There’s so much to discover in March in Tampa Bay! We’re in the middle of our eight-week Gasparilla Season, so from the first day to the last, March is packed with treasures waiting to be unlocked: art, culture, sports, movies, music.
Don’t just visit Tampa Bay in March; take over!
Florida Strawberry Festival (Feb. 26-March 8)
If you've eating strawberries lately, odds are they came from Tampa Bay. Each year, the Florida Strawberry Festival takes over Plant City to celebrate our status as the Winter Strawberry Capital of the U.S.The 20 million flats of strawberries picked in Tampa Bay between December and April each year, if laid end to end, would reach from here to Seattle and back. Celebrate the harvest with carnival rides, great food and big-name music performances. This year's line-up includes: country music legends Loretta Lynn, Alabama, and the Oak Ridge Boys; R&B crooner John Legend and Boys II Men; and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.
Zoominations: A Chinese Lantern Festival (Feb. 28-May 31)
Ring in the Year of the Goat with a Sichuan-style Chinese Lantern Festival at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. Zoominations fills the zoo’s plazas and pathways with lighted sculptures hand-crafted by an army of artisans directly from Sichuan, the home of lantern festivals for 2,000 years.
Visitors to the evening show will walk among dragons and rhinos and other beasts captured in steel, silk and light. A replica of the Beijing Temple of Heaven will dominate the entrance to the zoo.
Gasparilla Festival of the Arts (Feb. 28-March 1)
The 45th Annual Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts continues Tampa Bay’s two-month Gasparilla Season with one of the country’s most highly rated outdoor fine-art and craft shows. Hundreds of artists from across the country will display their work in downtown’s Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. A nationally respected art juror will judge the works and choose the best for Saturday’s award ceremony.
Florida Aquarium 20th anniversary (March 1)
The Florida Aquarium celebrates its 20th birthday in March. To celebrate, the aquarium is launching a new dive show: “Secret Sea Life Superheroes.” Visitors will participate to learn about the amazing sea life that calls our oceans home. More events are planned throughout the year.
New York Yankees Spring Training (March 4-April 3)
Pitchers and catchers reported Feb. 20. Spring Training officially gets going in Tampa Bay March 4 when the Yankees take on the Phillies at Tampa Bay’s Steinbrenner Field. Now’s your chance to see how the season’s shaping up before Opening Day in April.
Gasparilla Music Festival (March 7-8)
Seattle indie rock band Modest Mouse headlines Tampa Bay’s biggest music festival in downtown’s Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and Kyle Gardens. The festival's four stages will fill downtown with the sounds of rock, jazz, acoustic and gospel music. Get your tickets now.
Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival (weekends through April)
Busch Gardens Tampa’s first food and wine festival will fill the park with delectable delicacies, local libations and major-league musical acts – all part of regular admission. Visitors can sample Tampa Bay’s growing reputation as a foodie and craft beer destination. Musical acts include country legend Kenny Rogers, Kool & the Gang and Gavin DeGraw.
Bay Area Renaissance Festival (weekends through March 29)
The sound of “zounds!” abounds on the grounds of MOSI, the Museum of Science and Industry as the Bay Area Renaissance Festival continues its run. For sooth, ‘tis the time to see jousting, juggling and just about anything you can imagine from the sunnier side of the centuries between Chaucer and Shakespeare.
American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell (March 7-May 31)
Few artists are as closely associated with the virtues of American society quite as closely as Norman Rockwell. His covers of the Saturday Evening Post and his landmark paintings known as the Four Freedoms earned him a place in America’s cultural pantheon. The Tampa Museum of Art celebrates Rockwell when American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell goes on display for two months.
Peking Acrobats (March 8)
Ferguson Hall at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts will host breath-taking feats of balance and agility when the Peking Acrobats take the stage. You’ll find out how many acrobats will fit on a single bicycle and just how tightly a human being can fold herself to fit into a tiny space.
Madame Butterfly (March 13-15)
Opera Tampa celebrates its 20th anniversary by bringing Puccini’s masterpiece to life at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts’ Morsani Hall. Set in early 20th Century Japan, the opera tells the story of American Navy Lt. Pinkerton, the geisha he marries and the tragedy that ensues. Soprano Yunah Lee debuts as the title character. The performance is in Italian with English superscripts.
Mayor's River O’ Green (March 14)
The luck of the Irish takes over downtown with a St. Patrick’s Day festival in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. The beer will be green. So will the Hillsborough River.
PGA Valspar Championship (March 12-15)
The Copperhead course at Tampa Bay’s Innisbrook Resort will once again host the PGA Valspar Championship. The total purse for the tournament is $5.9 million with the winner taking home just over $1 million. Last year’s winner, John Senden, made the Valspar his second career victory after conquering the “Snake Pit.”
Journey & Steve Miller (March 14)
Whether you can fly like an eagle or have to ride a jet airliner, you should take the money and run to Tampa Bay’s MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre with two of the most celebrated bands of the 1970s and 1980s share the stage. Don’t stop believin’ that this show will be done any way you want it.
Gasparilla Criterium and Cycling Festival (March 21)
For one day, the streets of downtown turn into a race course for 600 of the country’s best road cyclists. Line the sidewalks along the route to watch the racers swoop through tight turns and blaze down straightaways.
Gasparilla International Film Festival (March 24-29)
Sean Astin, star of the 1980s classic Goonies and the stalwart Sam Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings film series, will open the 2015 Gasparilla International Film Festival on March 24 with a screening of his film “The Surface” at the Tampa Theatre. Afterward, the festival will move its 100 feature films, documentaries and shorts to Channelside Cinemas at Channelside Bay Plaza. NOTE: Site goes live March 2.
Tampa Pride Festival (March 28)
Tampa Bay’s LGBT community knows how to throw a party. They’re throwing a big one to celebrate, among other things, the arrival of same-sex marriage in Florida. The family- and pet-friendly festival will include a parade down Seventh Avenue through the heart of Ybor City and a street fair on Eighth Avenue.