Venice Beach Party. Photo courtesy of Venice MainStreet
Venice Main Street - Venice Beach Party
Christmas in July. Photo courtesy of Venice MainStreet
Wine Walk, Wristbands. Photo courtesy of Venice MainStreet

“Summer of Love” gives many reasons to head to downtown Venice

“This is an exciting time.” That’s how Erin Silk, CEO of Venice MainStreet, classifies everything that will be going on in downtown Venice this summer.

A major construction project will be starting most likely in June that will transform Venice, Miami, and Tampa Avenues. The roads will be taken down to the bedrock and then resurfaced. Sidewalks will be completely redone, and new landscaping will be added that will include more shade trees to keep pedestrians cool. There will be new benches and trash receptacles that will unify the look of downtown and new crosswalks added for foot traffic.

“It’s going to be beautiful,” says Silk. “And we’re just trying to have a little fun throughout it.”

That’s why Venice MainStreet planned a series of “Summer of Love” events to help support Venice businesses and draw people downtown. It all kicks off with the Venice Seafood & Music Festival on May 5 and 6 at Centennial Park. Attendees can sample all kinds of straight-from-the-sea dishes, enjoy an array of cocktails, and groove to rock, blues, funk, and Caribbean tunes.

That’s followed by an end-of-season sale at downtown retailers May 11 and 12. The popular Wine Walk takes place May 17 from 5 to 8 p.m. Purchase a wristband for $10 in advance at Venice Wine and Coffee (201 W. Venice Ave.) or the Venice MainStreet office (101 W. Venice Ave., Suite 23) to sample wines from seven different purveyors at various locations throughout downtown. A second Wine Walk will take place August 16.

The Summer of Love also includes two craft festivals June 16 and 17 and September 1 and 2, which will set up in front of Venice City Hall. Jazz musicians will be playing around the downtown for Jazz on the Avenues on June 21, and merchants will be offering all kinds of deals during the Christmas in July sale July 20 and 21.

A new event for downtown, the Barstool Open will tee off August 25 from 1 to 5 p.m. Groups of four can enter the putt-putt tournament for $100 a team and play the mini-golf holes that will be set up in local bars and other businesses. “It’s going to be really fun,” says Silk.

The Shoptember pre-season sale takes place September 21 and 22, and the third annual Venice Beach Party hits the sands on September 22 from 2:45 p.m. to sunset. Musical acts will take the stage that’s set up right on the beach. New this year is a full-service bar on the beach. “It’s a great end-of-summer party,” says Silk. “And there are kids’ activities too.”

Closing out the Summer of Love lineup is Oktoberfest on October 4 from 5 to 8 p.m. It’ll be like the Wine Walks but with samples from local craft breweries instead of vino.

Construction will also impact other events downtown. The weekly Venice Farmers Market will move to Avenue de Parques (just west of Venice City Hall) from its normal Tampa Avenue spot once construction starts. The Venice Brew Bash on May 26 will move to the Venice Community Center. And the annual Sun Fiesta in October is being planned for the Venice Airport Festival Grounds.

Throughout the construction timeframe, work will be done in sections and on one side of a street at a time. During sidewalk work, there will be full access to all shops and restaurants. The goal is for the construction to be completed before the annual Holiday Parade on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

“The City of Venice has been great,” says Silk. “They have the Summer of Love schedule and are going to give it to the contractor. Everyone’s being super accommodating; they really all want to make it as painless as possible for downtown. But we’re going to have to wing it a little bit.” She suggests following Venice MainStreet’s Facebook page and subscribing to its weekly newsletter for up-to-the-minute info.