4 Music Festivals in Florida You Can't Miss
By Rayme Samuels
From jam bands to techno DJs, the Sunshine State has a music fest for you. Check out some of the biggest music festivals in Florida.
What makes the world go ‘round? Some people say it’s money, others say it’s love. But for me, good music does the trick. Nothing can beat the rush of adrenaline you get when you see your favorite musician perform on stage, cheered on by a throng of adoring fans.
There are plenty of tunes at Florida music festivals to help keep the Earth a-turnin’ happily. Here’s a sampling of some of the biggest cultural festivals across Florida.
1. Winter Music Conference (Miami)
Miami is known around the world for its electrifying nightlife and even Ultra Music Festival. Celebrities dance and relax at hotpots around town, listening to the sounds produced by famous DJs who flock to this glamorous city. So it’s only natural that top turntable maestros and promoters of electronic music congregate in the city whose residents consider nightlife a basic necessity.
Over the course of its 25-year history, the Winter Music Conference has blossomed into the foremost annual event within the dance industry. The event draws international audiences including artists, DJs, producers and distributors.
2. The Roots of Rock: Wanee Music Festival (Live Oak)
Mixing nature and music is a common theme among outdoor music festivals. There’s something special about the trees, stars and fresh air that makes music sound even sweeter.
Taking advantage of the natural harmony of the Suwannee River, the Allman Brothers Band has hosted and headlined the Wanee Music Festival since 2005. Located about halfway between Jacksonville and Tallahasee in Live Oak, this weekend-long party held in April brings about 5,000 music fans to North Florida every year.
Located on the 600-acre Spirit of Suwannee Music Park and campground, this jam band and Southern rock event has welcomed a consistent roster of impressive roots musicians. Special Midnight Jams allow audiences access to intimate sessions with their favorite artists until the wee hours of the morning.
3. Blues on the Bay: Tampa Bay Blues Fest (St. Petersburg)
Florida blues fans are in luck. Every year, the city of St. Petersburg hosts the Tampa Bay Blues Festival. Held in April at the downtown Vinoy Waterfront Park overlooking glistening Tampa Bay, the festival welcomes remarkable talent from international blues artists. Past major acts have included Buddy Guy, Los Lonely Boys, Delbert McClinton, Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmie Vaughan.
This three-day event encompasses a wide spectrum of blues music. Food vendors offer Cuban and Cajun treats all weekend long.
4. Indie Industry Aspirations: Florida Music Festival & Conference (Orlando)
It’s common knowledge that breaking into the music scene is no easy feat. Orlando, best known around the country for its theme parks and family-friendly activities, is also a hub for the budding indie music industry.
Luckily for eager musicians, the Florida Music Festival & Conference makes getting that big break just a little bit easier. Over the course of four days and nights every April, downtown Orlando sets the stage for hundreds of amateur performances at festival-affiliated venues and outdoor stages along Orange Avenue, with main stages along Wall Street Plaza.
The masterminds behind the event, Florida natives Sean Perry and Rick Wheeler, welcome more than 150 industry reps, 250 performers (in the alternative, heavy, pop, country, urban, hip hop and acoustic genres) and more than 25,000 fans to this event.
For music aficionados, it’s the perfect chance to spot a new favorite artist before they hit the big time. For the performers, getting on a stage at this festival can be their catapult to stardom. Taylor Swift played an acoustic set here years back and is now a megastar. Black Tide was discovered here and subsequently got signed to Interscope Records. And Big 10-4 and Heavy Mojo found their way into the ranks at Universal.