Sun, Fun, and Festivities: The Best Annual Events in Florida

Florida is known as the Sunshine State for good reason. With its warm weather, beautiful beaches, and vibrant culture, it’s no wonder that Florida is a top destination for tourists from around the world. But Florida isn’t just a great place to visit for its natural beauty – it’s also home to some of the best annual events in the country. From music festivals to food and wine events, there’s always something happening in Florida.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best annual events in Florida, so you can start planning your next trip to the Sunshine State.

The Best Annual Events in Florida

  • Art Basel Miami Beach
  • Florida State Fair
  • Epcot International Food & Wine Festival
  • Gasparilla Pirate Festival
  • Daytona 500
  • Sunfest
  • Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show
  • Fantasy Fest Key West
  • Pensacola Beach Air Show
  • Ultra Music Festival

Art Basel Miami Beach

Art Basel Miami Beach is an annual art fair that takes place in Miami Beach, Florida. It is one of the most prestigious art fairs in the world, attracting thousands of collectors, curators, artists, and art enthusiasts from around the globe.

The fair typically takes place in early December and features a wide range of contemporary art, including painting, sculpture, installation, photography, and video. It is held in the Miami Beach Convention Center and features hundreds of galleries from around the world.

In addition to the main fair, Art Basel Miami Beach also includes a range of satellite events and exhibitions throughout the city, including public art installations, museum exhibitions, and special events at galleries and cultural institutions.

Art Basel Miami Beach is a must-see event for anyone interested in contemporary art, and it offers a unique opportunity to experience the cutting edge of the art world in a vibrant and dynamic city. It is a hub for artists, collectors, and curators, and it has helped to establish Miami as a major center for contemporary art.

Florida State Fair

The Florida State Fair is an annual event that takes place in Tampa, Florida. It is one of the largest and most popular state fairs in the United States, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

The fair typically takes place in February and features a wide range of attractions and events. Highlights of the fair include carnival rides, games, and food vendors, as well as a variety of agricultural exhibits showcasing Florida’s farming heritage.

In addition to the rides and food, the Florida State Fair also features live music, performances, and shows, including a daily parade featuring floats and marching bands. There are also educational and interactive exhibits, such as a petting zoo, a butterfly exhibit, and a science and technology showcase.

The Florida State Fair is a fun and family-friendly event that offers something for everyone. It is a great way to experience the culture and heritage of Florida while enjoying carnival rides, delicious food, and live entertainment.

EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival

The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is one of the most popular events at the Walt Disney World Resort and is typically held in the late summer to early fall.  Completely free with your theme park admission or annual pass, this annual event is one of the best times to visit Epcot as the park hosts a number of amazing food and beverage offerings as well as provides special entertainment.

While the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is targeted towards adult guests, it is still considered family-friendly and is completely age appropriate for younger children.  A park reservation is still required but there is no additional charge for this amazing event.

Click here to learn more about this amazing event.

Gasparilla Pirate Festival

The Gasparilla Pirate Festival is an annual event that takes place in Tampa, Florida. It is a celebration of the legend of Jose Gaspar, a mythical pirate who is said to have terrorized the waters of the Gulf of Mexico in the early 1800s.

The festival typically takes place in late January or early February and features a variety of events, including a pirate invasion, a parade, and a street festival. The pirate invasion involves a mock pirate ship sailing into Tampa Bay, with the “pirates” storming the city and “capturing” the key to the city from the mayor.

The Gasparilla Parade is one of the largest parades in the Southeastern United States and features dozens of floats, marching bands, and other performers. The parade route runs through downtown Tampa and attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators each year.

The Gasparilla Street Festival takes place in the days leading up to the parade and features live music, food vendors, and other activities. The festival is a celebration of Tampa’s pirate heritage and is a fun and festive event for people of all ages.

The Gasparilla Pirate Festival is a beloved tradition in the Tampa Bay area and is a must-see for anyone interested in pirate lore or looking for a fun and unique festival experience.

Daytona 500

The Daytona 500 is an iconic NASCAR Cup Series season-opener that has been held annually at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida since 1959. Considered one of the most prestigious and important races in NASCAR, the Daytona 500 attracts fans from all over the world and is known for its high-speed thrills and exciting finishes. The race is a 500-mile-long (805 km) event that takes place over 200 laps, with drivers reaching speeds of up to 200 mph (320 km/h).

The Daytona 500 is not just a race, it’s a spectacle. The event is known for its pre-race ceremonies, which include a concert, military flyover, and driver introductions. The race itself is also filled with drama, with drivers battling for position and trying to avoid the infamous “Big One,” a multi-car crash that can occur at any moment. Over the years, the Daytona 500 has produced some of the most memorable moments in NASCAR history, from photo finishes to surprise winners.

