Tag Archives: festival

Sand sculpture at Treasure island

Treasure Island Sanding Ovation Festival Takes Sand Sculpting Art to a Science

Sanding Ovation 2014

Go with the Flow sculptureThe Sanding Ovation sand sculpting competition returned to Treasure Island Beach again in November. The event gave residents and visitors a good reason to visit the area’s largest beach. With an enormous expanse of sand available, the event had plenty of space. Artists set up on the north end of the outdoor venue, with vendors streaming southward, the southern end capped by a stage for live music. With music streaming overhead, visitors were treated to a huge assortment of goodies to browse in the vending tents, while smoke from the food vendors wafted through the air. Live bands, food, and souvenirs added to the allure of thes sand sculptures, creating an event that drew large, happy crowds.

 

Beach Treasures and Cuisine

Food tent at Treasure IslandThe array of vending tents and food stalls were impressive at the Sanding Ovation event. Set up on the sands of Treasure Island Beach, the wares were arrayed in long lines, displaying every type of beach themed merchandise imaginable. Beach dresses, sculpted wood home décor, jewelry, art, curious, and toys were among the many choices. For those who were hungry, the Sanding Ovation event was the right place to be. Brats, fresh seafood, Greek food, and local grouper fish sandwiches were all within easy reach. Food vendors at Sanding OvationOf course, iced tea, lemonade, snow cones, and ice cream were also on the menu. At the north end of the event, a large tent held a full bar which served soft drinks as well as alcohol. Although the sand sculptures were enough to lure the crowds to Treasure Island, the extra goodies at the Sanding Ovation festival put the finishing touch on the event.

 

Sand Sculpting Contest at Treasure Island Beach

Divided Self sand sculptureThe key attraction of the Sanding Ovation event was the collection of sand sculptures. Artists from Treasure Island and across the globe converged on the beach to put their talents to the test. The Sanding Ovation artists did not disappoint. Sand sculpture entitled ForbiddenThe artistic ideals were pretty heavy, in fact, visitors commented on how much interpretation was available for each piece. One portrayed rediscovering self, another a “Divided Life,” set alongside a sculpture entitled “Forbidden,” which displayed a woman holding a ball and chain as if it were precious. An area nearby offered visitors a chance to pose alongside a snowman and snow woman crafted from sand. The logos of area businesses who sponsored the event were displayed, as you might suspect, in sand. Large crowds milled around the artwork, discussing which they liked best, what each piece might mean, and peering at who had earned the highest marks in the sand sculpting contest.

 

Sanding Ovation Sand Sculpting Contest Winners

1st Place Winner & People’s Choice Award

Love Never Dies sculpture

Love Never Dies by Jonathan Bouchard

2nd Place Winner

The Ripper by Chris Guinto

The Ripper by Chris Guinto

3rd Place Winner & Sculptors’ Choice Award

Vertigo by Sue McGrew

Vertigo by Sue McGrew

 

Treasure Island, Florida

Finding Your Old Self Again sculptureTreasure Island sits on the northern reaches of the Central Gulf Coast, enjoying the renowned white sands and beautiful waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It his home to great beach shops, ideal beach restaurants, and cool beach bars. It borders famous John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk which is home to waterfront dining and souvenir shopping. Nearby attractions are Fort Desoto Park and Clearwater Beach. If you are looking for a fun vacationTreasure Island Beach spot, take a closer look at this active beach. The sands are wider than any other beach in the region and it boasts plenty of the great tourist attractions that go along with a memorable beach vacation. One more reason to visit? The Sanding Ovation festival will return to Treasure Island again next year!

