tampabay.com

Festivals galore arriving on cue

There's lots to celebrate and plenty to do as spring marches closer.

By Michelle Schumacher, Times Correspondent
Published February 29, 2008


TAMPA

With the arrival of March this weekend, the outdoor festival season in South and Central Tampa kicks into high gear. Upcoming events will celebrate everything from art, food and culture to holidays and our four-legged friends.

With hoped-for better weather than last Saturday's rained-out Flan Fest, the season moves forward with this weekend's Gasparilla Festival of the Arts downtown.

Held on Franklin Street and in Lykes Gaslight Square Park, the free annual event offers something for everyone. In addition to numerous artists on exhibit, live music will be featured throughout the weekend. The children's activity area gives the younger set a chance to be "real artists for the day" by coloring, painting and drawing. For the serious collector, a showcase of award-winning works from the festival will take place from 8:30 to 10 a.m. Sunday.

Gasparilla Festival of the Arts is "the largest cultural event in the Tampa Bay area (and) one of the largest festivals in the country," according to sponsorship chairwoman Juli Milas.

The festival typically draws 250,000 to 300,000 attendees over the course of the weekend.

On Friday a number of the participating artists will visit local art magnet schools. They will share their advice and experience with students.

An interactive art project is also being introduced at the festival. An 8- by 4-foot mural, composed of nearly 100 individual canvases, will be on display in the Young Artist Showcase area. Students from Lockhart Elementary will be joined by other Tampa Bay area middle and high school students and volunteers to complete the project this weekend.

When completed, the canvases are expected to be a one-of-a-kind representation of the city's skyline, according to a press release.

Also new this year, librarians from the downtown John F. Germany Public Library, which annually buys a piece of art from the festival for display at the library, will offer storytelling in the park throughout the weekend.

A sampling of upcoming festivals

Gasparilla Festival of the Arts

Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Franklin Street and Lykes Gaslight Square Park in downtown Tampa; Free admission. For more information, visit www.gasparilla-arts.com or call 876-1747.

Kaleidoscope Festival

March 8 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Ballast Point Elementary School, 2802 W Ballast Point Blvd. Featuring a variety of musical and theater performances, storytelling and activities for kids. Free admission. For more information, visit www.kaleidoscopefestival.com or call 361-4667.

Bunny Bonanza Day

March 15 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Hyde Park Village. The Easter-themed event with activities, including basket decorating and photos with the Easter Bunny. Free admission. For more information, visit www.oldhydepark.com or call 251-3500.

Rough Riders St. Patrick's Day Parade

March 15 at 8 p.m., Ybor City. Free admission. For more information, call 748.0642.

Festa Italiana

March 30 from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Centennial Park in Ybor City. Event celebrates Italian culture; features food from local restaurants, live entertainment, a children's area including amusement rides, and a grape-stomping competition. Admission $5, under 12 free. For more information, visit www.festaitalianatampa.com or call 342-3630.

Pooch-a-Palooza

April 19 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.; Hyde Park Village. The celebration of furry friends will feature pet photos and a doggie show. Free admission. For more information, visit www.oldhydepark.com or call 251-3500.

Puerto Rico Cultural Parade and Festival

April 27 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (parade starts at noon), Ybor City. Known as the first Puerto Rican parade in Florida, the event offers a food court with international foods, two stages with music and cultural entertainment, two beer gardens, arts and crafts exhibits and a kids zone. Free admission. For more information, visit www.puertoricoculturalparade.com or call 477-8368.

Taste of South Tampa

April 27 from 1 to 5 p.m., Hyde Park Village. Now in its third year, 40 local restaurants are expected to participate. Admission prices range from $20 to $50 in advance, $25 to $55 day of; children 10 and under free. For more information, visit www.oldhydepark.com or call 251-3500.

Live Music Series

Last Wednesday of every month beginning May 28 through October 29 from 6 to 9 p.m., Hyde Park Village; Free admission. For more information, visit www.oldhydepark.com or call 251-3500.