Florida Strawberry Festival (Feb. 26-March 8)

Things you didn’t know about Tampa Bay: It is the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World. Those luscious red fruits (don't they look delicious?) ripen on farms throughout the Tampa Bay area from October through March. Celebrate the harvest at the Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City. If you love strawberries, you’ll find them here. Same with carnival rides. It’s also a music lover’s dream. 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: 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 zoos 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. Tampa Museum of Art will host Tampa Bay Businesses for Culture & the Arts' Chalk Walk, when 10 artists create large chalk drawings on the plaza under the museum’s eaves.

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.” More events are planned throughout the year.

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.