 

Sanding Ovation Video

 

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Super Boat Races 2014 at Clearwater Beach

Explore the Gulf Coast Dolphin Trail

Treasure Island Kite Festival 2014

 

Holiday Lights in the Gardens

Holiday Lights in the Garden

 Holiday Lights at Florida Botanical Gardens

Holiday Lights in the GardensEvery year the Florida Botanical Gardens presents the Holiday Lights in the Gardens event. It is well worth the visit. Holiday lights are strung to trees and bushes throughout the gardens, illuminating the wide variety of unique plants, and remarkable garden settings. The event is held at the three formal gardens, starting the day after Thanksgiving and running through New Year’s Eve. This year the dates are November 28 to December 31, and is open between 5:30 PM and 9:30 PM. The volunteers at the entrance ask that you give a $4 donation upon entering, which is well worth it. The pathways, which are spectacular in the daylight, have decorations designed for viewing at night. Every color imaginable lines the walkways, many in shapes of animals or toys. The walkways are designed to wind through the gardens in a peaceful way, a feat still achievable, even with the crowds drawn by the light show.

 

Heart of the Holiday Lights in the Gardens

TLive music at Holiday Lights in the Gardenshe heart of the Holiday Lights in the Gardens is the Wedding Garden. At its center is a large Christmas tree surrounded by toy trains. The lighted trains circle the tree, amid more displays of illuminated gardens. The Wedding Garden gazebo, the site of many weddings, is brightly lit, and is the foreground for live entertainment. On opening night, a pair of gentlemen played guitars to the crowd.

The other central feature at the event was the jolly man himself. Santa and his wife made an appearance at the garden, a line of children waiting throughout the evening to have their moment with the famous man and his missus. Parents waited with cameras to record the event. Santa and his wife were perfect images of their legend.

 

Florida Botanical Gardens

Holiday Lights in the GardensFlorida Botanical Gardens opened in 2000, giving Pinellas County Florida another spectacular tourist attraction. The 160 acres is maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department but also by Pinellas County Master Gardeners, who volunteer thousands of hours each year. The expansive gardens include areas for both beauty and education. Walkways wind throughout the gardens, leading you through various types of foliage and displays. The gardens are organized by type. You will find the Herb Gardens, Tropical Fruit Garden, Succulent Garden, Butterfly Garden, and many more from a long list of interesting choices. The three formal gardens are guest favorites, which include the Wedding Garden, the Tropical Walk, and the Tropical Courtyard. Beyond these are trails that lead you through wilderness areas maintained by Florida Botanical Gardens.

 

Holiday Lights in the Gardens

Holiday Lights in the GardensThe Florida Botancial Gardens are in Largo, Florida. Largo is in Pinellas County, which is the peninsula that creates Tampa Bay. The county is home to Clearwater Beach, St Pete Beach, Fort DeSoto Park, Honeymoon Island State Park, Caladesi Island State Park, and many other famous attractions. The Florida Botanical Gardens is a perfect diversion from the beach, especially during the holiday evenings. The event proves even palm trees can put you in the holiday spirit. If you are on the Florida Gulf Coast for the holiday season, be sure to put the Holiday Lights in the Gardens on  you list of sights to see.

 

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Salvador Dali Museum

The Segway Adventure at Clearwater Beach

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

 

Kite festival Treasure Island Florida

Veterans Day Fall Kite Festival at Treasure Island

Veterans Day Fall Fly at TI

Veterans Day giant kiteWe visited the Veterans Day Fall Fly at TI on Sunday, hoping the clouds would part for some great kite photos. With overcast skies most of the day, we were happy to see clouds part in the late afternoon, right as we arrived. Big kites were in the sky, visible from miles away. Parking for the event was easy, making our arrival worry free. The beach at Treasure Island is enormous, providing kite flyers a huge expanse of sand. A giant heart shaped kite colored with stars and stripes was the biggest kite in the sky. Around it flew a good number of others, giving us plenty to see.

