St. Pete/Clearwater in Florida has a great reputation for year-round sun holidays. But did you know it was also packed with family festivals all year too? If that’s news, here’s more for you.
Any time of year is the right time for sun holidays
Between its 35 miles of Gulf Coast and 361 days of sunshine every year St. Pete/Clearwater has a naturally beachy vibe. So even when festivals aren’t held directly on the sand here, they still feel like beach festivals: laid back, sunny, high-spirited and all welcome. But fun as festivities are, they’re far from the only reason to plan sun holidays in this part of Florida.
The perfect coast to add to Orlando’s theme parks
If you can’t contemplate a holiday in Florida without some theme parks in the mix, Orlando is only a 90-minute drive from St. Pete/Clearwater. And nobody can argue with the inspired combination of rollercoaster thrills and award-winning beaches.
Start sun holidays with direct flights to Tampa
On the other hand, you might just want to get sand between your toes as soon as possible. In which case, there are direct UK flights to Tampa International Airport year round, and it’s only 30-minutes from St. Pete/Clearwater’s beaches.
Pier 60 Sunset Celebration: all welcome, every night
Come join locals and visitors alike to celebrate the end of every sunny day in St. Pete/Clearwater at the Pier 60 sunset celebration.
This isn’t just a chance to see the sun setting in spectacular style, it’s a full-on every night of the week festival. So forget bedtime, reset to holiday time and bring the kids too. As well as all the other sunset seekers, you’ll find the pier awash with street performers and street stalls for hours before and after the sun sets. And since Pier 60 has been holding nightly sunset celebrations for almost 28 years now, it’s had a lot of practice at throwing a party, you won’t be disappointed.
Localtopia: goes well with Florida winter sun holidays
A warm and friendly local vibe is one of many loveable things about St. Pete/Clearwater, and clearly the locals think that’s worth celebrating, because the colourful Localtopia festival is 11 years old in 2024.
It’s totally free and couldn’t be more right for kids. There’s even a Family Village packed with performers, creative play and fun family activities. The Park’s Bandstand is the place to hear popular local bands playing up a storm. Although it’s fair to say that everyone puts on a show for this event from craft breweries to local restaurants.
Speaking of which, come hungry. Teens will particularly like the food truck line up and younger ones will be pleased to hear Localtopia attracts amazing artisan ice cream makers.
Sugar Sand Festival: Florida’s #1 sand sculpting event
Need another reason for sun holidays in St. Pete/Clearwater?
The annual Sugar Sand Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2024 with a ‘Sands of Time’ theme. This look back at the past 10 years is shaping up to be phenomenal, which is exactly what you’d expect from Florida’s best sand sculpting event.
Come to explore the 21,000ft² beach space dedicated to creating incredible works of art from the area’s famous sugar sand. You can see the professional sand sculptors in action and be truly amazed at their skill, and the fact that they’re working in what has to be the world’s most difficult medium.
Once you’ve done browsing head to Pier 60 Park where the festival is also in full swing with live music, fireworks, street food stalls, market stalls and even free sand sculpting lessons for all. You’ll never settle for mere sandcastles again!
Dunedin Highland Games & Festival: Scotland with sunshine
Scotland is lovely, apart from the weather. But at the Scottish-influenced town of Dunedin in St. Pete/Clearwater, you can have both Florida sun and Highland traditions in April, at the Dunedin Highland Games & Festival.
Don’t pack a kilt, it’s far too toasty for that in spring. But do come along prepared to cheer at the pipe band parade, celebrate Celtic culture from Scotland, Ireland and Wales, admire the dancing and drumming, and maybe even pick up some skills yourself at one of the fun workshops.
Of course, no true celebration of Celtic culture is complete without a wee drink, so there’s also a lively Craft Beer Festival adding to the festivities at Dunedin Highland Games.
St. Pete Pride: families love Florida’s biggest Pride festival
St. Pete/Clearwater takes its LGBTQ+ friendly reputation to the next level in June each year with the largest Pride festival in Florida. Not only are there non-stop festivities of all sorts for a whole month, it traditionally includes fun Family Days too.
Inclusive is always the theme for this annual celebration, so while some events might be a bit too ‘fabulous’ for younger kids, everyone is welcome at the spectacular St. Pete Pride Parade. Held on the last Monday in June, this is the one not to miss for sheer exuberance, all out creativity and more than a hint of wildness – in a good way. And naturally, the sun will certainly be shining, all St. Pete Pride long.
SHINE Mural Festival: plan this one into autumn sun holidays
Since 2015, SHINE has created 150 dazzling, thought provoking, inspiring and magnificent murals all over downtown St. Pete. And they literally do shine, thanks to the combination of 361 days of sunshine and a passion for colour that makes these some of the most vibrant examples of street art in the world.
You can see the walls any time you visit, but the annual SHINE Mural Festival in October lets you deep dive into the culture and creativity on curated trolley tours in the company of expert guides who know the local art scene inside and out.
Another local festival celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, SHINE is great experience for older kids and teens, grown ups also get to enjoy a microbrewery element at the end, and SHINE plant a tree for every tour, so you’re making a difference too.
Halloween on Central: extra spooky sun holidays
If you plan to celebrate Halloween on Central, prepare to be seriously spooked.
Everything here is fear-inspiring from haunted houses and devilish dance events to super-competitive costume competitions and fearsome food trucks.
Just remember, this event will raise the bar for all your future Halloween festivities! You were warned.
Enchant Christmas St. Pete: sparkly winter sun holidays
Enchant Christmas is the world’s largest Christmas maze and you’ll find it in St. Pete/Clearwater in December.
The sun might be shining, but skating around a dazzling fairy light strewn maze, meeting Santa Claus in his spellbinding grotto and drinking hot chocolate are what the holiday season is all about, even when it’s definitely not cold outside in this part of Florida.
Get ready to be captivated by Enchant Christmas St. Pete and all the other glittery stuff that goes on in sunny St. Pete/Clearwater when it’s cold and wintery almost everywhere else.
How to plan a holiday in St. Pete/Clearwater
How to get there
Direct UK flights to Tampa International Airport, from 10 hours, year round
Tampa International Airport is a 30-minute drive from St. Pete/Clearwater
St. Pete/Clearwater is a 90-minute drive southwest of Orlando