It’s Festival Season in the Bradenton Area!
As the days become shorter and the shadows grow longer, the Bradenton Area transforms into a destination filled with autumn and winter themed events and cultural festivities. From late September into December, almost a countless number of family-friendly activities are found on the islands, downtown, and mainland. And, with ample sunshine and pleasant fall weather, festival season is yet another reason to spend some more time outdoors!
Hunsader Farms Pumpkin Festival
WHEN: October 14-15, 21-22, 28-29
WHERE: Hunsader Farms, Bradenton
Although popular year-round, the family-owned Hunsader Farms really comes to life during the Pumpkin Festival. This homestead transforms into a haven of fall fun, featuring pumpkins, hayrides, and corn mazes. Visitors can immerse themselves in the rustic charm of the countryside, pick their own pumpkins in the patch, and enjoy delectable fall-themed treats (including some absolutely appetizing homemade ice cream). With plenty of live music, craft vendors, and even a petting zoo for the little ones, Hunsader Farms promises an authentic farm experience that reflects the agricultural roots of the area. Don’t miss the stunning sunset over the planting fields, creating a picturesque backdrop to this popular celebration.
Back to Angola Festival
WHEN: October 20-22
WHERE: Manatee Mineral Springs Park, Bradenton
The “Back to Angola Festival” returns for a free, 3-day cultural extravaganza in October. This commemorative event pays tribute to the Angola Maroon Community, who resided at Manatee Mineral Spring from 1812 to 1821, and how their heritage connects to the Bradenton Area today. The festival’s theme, “The Shoulders We Stand On,” sets the stage for engaging panel discussions led by historians, archaeologists, descendants, and community leaders. Attendees can participate in hands-on workshops, learning basket weaving, wood carving, and the vibrant Bahamian tradition of Junkanoo. Satisfy your taste buds with authentic Bahamian cuisine and sway to the rhythms of Bahamian music.
WHEN: October 21
WHERE: Pine Avenue, Anna Maria Island
This lively street festival combines the essence of the fall season and charm of Anna Maria Island, and there is truly something for everyone. Pine Avenue closes to traffic, allowing for festivalgoers to stroll the length of the boulevard to explore the entire event. If you’re looking for holiday gifts, there are countless opportunities found in the many boutiques lining the street. Children will enjoy the designated play area, complete with an inflatable pirate ship, while car enthusiasts will delight in the one hundred classic cars and hot rods on display. With an eclectic mix of live music, arts and crafts, and mouthwatering local seafood, Bayfest is a must-experience island event.
Festival of the Skeletons
WHEN: November 3-4
WHERE: Village of the Arts, Bradenton
Día de los Muertos, translated to Day of the Dead, is a cultural tradition celebrated in Mexico and other areas of Latin America. This vibrant festival is also observed in the Village of the Arts as the “Festival of the Skeletons,” where art and culture come together in a celebration of life and heritage. During the first weekend in November, this joyful and colorful ArtWalk event honors the lives of loved ones who are no longer with us, and celebrates the eclectic character of this unique artist community. Many of the resident artists open their galleries to showcase their art, and to display their elaborate shrines in remembrance of their loved ones. Food trucks, live music, and other activities are found throughout the Village during this notable event.
Cortez Stone Crab & Music Festival
WHEN: November 11-12
WHERE: Swordfish Grill, Cortez
Prepare for a weekend filled with lively festivities at the 11th Annual Cortez Stone Crab & Music Festival. Hosted at the historic Swordfish Grill & Tiki Bar in Cortez, Florida, the event kicks off at 10:00 AM and continues until 6:00 PM on both days. Immerse yourself in the spirit of Cortez, the oldest functioning fishing village in the state, and celebrate the commercial crabbers and fishermen who sustain its vibrant culture. Enjoy live music by various artists, relish fresh seafood, peruse art vendors, savor draft beer, and, of course, indulge in plenty of fresh stone crab!
Symphony on the Sand
WHEN: November 11
WHERE: Coquina Beach, Anna Maria Island
Symphony on the Sand is a captivating event that harmoniously blends music and cuisine, featuring a professional orchestra and acclaimed soloists. Presented by the Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus & Orchestra and their generous sponsors, this enchanting experience promises to delight both music enthusiasts and food lovers alike.
The Bradenton Blues Festival
WHEN: December 1-3
WHERE: Bradenton Riverwalk
The Bradenton Area has the blues—literally! The first weekend of December brings an outstanding lineup of talented blues musicians to the big stage on the Riverwalk. The Manatee River is the perfect backdrop to enjoy this toe-tapping (and get-up-and-dance) good time in downtown Bradenton. Festival-goers are treated with incredible live music that spans the blues genre, local artisans and vendors, delicious food, and locally-brewed craft beer all within a friendly atmosphere. Locals know to purchase their tickets early, as this event typically sells out months in advance. The festival’s proceeds go towards supporting music education programs, making it a festival with a meaningful cause.
Christmas on Bridge Street
WHERE: Bridge Street, Bradenton Beach, Anna Maria Island
Every December in Bradenton Beach, Historic Bridge Street transforms into a winter wonderland, complete with a gigantic Christmas tree. This charming holiday event captures the spirit of the island with twinkling lights strewn between palm trees, a Christmas mermaid, and plenty of photo opportunities with Santa. Visitors can shop the local boutiques for holiday gifts, savor delicious seasonal treats, and participate in the many family-friendly activities. Be sure to listen for the Crosley Carolers, who stroll the length of the street to share their holiday spirit through engaging stories and the tune of classic carols.
The North Pole Express
WHEN: November 30 – December 21
WHERE: The Florida Railroad Museum, Parrish
This popular train whisks passengers away on a magical holiday ride to a true winter wonderland. Departing twice an evening from the Florida Railroad Museum, the decorated train takes families on a short excursion to the “North Pole”. Upon arrival, passengers are greeted with countless light displays, family-friendly games activities, food vendors, live music, and of course, Santa Claus himself. Don’t forget to grab a cup of hot cocoa, s’more-making ingredients, and enjoy the starry night sky by one of the campfires.