The 2024 Daytona 500 is set to take place on Sunday, February 18, and fans are eagerly anticipating another thrilling race. 

Click here to learn more about the Daytona 500.


SunFest is an annual music and arts festival that takes place in West Palm Beach, Florida. It is one of the largest waterfront music and art festivals in the United States and typically takes place over five days in early May.

The festival features a diverse lineup of musical acts, ranging from rock and pop to hip hop and electronic music. Past performers have included major names such as Billy Idol, Pitbull, and Snoop Dogg, as well as up-and-coming artists from a variety of genres.

In addition to the music, SunFest features a range of art exhibits, food vendors, and interactive activities. The festival takes place along the waterfront in downtown West Palm Beach, providing a scenic backdrop for the performances and events.

SunFest is a popular event in the West Palm Beach community and attracts visitors from all over Florida and beyond. It offers a unique opportunity to experience live music and art in a beautiful outdoor setting, making it a must-see for music and art lovers alike.

Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show

The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (FLIBS) is an annual event that draws boating enthusiasts from around the world. It is held in the Fort Lauderdale beach area along the Intracostal Waterway and showcases a wide range of boats and marine exhibits. With over 100,000 attendees and 1,000+ exhibiting brands, FLIBS is the largest in-water boat show in the world.

The show is known for featuring more world and U.S. debuts than any other boat show in the country. The event is a must-attend for anyone interested in the latest innovations and trends in the boating industry. Additionally, FLIBS also features a variety of marine accessories, electronics, engines, and services. Visitors can also attend educational seminars and workshops to learn more about boating and related topics.

The 2023 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show runs from October 25th to October 29th, 2023

Click here to learn more about the FLIBS.

Fantasy Fest Key West

Fantasy Fest is an annual 10-day party held in Key West, Florida that has been taking place since 1979. The event was created by a small group of locals to bring visitors to the island during a typically quiet season. Since then, it has grown into a wild extravaganza that attracts people from all over the world.

During Fantasy Fest, the island is transformed into a lively and colorful party destination. The event features a wide range of activities, including costume contests, street fairs, and live music performances. One of the highlights of the festival is the elaborate body painting that takes place. Visitors can also enjoy a variety of food and drink options, as well as explore the historic city of Key West.

With its unique blend of creativity, imagination, and sheer madness, it’s no wonder that the festival has become one of the most popular events in Florida.

Click here to learn more about Fantasy Fest Key West.

Pensacola Beach Air Show

The Pensacola Beach Air Show is an annual event that takes place on Pensacola Beach, Florida, typically in July. It is one of the largest air shows in the United States and features a variety of military and civilian aircraft performing aerial maneuvers over the Gulf of Mexico.

The air show is organized by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, a world-famous flight demonstration team based in Pensacola. The Blue Angels perform their signature high-speed, precision flying routine at the air show, which is always a highlight of the event.

In addition to the Blue Angels, the air show typically features other military aircraft such as the F-22 Raptor, the F-35 Lightning II, and the U.S. Coast Guard Search and Rescue helicopters. Civilian performers such as aerobatic pilot Skip Stewart and the Redline Airshows team also participate in the show.

The Pensacola Beach Air Show is free and open to the public, and spectators can watch the aerial displays from the beach or from boats anchored in the Gulf of Mexico. The event attracts thousands of visitors each year and is a popular summer attraction in the Pensacola area.

Ultra Music Festival

The Ultra Music Festival in Miami is one of the most popular and highly anticipated music festivals in the world. It takes place annually in late March and brings together some of the biggest names in electronic dance music (EDM) for three days of non-stop music and partying.

The festival was first held in 1999 and has grown significantly in size and popularity since then. It typically takes place in Bayfront Park in downtown Miami, which provides a stunning waterfront backdrop for the festival’s multiple stages.

The festival features a diverse lineup of DJs and electronic music producers, ranging from established veterans to up-and-coming artists. Some of the most famous names in EDM, such as David Guetta, Tiesto, and Calvin Harris, have performed at Ultra Miami over the years. In addition to the main festival in Miami, Ultra Music Festival has expanded to other locations around the world, including Europe, Asia, and South America.

The upcoming dates for the Ultra Music Festival are March 22nd to the 24th in 2024 with a 3-day general admission ticket starting at $349.95.

Jerry Joyce

Jerry Joyce has been a Florida resident since 1988 and has lived in a variety of places in the South Florida area. Jerry is an avid boater & water sports enthusiast, beach aficionado, a lover of great food, muscle car fan and a theme park annual passholder for many years. Some of his favorite places in Florida include the Florida Keys, Walt Disney World, Cedar Key, the Loxahatchee River, St. Augustine and Ten Thousand islands.

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