Annual Events and Festivals in South Walton
July 1, 2009 by Kurt Lischka
South Walton has something great going on every month of the year, and nearly every weekend. While there are tons of great activities and events all Summer during the busy season, the major festivals are in the off season. That's great for locals and visitors. Temperatures are cooler and rentals and restaurants are less crowded.
Below is a list of some of the major, recurring annual festivals and events in SoWal. Be sure to check the SoWal Events Calendar for specific dates for events. Click here for the SoWal Live Music Calendar.
Traditionally, the quietest month of the year. Locals are hard at work preparing for visitors in the Spring. Some restaurants are closed for remodeling and preparations. Snowbirds (semi-long-term visitors from the North) rule the beaches every January and February.
Produced by the Cultural Arts Alliance, the 30A Songwriters Festival takes place each Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend, featuring over a two hundred musicians and songwriters. In bars and venues along Scenic 30A, songwriters take the stage for three full days of music.
Enjoy the fun of an old-fashioned Chautauqua in charming, historic DeFuniak Springs, Florida. Founded as a companion "winter assembly" of the New York Chautauqua, the Florida Chautauqua provided an opportunity for education through classes and workshops, craft activities, lectures by prominent speakers of the day, and a chance for solitude amidst life's busy days.
The Valentine Tour of Homes showcases the gorgeous and unique homes of the Beaches of South Walton.
Every year, Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort pairs first-rate gumbo and family fun at the Sandestin Gumbo Festival at Baytowne Wharf.
The Village of Baytowne Wharf presents the “Krewe of Arfeous” Annual Pooch Parade through the streets of Sandestin.
Fat Tuesday Baytowne Bash Parade.
Keep an eye out for Mardi Gras parties and festivals all over SoWal.
Spring has sprung and Spring breakers have descended. The Beaches of South Walton are lively in March, but calm and family-friendly compared to most Spring Break destinations. SoWal has an abundance of wildflowers along the roadsides and in the forests which begin blooming this time of year, and on into the Summer and Fall. Also keep your eyes open for Blue Lupine, which gives Blue Mountain Beach it’s name. It used to cover the dunes so thickly that sailors said they looked like blue mountains.
Seaside Neighborhood School Half Marathon & 5K is presented by Vera Bradley and has over 4,000 participants.
The Seabreeze Jazz Festival in Panama City Beach gets bigger and better every Spring. April continues a bit of Spring break, and like May, is slow relative to the coming Summer months. April can have some of the best weather of the year.
Annual Sandestin Wine Festival at Baytowne Wharf is an amazing collection of music, wine, and food.
Artsquest Arts & Music Festival is the biggest event of the month, a juried art show caps a week of events. Artsquest began as a small art festival in Grayton Beach, moved to Eden State Gardens, then to Sandestin, and now is held in Seaside. Produced by the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County.
Digital Graffiti at Alys Beach was created to celebrate and promote the world’s most talented and innovative digital artists.
Memorial Day weekend towards the end of May is the real beginning of tourist season on the Emerald Coast, coinciding with the kids getting out of school.
Be sure to check out the Grayton Beach Kids' Fishing Tournament sponsored by CCA South Walton Chapter.
June means the season is in full swing, the rentals are booked, families are happy, and Summer is fresh. The heated dog days have not yet arrived.
The Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic at Sandestin is the Northwest Florida Gulf Coast’s entry to the world stage of premier marlin tournaments with over $1,000,000 awarded to the winners in this World Billfish Series-sanctioned event.
A hot month in South Walton, and quite busy. You’ll want plenty of cold drinks and watermelon on hand. The 4th of July parade in Seaside gets more elaborate every year, while the parade in Grayton Beach is just a bunch of folks being crazy. Strolling on the beach on the night of the 4th, you’ll see fireworks all along the gentle curve from Destin to Panama City.
In Sandestin, experience the sights and sounds of the 4th of July. Baytowne Wharf hosts a variety of children’s activities throughout the weekend, along with live music sure to entertain all ages. And, to end the Red, White & Baytowne events, the Village presents Independence Fireworks Spectacular over the Lagoon!
The last blast before school starts up again, August is busy and temps are sky high. Frequent afternoon showers blow in from the gulf and cool off the burning sands.
The Sandestin Triathlon has hundreds of participants for a half-mile Gulf of Mexico swim, a 20-mile bike along the coast, and a 4-mile run throughout Sandestin’s beach and bayside community.
Labor Day weekend is the last blast of the Summer, with folks desperate to eek out a bit more fun in the sun before Fall sets in and school is rolling full time. The temps are still high and the water is warm.
Baytowne Art Walk takes place in The Village of Baytowne Wharf on (Fri-Sun) during Labor Day weekend. Stroll the streets and enjoy the art, live music and children's activities throughout the Village in the heart of Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. Free admission.
The crowds are gone, along with the hot temps and the humidity of Summer. The water is still warm and there’s plenty to do leading up to the unfortunate changing of the clocks.
Rosemary Uncorked features fine wines and good food from Rosemary Beach's excellent restaurants. This wine festival one sells out every time.
The Seeing Red Wine Festival in Seaside is a very popular part of Fall festivals in SoWal... get your tickets early.
Flutterby Children's Art Festival is fun for all ages, held in Rosemary Beach and produced by the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County.
South Walton Holiday Parade and Seaside Turn on the Town - Parade, Santa Arrives, turning on the lights on the Christmas Tree and the Town.
Telluride MountainFilm on Tour returns to WaterColor on the big screen under the stars in the WaterColor Marina Park. Lawn seating — bring blankets and lawn chairs.
Christmas Reflections - Spectacular light display with over 4 1/2 million lights surrounding beautiful Lake DeFuniak in Historic Downtown DeFuniak Springs.
The white sands of SoWal make a great substitute for snow-covered slopes. It’s not uncommon to have gorgeous 75 degree days in December, with fish pulled in off the beach.
Eden State Gardens Christmas Candlelight Tour Visit Eden State Gardens in Point Washington for a stunning illuminated old-fashioned Christmas and entertainment by The Friends of Eden Gardens, Florida State Parks, and citizens of Point Washington, www.FriendsOfEdenGardens.org.
Look for New Year's Eve celebrations all over South Walton and along the Emerald Coast, including bashes and fireworks in Seaside, Rosemary Beach and in Sandestin at Baytowne Wharf - Enjoy live music in the Events Plaza all night long leading up to firework’s extravaganza over the lagoon at midnight. Pier Park is known for its New Year's Eve celebration with live music entertainment and beach ball drop.