Summer is always a sensational time of year in Pensacola. Not only do we have ideal beach-going weather, we’ve also got some of the most beautiful beaches in the world to go along with it.
But Pensacola has a lot more to offer than just lounging beachside with a cool drink and a hot book. Check out all of the great activities planned for the summer months that will be sure to make your season sizzle.
Bands on the Beach: Tuesdays through Oct. 29
Pensacola Beach has been providing live music at the heart of the beach every Tuesday night from April through October for more than a decade. Originally known as Blues on the Beach, the weekly concert series became Bands on the Beach once organizers realized they were going well beyond the initial genre.
Today, the series provides music from a wide variety of local and regional artists at 7 p.m. Tuesdays at the Gulfside Pavilion on Casino Beach, the center point of the island anchored by the iconic beach ball water tower. Nearby restaurants are abundant or take along your own food and drink, just keep in mind that glass and pets are prohibited, and you’ll probably want to take along lawn chairs or blankets.
For the 2019 performance schedule and features, visit www.visitpensacolabeach.com/whats-happening-bands-on-beach/
Blues on the Bay: May 26-Aug. 18
The city of Pensacola and Blues Angel Music sponsor Blues on the Bay, a free concert series at the Randall K. and Martha A. Hunter Amphitheater in the Vince J. Whibbs Sr. Community Maritime Park in downtown Pensacola.
Aside from the spectacular vista of Pensacola Bay, the free concert series takes place at 6 p.m. on Sundays that do not feature a Pensacola Blue Wahoos home game at neighboring Blue Wahoos Stadium. The concerts offer a wide variety of local and regional acts. The 2019 schedule:
• May 26: Not Quite Fab
• June 9: Bring on the Benjamins and Classic June
• June 23: Civilized Natives
• July 7: The Truth featuring Cat Rhodes
• July 21: CrossTown
• July 28: Bay Bridge Band
• Aug. 11: Cat Daddy Blues Band and Adam Holt
• Aug. 18: The Modern Eldorados
Fiesta Pensacola: May 29-June 7
Fiesta Pensacola is a local organization that celebrates Pensacola’s extensive history and heritage, which has included rule under five national flags: Spanish, French, British, Confederate and U.S. Each spring, the organization presents more than a week’s worth of celebrations paying tribute to that history with a variety of events.
Fiesta kicks off at 6 p.m. May 29 with the Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon Fiesta Days Celebration at Seville Quarter in downtown Pensacola. During this event, local dignitaries, including the mayor, surrender the city to the forces of Don Tristan DeLuna, a costumed local leader representing the real-life Tristán de Luna y Arellano, who founded the settlement of Pensacola in 1559. The event also features entertainment, festive decorations and five rooms featuring foods native to each of the five cultures that have influenced Pensacola. Tickets are $35 and include food, two drinks and a commemorative medallion.
May 31, the celebration takes to the downtown streets with the Grand Fiesta Parade, sponsored by Beach Community Bank. Rolling at 7 p.m., the parade route heads east on Garden Street, turning north at Palafox Street, then turning back south at Wright Street and continuing down Palafox to Main Street. Take a bag to catch plenty of goodies from Pensacola’s famously generous Mardi Gras krewes, many of whom participate in the parade.
The celebration moves to Pensacola Beach on June 1, as the Centennial Imports Fiesta Boat Parade launches from the Pensacola Yacht Club at 1 p.m., setting sail for the Quietwater Boardwalk. All boaters are welcomed to join the procession, which arrives at 3 p.m. at the boardwalk for the DeLuna Landing Ceremony, a lighthearted production that guesses what might have happened back in 1559. DeLuna is greeted by the fictitious Mayoki Indian tribe for the ceremony.
The week’s celebrations conclude with a pair of exclusive balls, the Fiesta All-Krewe Ball on June 6 and the DeLuna Coronation Ball on June 7, at which this year’s DeLuna is unmasked and the next year’s is crowned. For more information, visit www.fiestapensacola.org.
Fishing Rodeos: May 31-June 24
The Pensacola area offers incomparable fishing, but if you’re competitive about your angling, June is the month for you, with three major tournaments gracing our corner of the Gulf Coast.