 

Unique Veterans Day Kite Festival

manta kiteWe were expecting the event to be the same as the festival in January but the Veterans Day Fall Fly at TI was different. While not as many kites were in the air, the Veterans Day kite festival had some unexpected surprises. Because of the smaller number of kites, we were able to make our way across the sand with ease, viewing the kites close up – or at least as close as we could get from the ground. The Windworks kite tent was fun to visit, with lots of sport kites for sale. They looked fun but how would we know if we liked them if we could not try them? Fortunately the Veterans Day Fall Fly at TI solved that problem for us. Because of the lighter crowd, we had the opportunity to get some free kite flying lessons. The sport kites employ four strings held by two handles. The number of things that a pro can get the kites to do is amazing. As it turned out, we were best at landing them, mostly by accident. The kites were well made, however, and held up to the abuse. We did manage to pull off a few successful tricks by the time we were done with our five minute lesson.

Kite shopThe personal attention and accessibility of the Veterans Day Fall Fly at TI helped it to earn high marks from us. We enjoyed the opportunities to talk to the kite flyers, the guys at the kite shop, and to the kite flying instructor. With some extra kiting experience under our belts, we made plans to possibly buy our own kites. We also set our schedules for Treasure Island Beach in January for the big kiting competition.

 

Anticipating Treasure Island Kite Competition

Giant kiteIf you love the beach and kite flying, the kite festivals at Treasure Island are must-see events. Veterans Day Fall Fly at Treasure Island was presented by Windworks Kite Store and the Eastern League Sport Kite Association. Be sure to make plans to visit Treasure Island January 16th through 18th for the Treasure Island Kite Festival and Sport Kite Competition.

 

 

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Sky Surfing Clearwater Beach

John’s Pass

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Chowder Challenge 2014

Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge

Discovering the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge 2014

Pass a Grille Chowder ChallengeThe Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge happened last weekend, November 8th and 9th, bringing a lively event to a beach community that is a bit different from the rest of its neighbors on the coast. Pass A Grille is a laid back Florida beach community, sitting on a relatively small section of island. It is the southernmost inhabited section of the barrier islands along Florida Gulf Coast of Pinellas County. It is located just south of St Pete Beach and just north of the uninhabited Shell Key. Pass A Grille might not be the kind of place where you wind up often, it being the end of the road, with no way out other than the way you came in. The fantastic white sands of the Florida Gulf Coast line its shores, with beautiful views to the south of the barrier islands there. In the heart of Pass A Grille you will find Hurley Park, with a picnic pavilion, a basketball court, and a baseball field. On November 8th and 9th this year, Hurley Park became the staging ground for the annual Chowder Challenge, a chowder cook-off that set area restaurants against each other in a very friendly competition.

 

Entering the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge

Chowder Challenge desertsWe arrived at the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge as inexperienced novices, new to the ways of the competition. Hurley Park was filled to the brim with chowder lovers who had arrived before us. Vender tents lined the perimeter, with the rest of the grass area occupied by dining tables, every one filled with chatting chowder challengers. Souvenirs were available along with an inviting table of deserts just outside the gates of the baseball field. Entering the main event area cost $20, an entrance fee that purchased a wristband pass into the chowder sampling area. We paid while still in mystery as to what we would get. To put it simply, the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge wound up being more than worth it.

 

Serving up the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge

Chowder Challenge chowdersEntering the baseball diamond we saw the participating restaurants for the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge lining the outer edge. Plenty of room was left over for milling in the center of the field, a space used by many to aim for the next bowl of chowder. We were handed rectangular trays with papers set on them that showed the names of the competing Tampa Bay area restaurants. The labeled tray was accompanied by a score card. It took only a moment to understand the game. Under pop up canopies the restaurant representatives waited with vats of chowder ready to serve the hungry crowds. When we visited the first table, we were served a tiny cup of chowder, placed carefully over the restaurant name. We went from table to table, collecting more of the small cups, placed over the corresponding names of the restaurants. Then it was off to taste the chowder at the dining tables spread across the lawn. It was time to decide who was king of the Chowder Challenge.

