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Spring Forward: Events For The Whole Family

Spring is right around the corner, which means it’s time to get out and explore! There are plenty of things to do at the beach that don’t involve sand and sunburns. From 5Ks that benefit charity to concerts and food festivals, there’s surely something here for everyone.

Editor’s Note: If we’ve missed something great, please leave a comment and let us know!

January 13-16 | 30A Songwriters Festival, South Walton
This four-day festival has become the premier music event at the beach, packed with more than 175 performers and 225 performances across 30 local venues. Performers have included everyone from Amy Grant to Zoe Walega.

January 21 | Best of the West Jazz Competition, HarborWalk Village, Destin
High school bands from across northwest Florida join forces to battle it out for the “Best of the West” title.

January 28 | Sip & Science: Mardi Gras, Emerald Coast Science Center
Between the Bourbon Street bead toss, Canal Street coin challenge and the Mardi Gras sciPad trivia, this night will transport you to New Orleans. It’s fun for all ages. Stop by the masquerade corner to make your very own mask to wear at all your Mardi Gras parties.

February 4 | Palate & Palette, presented by Shelter House, Legendary Marina
A combination of wine and art, this seventh-annual event featured hand-selected wine pairing and a pop-up dinner set to the trendy beats of a featured DJ and the experience of a live painting. This chic, intimate dinner is not to be missed.

February 11 | Brunch Fest, HarborWalk Village, Destin
Is there anything better than brunch? Decide for yourself along Destin Harbor with brunch bites, blood marys and bubbles galore. Make your way through the village to taste and try brunch faves from the area’s favorite restaurants.

February 12 | I Love Destin 5K, Destin Middle School
This inaugural event starts and ends on the Destin Middle School track, running through Regatta Bay. Enjoy a DJ, silent auction, food trucks, awards and prizes. All funds will provide technology upgrades for the students at Destin Middle School.

February 18 | Son of a Beach 5K, The Back Porch, Destin
Created in remembrance of the crew of RATCHET 33, this 3.3-mile race (intentionally selected to represent the “33”) is an out-and-back run on the beach perfect for all age groups. Enjoy post-race refreshments, prize drawings and more.

February 19 | Seaside School Half-Marathon & 5K, Seaside, Florida
This event has become an entire race weekend, complete with 5K and half-marathon opportunities. Proceeds from the weekend benefit Seaside School, Inc. Swag bags include the coveted Vera Bradley grand tote, a customized playlist and virtual goodie bag.

February 25 | Fourth annual Shrimp & Grits Festival, Brotula’s, Destin
Enjoy delicious food, great drinks and live music on the Destin Harbor as local restaurants compete at the annual Shrimp & Grits Festival. The festival will be held behind Brotula’s Seafood House & Steamer.

March 5 | Destin Food Truck Fest, Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village
If you live for food trucks, this festival is for you! It’s jam-packed with tasty treats from pizza to ice cream. Only $5 to enter, you’ll be treated to live entertainment, vendors and a bounce house.

March 3-5 | Emerald Coast Boat & Lifestyle Show, Panama City Beach
After a two-year hiatus, the show that features boat displays and everything you need for outdoor beach living is back. More than $40 million of marine inventory, along with coastal fashion, street-legal golf carts and more, will be on display.

March 5 | Fifth annual Mac & Cheese Festival, Destin Commons
Thought macaroni and cheese was just for kids? Think again! This family-friendly event features gourmet, chef-inspired twists on the South’s favorite comfort food. Local restaurants will compete for the best mac in town. All proceeds from this event benefit Boys & Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast.

March 10-12 | Gala In The Garden & Golf Weekend, presented by Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center, Hilton Sandestin
The Gala & Golf Weekend is the biggest fundraising weekend of the year for Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center. That means two whole days of fun, with great foods, signature cocktails and a live auction among other offerings.

March 12 | Northwest Florida Ballet presents “Peter Pan,” Mattie Kelly Arts Center, Niceville
Take a trip to Neverland with a cast of international guest artists and company members from Northwest Florida Ballet. Take in one of two performances on March 11 or March 12.

