Although it must have been no party back in 1559 when Spanish explorer Don Tristan de Luna first discovered Pensacola, it’s cause for celebration in the modern world to honor the man who uncovered this jewel on the bay.
The founding of Pensacola is the basis for the Fiesta of Five Flags celebration. It takes place each year in June, and it not only celebrates Luna’s settlement of Pensacola, but the unbelievably long history of our town — which has been fought over and ruled by five different governments in nearly five centuries.
The stories, the struggles, the victories, the defeats and all of the cultural influences over the past 450-plus years have helped create the soul of Pensacola today — a beautifully diverse city tucked into the northwest corner of Florida along the Gulf of Mexico. And that’s something worth celebrating. It’s no surprise organizers pour months into producing a grand Fiesta celebration each year filled with parades and pageantry.
For ten days, the city symbolically surrenders to a chosen king, appropriately known as “DeLuna,” a queen and the royal court. The royals take over the city, appearing in a street and boat parade, a historical reenactment on Pensacola Beach, and at private balls and parties.
Fiesta, as the locals call it, is a bit like Mardi Gras with its royal court and parades. It’s a bit like Broadway with its fabulous costumes and pageantry. And it’s a bit of a living history lesson with its reenactments — all played out in a beautiful vacation setting. It’s unique, it’s fun and it provides visitors a chance to combine a visit to our area’s sugar-white beaches with a high-energy, educational and cultural event.
Your best bets to participate in the party that will have you proclaiming, “Fiesta, forever!”:
Go: The Grand Fiesta Parade - June 1
Cars, trucks and floats will line up in historic downtown Pensacola for the Grand Fiesta Parade. Grab a spot anywhere along South Palafox Street to see floats carrying several of Pensacola’s unique krewes along with the king and queen of Fiesta. Be sure to catch the red, white and blue traditional Fiesta beads!
Watch: The Fiesta Boat Parade-June 2
A flotilla of boats, big and small, decked out in red, white and blue flags and other unique decorations will make their way from the Pensacola Yacht Club to the Quietwater Boardwalk on Pensacola Beach. The king, queen and royal court will be traveling overseas to meet the beach crowds. Visitors can take in the boat parade from the Navy base, the sound side of Pensacola Beach, or welcome the royalty at the beach boardwalk.
See: The Landing Ceremony-June 2, following the boat parade
Once they land at the Quietwater Boardwalk, the king, queen, royal court and popular krewe, the Mayoki Indians, perform a light-hearted reenactment of what might have happened when de Luna landed in Pensacola. The skit showcases the fabulous costumes of the court and funky dance moves by the Mayokis. A party along the boardwalk follows!
For more information on this year’s Fiesta, please visit www.fiestaoffiveflags.org.