There’s something bubbling in Florida every weekend, but April seems to be a busy month for fun festivals. Following are my picks for must-attend events featuring the best of the Sunshine State.
Sebring Soda Festival, April 5-6
Whether you call it soda or pop, if you have an affinity for the sweetened carbonated beverage, the Second Annual Sebring Soda Festival is for you. Florida’s fizziest festival includes an opportunity to sample more than 200 craft sodas while walking around downtown Sebring’s Circle and listening to live music, admiring vintage autos, and grabbing lunch from one of the restaurants or food trucks.
Sample flavors such as strawberry-rhubarb, candied bacon and Key lime. Punch cards are sold for 8, 18 and 40 samples for $5, $10 and $20, respectively. If you fall in love with a flavor, find it in Sebring Soda & Ice Cream Works, which carries 300 different flavors of soda from around the world. The tasting portion of the festival is 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 6. (Downtown Sebring on the Circle, 347 Fernleaf Ave., Sebring; 863-385-8448; VisitSebring.com/sebring-soda-festival)
Rock the Ocean’s Tortuga Music Festival in Ft. Lauderdale, April 12-14
Music and conservation intertwine to create one of Florida’s most celebrated annual events, Rock the Ocean’s Tortuga Music Festival. About 50 musical acts will perform over the three days and Jason Aldean, Flor Rida, Kenny Chesney, Sheryl Crow and Joan Jett & the Black Hearts are scheduled to appear.
Tortuga’s oceanside setting includes Conservation Village and is housed with organizations representing Rock the Ocean’s five core issues of coral reef degradation, marine pollution, overfishing, shark conservation, and turtle conservation. Last year, the festival implemented conservation efforts including using ocean-friendly straws, providing canned water and water refill stations, recycling materials, and contracting with food vendors who sourced ingredients from within 200 miles.
The three-day general admission pass is $239 and a single-day general admission pass is $135. Children 6 and younger are admitted free. Gates open at noon daily and end around 10 p.m. each night. (1100 Seabreeze Blvd., Ft. Lauderdale; 888-512-7469; TortugaMusicFestival.com)
Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival, Clearwater, April 12-28
A 21,000-square-foot tent houses the Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival’s main attraction, the Sugar Sand Walk Exhibit. Called Florida’s number one sand sculpting festival, this event celebrates Tampa Bay’s most treasured jewels, the sugar-sand beaches and sunsets. Watch sand sculptors from around the world craft piles of sand into famous destinations and landmarks. The artists will use shovels, trowels, spatulas, and other items you may find in your kitchen or garage to create temporary works of art fitting the theme, “A Journey Around the Globe.”
The festival has expanded from 10 days to 17 and includes live music, a kids play zone, and sand sculpting classes. Feeling competitive? April 20 is the Pro-Am Sand Sculpting Tournament and April 21, Easter Sunday, is the Family Sand Sculpting Competition.
General admission for ages 11 and older is $10 and children 4 to 10 are $8; children 3 and younger are free. Tickets may be purchased online in advance. At the gate, discounted tickets are $8 for AAA members, seniors (60 and up), active and retired military personnel, police and fire, and educators, when valid identification is provided. Admission tickets are valid for one day/night. The exhibit is open Mondays to Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. (1 Causeway Blvd., Clearwater Beach; 727-403-0517; SugarSandFestival.com)
Cocoa Beach Uncorked, April 27-28
Now celebrating its third year, Cocoa Beach Uncorked is the perfect event for sipping a glass of wine and wriggling your toes in the sand. Before entering the Grand Tasting Village, participants have the option of leaving their shoes at the entry way and walking barefoot through the tent while tasting, sampling, and celebrating the best of the Central Florida’s breweries, chefs, restaurants, and wineries. Located at Alan Shepard Park and serving views of the Atlantic Ocean, this is touted as the Space Coast’s “hippest beachfront gastronomic event.”
Water quality is a state issue, and the Marine Resources Council and Cocoa Beach Uncorked are partnering to raise awareness and funds to preserve the Indian River Lagoon. MRC is set to release the annual Indian River Lagoon health update to raise awareness and offer solutions to improve Lagoon health.
Attendees must be at least 21 years of age. General admission entrance into the Grand Tasting Village begins at 1 p.m. and ends at 4 p.m. each day. General admission cost is $65 per day. 2 S. Orlando Ave., Cocoa Beach; CocoaBeachUncorked.com)
As always, when heading outdoors, keep hydrated and protect yourself from the sun.