 

Chowder Challengers at Pass A Grille

The Chowder Challenge had some great competitors, including some of the best restaurants in the Tampa Bay region. One of the remarkable characters of the event is that every single booth had smiling participants, happy to talk to event attendees or pose for photos.

  • Chowder Challenge LoewsShells Chowder ChallengeBilly’s Stone Crab
  • Brass Monkey
  • Crabby Bills
  • Gennaro’s
  • Jackie’s on Corey
  • Leverocks Seafood House
  • Loews Don CeSar Resort & Spa
  • Middle Grounds Grill
  • PJs Oyster BarFriendly Fisherman at Chowder ChallengeNori Thai
  • PJ’s Oyster Bar
  • Rick’s Reef
  • Ricky T’s
  • RumFish Grill at Guy Harvey Outpost
  • Salty Rim
  • Shark Tales of St Pete Beach
  • Shell’s Seafood
  • Salty Rim at Chowder ChallengeLeverocks at Chowder ChallengeSt Pete Produce & Deli

 

We did our best to catch every name, and to taste every chowder! If we missed your restaurant at the Chowder Challenge or somehow left off your name, please let us know and we will add you to our list!

 

Choosing the Chowder Challenge Champion

Chowder Challenge votingOur attempt at picking a winner at the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge went well – at first. With the first eight chowders to choose from, we picked our winners. When we went back to sample eight more, the trouble began. There really weren’t any bad chowders. On the higher end of the tasting scale were some of the best chowders we’d ever tried. Some topped out the list on traditional style chowders while others served up recipes we hadn’t heard of before, such as the Rumfish version of Caribbean Lion Fish Chowder or the Nori Thai chowder which included coconut. By the time we were done with our second tray of samples, we had to go get more score cards because our first ones were destroyed with too many conflicting marks – and yes, they had chowder on them. The final scoring was tallied via plastic gold coins, handed to us when we purchased our entry. Attendees received only three of the golden coins with which to vote. Each restaurant table had business cards or menus to remind us who they were, but they also had plastic beach buckets. The buckets were for the gold coins. Attendees were to choose their top chowders and drop the coins off at their three favorite restaurant booths. Chowder Challenge Chowder choiceWe grudgingly eliminated the runners up and dropped off our coins. Because we also made a mess of the second score cards, we can no longer tell you where those coins went. Our personal favorites were Ricky T’s, Salty Rim, Shells Seafood, Brass Monkey, Leverocks, and Loews Don CeSar, with our unique-recipe favorite going to Rumfish Restauant’s Lionfish Chowder. We hope the others will understand. We left the Chowder Challenge with full bellies and smiles on our faces, thanks to all the great chowders.

 

​Official Winners of the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge 2014

The official winners according the official Chowder Challenge Website were:

Golden Ladle:  RumFish Grill at Guy Harvey Outpost for its Caribbean Lionfish Chowder
Peoples Choice 1st Place:  Shells for its New England Clam Chowder
People’s Choice 2nd Place:  Gennaro’s for its Gennaro’s Clam Chowder
People’s Choice 3rd Place:  Friendly Fisherman for its Clam Chowder
Celebrity Chef’s Choice:  Shark Tales for its Fresh Seafood Clam Chowder
Celebrity Chef’s Honorable Mention:  Lowes – Don CeSar for its Conch Chowder
Celebrity Chef’s Honorable Mention:  Shells on St Pete Beach for its New England Clam Chowder

 

Looking forward to the Next Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge

Billys at Chowder ChallengeWe will return next year to the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge and here is why. The food was remarkable, giving us a wide variety of the best chowders our region had to offer. Despite the miniature size of the bowls, we were eventually unable to get to the bottom of the final samples, so it was satisfying for the big eaters too. The restaurant participants were all smiles, happy to be there and very personable when approached. Further, and possibly best, were the fellow attendees. The tables were large, fitting more than one group at a sitting. When we sat down, the conversations were easy to start because each person attending was also sampling the chowders. Don Cesar at Chowder ChallengeThe exchange of ideas began immediately, concerning which chowders were best, and which restaurants had cooked them. Because of the constant flow of attendees moving from the chowder serving area to the seats outside the baseball field, we wound up sitting in two different locations, each time striking up conversation with other happy chowder tasters.

