28 Can’t Miss Beach Events Across Northwest Florida

All across the coast are festivals and concerts filled with music, food and fun for everyone.
Keith Urban enthralled fans at the third annual Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam, held at Frank Brown Park. Photo courtesy Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam

1. Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam

Aug. 31–Sept. 2

The sixth annual Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam brings the best of country music to Panama City Beach on Labor Day weekend for sun, fun and concerts. Wade in the water and dance in the sand while you enjoy live performances by country music stars Florida Georgia Line, Eric Church, Thomas Rhett and others. Frank Brown Park, Panama City Beach. GulfCoastJam.com


2. Gulf Coast Summer Fest Jazz Edition

Sept. 1

Boney James, four-time Grammy Award nominee, and others headline the third annual Gulf Coast Summer Fest Jazz Edition at Pensacola’s Maritime Park. Bring your beach chairs, umbrellas and coolers to enjoy a variety of live jazz performances on a beautiful stage on Pensacola Bay. Community Maritime Park, Pensacola. GulfCoastSummerfestJazzEdition.com


3. Sandestin Triathlon

Sept. 8

Athletes test their determination and skill with a half-mile Gulf of Mexico swim, 20-mile bike ride along the coast and 4-mile run through beachside Sandestin. SandestinTriathlon.com


4. Emerald Coast Home & Boat Show

Sept. 15-16

Browse more than 120 home-vendor booths and 40 boat vendors. The show also features over $20,000 in door prizes and free giveaway items. The $5 entry fee benefits One Hopeful Place. Held at the Emerald Coast Convention Center, Fort Walton Beach. EmeraldCoastHomeShow.com

Emerald Coast Theatre presents a professional production: “The Spitfire Grill.” Photo courtesy ECTC Theatre

5. Taste of the Beach

Sept. 7 and 15

One of Pensacola’s largest food events of the year, Taste of the Beach serves up cooking competitions, a team cook-off, tastings, concerts and kid-friendly activities. Friday features a VIP dinner, and Saturday is the day for the main event, the food festival. Held at Casino Beach, Pensacola. TasteOfPensacolaBeach.com


6. ECTC Theatre presents ‘The Spitfire Grill’

Sept. 20-Oct. 7

Emerald Coast Theatre presents a professional production: “The Spitfire Grill.” All professional mainstage productions schedules are Thursday–Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. All ECTC productions will be staged at 560 Grand Boulevard in Sandestin.


7. Pensacola Seafood Festival

Sept. 28-30

Seafood lovers will rejoice as Pensacola dishes up Gulf seafood prepared by some of its best restaurants and vendors. The stars of this three-day festival include platters of fresh-caught fish, shrimp, scallops, crab, grouper, alligator, lobster rolls, crawfish mac ’n’ cheese, grits a yaya, seafood skewers, jambalaya, coconut shrimp, paella, conch fritters and more. Also, watch chef demonstrations, peruse arts and crafts and entertain the kids. At Seville Square Park, Pensacola.  PensacolaSeafoodFestival.com


8. Eggs on the Beach

Sept. 29

Presented by Bay Breeze Patio and taking place at Seascape Resort, the fifth annual Eggs on the Beach, encourages cooks and attendees to enjoy a day of grilled food during the grilling/smoking competition using the Big Green Egg. All profits will go to local nonprofits Food for Thought and Fisher House of the Emerald Coast. EggsOnTheBeach.com


9. Destin Fishing Rodeo

Oct. 1-31

The Destin Fishing Rodeo is a month-long event held each October. Nightly weigh-ins are held on the docks behind A.J.’s Seafood and Oyster Bar. Significant prizes are awarded at weigh-ins, and children are encouraged to participate. All events are free and open to the public. DestinFishingRodeo.org


10. Peat and Pearls

Oct. 4-7

Celebrate the history of Pensacola and top off your Foo Foo Festival experience with an iconic duo — oysters and scotch. Attendees can enjoy Scotch tastings from William Grant & Sons, cocktails by Old Hickory Whiskey Bar, live music, chef demos, a cigar garden, designer pearls and a variety of oysters prepared by some of the South’s best chefs. PeatAndPearls.com

Enjoy a cold one at the many festivals along the Emerald Coast. Photo courtesy Baytowne Beer Festival

11. Pirates of the High Seas Fest

Oct. 5-7

Argh, matey! Columbus Day weekend, pirates will invade Panama City Beach for a weekend of activities, including a main parade, a kids parade, scavenger hunts, a water battle, a pirate invasion, live music, food vendors, fireworks and more. VisitPanamaCityBeach.com


12. 4th Annual Market Shops Bloody Mary Festival

Oct. 6

This always anticipated event will feature bloody marys from the area’s best restaurants. Enjoy three hours of unlimited tastes of up to 25 of the Emerald Coast’s most creative bloody marys. Guests will also enjoy local food options, a commemorative cup, a mimosa bar, live music, special shopping options from the merchants of The Market Shops, and a chance to vote for the People’s Choice Award for the Best Bloody Mary in South Walton. SoWal.com/BloodyMaryFestival

13. Best of the Emerald Coast

Oct. 20

Celebrate and honor the best of the best in businesses at the 19th annual Best of the Emerald Coast event. Food and beverages from the top coastal restaurants, live entertainment, a VIP tent and more will line the streets of Grand Boulevard at Sandestin. Join Emerald Coast Magazine in showing support for your favorite local businesses. EmeraldCoastMagazine.com


14. Thunder Beach Motorcycle Rally

Oct. 24-28

Rev your engines for what’s known as “The Most Biker Friendly Free Rally in the United States.” The rally is held twice a year in May and October and invites bikers from around the country to enjoy beautiful rides along the Emerald Coast. Entertainment and a variety of local cuisines will be on site. ThunderBeachProductions.com

Presented by Bay Breeze Patio and taking place at Seascape Resort, the fifth annual Eggs on the Beach, encourages cooks and attendees to enjoy a day of grilled food during the grilling/smoking competition using the Big Green Egg. Photo courtesy Eggs on the Beach

15. Hangout Oyster Cook-off  & Craft Beer Weekend

Nov. 2-3

Sup on oysters and sip on spirits
prepared by some of the Southeast’s best chefs — all while strolling the scenic Gulf Shores of Alabama. There will also be a shucking contest and cooking demonstrations, all in honor of the oyster! 


