Sarasota County Summer 2018 Event Guide

Check out the hottest events this summer and start planning your getaway today.

Summertime is a season filled with seafood festivals and water sport tournaments, outdoor concerts and festivities that celebrate the arts, patriotic holiday parades, fireworks and more in Sarasota County.

Stock up on the summer essentials (we recommend sunscreen and sandals) ans plan out your warm weather fun with our Summer 2018 Event Guide.

May Events

May 5: The summer season in Sarasota gets its annual kickoff on May 5 at the 46th annual Siesta Key Sand Sculpture Contest, traditionally held on the first Saturday of the month near the Siesta Key Public Beach Pavilion.

May 5: Skyway Corvette Club's 22nd annual Corvettes on the Circle takes place on St. Armands Circle from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 5. Admire 200 pristine, original Class Corvettes from each generation dating back to 1953.

May 5-6: Taking place in south Sarasota County during the first weekend of May is the annual Venice Seafood Festival. The two-day festival runs May 5 and 6 from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. at Centennial Park.

May 9, 12-June 17: The 88th annual Sarasota Tarpon Tournament kick-off party takes place on May 9 at 6 p.m. at the White Buffalo Saloon. The tournament runs May 12 through June 17. The Sarasota Tarpon Tournament is the "World's Oldest Tarpon Tournament," and includes categories for juniors, adults, men and women.

May 10-12: The 9th annual Harvey Milk Festival celebrates the life and legacy of California's first openly gay elected official, Harvey Milk, whose work and advocacy made an indelible impact on visibility and civil rights of the LGBTQ community the United States. The Harvey Milk Festival celebrates diversity in a variety of attractions including live music, visual art, performance art, and film.

May 12: The Sarasota Orchestra's signature summer kickoff is always a home run: The uniquely-staged annual Outdoor Pops Concert takes place on the baseball field at Ed Smith Stadium, a.k.a. spring training home of the Baltimore Orioles, at 8 p.m. on May 12, 2018. Broadway stars, Deedee Mango and Cliffton Hall headline this year's concert, which is titled Field of Dreams.

May 16 and June 13: The weather may be hot, but all the coolest folks are hanging out at Selby Gardens' botanical twist on Studio 54: Warhol Nights. Warhol Nights is a live music and performance series that brings the Andy Warhol-inspired Flowers in the Factory exhibition (Feb. 21-June 30) to life at night. On May 16, join Florida Studio Theatre actors in an evening of improv entertainment in the tropical exhibition space on Sarasota Bay. The Warhol Nights event in June features a special performance from the Sarasota Music Festival.

May 19: The Sarasota SUP Run 5K at Nathan Benderson Park kicks off at 8 a.m. sharp. Arrive an hour early to rent a paddleboard.

May 26-27: Did you miss the Seafood Festival in Venice earlier in May—or are you just hungry for a second helping? Catch the St. Armands Seafood Festival on May 26 and 27 from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. at St. Armands Circle Park.

Memorial Day Weekend

In Lakewood Ranch, the pre-Memorial Day "Tribute to Heroes" parade takes place on Sunday, May 27 at 6 p.m. on Lakewood Ranch Main Street. Proceeds benefit Manasota Operation Troop Support.

The annual pre-Memorial Day Venice Brew Bash takes place at Centennial Park on Saturday, May 26.

The Myakka River Blues Festival takes place annually at Snook Haven on Memorial Day weekend.

The Downtown Sarasota Memorial Day Parade begins at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 28 and and travels down Main Street starting at Osprey Avenue, followed by a 10:45 a.m. post-parade ceremony at J.D. Hamel Park on Gulf Stream Avenue.

Memorial Day observances in south Sarasota County take place in Venice on Monday, May 28. The Memorial Day Parade begins at 10 a.m. at Patriot's Park—a paved park is dedicated to veterans, police, firefighters, and fallen heroes. Patriot's Park is located on U.S. 41, just north of the intersection of U.S. 41 Bypass North and U.S. 41 Business.

June Events

June 1-14: Don’t miss Savor Sarasota Restaurant Week. With about 60-70 restaurants offering mult-course lunches and dinners, this festival is an excellent way to explore Sarasota by mouth.