For all of those reasons, we are looking forward to the Pass A Grille Chowder Challenge next year and we hope to see you there too.

 

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5 Favorite Party Spots at Clearwater Beach

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Chalk Art Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach Chalk Walk 2014

Chalk Walk 2014 at Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach Chalk WalkThe October 2014 Chalk Walk took up much more space on the Beach Walk at Clearwater Beach than last year. Many return visitors expressed pleasant surprise at the expanded scope of the event. The Beach Walk sidewalks used were nearly doubled in length, with more works of art than in previous years. Apparently news of the event’s success has spread, drawing in more artists. Although the event features artwork of different sizes, most of the pieces were drawn in the larger scales, providing spectators with a plenty to see.

 

Chalk Walk a Hit Again

Chalk Walk Clearwater BeachThe quality of the art at the Chalk Walk was fantastic. The attendance was as high as ever, the sidewalks lined with people all throughout the days of the festival. The weather was absolutely perfect, warm and dry, without strong breezes, leaving the spectators and artists in an ideal environment. With the Stone Crab Festival happening at various places at Clearwater Beach, Chalk Walk spectators the beach was filled with happy visitors and locals. The windsurfing championship added to the buzz, with the event tent across the street from the chalk art festival. Pier 60 experienced a great weekend as well, the visitors at Clearwater Beach for the festivals flocking to the pier in the evening hours.

 

Chalk Art on Beach Walk

Chalk art festival Clearwater BeachThe popular beachfront sidewalks of Beach Walk were graced with some incredible art work this year. With more artists than ever adding to the event, the beach saw an abundance of awe inspiring work. Artists were overheard discussing the coincidence in unspoken themes of Halloween and bubbles, both images appearing repeatedly. A fair number of artists also tipped their hats to Clearwater Beach, scrawling the name of the famous beach into their artwork.

Chalk Walk Anticipation

Chalk Walk 2014We are looking forward to the Clearwater Beach Chalk Walk in future years. The event is still in its first few years, and it is growing in size and inspiration. With the event picking up steam, it is sure to be a hit in years to come. Here’s looking forward to Chalk Walk 2015. We will be there to let you know how it goes, but if you are considering a trip to Clearwater Beach, October festival season, including the Chalk Walk, is a great time to visit. Hope to see you there!

 

Clearwater Beach Chalk Walk Awards

Best in Show

Chalk Walk Clearwater Beach

Black Cat by Beth Shistle

 

People’s Choice Award

Chalk Walk Peoples Choice Award

Syrena by Lee Mobley

 

People’s Choice Award

Chalk Walk peoples choice award

Ariel by Cassie Franek

 

Grand Prize Large

Grand Prize large Chalk Walk

Rebel Kiss by Ken Mullen

Grand Prize Small

Chalk Walk Clearwater Beach

The Record by Nathan Baranowski

Junior Division Winner

Chalk Walk Clearwater Beach

Mermaid in a Bathtub by Danielle Grief

 

Chalk Walk 2014 Video

 

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Fall Festivals Clearwater Beach

Fantastic Fall Festivals St Pete to Clearwater Beach

Why Visit the Florida Gulf Coast During the Fall?

The beaches from Clearwater Beach to St Pete Beach on the Florida Gulf Coast are exciting places to visit year round. While we experience seasons like everyone else, our winter temperatures are mild, making us a popular tourist destination from January through March. Other season attract visitors too, summer time at the beach still being as popular as ever.

Abeach festivallthough we enjoy year-round tourism, the numbers go up and down as the seasons come and go. One of our lower seasons for visitors is autumn. School starts and family vacations must end, at least for a little while. Attention goes back to the daily duties of life and Clearwater Beach, St Pete Beach, and the coastline in between is left for future vacations.

