Fall may be the best time of the year to visit Pensacola. Not only is the calendar packed full of festivals, food and fun, the weather is some of the most beautiful of the year — still warm enough to enjoy the sun, sand and surf, but not so hot that your longing to get back into the air conditioning.
But if the climate isn’t enough to sway you, the stellar array of entertainment options surely will. Here are some of the events you won’t want to miss.
Emerald Coast Beer Festival: Sept. 5-6
Raise a glass to the start of the season at this annual tradition at historic Seville Quarter, 130 E. Government St. in downtown Pensacola. Typically, the two-night event kicks off with a fancy beer-pairing dinner on Thursday night; however, details on the dinner are yet to be announced. The main event, though, is the Friday night beer tasting, which features unlimited sampling of dozens of microbrews, specialty beers and even home-brewed concoctions from regional homebrew clubs. The first 2,500 participants receive a souvenir glass for the tasting, and the event also features a wide variety of food stands as well as food from Seville Quarter’s acclaimed menu, and if you don’t like beer, full bar service is available inside the venue.
Obviously, this event is for responsible drinkers ages 21 and older only. VIP tickets include early entry at 5 p.m. with an exclusive VIP room featuring appetizers, a buffet meal and private restroom facilities. For everyone else, doors open at 5:30 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit www.emeradcoastbeerfest.com.
Pensacola Seafood Festival: Sept. 27-29
One of Pensacola’s premier annual events, the Pensacola Seafood Festival celebrates the bounty of delicious seafood that comes straight from the local Gulf of Mexico waters. Set in charming historic downtown Pensacola in Olde Seville Square, with a spectacular view of the bay, the three-day event includes a wide variety of seafood dishes and other treats available for purchase from local Gulf-to-table restaurants as well as carefully curated festival vendors.
The weekend also includes informative cooking demonstrations, live music and one of the area’s largest arts and crafts fairs. While this year’s music line-up has not yet been announced, this festival has had a knack in the past for scoring future superstars, so you can say you saw them when — and at no admission charge, to boot! For more information, visit www.pensacolaseafoodfestival.com.
Pensacola Beach Songwriter’s Festival: Oct. 2-6
Pensacola Beach will be alive with the sounds of original music performed by the folks who wrote the tunes during the first week of October. With a decade under its belt, the Pensacola Beach Songwriter’s Festival has become a treasured annual favorite, offering performances at nearly two dozen beachside bars, restaurants and other attractions. Attendees can expect to hear great music as well as the stories behind the songs while enjoying some of the best weather of the year along our spectacular beaches. For more information, visit www.pensacolabeachsongwritersfestival.com.
WSRE Wine & Food Classic: Oct. 11
October is definitely eating season in Pensacola, with several of the year’s most delicious annual events sharing space on the calendar.
WSRE, PBS for the Gulf Coast, will present its annual Wine & Food Classic on Oct. 11 at the Court of DeLuna Event Space at 116 E. Gonzalez St. in downtown Pensacola. This foodie favorite has taken on many forms over the years, and this year offers an all-new take: a barn dance!
Along with live music with a Western flair under the string lights, attendees will enjoy fantastic food samples from local restaurants as well as wine, bourbon and beer. Kevin Belton, star of “New Orleans Cooking with Kevin Belton,” will be the special guest celebrity chef in attendance, and will present a country cooking demonstration, followed by a meet and greet. For tickets or more information, visit www.wsre.org/events/wine-food-classic-2019.
Pensacola Greek Festival: Oct. 11-13
Say the words “Greek Fest,” and locals instantly start salivating. Celebrating 60 years of deliciousness in 2019, this is the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church’s annual gift to the community, an open house that showcases the beauty of the historic church, the wonders of Greek culture and seemingly endless mountains of amazing Greek food.
