Winter 2015 Top 20 Events

January

January 1 Polar Bear Dip, Perdido Key, FL, florabama.com, Splash into the Gulf Mexico and celebrate January 1 with a New Year’s Day southern tradition of eating black-eyed peas while listening to some great music as you warm up with your friends and family.

January 6 – February 17, Mardi Gras Southwest Louisiana, Southwest Louisiana, LA, visitlakecharles.org, Celebrate in true fashion with southwest Louisiana’s second largest Mardi Gras.  Intricate costumes, a Royal Gala, elaborate parade floats and plenty of beads are just a few of the events you will enjoy.

January 9-10, 57th Annual Louisiana Fur & Wildlife Festival, Cameron, LA, visitlakecharles.org, Southwest Louisiana’s “oldest and coldest” festival is comprised of a variety of hunter-related events, including trap setting, oyster shucking and skeet shooting.  Families will also enjoy Cajun music, a parade, pageant, exhibits and carnival.

January 16-19, Martin Luther King, Jr. Festival, Lake Charles, LA, visitlakecharles.org, Trinity Baptist Church hosts a memorial breakfast honoring outstanding individuals in the community.  On Sunday, a Gospel Extravaganza brings performers from all over Louisiana and Monday is Family Day with local and national entertainers as well as art and craft vendors in additional to Creole and Cajun food.

January 17-19, Louisiana Marathon,  Baton Rouge, LA, thelouisianamarathon.com,  Racers, representing all 50 states and 8 countries,  last year, ran through historic downtown and under LSU’s century old oak trees.   Going into its fourth year, Runners World Magazine named this marathon one of the Top 10 New Races.  It includes a marathon, half-marathon, 5K and a kid’s marathon.

January 18, 16th Annual Clearwater Distance Classic, Clearwater, FL, ClearwaterDistanceClassic.com, From bridges to beaches, participants will enjoy a scenic run on these USATF-certified courses.  Post-race celebration is complete with hot pasta, pastries, cold beer and live entertainment.  New This Year: A 50K Ultramarathon!

January 30-February 1, Athens Wine Weekend, Athens, GA,  AthensWineWeekend.com, Sample delectable bites from local chefs and their wine pairings, in addition to  Saturday’s Grand Tasting featuring wines from all over the world and seminars hosted by national and international wine experts.  These events, along with a six-course Gourmet Dinner and Sunday brunch, benefit The Classic Center Cultural Foundation.

January 30-February 17, Bayou Lafourche Mardi Gras, Thibodaux to Golden Meadow (Lafourche Parish), LA, visitlafourche.com, This two week event includes more than 15 parades, carnival balls, parties and picnics, including BBQ and seafood boils before the start of the parades.  Join in on “The Greatest Free Show on the Bayou!”

January 31, 14th Annual African America Cultural Celebration, Raleigh, NC, ncmuseumofhistory.org, The North Carolina Museum of History highlights the history and culture of the state’s African American community via visual artists, national authors, poets and spoken word.  Additional events include historic presentations, dramatic performance and film screenings.

February 2015

February 5-7, The North Carolina Jazz Festival, Wilmington, NC, ncjazzfestival.com, One of the oldest traditional jazz festivals in the USA, this year’s event offers a tribute to the music of George Shearing.  Friday and Saturday evenings include thirteen All-Star jazz musicians from around the world, presenting 7 sets of traditional jazz.

February 5-7, Southwest District Livestock Show and Rodeo, Lake Charles, LA, visitlakecharles.org, Professional rodeo performances, livestock shows and Queen Pageant make this “The Greatest Show on Dirt”.  Don’t miss Western Heritage Days which celebrates cowboys, the great outdoors and all things western.

February 7, Double Bridge Run, Pensacola, FL,  doublebridgerun.com, A 15K scenic course which includes two bridges that takes runners over the Pensacola Bay and Santa Rosa Sound.  The race starts in downtown Pensacola and concludes on Pensacola Beach.  A 5K course and Kids’ Fun Run are also offered.

February 14, 21st Annual St. Marys Mardi Gras Festival, St. Marys, GA, VisitStMarys.com, This year’s theme is “Love Stories” which will be incorporated throughout the festival’s parade floats as well as the pet parade costumes!  A chili cook-off, live entertainment and Mardi Gras Ball complete the day’s events.