Does that mean that Clearwater Beach, St Pete Beach, and the beaches in between aren’t worth visiting in the fall?

Absolutely not.

In fact, it is difficult to find a more dynamic time than October at our Gulf Coast beaches. Why, you ask? Is it the cooler temperatures? The remarkable sunsets? The cheaper accommodations? While those are good reasons, they are not the number one best reason.  To learn why you should visit us in October, then read on.

 

11 Days of Bliss on the Florida Gulf Coast

Clearwater Beach to St Pete Beach is a great place to visit as the year coasts toward a close. In fact, you might find October is the most exciting month of the year!

Clearwater Jazz Holiday

Clearwater Jazz HolidayThe magic begins with Clearwater Jazz Holiday. The event has reached its 35th year, now pulling in some of the greatest talent in jazz. The seating is in open air Coachman Park. Enjoy great music under the Florida sun or stars at this fun, four days of concerts. Clearwater Jazz Holiday is October 16 through 19.

World Windsurfing Championship

windsurfingFor the first time ever, the Youth World Windsurfing Championship is coming to the USA, with Clearwater Beach hosting the event! The event will take place at one of our favorite locations, Pier 60. Watch this one week event from the Pier, the water, or the beach. This competition is new to us but not to the world. International windsurfers will compete at this event, introducing Clearwater Beach to people from around the globe. World Windsurfing Championship at Clearwater Beach runs from October 18th to the 25th.

2014 World Paddle Association Championship Race

paddleboardsJoining the biggest weekend of the year are the Paddle Board Races at St Pete Beach. Head to the beach to watch the standup paddle board races just off shore. This event will be held on the U.S. east coast for the first time, right here at St Pete Beach. If you are a fan of the exploding trend of standup paddle boards, then this is an event you will want to attend. The 2014 World Paddle Association Championship Race happens October 24th to the 26th.

Beach Walk Chalk Walk

mermaid chalk artBeach Walk is a beachfront boardwalk-style sidewalk at Clearwater Beach, popular because its proximity to the sands and beachfront shops. During our favorite October weekend this sidewalk is transformed into a canvas for a host of chalk artists. The event has been a hit each year, filling the sidewalk with viewers. The event draws a wide variety of artists, offering visitors an amazing selection of chalk art. With all the other events happening at the beach, this event provides a very pleasant and interesting addition to the activities. Come to Clearwater Beach to see this event, or, if you are here for some other festival, make sure you visit the Beach Walk while you are here. Beach Walk Chalk Walk Festival runs October 24th through the 26th.

Stone Crab Festival Weekend

The stone crab season is a very special holiday on the Florida Gulf Coast, with events dotting the coastline of the Florida Gulf Coast.

Tarpon Springs Annual Greek Food and Wine Festival

Tarpon Springs sponge boatAt the top of the county, you will find Tarpon Springs, home of the famous Sponge Docks, one of the largest suppliers of natural sponges in the world. This fun tourist area is known for its Greek culture, making the festival held here make perfect sense. The Tarpon Springs Annual Greek Food and Wine Festival is held October 24 through 26, joining the culinary festivals of the Stone Crab Weekend, with a Greek twist, of course. If you like tourist towns, Greek culture, and good food, give this one a try!

John’s Pass Seafood Festival

Johns Pass Village and BoardwalkNear the bottom of the county you can enjoy John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk, another well-known tourist attraction on the Florida Gulf Coast.  John’s Pass Seafood Festival joins the big weekend events of October 24 to 26 of 2014. The event includes live music, vendors, arts and crafts, and, of course, seafood. John’s Pass is fun on an ordinary day. Visiting the boardwalks during a festival is a real treat. Don’t miss this event in Madeira Beach, just north of Treasure Island.

