The First Coast Spring Festivals You Don’t Want to Miss
We rounded up some amazing First Coast Festivals for you!
February to May is a great time to be outside on the First Coast, and we have the festivals to prove it. Whether you want to enjoy a round of golf, listen to jazz music, or partake in freshly caught Florida shrimp, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Take a look at six fun-filled festivals that you won’t want to miss this season.
One of the First Coast’s most beloved festivals, the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival takes place in downtown Fernandina Beach May 1-3. The event draws more than 100,000 people to this quaint island paradise to celebrate the birthplace of America’s modern shrimping industry. Cooks from all over the country show up to show off truly unique ways to incorporate shrimp as their star ingredient in dishes ranging from shrimp gumbo to shrimp pie, and so much more. Artisans and antique sellers are also on hand to share their latest creations and finds, and visitors can witness the crowning of this year’s Miss Shrimp at the festival’s pageant. Arrive early to attend the kickoff parade, which takes place Thursday, April 30. Care to work off some of that good eating? Register for the 25th annual Shrimp Festival 5k on May 4, benefitting the community’s underserved.
Looking for exposure to other cultures? Travel around the world without ever leaving the 904! Located in the heart of Downtown Jacksonville, the World of Nations Celebration brings together people from more than thirty different countries Feb 29-Mar.1. Each nation is represented by its own flag, and at least one native speaker will be on hand to share what makes his or her home country so unique. Immerse yourself by sampling traditional cuisine, while enjoying music and perusing handcrafted arts. Attendees are encouraged to participate in the celebration as well by dressing to reflect their own heritage and culture. Whether you’re looking to dine, shop, or just soak it all in, you’ll be in good company, as the event draws over 75,000 people to downtown Jacksonville to enjoy two days of events, delicious food and diversity.
For the sports lover in all of us, mark your calendar for The Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach on March 10-15. The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass was originally built to host The Players, and ultimately became a permanent home for the tournament. While you might think of golf as a quiet outing, The Players really brings the party to the green each March. Think of this golf tournament as a football tailgate party for golf. Along with the fantastic game play, The Players invites local restaurants to cater throughout the course, and on Tuesday, March 10 there is a live concert on the 17th green to honor America’s military. Best of all, kids under 15 are admitted for free Tuesday through Sunday when accompanied by an adult, making for a truly family-friendly event.
The First Coast is teeming with natural beauty. From the intracoastal waterways to the shores, and everywhere in between, guests to this stretch of Florida coastline are enchanted by the area’s biodiversity. For the photographer seeking to capture the magic, Florida’s Birding and Photo Fest is the spot to be this spring. Held at Celebration Hall at St. Anastasia in St. Augustine, the multi-day festival takes place Apr. 22-26, and features more than 130 different workshops and events, including night and action photography, and is perfect for both novices and experts alike. Participants can also enter the festival’s photo contest for recognition of their best shots. Some of the world’s best wildlife photographers, including Rob Knight and Roman Kurywczak, are keynote speakers, making it one of the premier festivals for amateur and professional bird watchers and photographers in the United States. Register early to claim your spot.
Held May 7-10 at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, Fish to Fork is the First Coast foodie event of your Instagram dreams. Celebrated chefs from around the country, many of whom have been nominated for James Beard Awards, are invited to showcase their skills in both catching and preparing fresh fish. The main event takes place Saturday evening during the final chef showdown, when event guests get the chance to vote on the best dishes. The festival takes place just steps away from the Atlantic Ocean, making for a picturesque backdrop for dining and experiencing ocean-to-table cuisine.
Finally, don’t miss the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, taking place May 21-24. The event offers two different stages, where stars such as Buddy Guy and Harry Connick, Jr., have performed in previous years. Signature events include a piano competition and the Sacred Jazz Brunch, offering an endless gourmet buffet as well as live jazz and gospel music.