Here’s a list of some of our favorite food festivals from Tampa Bay and beyond.
Dade City’s annual Kumquat Festival kicks off the festival season on January 26 with all kinds of kumquat items, followed by Plant City’s iconic Florida Strawberry Festival (February 28-March 10) and several blueberry festivals in April — the Brooksville Blueberry Festival (April 27- 28) and the Blueberry Festival at Keel & Curley Winery (2019 date TBA) in Plant City. It wouldn’t be Florida without oranges. Dunedin pays homage to them at the annual Orange Festival in July (2019 date TBA).
The Gasparilla International Food Festival (March 17) features cuisine from all over the world prepared by some of the city’s top caterers and chefs. In April you can celebrate “cibo e cultura” for two days at the Festa Italiana (2019 date TBA). One of Hillsborough County’s oldest cultural celebrations, the Tampa Greek Festival, happens November 9-11. Enjoy Greek cuisine, indulge in inventive spirits at the Opa! Party Tent and watch professional sports games in the Grecian Gardens.
Restaurants from all around the world will compete to make the best Cuban sandwich at the Cuban Sandwich Festival on March 31. The following month, the Tampa Bay Seafood and Music Festival (April 27-28) returns for a second year with dishes made with local and sustainable seafood from Florida’s coastal waters, including mahi mahi, stone crabs, shrimp and grouper.
Find a New Favorite
At the Best of Tampa Bay (April 6) you can try signature dishes from more than 30 of the area’s top chefs. Get inspiration for new tailgate options at the Tailgate Taste Fest on October 6, or discover delicious ways to eat healthier at the Tampa Bay Veg Fest on November 3 at Perry Harvey Sr. Park, a new location for the festival.
Don’t Forget Dessert
The Pinellas Pie Festival on October 20 has pie-themed drink specials, local community bakers, a competitive pie bake-off, pie-eating contest and more. Back on the other side of the bay, the Ybor City Cupcake Festival pits bakers against one another for the title “Best Cupcake in Tampa” on November 17 with all the delicious confections available for purchase.
Some festivals are so uniquely Florida, you’ve just got to visit them once. In January, thousands of visitors make the pilgrimage to the Marco Island Mullet Festival (January 26-28) to try fried and smoked mullet and find out who will be crowned that year’s Buzzard Lope Queen. If oysters are more to your liking, visit the Apalachicola Oyster Cook-Off (January 18-19), where you can enjoy the briny treats and even compete in the cooking competition. Shrimp are in the spotlight in May on Amelia Island at the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival (May 3-5), while Key limes are revered in Key West July 4-7 with a pie drop, scavenger hunt, Key lime-inspired cuisine, Key lime-flavored rum and cocktails, and of course, Key lime pie.