Located in the northwest region of Florida along the Gulf of Mexico, the Pensacola Bay Area claims the 2015 title of “Florida’s Best Beach,” boasts one of the “10 Great Streets in America,” and is home to the world-famous Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy’s elite flight demonstration squadron.
But besides our sugar-white beaches and the Blues, visitors will find an endless event calendar brimming with seasonal celebrations and festivals, sporting events and the arts. Visit Pensacola looks forward to welcoming visitors to experience these uniquely Pensacola events.
Polar Bear Dip
Need an exhilarating rush to help kick off your new year? Plunge headfirst into the Gulf of Mexico at the Flora-Bama’s annual Polar Bear Dip in Perdido Key at noon, or head to Paradise Bar & Grill’s Polar Bear Plunge on Pensacola Beach at 2 p.m. Hundreds of dippers and thousands of spectators – many dressed in costume – flock to both beach events to participate in this long-established tradition. Following both events, a New Year’s feast of black-eyed peas, cornbread, ham will be served to all those who brave the plunge.
Pensacola Mardi Gras
January – February 9, 2016
Mardi Gras, like Christmas, is a whole season — not just one day. Fat Tuesday, Feb. 9, marks the final day of celebration. The settings are historic Downtown Pensacola and the beautiful beaches of Perdido Key and Pensacola Beach. Passionate krewes, boats, beverages and BBQ make up Mardi Gras in the Pensacola Bay Area. Visitors looking for the best part — beads and moon pies — won’t leave empty-handed.
February 19-21, 2016
Famous movie and television stars, filmmakers and comic book writers meet and mingle with nearly 22,000 Sci-Fi fans over the course of the three-day Pensacon spectacle. The event includes everything from panel discussions to costume contests to autograph signing sessions with VIP guests from hit television series like “Star Wars”, “Doctor Who,” “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and “The Walking Dead.” The party continues at a number of nearby restaurants and nightspots that will be hosting themed parties
McGuire’s St. Patrick’s Day 5K
March 12, 2016
It’s the largest 5K prediction run in America. Runners predict their finish time, and whoever comes closest wins the race. More than 17,000 runners will take to the streets of Downtown Pensacola, turning the city into a sea of green. A post-race party with Irish food, music, dancing and costume contests completes the morning.
Pensacola Blue Wahoos Season Opener
April 7, 2016
The 2016 season of Pensacola’s Double-A Blue Wahoos baseball team kicks off at the award-winning Blue Wahoos Stadium on Thursday, April 7, and continues through September. Renowned for special themed nights, unique culinary offerings, weekly fireworks shows and entertainment, game nights in the stands high above the gorgeous waters of Pensacola Bay make it anything but your usual baseball experience.
April 1-3, 2016
Music will unite all ages on stage during the free, two-day event in historic Seville Square, presented by the Jazz Society of Pensacola. JazzFest runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Headliner Terry Doc Handy Sextet will perform for the crowds on both days.
Flora-Bama Interstate Mullet Toss
April 22-24, 2016
Dubbed the “Gulf Coast’s Greatest Beach Party,” the Mullet Toss should be a must-see and must-do event on anyone’s bucket list. Thousands of spectators line the beach in Perdido Key to watch participants of all ages toss a not-so-aerodynamic fish over the Florida state line into Alabama. The farthest toss wins! When the competition is over, the party continues inside and out at the iconic Flora-Bama.
Pensacola Crawfish Festival
April 29 – May 1, 2016
Floridians love their seafood, and there is plenty of it here: 16,000 pounds of crawfish boiled over the weekend at the annual Pensacola Crawfish Festival. The festival overlooks the beautiful waters of Pensacola Bay and is one of the largest crawfish boils in the state of Florida.
Fiesta of Five Flags Celebration
June 1-10, 2016
Pensacola’s history dates back to 1559, when Spanish Conquistador Don Tristan de Luna established Pensacola as the first European settlement in the United States. The Fiesta of Five Flags Celebration is a 10-day festival held in the first two weeks of June that celebrates the city’s unique history and lasting influences left by the five flags that have reigned over it. It’s one of the oldest and largest heritage festivals in Florida and includes a boat parade, street parade, treasure hunt and sand sculpting contest. This year’s DeLuna Landing Ceremony will take place on Saturday, June 4, at 3 p.m. at the Portofino Boardwalk on Pensacola Beach.