Taking place May 31-June 2 at the iconic roadhouse on the Florida-Alabama state line, the Florabama Fishing Rodeo is a Captain’s Choice tournament with prizes awarded in 40 categories. The weekend also features a beach party and awards ceremony with live music, food, vendors and daily weigh-ins and viewings. For more information, visit www.florabama.com.
Over Father’s Day weekend, June 13-16, one of the community’s most venerable tournaments, the Bill Hargreaves Fishing Rodeo, returns. launching from the Grand Lagoon Yacht Club. This tournament features cash awards in more than 25 species, as well as the $1,000 Big Four Grand Prize for Dolphin, King Mackeral, Tuna and Wahoo. A junior division offers trophies in all open division species as well as six additional categories. For more information, visit www.billhargreavesfishingrodeo.com.
And June 21-24, the Bud Light Pensacola Fishing Rodeo features cash awards for the Top 3 fish in 20 categories, as well as the Vince Whibbs King Mackerel Challenge, a separate competition for the biggest King Mackerel. Academy Sports and Outdoors sponsors a junior rodeo, and Synovus presents the in-shore challenge, which sets specific boundaries for redfish, trout and flounder. For more information, visit www.pensacolasports.org/pensacolafishingrodeo.
Independence Day: July 4
Pensacola gets into the patriotic spirit on our nation’s birthday with big events downtown and on Pensacola Beach.
Sertoma Clubs present the downtown celebration in historic Olde Seville Square with a full day of family fun. Free activities start at 11 a.m. with a free children’s area including bounce houses, rock climbing, face painting and more. A classic hot dog-eating contest takes place at noon, and the day also features arts and crafts and food vendors in a festival atmosphere. Live entertainment begins in the evening, capped by a spectacular fireworks display. Visit www.pensacolafireworks.com for more information.
Not to be outdone, Pensacola Beach sets off some pretty spectacular fireworks of its own at around 8:30 p.m. on July 4 over the Santa Rosa Sound so you can dip your toes in the water while saluting our nation.
If you’re looking to get a head start on the red, white and blue fun, don’t miss the Firecracker 5K on June 29. This patriotic foot race begins and ends at Seville Quarter in downtown Pensacola, and runners are encouraged to sport their most patriotic attire. Proceeds benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Florida. For more information, visit www.rmhc-nwfl.org/firecracker-5k/
Red, White & Blues Week: July 10-13
The patriotic fervor doesn’t die down on Pensacola Beach after the Fourth of July, as the nation’s birthday gives way to Red, White & Blues Week, celebrating Pensacola’s hometown heroes, the U.S. Navy’s elite flight demonstration team, the Blue Angels. While the Blues regularly fly practices over Naval Air Station Pensacola, this week takes the team beachside and culminates in the thrilling Pensacola Beach Air Show and two full-scale performances by the team.
The week begins with Breakfast With the Blues at 8 a.m. June 10, with the Blues making their debut over the beachside skies and many local restaurants taking advantage with breakfast offerings and outdoor views. July 11 features a beachside practice at 2 p.m. The Pensacola Beach Air Show officially takes place July 13; however, all acts including the Blues perform a full “dress rehearsal” on July 12 that is the same show performed on July 13, including full narration and all performers. Both shows start at noon, with the Blues taking flight at 2 p.m.
All shows are free, but if you’re not staying beachside, head out as early as possible, as parking and beach space quickly become premiums. For more information, visit www.visitpensacolabeach.com/whats-happening-blue-angels.
Gulf Coast Summer Fest - Jazz Edition: Aug. 31-Sept. 1
Cap off your Pensacola summer with a Labor Day weekend filled with the sounds of smooth jazz. The fourth annual Gulf Coast Summer Fest - Jazz Edition will feature two days of jazz at the Community Maritime Park, with performers set to include Jazmin Ghent, Kayla Waters, Ragan Whiteside, Maysa, Walter Beasley, Vincent Ingala, Willie Bradley, Najee, Pieces of a Dream, Four 80 East, Bob Baldwin, Adam Hawley, Nathan Mitchell, Marion Meadows and Down to the Bone.
Tickets are $130 for a two-day pass or $75 for a one-day pass in advance through Ticketmaster. Preferred tables are also available for parties of eight at $125 per person. On the days of the festival, admission will be $85 per day. Additional fees including Ticketmaster charges may apply. For more information, visit www.gulfcoastsummerfestjazzedition.com.