Tampa's busy spring social calendar continues in early March with the arrival of the Gasparilla Music Festival. While visitors to Tampa may be more familiar with the Gasparilla Pirate Fest held at the end of January, this immensely popular event has given rise to a variety of Gasparilla-themed affairs that celebrate everything from art to films to music.
The Gasparilla Music Festival is a relative newcomer, being only in its fourth year. But what this event lacks in tradition, it makes up for with its quickly growing popularity.
Starting as a one-day event in 2012, the festival expanded to two days in 2014, with attendance growing from just over 6,000 in the first year to almost 20,000 last year. This year's Gasparilla Music Festival is scheduled for Saturday, March 7, and Sunday, March 8, 2015.
Last year's stunning performance by The Flaming Lips brought down the house at Gasparilla Music Festival — Photo courtesy of Gasparilla Music Festival
Modest Mouse is the headliner of this year’s festival, as they promote their first new album in eight years, Strangers to Ourselves, scheduled for release on March 3. The album features their already popular single “Lampshades on Fire."
For those unfamiliar with this Washington-based indie group, the band rose to popularity in the 1990s and 2000s, with a unique brand of catchy folk/rock tunes edged with existential angst.
Local bands are also well-represented, led by St. Petersburg’s The Hip Abduction. One of the Tampa Bay area’s most popular acts, this six-piece band combines pop melodies with a Reggae beat. Their 2013 debut album reached #5 on the Billboard Reggae Chart.
The complete lineup includes approximately 40 acts from around the county. Other noteworthy bands include Florida’s Roadkill Ghost Choir, New Jersey’s Gaslight Anthem and New York’s intriguing post-modern Gogol Bordello.
Tampa’s beautiful Curtis Hixon Park, situated downtown on the Hillsborough River, is the venue for the festival. It features two stages and a plethora of food and beverage vendors.
This year’s food vendors include some of the city’s most popular restaurants, including The Refinery, Ella’s American Folk Art Café and Carmines. Adult beverages are available, and vendors include a variety of independent regional brewers and distillers, including the local Cigar City Brewing and Austin’s Tito’s Handmade Vodka, among others.
This year's Gasparilla Music Festival is scheduled for Saturday, March 7, and Sunday, March 8, 2015. This is a ticketed event, and tickets are required to enter the festival grounds. A two-day ticket will run you $60, but you can buy one-day tickets as well.
You can also party like a rock star by purchasing VIP tickets. VIP tickets include premium seating and access to VIP tents, featuring private bars and lounges, three complimentary drinks per day and, perhaps most important of all, access to air-conditioned restrooms.
While music is the focus, this is a festival with a social conscience, promoting youth music programs, local music talent, environmental sustainability and public/alternative transportation options.
Tickets, site information, the full musical line-up, festival hours and much more can be found on the Gasparilla Music Festival website.