Clearwater Beach Stone Crab Festivals

Stone Crab weekend festivalThe stone crab weekend at Clearwater Beach one of the best events of the year at this famous Gulf Coast beach. Cooters and Frenchy’s are the two main spots for the festivals. Cooters fills their parking lot with extra seating and live music while Frenchy’s closes off Baymont Street in front of their original restaurant for a banquet and block party with live music. The event is very lively and lots of fun. Daytime crowds are great but when the sun sets the party atmosphere really cranks up, giving guests some great beach memories. And then, of course, there’s the stone crabs, which are in season only once a year. This annual beach festival is one you don’t want to miss, so mark your Clearwater Beach calendars for the weekend of October 24th to the 26th.

Autumn at the Beach

Clearwater BeachIf you can make it to the Florida Gulf Coast during October you should definitely do so. Even more events occur during November and December but we will cover those in later blog posts. Be sure to keep your eyes on Clearwater Beach, Madeira Beach, St Pete Beach, and Tarpon Springs for the autumn season. We have a great festival line up for you here on the Florida Gulf Coast.

 

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5 Favorite Party Spots at Clearwater Beach

Fun Times at John Levique Pirate Days

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John Levique Pirate Days

Fun Times at John Levique Pirate Days

History of John Levique

John Levique Pirate Days 9The history of John Levique and the history of John’s Pass are linked by the legend naming John Levique as the first man to sail through the pass. According to the legend, a large storm rearranged the sands of the barrier islands, opening a new inlet to Boca Ciega Bay. The new inlet was subsequently named John’s Pass. The boardwalks, restaurants, and gift shops did not appear for another 150 years. The name John Levique is remembered, thanks to his discovery of the pass. Today, his name is used for one of the best celebrations you will find on the Florida Gulf Coast. John Levique Pirate days skeleton manequinJohn Levique was a turtle farmer, so you might wonder why the celebration is called ‘pirate days.’ Here on the Florida Gulf Coast, and especially in Tampa Bay, a true pirate history exists. The pirate theme, often invoked in this region, has been used to enhance the John Levique celebration. Once you’ve experienced the fun at the John Levique Pirate Days event, you will see that John Levique would probably not mind at all.

 

John’s Pass

John Levique Pirate DaysJohn’s Pass Village and Boardwalk is one of the best tourist stops on the Florida Gulf Coast. The small but popular shopping and restaurant district is lined with loads of souvenir shops and lots of great dining. John’s Pass is a fun diversion where you can spend hours walking from one interesting knickknack shop to the next. When you need to resupply your energy, you can choose from a number of unique restaurants, many of them on the waterfront. Seafood is popular at John’s Pass, thanks to the numerous fishing boats that use John’s Pass to reach the Gulf of Mexico. The boardwalks and sidewalks are fun to stroll, and when you are done with your dining, stop into a candy shop to finish off your day. You can find all of these things on an ordinary day at John’s Pass. During the John Levique Pirate Days celebration, that entertaining setting becomes a backdrop for much more.

 

John Levique Pirate Days Celebration

John Levique Pirate Days foodThe John Levique Pirate Days event was on our roster of things to see this spring. This year it was held May 9th through 11th. The event took us by surprise. We expected a few pirates standing in the doorways and perhaps few kiosks- not by a long-shot. The entirety of John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk had been transformed in to one giant event. The street was filled with tents and kiosks selling everything imaginable, much of it pirate themed. Instead of a parking lot we found a large tent where the musicians and dancers performed, along with lots of tables for dining. John Levique Pirate Days 8The other side of the parking lot was the food court, with banquet style vending stalls selling mouthwatering food. Amid the lively setup strolled a large number of attendees, enjoying shops, vending tents, the shows, and the food. However, all of those things together were still not the best surprise. We found no mere dozen pirates at the John Levique Pirate Days event, but rather the streets were filled with them. The pirates had erected tents to mock up how original pirates had camped on the shores of the Gulf Coast. Tons of professional pirate actors roamed the streets along with a number of enthusiasts. Aside from the pirate encampment, we found a pirate wrestling ring, a mechanical bull, a tropical bar, a hula hoop contest and an inflatable slide for the kids, and roaming musicians. John Levique Pirate Days 4Lastly came the large pirate show down at the waterfront of John’s Pass. On the sandy shore, amid the older pylons, some 50 to 60 pirates put on a mock battle. The battle included walking the plank, musket fire, sword fights, and, our personal favorite, ‘death by mermaid,’ which consisted of throwing convicted pirates to the trio of mermaids waiting just off shore. John Levique Pirate Days 6The mayhem lasted for a good five minutes, all under the thunderous explosions from cannons set on the shore. Watching from the drawbridge between Madeira Beach and Treasure Island, the handrails under our palms trembled from the shock wave of the cannon fire. Spectators lined the John’s Pass boardwalk to watch the show, many of them dressed in pirate costumes themselves.

