Springtime is full of new awakenings and celebrations on Florida’s Historic Coast. Throughout the year events and occasions celebrate the city’s heritage and culture. This Spring is a great time to explore the music, food and outdoor adventures.
Experience the Culture Through the Flavors of Florida’s Historic Coast
Dining out on Florida’s Historic Coast is always a special treat. With an ocean in our front yard and miles of productive agricultural lands in our backyard, there is always something fresh and new cooking up. Springtime features some very popular events to help celebrate the flavors. The Taste of St. Augustine and the St. Augustine Food +Wine Festival are two of the most popular.
Celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year The Taste of St. Augustine serves up exciting “tastes”. St. Augustine’s favorite restaurants and food trucks compete for the prestigious TOSTA (Taste of St. Augustine) awards, with categories including Best Family Dining, Best Ethnic, Best Upscale, and Best Dessert, as well as the ever popular “People’s Choice”. The festival takes place on April 24 at the St. Augustine Amphitheater.
The St. Augustine Food + Wine Festival, named a Top 10 food event in Florida by USA Today editors will take place at the World Golf Village and other locations around St. Augustine May 5-8. This culinary celebration showcases food culture with celebrity guest chefs, celebrity winemakers/ proprietors, local chefs, artisans and local craft spirits/beers. The festival offers a wide variety of events for all tastebuds, from wine dinners and tasting events, to master classes and more.
This year’s festival presenters include Iron Chef Cat Cora; Southern Living Chef Rebecca Lang; BBQ Grand Champion Robert Owens, and Global Cooking School’s Hari Pulapaka. They will work side by side with many of Florida’s Historic Coast best known culinarians like Chef Matt Brown of Leña, Chef Barry Honan of Lotus Noodle Bar, Philip McDaniel co-founder of the St. Augustine Distillery, Chef Brian Whittington of Preserved and Chop Shop Chef, DeeAnn Hobbs with the Renaissance World Golf Resort, and many others.
Experience the Culture Through Music
Music events on Florida’s Historic Coast are always a big draw here too. The Gamble Rogers Folk Festival, which celebrates the life and music of the legendary story teller takes place May 6-8; Lullaby of the Rivers Concert at Vilano Beach takes place on April 23; and special monthly performances (April 24 & May 22) take place at the former home of Stetson Kennedy at Beluthahatchee Park. There is even a series of videos created that showcase some of the incredible local talent found here.
This spring’s main music event presents an immersion into the exciting Latin culture with live music, food, dance and fun for the whole family at Unidos en la Musica: A Latin American Festival on May 7, at Francis Field in St. Augustine.
Some of the best international, local and regional performing groups around, such as the Grammy Award-Winning legendary salsa band from Colombia, Grupo Niche, Baba Caiman, world champion salsa dancers Emily and Raul along with Romi & Alex as they teach salsa/bachata dance workshops and perform their championship routines.
Folklore groups Viva Panama USA, Tloke Nahuake, Ballet Folklorico Azteca, Bolivia Magica Ballet Folklorico, and others will be dancing throughout the day. Authentic Latin American food will be available throughout the day. To learn more, visit unidosenlamusica.com
The Romanza Festivale, a celebration of the arts and local talent on Florida’s Historic Coast takes place April 29-May 15. Romanza will showcase some of the best local talent by offering a stage to several dozen music, arts and cultural organizations for two weeks at various locations in St. Augustine.
With incredible venues like the St. Augustine Amphitheatre, Ponte Vedra Concert and the Colonial Oak Music Park, there is never a shortage of performance sites that attract some of today’s most popular musical performers, while giving talented local artists the chance to perform for a crowd.
Experience the Unique History and Natural Beauty
The Menorcan Heritage Festival , which commemorates the arrival of Menorcans to Florida in 1768, will take place at the Historic Llambias House in St. Augustine. This fascinating culture that is the fabric of St. Augustine will be celebrated with an afternoon of Menorcan traditional dishes like pilau, datil pepper sauces and Menorcan clam chowder. There will also be storytelling, net making, and other lifeways demonstrations.
One cannot mention St. Augustine without speaking about the exceptional history that can be seen and experienced. This year the inaugural St. Augustine History Festival will take place May 11 – 15, and will showcase the history of St. Augustine from the city’s beginning 457 years ago to present day through a series of presentations, special exhibits, tours and reenactments.
Historian Dr. J. Michael Francis and Archeologist Dr. Paul Johnston will provide lectures that reveal important history and information about the Nation’s oldest city, while important exhibits including the Vicker’s Collection of art and historic artifacts will be unveiled at the Governor’s House Art Gallery opening, and an interpretive panel unveiling will take place at Fort Mose, the site of the first free African settlement in North America.
The Highlight of the festival will be the reenactment of Sir Francis Drake’s Raid on the city of St. Augustine which occurred in 1586, when St. Augustine was a new colony struggling to survive.
On the natural side, the 19th Annual Florida’s Birding and Photo Fest will take place April 20 – 24. For birders, it’s a chance to get together with fellow bird-watching enthusiasts and marvel at the incredible diversity of species in this coastal area of Northeast Florida. Casual photographers and nature lovers can participate in more than 110 events, including bird walks along the nature trails and kayak and boat tours on local waterways. The annual photo contest is also very popular, and it might just inspire one to spend more time outdoors photographing nature. To sign up for workshops and events visit www.floridasbirdingandphotofest.com.
And, from May 11-14, the 50th Annual Blue Marlin Tournament takes place at St. Augustine’s Camachee Cove. The tournament is part of the Atlantic Division of the Sport Fishing Championship (SFC) where competitors in this exciting offshore tournament earn points based on their placement in qualifying events. There will be lots of action on the docks when anglers bring in their catch each afternoon.
Stay on Florida’s Historic Coast
There are plenty of lodging options across Florida’s Historic Coast, from five-diamond luxury resorts, to State Park camping. Here are some new lodging options for 2022:
In September 2021 the Renaissance Historic Downtown St. Augustine Hotel a beautiful Victorian-style hotel inspired by the historic San Marco Hotel that sat on the same spot during the Gilded Age opened in the fall of 2021. The Renaissance features exquisite architecture and great amenities including fine dining at The Castillo Craft Bar & Kitchen, a gracious lobby with a coffee shop, function space and more.
With the flamingo pink façade, kitschy palm frond wallpaper, seaside artwork, and nearby beach access one might think that when checking in to The Local Inn they’ve transcended back to the 1950s when roadside motels were the standard accommodation offered in the Sunshine State. Checking in is anything but vintage at this 21-room inn recently renovated to feel like nostalgic Old Florida. It is fitted with the latest technology, including digital check-in/check-out on an app that acts as the front desk plus onsite bike rentals also booked through an app.
In St. Augustine, the new Homewood Suites by Hilton St. Augustine sits on the banks of the San Sebastian River and features 117 guest rooms. Hidden Harbor Marina is located on site and St. Augustine’s historic attractions, dining and unique shopping are within walking distance.
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