Northeast Florida is the site of numerous festivals celebrating art and culture, music and food.
Spend your next vacation jamming to music seaside, learning new dance moves from other countries, impersonating a film critic or experiencing the region's rich pirate history while enjoying fresh Florida seafood.
What could be more relaxing than listening to cool jazz in the warm Florida weather? That's possible in Jacksonville. One of the most anticipated events of the year, the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, a free festival held annually over Memorial Day weekend, provides an outlet for local and world-renowned musicians like Chris Botti, Spyro Gyra, Patti LaBelle, Chuck Mangione, Al Jarreau with George Benson and others performing over the course of three days on a variety of stages located throughout Downtown. During the festival, local artists display their wares for purchase during Art in the Heart Downtown, a juried art show. Additional events include Wine Down Tasting Experience, Generation Next Youth Talent Competition, Jazz Brunches, ‘Round Midnight Jazz Jams and other ticketed events.
On the other side of the Intracoastal Waterway, the Jacksonville Beach Summer Jazz Series offers phenomenal jazz in a casual, family-friendly atmosphere. Performances start in the early evenings, ocean side at the Sea Walk Pavilion weekends in June and July.
Also at the Sea Walk Pavilion, get rid of the blues by enjoying the genre in Jacksonville Beach. The annual Springing the Blues Festival is a free springtime event where celebrated performers heat up the stage with their own form of artistic expression.
In Downtown Jacksonville's Metropolitan Park, the annual World of Nations Celebration invites visitors to experience the culture, cuisine and music of over 30 different countries. The three-day riverfront festival showcases the unique traditions and attire of people from all continents. Taste the diverse foods of South Africa, Columbia or Vietnam and witness the customary dancing and revelry during the Parade of Flags as the colorful banners fill the sky.
With an abundance of food options, Northeast Florida's culinary masterpieces are worth celebrating. Food and wine festivals of all varieties take place throughout the region, but with the proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, seafood is serious business. There is no better showcase of the ocean's finest delicacy than the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival. Each May, downtown Fernandina Beach hosts thousands of visitors as they witness pirate invasions and shrimp boat races, peruse the booths of over 300 vendors of arts & crafts and antiques and, of course, sample shrimp and fresh fish prepared a variety of ways.
The Great Atlantic Seafood & Music Festival in Jacksonville Beach is also a great spot to taste delicious seafood, browse the crafts market and dance al fresco to Zydeco, jazz, blues and beach music.
Movie making in Jacksonville has long been a part of the city's framework. Relying on this history, the Jacksonville Film Festival, held annually in October, works to serve as a destination for the independent film community while paving the way for a new generation of talent. Through a series of events including film premieres and competitions, workshops, parties and Q&As with well-known and up-and-coming directors, attendees can enjoy the art of film while hobnobbing with celebrities. Jacksonville Beach and Downtown Jacksonville also showcase movies with screening of favorite films shown outdoors under the starts. Events take place in spring and early summer.