March 16 | Bubbly Baytowne, The Village of Baytowne Wharf
Join in an evening full of free champagne and shopping during Bubbly Baytowne. Sip and shop through the village streets. Stop in various retail merchants as you enjoy a selection of premium champagnes.

March 31-April 1 | UNwineD, Panama City Beach
Spend the weekend tasting craft beer, wine and spirits while sampling cuisine from renowned area chefs and local eateries. At its heart, UNwineD, presented by Publix, is a stylish garden party that showcases the best of the region. 

April 8 | Baytowne Easter Explosion, The Village of Baytowne Wharf
Bounce on over to the Village of Baytowne Wharf for an Easter Explosion, a day filled with face painting, arts and crafts, and more. While you’re there, get your picture taken with the Easter Bunny.

April 13-16 | Sandestin Wine Festival
Four days of unique events open up a wide range of experiences from attending wine dinners with celebrity chefs, participating in preview events throughout the year, and taking part in wine tastings that showcase hundreds of wines.

April 19-23 | Seabreeze Jazz Festival, Panama City Beach
Take part in the ultimate weekend of smooth jazz featuring performances by The Jacksons, Boney James, George Benson and more. Named a “Top 10 Jazz Festival in the United States,” it offers a full weekend of fun, sun, great beaches and good times.

April 20-23 | Moon Crush, Seascape Resort
Snag your tickets now for this four-day event featuring music from JJ Grey & Mofro, The Avett Brothers, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, The Black Crowes and more. Moon Crush was intentionally designed to be a music vacation – not just a festival. 

April 29 | 18th annual Destin Charity Wine Auction, Grand Boulevard at Sandestin Town Center
One of the premier wine organizations in the country, DCWAF has donated more than $25 million to northwest Florida charities since its inception in 2005.

April 29 | Sinfonia Gulf Coast: Beethoven v. Coldplay – A Merging of Musical Giants, Fort Walton Beach
Why wouldn’t Beethoven and Coldplay go together? This unusual musical experience is a merging of musical giants not to be missed.

April 30 | South Walton Beach Wine & Food Festival
This is a dazzling roster of dozens of celebrity winemakers, distillers, chefs and mixologists converging in South Walton, Florida, to wine, dine, educate and entertain guests as part of a four-day celebration of vino.

May 3 | Emerald Coast Bike Fest, Emerald Coast Harley-Davidson
It’s the area’s best motorcycle rally, complete with quality vendors, food and beverages, including a full bar, and hundreds of Harley-Davidson® motorcycles.

May 6 | Emerald Coast Theatre Company presents “The Sound of Music,” Grand Boulevard
Don’t miss the world’s most beloved musical based on the true story of the Von Trapp family. Featuring a trove of cherished songs, this is one inspiring musical that brings joy to audiences of all ages.

May 13 | Tequila & Taco Fest, The Village of Baytowne Wharf
It’s the 10th annual celebration of tacos and tequila, with local restaurants and food trucks competing for “Best Taco on The Emerald Coast.” Sample many types of tequilas and margaritas while indulging in some of the area’s best tacos.

Alys Beach, FL Entertainment
Alys Beach Entertainment

May 13-14 | ArtsQuest Fine Arts Festival, Grand Boulevard
ArtsQuest provides an opportunity to view and purchase original art from more than 200 artists around the country. You’ll be treated to live music, a kids’ ImagiNation, student exhibits, food and drinks, and more.

May 19-20 | Digital Graffiti, Alys Beach
This is a not-to-be-missed art installation on the white walls of the homes in Alys Beach. Meander along the path to view a variety of art styles in an open-air gallery steps from the beach.

June 1-4 | Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam, Panama City Beach
It’s an all-star lineup featuring Morgan Wallen, Miranda Lambert, Kane Brown, Hardy and more. The hottest ticket in town, check Lyte, a ticket exchange service, for available opportunities to attend.

June 21-25 | Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic, Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort
Reel in the big one or simply stop by to look at the 21st annual edition of this fisherman’s favorite. Offering something for everyone, angling teams can head out to the gulf for peak blue marlin season, while spectators can check out the nightly weigh-ins for free. The blue marlin record of 899.6 pounds from 2015 still stands; will this be the year someone surpasses it?

Last updated: January 25, 2023

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