Fast becoming one of my favorite starts to the season, is the Gasparilla Music Festival. Last year was my very first soiree into this annual event and it’s become a must-do (at least in my opinion) for any Tampa-ite who can hop in an Uber and enjoy a day or two of the festivities in downtown.
Since Nick had gotten his 2-day ticket for his birthday, I purchased one of my own off their website in advance of the festival weekend (you save money!). A week ahead of the festival, I found out the Saturday tickets were almost completely sold out! Glad I got mine early.
As it’s a bit early in the music festival season, the weather is a bit of a gamble. It can be hot or cool and you sort of need to come prepared for both, especially if you plan on tucking in for a full start-to-finish day like we did. I donned my flannel, jeans and gold accessories (and tattoos) for the occasion.
But we quickly saw that pretty much anything goes at this baby.
After arriving and quickly greeting the festival’s exec director (who happens to be a former boss of mine), who was roaming the grounds inconspicuously with a back pack on and bare feet, we staked out spot in front of the main stage. It’s a BYO blanket or chair type event, so we opted for some beach chairs to lounge in under cloudy skies.
Once our spot was secure, we wasted no time in venturing over to the alley of local food vendors, all offering up exquisite street-style eats.
As has become my tradition, I quickly swooped by the Anise tent where their AH-mazing stinky buns (think Asian-inspired tacos with a sweet and soft, dumpling like taco) were on offer.
Gone in a few bites, I opted for the Indie grilled cheese from the crafty minds of The Independent, heading their urgent advice that the mustard was a critical component to the sandwich that I had to try.
When it comes to grilled cheese, I will not question some good advice.
Nick opted for a fish wrap of some sort, which barely made it back to our chairs.
After snagging a couple drinks (also from local vendors – do you see a trend?) and sweet treat, we meandered our way through the growing crowds to our chairs…
Where I proceeded to devour my sandwich…
And the best Boozie Brownies, I’ve ever had.
We watched a couple bands.
Then caught up with some friends who we had to search out on a break.
About halfway through the afternoon, we opted to change locations to the grassier top level stage.
The great part about having set locations is that the variety of friends that drift in and out of the festival just come to you! Since we stayed all day, we got to visit with a few groups of friends as they passed on by, swishing and swaying to the tunes.
And when you did just get a chance to kick back and look around, there were some really great views!
Not to mention, fantastic people-watching, which really should be a sport at gatherings like this.
And someone should start a drinking game for hula hoop spotting. Music festivals and hula hoops are inseparable no matter where you go.
After groovin’ to one of our favorite festival bands, Dumpstaphunk (singing out a few choruses of “Put it in the dumpsta!”), the sun began to set and the bellies started to grumble, yet again.
Awe, shucks. Back to the food alley. This time I went with some local flavor in the form of a Cuban sandwich.
The people were really packed in by dusk…
When the silent disco, situated on an overlook across from UT, kicked into gear.
It was back to the main stage for the last couple of bands, including Modest Mouse.
Unfortunately, the Mouse was more than modest and was a half-hour late in going on, before N and I decided the chilly temps and full day were enough. We folded up our chairs, bid our friends adieu and ordered up a car home.
Sometimes the quiet peace of home is simply music to my ears.