February 14, Pensacola Grand Mardi Gras Parade, Pensacola, FL,  pensacolamardigras.com, Historical downtown Pensacola hosts this family-friendly Mardi Gras Parade, complete with beads, doubloons and moonpies!

February 14-16, ArtiGras Fine Arts Festival, Jupiter, FL, artigras.org, Celebrating its 30th year, this event benefits school art programs and local charities.  The 3-day outdoor festival features more than 300 juried artists and also features ten Emerging Artists from the Palm Beach area.

February 15, Krewe of Wrecks Mardi Gras Parade, Pensacola, FL, pensacolamardigras.com, This parade not only has exciting floats but they also throw beads, candy and doubloons into the crowd!  The boardwalk hosts the largest “after-parade” party while participants await to hear the results from the parade judges.

February 15-March 4, Mardi Gras Season, Baton Rouge, LA,  visitbatonrouge.com, This event incorporates seven different parades all with different themes.  Including the first and only all-female krewe and one for dogs participating on the floats and in costumes.

February 19-21, Georgia National Rodeo & Junior Livestock Show, Perry, GA,  gnfa.com, This rodeo, sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, features seven specialty acts, including: Saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, the down roping, steer wrestling, team roping, bull riding and barrel racing.

February 21-22, 40th Annual Fireside Arts and Craft Show, Helen, GA,  gastateparks.org, Marking its 40th year, this art show is located in the beautiful lodge with more than 50 artists to explore on two floors.

February 27-March 9, Florida Strawberry Festival, Plant City, FL, flstrawberryfestival.com, Founded in 1930, this longstanding tradition includes 22 headline entertainment acts, seven livestock shows, a midway of 90+ attractions, delicious concessionaires and more!

March 2015

March 6-7, Black Heritage Festival, Lake Charles, LA, visitlakecharles.org, This festival brings together the cultures of Africa and Southwest Louisiana and highlights the best in the community.  Celebrating diversity, culture and education, the festival is filled with legendary Zydeco, Jazz, R&B and Gospel performers.

March 6-8, The Craftsmen’s Spring Classic Art & Craft Festival, Columbia, SC, CraftShow.com, Hundreds of the nation’s finest artists and craftsmen gather at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds to present original works in pottery, fine art, jewelry, glass, furniture, clothing, photography, musical instruments and more.  Attendees also enjoy shopping amidst the specialty foods and sampling the various items.

March 6-9, Kentucky Crafted: The Market, Lexington, KY, artscouncil.ky.gov, This market features more than 200 artists offering shoppers jewelry, wearable art, home décor, furniture, paintings, books and cds with hourly performances by musicians.  One day is dedicated to wholesale buyers and retail shoppers receive two days dedicated to purchasing outstanding Kentucky products.

March 6-8, Ponchatoula Antique Trade Days, Ponchatoula, LA, ponchatoulachamber.com or tangitourism.com, Children’s activities include a petting zoo, butterfly garden, train, pony rides while attendees shop from more than 200 vendors featuring cuisine, antiques, collectibles, fine arts and crafts.

March 7-8, Gulf Coast Renaissance Faire, Pensacola, FL, yesteadyhands.com/GulfCoastRenaissanceFair, Witness armored combat, jousters, and the swirl of dancers while shopping among the merchants at this Medieval Affair!

March 7-8, Jerry Brown Arts Festival, Hamilton, AL, jbal.org, A two-day, indoor, juried art festival with items including stained glass, gourd art, broom makers, photography and paintings.  It provides top-quality artists an ability to demonstrate their talents and give others an opportunity to see the creation of these art forms, often for their first time in this rural area.

March 8-9 & 15-16, Shamrock City, Lookout Mountain, GA, seerockcity.com/shamrockcity, Get your green on for Rock City’s 7th Irish celebration and festival featuring music, food and other entertainment!  See the waterfall turned green and enjoy listening to the live music!  Irish food, specialty beer and Rock City’s famous fudge, with a “green” twist, are sure to be enjoyed by all!

March 13-14, Iowa Rabbit Festival, Iowa, LA, visitlakecharles.org, Celebrating the economic and culinary impact rabbits have in Southwest Louisiana, the annual Iowa Rabbit Festival is a one-of-a-kind event, from the rabbit gumbo to crowning the new Miss Bunny.  Live Music and Cook-Offs complete this event that supports the local community.