Among the favorites featured are moussaka, pastitsos, souvlakia, gyros, spanakopita, calamari and, of course, Greek salads. Follow it up with a bevy of baked goods including baklava, kok, floyeres and pasta — yes, that’s a dessert, not a noodle dish! — or even a decadent baklava ice cream sundae. And don’t worry so much about the calories — you can walk them off touring the historic church or dancing to live Greek music, or just cheering for the student groups performing traditional Greek folk dances. For more information, visit www.pensacolagreekfestival.com.
Pensacola Interstate Fair: Oct. 17 -27
For 11 days each October, the Pensacola Interstate Fairgrounds are awash in color, lights and music as the midway roars to life for the return of the Pensacola Interstate Fair. For more than 80 years, families have flocked to the fair for good, old-fashioned entertainment including dozens of rides on the Reithoffer Midway, games of skill and chance, livestock exhibits and auctions, arts and crafts shows, live entertainment and the ever-popular fair food delicacies that only come once a year.
The Pensacola Interstate Fair is well known for bringing top-with musical acts to its open-air stage. Some of the acts who’ve performed over the past several years include Trace Adkins, Sugar Ray, Smashmouth, Bret Michaels, Little Richard, Morris Day & the Time, Candlebox and Lady Antebellum, so you can expect a wide variety of artists to take the stage — all included with your fair admission. For more information, visit www.pensacolafair.com.
Taste of the Beach: Oct. 18-19
Get set to “Sip, Savor, Surf” at the 12th annual Taste of the Beach, Pensacola Beach’s premier foodie event. This two-day celebration features the very best beachside restaurants in a sampling showcase — and a whole lot more.
This year’s event kicks off with a progressive VIP dinner that tours four beachside favorites via trolley for an unforgettable four-course meal. Friday’s VIP dinner is a ticketed event. But as great as that will be, it’s just a prelude to Saturday’s main event.
The big day features dozens of beachside eateries offering samples of their signature cuisine at just $5 each. The festival also features cooking competitions for both chefs and teams, a beer tasting, live music from Platinum Premiere and more. Saturday festival admission is free, although tickets are available for the beer tasting and for tastings of the chef’s demonstration entrees. For tickets or more information, visit www.tasteofpensacolabeach.com.
Foo Foo Fest: Oct. 31 - Nov. 11
Pensacola invites you to “Vacation Artfully” during the annual Foo Foo Festival, which features a wide variety of cultural and artistic activities throughout the community. The 2019 event lineup has not yet been released, but the festival typically includes concerts, art exhibits, interactive experiences and much more. Watch www.foofoofest.com for complete event listings and more information as it becomes available.
Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival: Nov. 1-3
Pensacola’s premier juried fine arts show is the centerpiece of the annual Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival, but it’s really just a small part of the event that takes over the downtown historic district. Along with hundreds of amazing artists who compete in the show, the event celebrates the arts in all forms, including musical, dance and theater performances, heritage arts and crafts, kids activities and a kids art show, and more. If you can only get to one arts festival, this is the one you should make time for. Visit www.ggaf.org for more information.
Blue Angels Homecoming Show: Nov. 8-9
The U.S. Navy’s elite flight demonstration squad, the Blue Angels, returns to its home base at Naval Air Station Pensacola each fall for a spectacular homecoming show that draws aviation fans in droves to the base for two days of thrills.
In addition to full performances by the Blues, the shows feature a number of civilian and military aircraft performing aerial acrobatics, as well as static aircraft displays on the ground, tons of kids activities, and the famous National Naval Aviation Museum open for exploration. Admission is free, although reserved seating is available. For tickets and more information, visit www.naspensacolaairshow.com.
Frank Brown International Songwriter’s Festival: Nov. 7-17
Celebrating its 35th anniversary, the Frank Brown International Songwriter’s Festival has become one of the nation’s premier showcases for songwriters who come from across the country down to the Gulf Coast to share their original works and the stories behind them, including some of the most famous songs they’ve written for your favorite performers.
With performances scattered across multiple Pensacola and Perdido Key venues, the festival will have the entire Pensacola Bay Area swaying to the sounds of music. For this year’s lineup of artists and venues, and more information, visit www.frankbrownsongwriters.com.