Upcoming September festivals and events – Tampa Bay

Whether you like food festivals, beer festivals, or art festivals, there are plenty of festivals and events throughout the Tampa Bay area to enjoy this September. Below is a list of my favorites from last year and some additional events I’m interested in attending this year.

St. Pete celebrates the arts at SPF16

Last year, St. Pete had its inaugural SHINE and SPF arts festivals, and they were a huge success, leaving a legacy of 14 new murals in downtown St. Petersburg. Already, St. Pete’s SPF rivals Charleston’s Spoleto for best arts festival in the south. This year the fun continues with more murals, more art exhibits, and more performances. Fifty-seven art events are scheduled throughout the entire month of September, including the SHINE live music festival this Saturday (September 10th), new exhibits at the Morean Arts Center, jazz, ballet, opera, plays, parties, and SHINE mural tours. As I write this, 21 new murals are being painted in St. Pete. I can’t wait to see them. See the official SPF website for a complete schedule of events: http://stpetefest.org/schedule.

shine mural

The official SHINE mural during its inception

If you like it hot

then you might be interested in Largo’s 16th annual “I like it HOT!” festival at the Minnreg this weekend, September 10th and 11th. It’s a good place to stock up on your salsas and hot sauces for the year. If your tongue can handle it, you are welcome to try all the competition salsas and judge them for yourself. One of the highlights for me is the pepper eating contest, where you can watch people rapidly cram jalapeno peppers into their month until they are red in the face. I’ve been to this festival a couple of times, and I always find a great new salsa or hot sauce I want to bring home with me.

i like it hot

Catch a Fire salsa sampling at I like it HOT! 2015

Free Museum Day

Every year, the Smithsonian Institution hosts a free museum day one day in September – it is on September 24th this year. I love to use this day to visit one of our local museums – there are so many that I still haven’t been to. Last year, I had a great visit at the Tampa Bay History Center, where I saw relics of Tampa Bay’s cigar and citrus industries and had lunch at the Columbia café. If you haven’t been here, it’s a great choice. Check out last year’s post to learn more: https://flillustrated.com/2015/09/26/10-reasons-to-visit-the-tampa-bay-history-center/. Go to the Smithsonian’s Museum Day Live webpage for a list of participating museums in your area: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/museumday/museum-day-live-2016/?no-ist. Make sure to download your free ticket online – you will need it to get in free.

tampa bay history museum

Citrus exhibit at the Tampa Bay History Center

Pumpkin beer tasting

It’s that time of year when the bars start tapping their pumpkin beers. The L.B.C. hosts one of my favorite pumpkin parties in Palm Harbor. Last year, they had at least 3 different pumpkin beers on tap at their Pumpkinpalooza, including Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale, Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat, and Southern Tier “Pumking” Imperial Pumpkin Ale. The party was on September 19th last year – keep an eye on their Facebook page for this year’s date: https://www.facebook.com/LBCPalmHarborFl/.


2015 Pumpkinpalooza at the L.B.C.

Sea Dog’s pumpkin patch party in Clearwater is scheduled for tonight (Thursday, September 8th, 2016) from 5 to 9 pm. They will be tapping the 2016 Shipyard Pumpkin Head and Smashed Pumpkin beers. Pumpkin bombs will also be available. See the event page for more details: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sea-dog-brewing-presents-pumpkin-patch-party-tickets-27126465990.

Craft Street Kitchen in Oldsmar will be tapping Southern Tier’s Imperial Pumking Ale and Warlock Stout on Tuesday, September 13th.

The Pint & Brew in Palm Harbor throws a really awesome pumpkin beer party, but you’ll have to wait until October for that one.

Let the Oktoberfests begin

The festivities kick off in September with the Hofbrauhaus Oktoberfest in St. Pete, the German American Society of Pinellas’s Oktoberfest in Pinellas Park, Pair O’ Dice’s Oktoberfest in Clearwater, Rapp Brewing Company’s Oktoberfest in Seminole, and Lagerhaus’s Oktoberfest in Palm Harbor. Not all of the dates for 2016 have been announced yet, but here is the list thus far:

  • Hofbrauhaus Oktoberfest, St. Pete: Friday, September 16th
  • Lagerhaus Oktoberfest, Palm Harbor: next Saturday, September 17th
  • Oktoberfest at Coppertail Brewing, Tampa: Saturday, September 17th
  • Big Storm Brewing Co. Oktoberfest: Friday, Sept 16th at the Pasco Taproom in Odessa, starting at 4 pm, with The Black Honkeys playing at 8 pm; and Saturday, Sept 17th at the Pinellas Taproom in Clearwater, starting at 4p, with the Hunks of Funk playing at 7 pm
  • Rapp Brewing Company’s Oktoberfest, Seminole: Saturday, September 17th and Sunday the 18th
  • Pair O’ Dice Oktoberfest, Clearwater: Saturday, September 24
  • German American Society of Pinellas Oktoberfest, Pinellas Park: Friday, September 23th and Saturday the 24th is the 1st weekend

2015 Oktoberfest in the Lagerhaus beer garden

Okay this next one’s not an Oktoberfest, but it’s definitely a German-inspired event. September 9th is National Wiener Schnitzel day and Stilt House Brewery in Palm Harbor will be celebrating with food (I’m assuming schnitzel) from the Red Line Food Truck and plenty of Stilt House Beers – they now have 26 on tap.

Want more Oktoberfests? Check out my 2016 guide to Oktoberfests in the Tampa Bay area.

The Bunker celebrates 10 years

Ybor City’s popular arts venue and café, The Bunker, is celebrating its 10th anniversary on Saturday, September 24th. If you’ve never been to the Bunker, now’s not a bad time to check it out. They have great coffee and sandwiches, and their walls are always covered in local art. This month, starting on September 11th, they are hosting the work of Tampa’s Mary Mirabal. The opening reception is on Thursday, September 15th from 7 to 10pm. At The Bunker’s 10th anniversary party you can enjoy lunch with La Segunda, famous for their Cuban sandwiches, during the day and live music in the evening.

The Bunker

I hope you found something on this list that interests you. I have one more event in Tampa this September to tell you about, but that is the subject for another blog post – look for it in the Arts & Culture section sometime in the next few days. That particular piece is published now. Click HERE to read it. Now get out and play!

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