Not content with only offering breathtaking ocean views and picturesque scenery, Anna Maria Island also comes alive with some of the best cultural events in the world throughout the year. Whatever the season, there’s an Anna Maria Island festival to suit all tastes and a friendly community just waiting to adopt you as one of their own.
If you’re planning on scheduling a vacation here, it’s worth doing your research to coincide your visit with these delightful local island festivals. From celebrations to art fairs to mouth-watering cuisine, we’ve sought out the biggest events you don’t want to miss on Anna Maria Island!
Fall and Winter events near Anna Maria Island
Fall is jam-packed with events, as the sticky, hot days take a hiatus and a warm but pleasant forecast often allows the swimming season to continue right up until December! If you are thinking of migrating during the cooler season, you could find yourself struggling to choose which event to attend.
There’s an annual Fall Festival during the last week of October, where kids don their Halloween best and parade, play and enter a costume contest. There’s also a Halloween-inspired Trail of Treats to offer a safe way for children to Trick or Treat throughout the island.
But one of the island’s most renowned and longest-running music, craft and food festivals is Bayfest. This year, October 21st will see Pine Avenue transform into a magical showcase of the local arts and craft vendors. The best part? It’s completely free! Throw in a Kids Zone and an antique car display, some sweet melodies and even sweeter food – and you’ve found the perfect recipe for a fantastic family day out.
Similar to Bayfest, Arts Hop is an annual three-day event celebrating a diverse selection of local arts, theatre shows, crafts, music and food. Make sure to pin down a trip during one of its two November weekends (11th through the 13th or 18th through the 20th) if art walks and theatre entertainment quench your cultural thirst.
The Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus and Orchestra will also present “Symphony on the Sand.” Taking place on Coquina Beach Gulfside on November 11th and 13th, ticket packages range from $35, $70 or $100 per person for this unmissable event. There will be tunes from Broadway, classical favorites and a 450-piece orchestra band, so kick back and indulge in some of the best musical talent on the island! Did we also mention food is catered by Coquina Cafe, The Lazy Lobster, Anna Maria Oyster Bar and the Beach House Restaurant? Yum!
From the well-informed art critic to the expressive albeit messy, 5-year-old, The Sarasota Chalk Festival is known to welcome all ages from all walks of life. This celebratory event, set in the Venice Airport Festival Fairgrounds, takes an unusual form. The pavement becomes canvas and artists use chalk as a medium to channel life-sized bursts of creativity, encouraging the public to join in too!
The event hits its 10th-year anniversary this year, so expect big things. Lock down a ticket early, priced from $5 to $25 for day to unlimited passes, and join the party on the 10th of November through the 13th! Consider splashing generously if you’re a fan, as prices are all in the name of donations to ensure the talented local artists put on a fantastic show.
Kick off Spring during the first week of March with the Art Slam. This immersive art experience in Downtown Bradenton brings a vast team of students and artists together to celebrate youth and creativity in the public eye. The event will include jazz, comedy, dance, upcycled art, fashion, face paint, caricatures, pottery and more… if it’s even possible to fit more in! This event is ideal for appreciating fine talent and to explore your own creative process. With no entry fee required, what’s stopping you?
The Sarasota Film Festival is held in April each year in nearby Sarasota and is a popular 10-day event featuring local films from every genre and widely considered to be the best film festival in the state. Tickets are just $15 for the general public with discounts for students and educational administrators. Children under 12 can attend the Sarasota Film Festival youth event for free. Special screening prices may be required for certain events.
With a catchy name and enticing cuisine, Blues, Brews & BBQs arrives on April 22nd to serve up an eclectic blend of outdoor music, drinks and delicious food, catered for the whole family to enjoy. Think finger-licking ribs, pulled pork and barbeque-themed pizzas with a stellar line-up of musicians playing in the background. A full liquor bar will also be on hand to wash it all down, including non-alcoholic options for the kids.
It takes place on famous historic Bridge Street, where all the shops, restaurants and merchants that have shaped the street’s success are brought to the forefront of celebration. Admission is $5 while children who are 12-years and under can enter for free. With guests welcome to bring their own chairs and blankets, there’s no better location to settle down and spend a relaxing day!
You’re never short of Anna Maria Island festivals no matter what time of year it is! With an emphasis on celebrating the arts and with proceeds often going straight to organizations such as the Art League, the Art League Scholarship Fund and various children and adult art classes, you can’t help but appreciate the glowing sense of community radiating here!