Florida food fests: 7 flavorful events from across the Sunshine State

Events offer everything from sea food to deep-fried fair food

Got a taste for travel in 2022?

If so, a Florida road trip might be in order, especially if your hankering includes biting into local culture and cuisine while enjoying music, art and a deep dive into the community you’re visiting.


We’re talking food festivals, and Florida has them in abundance. From a celebration of mullets — the fish, not the hairstyle — in the Panhandle, where participants are encouraged to play with their food, to deep-fried fair food along the Gulf Coast, there’s something to suit any taste, according to News 6 partner Florida Today.

Here are seven festivals happening in the first half of the year:

Check out the Florida Foodie podcast. You can find every episode in the media player below:

SeaWorld Seven Seas Food Festival

Boasting more than 200 flavors and 28 concerts, SeaWorld Orlando’s Seven Seas Food Festival runs Thursday-Sunday from Feb. 4 to May 8.

Festival concerts include Vanilla Ice, Flo Rida and Molly Hatchet, and the festival menu features more than 50 dishes, plus craft brews, wines and cocktails.

As a bonus, SeaWorld’s Mardi Gras celebration falls during the food fest, from Feb. 25 to March 6, with parades, music and dishes including beignets and po’boys.

SeaWorld admission is required to participate in the festival. Dining packages are available. For more information, visit seaworld.com/orlando.

Florida State Fair

When was the last time you went to a fair? If you’re itching for a little down-home fun on an epic scale, the Florida State Fair, set for Feb. 10-21 in Tampa, delivers.

Yes, it has the expected fair lineup of 4-H and FFA competitions; goat, poultry and cattle shows; midway and carnival rides.

But it also has a menu stacked with “wild and wacky” food. The donut dog features a long John Donut stuffed with an all-beef hotdog, applewood bacon and drizzled with icing. A poutine sundae is made with fresh-cut fries topped with cheese curds and covered in gravy. Take it up a notch with sirloin steak.

Guests also can sample a funnel cake taco, a bacon caramel apple, Pop Rock smoothies and deep-fried banana pudding.

The Florida State Fair is at 4800 U.S. 301 N., Tampa. For tickets and more information, visit floridastatefair.com.

EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival

The EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival may be the biggie when it comes to theme park food fests, but the Flower & Garden Festival, set for March 2-July 4, is no slacker.

Once known solely for intricate topiaries and colorful planting beds throughout the park, in the past five or six years, EPCOT has sprinkled Disney magic on its food offerings.

As many as 20 outdoor kitchens will serve artful dishes during the festival, with an emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables.

While indulging in sips and bites, take a moment to sit in on one of the Garden Rocks Concerts, with a lineup that includes Rick Springfield, Melina León, The Spinners and the Pointer Sisters.

Admission to EPCOT is required to participate in the festival. More information is available at disneyworld.disney.go.com.

Florida Strawberry Festival

For 11 days between March 3-13, Plant City celebrates that sweet jewel of Hillsboro County fields: the strawberry.

The festival, which began in 1930, celebrates the annual strawberry harvest and draws more than 500,000 visitors with music, livestock shows, rides, exhibits and, of course, strawberry shortcake.

Admission is $10, $5 for children 6-12 and free for children 5 and younger. Discount tickets are available at Central Florida Publix Super Markets through Feb. 3.

This year’s headline entertainment, which requires an additional ticket, includes the Oak Ridge Boys, Lady A and Boyz II Men.

More information is available at flstrawberryfestival.com.

Grant Seafood Festival

After taking 2021 off, the 55th Grant Seafood Festival is back and set for 9 a.m.-7 p.m. March 5 and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. March 6.

For half a century this tiny town on the southern tip of Florida’s Space Coast has more than doubled in size as seafood lovers swarm the Grant Seafood Festival fair grounds for food, music and craft vendors.

While the food is great, one of the coolest things about this weekend party is that it’s an all-volunteer event, and some of those volunteers have served fried shrimp and hush puppies since the beginning. It’s not uncommon to see multiple generations of families working shoulder to shoulder in food booths.

Money raised at the festival benefits local charities and college scholarships.

Festival grounds are at 4580 First St., Grant. Parking and admission are free. Visit grantseafoodfestival.com for more information.

Raglan Road Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival

The Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival is back at Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant at Disney Springs in Orlando March 11-17.

Top Irish bands, flown in for the occasion, will play and Irish dancers will perform while guests sample a huge range of Irish whiskeys, local craft beers and hand-crafted cocktails while choosing from the chef’s selection of authentic Irish dishes, including fresh-caught fish with chips.

Starting March 11, reservations are encouraged. On St. Patrick’s Day only, March 17, Raglan Road will open at 10 a.m. with a $20 cover charge for guests 18 and older; (first-come, first-served — no reservations on this day only); younger patrons may enter for free.

More information is available at raglanroad.com.

Interstate Mullet Toss & Gulf Coast’s Greatest Beach Party

This annual shindig starts in Florida, but the mullets will be flying all the way to Alabama as the iconic Flora-Bama in Perdido Key.

Set for April 22-24, mullet tossing starts at 10 a.m., with local celebrities tossing at 4 p.m., each day. It’s $15 to toss, and all participants get a T-shirt. Proceeds benefit local charities. When the event is over, the mullets are donated to Alligator Alley in Summerdale for gator food.

While the fish are flying, relax and enjoy a refreshing Bushwhacker, the Flora-Bama’s boozy milk shake, and order a a dozen oysters, some blackened shrimp tacos or a mahi mahi Rueben.

The Flora-Bama Lounge, Package & Oyster Bar is at 17401 Perdido Key Drive, Perdido. More information is available at florabama.com/mullet-toss.

If you want to find even more food festivals from across the state, News 6 partner Florida Today has a more extensive list available. Click here to learn more.