Spring might be the best time of the year to be in Pensacola.
From March to June, the calendar is packed with festivals celebrating many of the things that make Pensacola great. From cuisine to history and from the arts to the fine art of flinging fish, there’s not just one celebration to suit you in the spring; there are many. Here are a few of the seasonal highlights.
March 10: McGuire’s St. Patrick’s Day 5K Prediction Run
McGuire’s Irish Pub, 600 E Gregory Street, Pensacola, Fla. 32502
One of Pensacola’s biggest annual parties goes out in disguise as a foot race on the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day each year. Yes, there actually is a race at the heart of the McGuire’s St. Patrick’s Day 5K Prediction Run, and yes, there are prizes for traditional things like finishing first. But the real reason to hurry to the finish line is the biggest post-race party you’ve ever seen, with participants indulging in green beer and potent Irish wakes along with Irish stew and merriment complete with live music, costume contests and more. And the big prize is for guessing how closely you can predict your finish time. Expect upwards of 15,000 people — including thousands of Marines in formation — to make the run with you and to enjoy McGuire’s hospitality through the morning. Proceeds benefit a number of local charities. Visit www.mcguiresirishpub.com for more information.
March 16-18: Smokin’ in the Square
Vince J. Whibbs Sr. Community Maritime Park, 301 W Main Street, Pensacola, Fla. 32502
The name is a holdover from its days in historic Olde Seville Square, but this year, Pensacola’s largest barbecue event is moving to the Community Maritime Park and expanding to three days of competitions and celebration. The Kansas City Barbecue Society-sanctioned event draws the top pitmasters from around the country to show off their chops in preparing barbecue seafood, ribs, chicken, pork and more. The weekend also features a huge cornhole tournament, the Bikes on the Bay Motorcycle Show, lots of live music and, of course, plenty of barbecue available to purchase so you can satisfy your cravings. Visit www.smokininthesquare.com for more information.
April 7-8: 2018 Pensacola Jazz Fest
Seville Square, 311 E Government Street, Pensacola, Fla. 32502
An annual gift to Pensacola from the members of Jazz Pensacola, the Pensacola JazzFest offers two days filled with great jazz performances in historic Olde Seville Square. This year’s 35th annual event continues the tradition of bringing in top-notch performers from the community and around the world, with performers scheduled to include the Scott Wilson Quintet, Paula Atherton, Michael Pellera, Andy Martin, Patrick Frost and The 4 Korners. The weekend also features a number of arts, crafts and food vendors. Visit www.jazzpensacola.com for more information.
April 12-15: Tall Ships® Pensacola
Plaza de Luna / Commendencia Slip, 900 S Palafox Street, Pensacola, Fla. 32502
New this year, Visit Pensacola and Tall Ships® America will present Tall Ships Pensacola®, marking the first time Tall Ships America will bring its Tall Ships Challenge Series of races and port festivals to the Gulf of Mexico. Pensacola is one of only three host ports, and the only Florida port, included in the series. During the festival, activities will include onboard tours, sail away ventures, VIP viewing parties and events, private ship receptions, entertainment, food and vending booths. A variety of packages and price points are available for this exciting debut event. Visit www.tallshipspensacola.com for more information.
April 27-29: Flora-Bama Interstate Mullet Toss
Flora-Bama Lounge and Package, 17401 Perdido Key Drive, Pensacola, Fla. 32507
Only in Pensacola do tens of thousands of people gather on a gorgeous, sunny, warm, white-sandy beach at the height of spring for the sole purpose of throwing dead fish into the state of Alabama. That’s the basic concept behind the Interstate Mullet Toss, as that local fishy favorite gets thrown across the state line each spring, the goal is to throw your fish just as far as you possibly can. Don’t worry, though: Flingin’ fish isn’t the only fun to be had, it’s just the excuse for one of the area’s biggest parties. Three days of fun in the sand and surf also features tons of live music, lots of libations and plenty to eat, as well as men’s and women’s swimsuit contests and other frolicsome festivities. Visit www.florabama.com for more information.
May 4-6: Pensacola Crawfish Festival
Bartram Park, 211 Bayfront Parkway, Pensacola, Fla. 32502
Got a craving for some crawfish? Here’s where you fill it. More than 16,000 pounds of the ever-popular crustaceans are consumed each year at this event presented by Fiesta of Five Flags, with a massive three-day mudbug boil serving as the centerpiece of the weekend. If boiled isn’t your style, there are plenty of other ways to eat them, or there’s lots of other chow if crawfish just isn’t your thing. It’s also a weekend packed with great live music — much of it Cajun/Creole flavored — as well as kids activities and yes, even crawfish races. Visit www.fiestaoffiveflags.com for more information.
May 30 - June 8: Fiesta Days
Celebrate Pensacola’s long history and rich heritage with events presented by the Fiesta of Five Flags organization. The fun starts May 30 with the Fiesta Days celebration, featuring city officials surrendering the city to explorer Don Tristan de Luna for the course of the 10-day celebration. June 1 features the Fiesta parade through the streets of downtown Pensacola, followed by the boat parade and landing ceremony on Pensacola Beach on June 2. Two formal balls — the Fiesta All Krewe Ball on June 7 and the DeLuna Coronation Ball on June 8 — cap the week of celebrations, with the masked DeLuna’s identity revealed at the final party. Visit www.fiestaoffiveflags.com for more information.
These are just a handful of the events that make Pensacola a great place to visit in the spring. Keep reading the blogs and checking VisitPensacola.com for even more springtime fun!