Spring marks your last chance to enjoy an authentic Florida seafood festival until next season, so get on it!
This year’s roundup of April and May seafood festivals in Florida includes some firmly established mainstays and a few new ones.
And if the seafood served is not enough for the palate, the entertainment at these fests is better than ever in 2017.
Pompano Beach Seafood Festival, Pompano Beach, April 27-29, 2018
The Pompano Beach Seafood Festival is a mainstay on the festival circuit that draws thousands of people to the beach for a full weekend of seafood specialties, a Boardwalk Bazaar featuring arts and crafts, and stage entertainment on the beach.
The festival’s fun zone for kids features games, bungee jumps, rock climbing wall, bounce houses, face painters and more. Admission is $10 Friday, $15 Saturday or Sunday and $30 for a weekend pass.
America, the classic rock group, headlines a full weekend of musical entertainmentg on Saturday night, but there’s a great mix of entertainment on three stages for all three days, from country and rock to island and beach music. Something for everyone. For a complete entertainment schedule, go to this link.
Where: The festival takes place on the beach at Atlantic Boulevard near the pier, and parking is easier this year with a new multi-story garage near the festival entrance. For more information, visit pompanobeachseafoodfestival.com
Halifax Oyster Festival, Daytona Beach, 2018 Dates TBA
One-day festival celebrates the abundance of shellfish in the Halifax River, Mosquito Lagoon and the Indian River Lagoon in Volusia and Flagler counties. The event kicks off at 11 a.m. and runs until 8 p.m. on Saturday only.
Enjoy delicious oysters and live music throughout the day.
Billing itself as a “Party with a Purpose,” the festival’s mission is to help restore the local oyster population and raise awareness of the importance oysters play in the ecosystem.
Admission is $7 for adults; children under 10 are free.
Where: On City Island behind the Library along the Halifax River. For more information, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/halifaxoysterfestival
Pensacola Crawfish Festival, May 4-6, 2018
No, this is not Louisana, but it’s close.
The 33rd annual Pensacola Crawfish Festival features 16,000 pounds of boiled crawfish provided by the Cordova Crawfish Company of Pensacola, Florida. Cajun dishes such as red beans and rice, boudin balls, seafood gumbo, étouffée, jambalaya, and Cajun pasta will also be available in addition to traditional festival fare.
You can also participate in a Crawfish Eating Contest in three divisons: kids, adult or the seriously serious CrawDADDY division. Kids entry is free, adult entry is $5 and CrawDADDY entry is $10. (Registration starts 30 minutes prior to each competition.)
The festival gets an early start on Friday at noon and runs until 11 p.m., continuing Saturday from 10 a.m. until 11 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Admission is $5 daily, $10 for a 3-day pass. Children 12 and under, free.
Where: Bartram Park, downtown Pensacola. For more information, visit their web site at fiestaoffiveflags.org/pensacola-crawfish-festival
Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival, Fernandina Beach, May 4-6, 2018
This is the 54th annual shrimp festival in one of Florida’s most productive shrimp regions, so you know they’ve got it figured out. Pirate Parade, exhibits, arts and crafts, antiques, games, contests, seafood and live music. along the Amelia River in downtown Fernandina Beach.
Free admission for all events.
The long weekend kicks off at 6 p.m. on Thursday with the Pirate Parade through downtown, but the full festival doesn’t really get into swing until Friday night with the of Miss Shrimp Festival 2017 Scholarship Pageant at 6 p.m., followed by the Pirate Parade Awards at 7:15 and entertainment by R&B artists Clay Benjamin and the TruSoul Band. The evening wraps up with fireworks at 9:30.
On Saturday at 8 a.m., join the 23rd Annual Shrimp Festival 5K Run/Walk at the beach. The festival grounds open at 9:30 a.m. with continuous entertainment throughout the day and evening.
Sunday’s events begin at 11 a.m. with the country music of the Shrimp Town Allstars, followed by the annual Blessing of the Fleet at 1:30 p.m., then more musical entertainment until 5 p.m.
Both Saturday and Sunday, all day, enjoy fresh shrimp and seafood at dozens of food booths throughout the festival site. The Kids Fun Zone is open throughout the festival.
Where: 102 Centre Street, Fernandina Beach, Florida, north of Jacksonville. For more information, visit www.shrimpfestival.com
Venice Seafood & Music Festival, May 5-6, 2018
Local restaurants are slated to serve up the seafood, including one of my favorites, the Crow’s Nest, which serves oysters from around the world at its restaurant overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway at the Venice Inlet.
Besides the Crow’s Nest, organizers have also announced participation by the Blu Island Bistro, Brew Burgers, Burgundy Square Cafe, Cafe Venice, Captain Eddie’s, Cedar Reer, Daiquiri Deck, Made in Italy and the Saltwater Cafe.
Musical entertainment, which begins at 12:30 p.m. each day, will include R&B, jazz, rock, big band and Caribbean.
Admission is free.
Where: Centennial Park, 200 Venice Ave., is a wide promenade that anchors Venice’s historic downtown.
For more information, visit their web site at ParagonArtEvents.com
Martin County Shrimp & Lobster Festival, April 27-29, 2018
This is the inaugural year for this festival, so give them a boost if you are in the neighborhood. They are hoping to create a new tradition to mark Mother’s Day.
Besides arts and crafts and an abundance of seafood, there will be entertainment throughout the festival. Headliners include Starship, featuring Mickey Thomas at 8 p.m. on Saturday, and The Family Stone, including founding members of Hall of Famers Sly and the Family Stone.
Festival organizers say a wide variety of artisans and crafters will display their works in clay, digital art, drawing and pastels, fiber, glass, leather, mixed media, photography, sculpture and wood.
Admission is $10.
Where: Memorial Park 300 SE Ocean Blvd., Stuart. For more information, visit their web site at shrimpandlobsterfest.com
St. Armands Seafood & Music Festival, Sarasota, May 26-27, 2018
The sponsors promise local seafood dishes from sustainable ocean resources, served by local restaurants.
Musical performances by Jah Movement, Kettle of Fish, Sarasota Steel Pan Band, Ocean’s Eleven Big Band, the Sarasota Jazz Project, Reverend Barry, Twinkle & Rock Soul Radio, and Funktastic Soul.
Admission is free.
Where: St. Armands Circle is on St. Armands Key, between Sarasota and Lido Key. For more information, go to seafoodfestivals.com
Palatka Blue Crab Festival, May 25-27, 2018
2017 is the 29th anniversary of this popular Memorial Day Weekend festival, featuring arts and crafts, beauty pageant, seafood cook-off, parade, kids rides, a spectacular carnival ride and entertainment in downtown Palatka.
Admission and parking is free, although you’ll have to pay for carnival rides.
The seafood cook-off will take place Sunday (5/29), and the Memorial Day Parade takes place on Monday (5/30).
There will be free, live entertainment for all four days of the festival. Click here for the complete entertainment schedule.
Where: Downtown Palatka, along the riverfront. For more information, visit www.bluecrabfestival.com
Other worthy festivals to consider:
- Florida Blueberry Festival, April 22-23, 2017, Brookesville
- Sunfest, May 3-7, 2017, West Palm Beach
- Florida Folk Festival May 27-29, 2017, White Springs
For a complete list of seafood festivals for 2017, see our Seafood Festival Calendar.