In late September, just as the Pensacola weather starts to mellow and school gets back into swing, the Pensacola Seafood Festival gives locals and visitors something to get excited about. This three-day event, September 25-27th 2020, features culinary delights for seafood lovers and landlubbers alike, there’s something for everyone here–from kids to retirees and everyone in between.
Spend a day sampling fare from some of the area’s best restaurants and vendors. Shop the work of local artisans and get a head-start on your Christmas list. Sit back and relax with a cold drink in hand to listen to talented local bands play your favorite songs. Let the kids run their hearts out at the cunningly-designed obstacle course. No matter what brings you to the Pensacola Seafood Festival, you’ll be able to find plenty of reasons to stay awhile. Here’s what to expect if you go.
There Will Be Food–Lots of Food
Pensacola doesn’t hold back when it comes to fabulous seafood. You’ll find dozens of top-rated restaurants along Pensacola’s Gulf coast, and many of these attend the Pensacola Seafood Festival each year, eager to market their mouthwatering specialties. Expect food trucks, walk-up carts, and larger-scale operations offering plates of all sizes. From deep-fried grouper to freshly-grilled tuna steaks, from alligator po’boys to crawfish etouffee, you’ll find something here that’ll make your mouth water. Even non-seafood-eaters will find familiar favorites: kettle corn, burgers, hot dogs, bloomin’ onions, and gelato, to name a few.
The seafood festival goes beyond the deliciously predictable food truck fare, as well. A bevy of local restaurants also participate in the seafood festival’s Gulf to Table offerings. Gulf to Table brings the freshest of catches from the Gulf, passes them through the hands of some of Pensacola’s top culinary artists, and presents beautifully-plated entrees for your enjoyment. At the Fiesta Seafood Grill, you can even watch top chefs as they work in an open-air demo kitchen, sharing recipes and other secrets so you can go home and prep your own Pensacola-flavored dishes.
You Can Rock Out to Remarkably Good Local Bands
Folks on the Gulf coast know how to jam. And at the Pensacola Seafood Festival, you’ll find a lineup of some of the area’s top bands, ranging from country to Americana to rock ‘n roll. It’s the perfect backdrop to a day of enjoying the fresh September air and seafood. Previous performers at the festival have gone on to become Grammy award-winning artists, so you know the event organizers have an eye for quality. The best part? Admission to the bandstand is always free to the public–just plan to leave your coolers behind when you come. Even if you don’t enter the bandstand for the concerts themselves, you’ll enjoy the music wafting through the grounds as you enjoy the festival’s other offerings.
Enjoy Some Retail Therapy Via Local Arts & Crafts Vendors
Any outdoor festival would be a little disappointing without a good selection of local artisans and vendors, all carrying their unique arts and crafts creations. At the Pensacola Seafood Festival, you’ll find some truly one-of-a-kind local souvenirs you wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else. From local prints to jewelry, fiber art, and more, you’re likely to find something you didn’t quite know you needed. This is also a brilliant time to get a head-start on your Christmas shopping; keep an eye out for those one-of-a-kind items that the people highest on your list might love.
Kids Won’t Be Bored
Attending the festival with kiddos in tow? Take heart! There’s something for them, too. Actually, there’s quite a lot for the younger set. Each year, the Navarre Nature Center sets up a touch tank exhibit where small hands can touch and feel some of the creatures straight out of the Gulf waters. It’s a great way to enchant little ocean-lovers and engage their senses while teaching them a bit about the marine life of the Gulf.
You’ll also find a remarkably well-designed obstacle course, the perfect outlet for kids’ inevitable festival-going energy surge, as well as arts and crafts exhibits that allow them to embrace their artistic side and maybe even get their hands a little messy. Kids’ games and an entertainment stage just for kids also keep things interesting, giving the smaller members of your party something to snag their interest and spark more than a few smiles.
The Nitty Gritty Details
All the action happens in downtown Pensacola in the Seville Square area. You’ll find festival parking throughout downtown on a first-come, first-serve basis. In 2020, the Pensacola Seafood Festival spans the last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in September (the 25th, 26th, and 27th), and admission is always free!
Whether you’re a Florida local or planning a trip to coincide with the festival, you’ll find the event well worth your effort. The only real downside? Trying to decide which foods to try first! For a taste of the area, it’s hard to go wrong by wandering through the festival, ordering small plates or tapas to share with your family and friends as you go. Buon appetit!