16. Emerald Coast Cruizin’

Nov. 7-10

Car enthusiasts descend on this event, which is all about classic, stylish cars. View thousands of hot rods, muscle cars, trucks and classics. The schedule of events includes cruise-ins, car vendors, concerts, parades and food. EmeraldCoastCruizin.com


17. Junior League of Panama City Beach Holly Fair

Nov. 15-18

Deck your halls with boughs of holly and other home goods thanks to Holly Fair, presented by the Junior League of Panama City Beach. This holiday tradition helps to fund the Junior League’s many community projects. Over 90 vendors will be selling apparel, jewelry, crafts and more. JLPanamaCity.org/HollyFair


18. Beach Home for the Holidays

Nov. 23-24

Begin the holidays right, Thanksgiving weekend, at Home for the Holidays with a lineup of winter activities including carol-themed concerts, s’mores, lighting the Christmas tree, an appearance by Santa and activities for the kids. VisitPanamaCityBeach.com/holidays/


19. Panama City Beach Marathon

Dec. 1

Run through paradise. Regardless of whether you choose the marathon, half marathon, 5K or kid’s fun run, the scenic Gulf of Mexico run will be worth it. PCBMarathon.com


A Southern classic hits the beach at the Bloody Mary Festival. Photo courtesy Bloody Mary Festival.

20. Beach Ball Drop

Dec. 31

Celebrate 2019 at this family-friendly countdown that rings in the new year with fireworks and 10,000 beach balls being dropped over the crowd. Watch the famed beach ball descend to signify the start of the new year. Live music and vendors will be present throughout the night. VisitPanamaCityBeach.com


Guests toast with premier pours from around the world. Over 36 booths showcase local and international libations and light bites. Photo courtesy Pure 7 Studios and courtesy UnWineD

21. Sandestin Gumbo Festival

Feb. 15-16

Restaurants and businesses along the Gulf Coast will vie for the title of “Area’s Best” as they create and serve their own brands of a classic Creole dish: gumbo! This promises to be a weekend filled with food, live music, family activities and much more. SandestinGumboFestival.com


22. 30A Wine Festival

Feb. 21-24

The eighth annual 30A Wine Festival is a highly acclaimed event expressing the art of the vintner’s craft and culinary creativity. Events include tastings, wine dinners, seminars, a croquet tournament, bourbon tastings and more. This year, the Wine Festival will be supporting the Children’s Volunteer Health Network, a nonprofit dedicated to providing access to health services for children in Walton and Okaloosa counties. 30aWineFestival.com


23. Panama City Beach Mardi Gras & Music Festival

March 1-2

A taste of New Orleans on the beach. This family-friendly Mardi Gras celebration takes place in Pier Park and includes parades, float tours, a street fair, kids zones, live music and, of course, plenty of beads. VisitPanamaCityBeach.com/MardiGras


24. UNwineD

March 2019 (tentative)

Raise a glass to a weekend of fine wine, craft beer and quality spirits paired with culinary creations from some of Northwest Florida’s best chefs. The event takes place at beautiful Aaron Bessant Park. Be sure to bring your lawn chair or blanket to listen to live music while sipping and swilling. VisitPanamaCityBeach.com/UNwineD


25. 33rd Annual Sandestin Wine Festival

April 11-14

One of the regions most popular events allows guests to sip and swirl hundreds of wines over the course of four days. Wine and dine through special wine dinners, meet celebrity winemakers and chefs, buy your favorite wines, enjoy live music, attend interactive demos and shop the Village of Baytowne Wharf. SandestinWineFestival.com


26. Seabreeze Jazz Festival

April 24-28

Recognized as a “Top 10 Jazz Festival in the USA” by JazzIZ magazine, the Seabreeze Jazz Festival features an impressive roster of smooth jazz artists for a weekend of music appreciation, good times, fun vendors and great beaches. Thousands will listen to smooth and soulful sounds during this performance-packed weekend. SeabreezeJazzFestival.com


27. South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival

April 25-28

A dazzling roster of dozens of celebrity winemakers, distillers, chefs, brewmasters and entertainers converge in South Walton to wine, dine, educate and entertain guests as part of this four-day celebration. Throughout the Town Center of Grand Boulevard, attendees will enjoy attractions such as spirits row, champagne lane tastings, savor South Walton culinary village, nosh pavilions, tasting seminars, craft beer, live entertainment and samplings of more than 800 wines. SoWalWine.com


28. Jeep Beach Jam

May 14-19

Jeep enthusiasts delight in a six-day event about all things Jeep. Thousands travel to Frank Brown Park for this event, which includes obstacle courses, a jeep parade, live music, vendors, bonfires, kid activities and more. JeepBeachJam.com

Categories: Events, The Beach