrities. Proceeds benefit various charities within the Tampa Bay community. During its 24-year history, over $9 million dollars have been donated. The seven-day event enables spectators to watch practice rounds free of charge, as well as the three rounds of tournament golf.
Ruskin Seafood Festival
Similar to the Florida State Fair, the Ruskin Seafood Festival is a celebration of food, crafts and entertainment. Held every November, the emphasis here is on seafood. Thousands of visitors descend on Tampa to enjoy this outdoor event with beautiful Tampa Bay as a background. In addition, health and wellness screenings are conducted, and environmental exhibits are also on display. Children's entertainment is available making this a fun day for all ages. Parking is free and a shuttle bus is available to the site.