Pensacola International Billfish Tournament
June 29 – July 2, 2016
One of the largest billfish tournaments in the country, the Pensacola International Billfish competition attracts local, regional and national anglers to Pensacola for the chance to win bragging rights and cash prizes. Curious spectators gather at the downtown docks of Pensacola all weekend long to watch the teams arrive for the weigh-in.
Pensacola Beach Air Show featuring the Blue Angels
July 15-16, 2016
The Pensacola Beach Air Show is one of the most popular on the Blue Angels’ schedule, bringing tens of thousands to our sugar-white shores to watch the Navy’s elite flight demonstration squadron take to the skies to show off their aerobatic skills. In addition to the Blues, the show also features the civilian acrobatic acts of Gary Ward, Kevin Coleman, Skip Stewart and the Redline team.
Taste of the Beach
September 23-24, 2016
One of the area’s favorite culinary events, Taste of the Beach features a national celebrity chef, a VIP party, cooking demonstrations and food samplings from Pensacola’s finest chefs who showcase their favorite coastal cuisine.
Pensacola Seafood Festival
September 30 – October 2, 2016
The Pensacola Seafood Festival combines great food with great art and is one of the largest arts and crafts fairs in Northwest Florida. Visitors enjoy everything from gumbo to shrimp and grits to fried grouper po’boys while shopping under the massive oaks in Downtown Pensacola’s Seville Square.
Frank Brown International Songwriters’ Festival
November 3 – 13, 2016
The Frank Brown International Songwriters’ Festival is where music lovers meet music legends in a variety of venues across the Pensacola Bay Area. Grammy Award-winning songwriters and new artists perform original songs and talk about the stories behind them in this popular music festival that started more than 30 years ago. More than 200 songwriters from around the country and the world participate.
Pensacola Foo Foo Festival
November 4 – 14, 2016
It’s a well-kept secret that fall is one of the best times of the year to visit the Pensacola Bay Area, and the Pensacola Foo Foo Festival is timed perfectly, when a cooler breeze is back in the air. The Foo Foo Fest encompasses an eclectic mixture of art and culture events around Pensacola,ranging from the Blue Angels air show to the songwriter’s music fest to ballet, opera and high art.
Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival
November 4-6, 2016
Ranked as one of the “Top 20 Events in the Southeast,” this juried art show brings more than 200 nationally-known artists to historic Seville Square in Downtown Pensacola. They compete for awards and sell their original art to the thousands of visitors who return year after year to shop for one-of-a-kind paintings, drawings, sculptures and jewelry.
Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show
November 11-12, 2016
No other city in the world has the privilege of hosting the Blues at two annual air shows. This particular air show closes out the Blue Angels flying season. Pilots can be seen in the air and on the ground, for this show features dozens of static displays, allowing spectators the chance to get up close and personal with participating pilots and their aircraft. The Homecoming Air Show takes place right behind the award-winning National Naval Aviation Museum aboard Naval Air Station Pensacola. After the Blues fly, they’ll head to the flight line to sign autographs.
November 25 – December 2016
Touted as “Christmas Fun for Everyone,” Winterfest is a month-long celebration of the Christmas season that kicks off with an Elf Parade featuring Santa and a ceremony to light the city’s Christmas tree. Once the season is set, Winterfest trolley tours, featuring different characters, holiday themes and sing-alongs, take visitors on spirited tours of Pensacola.
December 7-11, 2016
Big names in NASCAR racing and a host of competitive hopefuls compete in several days of racing that lead up to the popular Sunday afternoon race in sunny Pensacola—the Snowball Derby. It’s a 300-lap Super Late Model race, and it attracts more than 10,000 visitors each year.
Pensacola Pelican Drop
December 31 – January 1, 2017
Start the New Year off with a bang, literally, at the Pensacola Pelican Drop. Ranked one of the “Top 20 Events in the Southeast,” the Pelican Drop is a bustling, family-friendly New Year’s Eve party, featuring restaurants, vendors and live music in Downtown Pensacola. It culminates with a countdown at midnight to the descent of a 14-by-20-foot lighted metal pelican that drops from a sky-high perch amidst dazzling fireworks. More than 50,000 revelers attend this event annually.