The Biggest Festivals in Northeast Florida

North Florida Festivals
WHITE SPRINGS, FLA. 5/27/17-Papaloko & Loray Mystik perform Saturday in the Amphitheater during the Florida Folk Festival at Stephen Foster State Park. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

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Because of North Florida’s sheer size, there’s no shortage of festivals and events in the area. Learn about some of the biggest festivals in North Florida and decide which ones you’ll attend for everlasting memories.

Nights of Lights

According to the National Geographic, Nights of Lights is one of the world’s top ten holiday light displays. Every year, the festival lights up St. Augustine with a holiday glow that attracts people from all over.

The free festival takes place for over a month, but only occurs in the evenings. When the holiday season rolls around, the local business owners in the historic district decorate their buildings with white lights. Draped from the ground to the roofs, the lights showcase the beautiful Spanish Colonial style of architecture.

For the best pictures, you should check out the Plaza de la Constitución. This is where live performances take place. It’s also where you can find the impressively-decorated Christmas tree. If you want more photos, head to the Bridge of Lions. While on the bridge, you’ll notice the lights sparkling on the water.

Drake’s Raid Reenactment

St. Augustine is steeped in history. So why not experience the old times first-hand when you visit during the Drake’s Raid Reenactment? The festival has been taking place for over 30 years and is a vibrant replay of Sir Francis Drake’s attack on the city.

The Historic Florida Militia performs the reenactment on St. George Street. During the day, the soldiers camp out at Colonial Quarter. If you don’t know much about the 1586 raid, this festival will teach you everything you need to know.

The raid occurred when the settlement was owned by the Spaniards. In an effort to take over, 2,000 English soldiers attacked the settlement by sea. The festival features weapons demonstrations, drills, and other living history displays. One of the highlights is the reenactment of the burning of the town.

Florida Folk Festival

Are you in the mood for some music that gets you dancing? If so, you should head to White Springs for the Florida Folk Festival. Located to the west of Jacksonville, the event is a three-day party that celebrates the uniqueness of North Florida. For over 65 years, it’s been showcasing a part of Florida’s culture that few people truly understand.

The event takes place in the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park and is along the scenic Suwannee River. As it features music, dancing, crafts, and stories, the event is fun for all ages. While you’re there, listen to Irish fiddle music, techno, and much more. There are over 300 performances throughout the event.

The festival is also a celebration of Florida’s food. Enjoy chocolate-covered key lime pie, chicken pilau, and shrimp gumbo. Wash down your meal with a root beer float or homemade lemonade. Whether you want a classic dish or to try something adventurous, there’s food you’ll enjoy.

Through square dance, instruments, and crafts demonstrations, the festival aims to keep old traditions alive. While at the festival, you may even learn a new hobby.

The Fest

Gainesville is home to a musical event that qualifies as one of the biggest festivals in North Florida. The Fest is punk rock and pop music festival that’s been attracting crowds since 2002.

In the early days, the Fest featured about 60 bands who performed on four stages. But the event blossomed and developed a cult-like following. In 2013, the festival took place over four days and showcased more than 400 bands.

By 2019, the Fest didn’t just feature musical acts. There were 319 musical performances, 50 wrestlers, and 29 comedians. With performers like Less Than Jake and Against Me!, the festival drew a large crowd.

It’s worth noting that this festival isn’t exclusively for those who love punk and pop music. There’s indie, ska, and much more. Whatever your musical preferences may be, this is one event that you don’t want to miss.

Springing the Blues

When it comes to music, Jacksonville knows a thing or two. The city is home to several music festivals, one of which highlights blues music. At Springing the Blues, you can hear some of the best blues music in Florida.

Typically, the event takes place in the Seawalk Pavilion, which is located in downtown Jacksonville Beach. A three-day festival, the event is a free celebration of blues music. It takes place outside and features artists on two different stages. Blues musicians come from across the country to perform.

As you listen to live music, you can shop vendor booths and enjoy food from the food court. There’s also a children’s area full of fun activities. Every year, approximately 125,000 people come out for this festival.

Roscolusa Songwriters Festival

Located in North Florida, the Roscolusa Songwriters Festival is an annual festival that attracts the best songwriters in Nashville. For over eight years, it’s been bringing great music to Ponte Vedra.

In 2020, the festival line-up was set to include Maggie Rose, Brett Jones, and Them Vibes. Although the festival is large, it has a small and cozy feel. Listening to the music is an intimate affair that exposes you to some incredible music. There’s also great food available from the best food trucks in Jacksonville.

In addition to being a fun time, the festival also does some good in the world. A portion of the festival’s proceeds go towards charity. In 2019, that charity was the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund. They help families of children who have cancer. With their emotional and financial support, the organization helps kids fight cancer.

Enjoying the Biggest Festivals in North Florida

Whether you live in another part of Florida or somewhere else in the country, North Florida is nothing like your hometown. It’s an interesting place with its own culture. To get a taste for that culture, be sure to attend some of the biggest festivals in North Florida. You’ll be sure to gain a new appreciation for the lifestyle.

**Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate or sponsor links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful).

Also, while we do our best to highlight LGBTQ-friendly destinations and businesses, info provided is based solely on personal experience and recommendations by community partners. We hope that nobody experiences discrimination or homophobia while visiting Florida and beyond, but we make no guarantees. Please inform us if you experience discrimination or homophobia while visiting any destination so we can make updates to our recommendations.

Events are subject to change. Please check the events webpage for updates and schedules.

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may, 2024

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