March 13-15, Independence Sicilian Heritage Festival, Independence, LA, indysicilianfest.com, Get the whole Sicilian experience by taking a tour at the Cultural Museum, spaghetti-eating contest, meatball toss, Italian flag throwers, Sicilian folk dance, parade, poker run, art & craft booths, games, carnival rides and continuous live entertainment.

March 14, Wearin’ of the Green Parade, Baton Rouge, LA, paradegroup.com, An old Baton Rouge tradition, the Wearin’ of the Green Parade celebrates all things associated with St. Patrick’s Day: Irish music, community fun, and of course, the color green.  Thousands line the streets to catch beads, trinkets and even vegetables, such as cabbage, to cook in their Irish stews!

March 14-15, Forsythia Festival, Forsyth, GA, forsythiafestival.com, This spring festival is a free, family-fun event featuring a two-day arts and crafts show, children’s fair, a 5K and one-mile fun run, sporting tournaments, fashion show, live entertainment and much more, including foods, fine arts and crafts.  This year’s event will also include the Classic Car Show and turning the 5K run into a nighttime Glow Run!

March 19-April 4, International Cherry Blossom Festival, Macon, GA, CherryBlossom.com, The setting for this 33 year old festival, includes 350,000 Yoshino cherry trees in bloom, and Central City Park serves as the hub of this 10-day Festival.  Activities include: concerts, parades, shopping amidst arts and crafts vendors, amusement rides, exhibits, fair food and international cuisine.

March 20-22, Amite Oyster Festival, Amite, LA, amiteoysterfestival.com, Come on over for a “shuckin’ good time” and enjoy some mouthwatering Louisiana oysters!  Fun for the whole family, including carnival rides, games, arts & crafts and continuous live entertainment.

March 20-22, Louisiana Swamp Stomp Festival, Thibodaux, LA,nicholls.edu/swamp-stomp, This festival includes free Cajun dance lessons, a Gumbo Cook-Off, arts and crafts as well as music featuring Cajun, Zydeco and Swamp Pop music.  Cuisine includes: gumbo, jambalaya, shrimp po-boys, etoufee, pralines and more!

March 20-28, 2015 Chasco Fiesta, New Port Richey, FL, chascofiesta.com, Held on the banks of the Pithlachascotee (“Cotee”) River in New Port Richey, the festival allows visitors to witness a traditional Native American Powwow.  Participants include folks from Peru, Ecuador, New Mexico and Oklahoma participating in educational activities and dance performances to showcase their culture and history.

March 22, 6th Annual Florida Beach Halfathon & 5K Race, St. Petersburg, FL, FloridaBeachHalfathon.com, At the mouth of the Tampa Bay is Ft. De Soto Park, which is home to one of America’s favorite beaches and the site of this year’s race.  USATF-certified courses are run entirely on the barrier island and being it is extremely flat, with no bridges, hills or other discernible inclines.  Post-race includes pasta, fruit, pastries, cold beer and live entertainment.  All finishers earn the spring version of the custom running starfish medal.

March 26-29, Festival of Flowers, Mobile, AL, FestivalofFlowers.com, The Festival of Flowers is the perfect place to grow your garden knowledge.  Festival organizers view the event as an experience offering inspiration and education, along with the sheer delight of viewing the glorious gardens and fabulous flowers.  Strolling through the spectacular displays, visitors soak up countless ideas for their own indoor and outdoor rooms.

March 27-29, Summerville Family YMCA 43rd Annual Flowertown Festival, Summerville, SC, flowertownfestival.org, Held in Azalea Park, this free event includes, “The Taste” where attendees can sample delicious dishes from local restaurants, a farmer’s market, arts and crafts for all ages, live bands and children’s rides.

March 28, Springtime Tallahassee, Tallahassee, FL, springtimetallahassee.com, This festival includes layers of entertainment.  Kick-off the morning with one of the largest and most celebrated parades in the southeast.  Following the parade, Jubilee in the Park winds its way through downtown Tallahassee offering music, food, hand-made arts and crafts, a children’s park and community entertainment.

March 28 & April 6-18, 75th Annual Columbus Spring Pilgrimage, Columbus, MS, visitcolumbusms.org, Recognized as one of the best and most authentic home tours in the South, for 75 years this cultural heritage event has featured tours of resplendent antebellum mansions, gardens and churches.  New and exciting programs include:  Tales from the Crypt, a garden party, carriage rides, a catfish cook-off and a fay full of blues music.