 

John Levique Pirate Days Recommended

John Levique Pirate Days 7

For Love or Money Band

After our visit to the John Levique Pirate Days celebration, we definitely recommend it to visitors to the Florida Gulf Coast. The event was a lot of fun and definitely lived up to its name. There were pirates galore, lots of in-theme trinkets and souvenirs to purchase, good music shows, and fantastic food. The pirate battle topped off the event with a performance that brought the theme to life. The event has earned a place on our list of celebrations to visit year after year.

 

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Treasure Island Kite Festival 2014

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Dragon sand sculpture

The Amazing Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival at Clearwater Beach

Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival 2014

TSugar Sand Festival sculpturehe Sugar Sand Festival made its second appearance at Clearwater Beach this April. The show ran from April 5th through the 13th. A large tent went up long before the event opened, getting the folks at the beach a heads up the festival was coming. The artisans got busy sculpting, all with the show’s theme in mind. This year, cinema was the theme, with the title of “Beach Walk of Fame.” Inside the tent, sculpted figures from Hollywood history were found along a ribbon of film also crafted from sand. Visitors viewed images from the very beginning of cinema, like Charlie Chaplin, through the most recent movies, including Dolphin Tale.

 

Sugar Sand Festival Extras

Sand sofas at beach restaurantThe sand sculptures were at the heart of the event, but surrounding the tent were a host of additional activities that had the beach buzzing with activity. Sand artists held special shows and contests for beach visitors, including speed sculpting. Directly surrounding the tent were a number of other fun attractions. The Hyatt Regency Resort and Spa, one of the event sponsors, had a kid’s sand sculpting area, complete with umbrellas and chairs for the parents. Frenchy’s restaurant hosted a “Sand Bar” right on the beach, with a fenced off area set up as pub. Area restaurants sponsored a restaurant setting behind the show tent with sand sculpted sofas for restaurant guests, with the sand sofas right on the beach. The attractions surrounding the tent were a success, with plenty of attendees joining into the extra fun.

 

Sugar Sand Festival Pier 60 Entertainment

Pier 60 Sugar Sand FestivalPier 60 is a Clearwater Beach attraction every evening, two hours before and after sunset. For the Sugar Sand Festival, however, the vendors and street performers showed up every day, all day long. The usual Pier 60 fun was in overdrive. Clearwater Beach visitors were treated to non-stop entertainment. The pier was lined with vendors selling every manner of souvenir, while the street performers spread across a wider area than usual to accommodate the extra visitors. With a larger amount of people at the beach for the festival, Pier 60 was a hub of activity.

 

A Successful Clearwater Beach Sugar Sand Festival

Sand sculpture Willows in the WindIf the number of visitors to Clearwater Beach last week was any indication, then the 2014 Sugar Sand Festival was a success. The beach enjoyed lively crowds and, each time we checked in, the Pier 60 shows were running. The line leading into the sand sculpture tent enjoyed a constant flow. If you are considering a Clearwater Beach vacation, be sure to check this one out for 2015. Judging by the turnout for this one, the Clearwater Beach Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival will back again next year.

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