June 3-24: The Sarasota Music Festival takes place at the Sarasota Orchestra for the first three weeks in June, annually—a 50+ year tradition. This premier chamber music festival gathers rising stars, including serious students and young professional musicians, and eminent faculty from across the nation for an intensive and intimate series of master classes and performances.

June 8: Mote Marine celebrates World Oceans Day every year in June with a fun family festival. The festival features interactive, educational entertainment for the whole family that spotlights ocean conservation.

June 23-July 4: Downtown Sarasota's signature summer event is the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Festival, kicking off on June 23 and with race dates scheduled for June 20 and July 1. The festival celebrates its grand finale with Sarasota's biggest 4th of July fireworks celebration.

In addition to the big race, other events taking place during the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix include: a golf tournament, a car show, a boat and personal watercraft "fun run" on Sarasota Bay, a fishing tournament, comedy night at McCurdy's Comedy Theatre, a racer autograph signing event, a swimsuit contest, the annual "Boats on Main" block party in downtown Sarasota, and Fourth of July fireworks over Sarasota Bay aa the race weekend and ceremonies draw to a close.

Final Week of June: Ever since it made a splash when it was introduced in 2015, Shark Days at Mote has been a yearly event taking place during the last week of June. Mote promises "jaw-some" fun for the entire family in a week full of educational events and activities focused on this fascinating—and possibly fearsome—fanged fish.

July Events

Downtown Sarasota's biggest Fourth of July fireworks event closes out the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Festival with a spectacular show over the bay. Viewing is free from anywhere, including downtown Island Park and Bayfront Park.

The Myakka River Kayak Festival takes place annually on Fourth of July at Snook Haven.

The Siesta Key Chamber hosts its 28th annual Fourth of July fireworks celebration on Siesta Key, visible from Siesta Key public beach, Crescent Beach, and on the Gulf and intracoastal waterway.

Fourth of July Fireworks are launched in south Sarasota County from the south Venice jetty, in the Venice Beach area. Fireworks are visible along Venice and Nokomis Beach, the Gulf, or the intracoastal waterway, northeast of the jetty.

July 6-8: Mote's annual 5th annual Sarasota Lionfish Derby is an exciting way to harvest large numbers of the invasive lionfish, which has spread along the eastern Atlantic coast and Gulf of Mexico. In addition to the fishing tournament, participants are invited to join Mote scientists at the weigh-in for an education dissection, as well as lionfish tastings with top Sarasota chefs.

July 20-21: Christmas in July, an annual summer sale hosted by merchants in downtown Venice, takes place every third Friday and Saturday in July from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., and features guest appearances by Santa and Mrs. Claus.

July 28-29: The 8th annual Sarasota Mystic Faire takes place at the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium on July 28 and 29. Faire hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

August Events

Sarasota community radio station, WSLR 96.5, hosts its 10th annual tribute to the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia, "Very Merry Jerry Day," at Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center this August.

July 31-August 4: The Manatee-Sarasota Building Industry Association hosts its annual Sarasota Slam Fishing Tournament, with partial proceeds benefiting Harvest House. The tournament includes billfish (trophy fish) and fun fish divisions, inshore and offshore, and a Jr. division for kids.

August 1-5: Enjoy ballroom dancing? Don't miss the 46th annual Florida State Dancesport Championships at the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota, taking place Aug. 1-5.

The Englewood Pioneer Days Festival takes place every year during the last week of August—a tradition that began in 1956, in honor of Englewood's founding on August 17, 1896. The kids shipwreck party, cardboard boat races, historical tours, and the annual festival parade are popular Pioneer Days events.

September Events

September 1-2: The 72nd annual Sarasota Sailing Squadron Labor Day Regatta takes place the first weekend of September.

September 1-2: The Venice Craft Festival is traditionally held during the first full weekend of September from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Miami Avenue.

September 6: Ringling Underground transforms The Ringling courtyard into a hip, contemporary art and concert venue the first Thursday of the month from September through November. Select galleries in the museum remain open after-hours until 11 p.m. while live regional bands and up-and-coming artists are featured in the courtyard.

September 21-22: Downtown Venice merchants host an annual sidewalk sale from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. every third Friday and Saturday of September.

September 29: Close out the summer with a sunset party on the beach: The Venice Beach Party takes place annually on the last Saturday in September from 3 p.m. until 8 p.m.