Fun and festivals are all-year-round affairs in Tampa.

Sport

The Outback Bowl football match gets your new year going in fine style, complements of Outback Steakhouse. January is also college baseball season all over the United States. Tampa Florida gets into the swing of things as their teams, the Eckerd Tritons, the USF Bulls and the UT Spartans, compete against colleges from around the country. In February, runners can take on the Florida Gulf Beaches Marathon, which follows the Gulf Boulevard from Clearwater waterfront to Coachman Park. Racing fanatics can get their kicks at the 12 Hours of Sebring International Races taking place at the Sebring International Raceway in March. April sees the start of Major League Baseball season, September kicks off the National Football League and October is when the National Hockey League gets under way. College basketball gets going in November.

Ethnic and international festivals

In January, the Gasparilla Invasion and Parade celebrates the life of famed pirate Jose Gasparilla with the Parade of Pirates in the city. Be sure to get to this one as it’s one of the most popular events in Tampa. On the last Saturday of every February, Tampa celebrates Fiesta Day, which commemorates the Cuban, German, Italian, African Cuban, Jewish and Spanish immigrants who first settled there in the late 19th century. Enjoy live performances and an array of ethnic food and music. March is Mardi Gras season, a loud, colourful extravaganza of dancing, juggling, parades, music and costumes. The Highlands Games and Festival celebrates Scottish heritage in April.

Food

The Florida Strawberry Festival in February is an all-out celebration of the little fruit, with carnival rides, agricultural exhibits and livestock on show. Of course there’s also every imaginable strawberry food on sale, from shakes and cakes to ice cream and pie. The Crawfish Festival honours this crustacean with a host of Cajun and Zydeco food, music and art works on display. St John’s Pass Seafood Festival in October is a great way to learn about the area’s fishing industry, and also try some of the delicacies of the sea. Also in October is the Taste of Latino event hosted by Latin Times magazine. Here it’s all about the nuances of Latin cuisine. The Ribfest in November sees the best barbeque chefs in the country converge in Tampa to show off their skills with the grill.

Arts

Art gets off to a roaring start in January with the Straub Art Park Festival, the International Miniature Art Show and the Street Art Festival. Old Hyde Park hosts its own art fest, the Old Hyde Park Village Art Festival, at the close of February. Antique collectors can view some exquisite pieces at the Spring Antiques Fair in March, while the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts features art works from local and international artists, complete with live entertainment. The Corey Area Arts Festival, also in March, sees Corey Avenue lined with paintings, sculptures and photographs. The Mainsail Art Festival and the Tarpon Springs Fine Art Festival dominate the calendar in April, while May hosts the Blue Grass and Arts Festival and the Music Fest on the Water. Take family to see one of the sunset beach concerts scheduled for June. The Throughout August Performance will see to it that you get your fill of art during that month. In October, the Jazz Holiday event hosts jazz artists from all over the world.

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