TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10)- After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the Tampa Riverfest will kick off on Friday, May 6 and continue on Saturday, May 7 along the Tampa Riverwalk.
Tampa Riverfest will feature two days of free, family-friendly events showcasing Tampa’s cultural institutions, local music and restaurants. New this year is a colorful and illuminated Riverfest Lantern Parade on Saturday night, with workshops to help participants create their own designs to carry along the festive parade route.
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Produced by the nonprofit organization Friends of the Riverwalk, Riverfest offers activities that span the Tampa Riverwalk. This year’s festivities kick off on Friday, May 6 from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. with live music on the Curtis Hixon Park Main Stage, along with Taste of the Riverwalk from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Taste of the Riverwalk showcases the variety of dining options that are available along the Riverwalk from local restaurants and dessert food truck vendors. With the purchase of a wristband, festival goers can enjoy samples of signature dishes from local restaurants.
On Saturday, May 7, celebrate a late Cinco de Mayo with Tacofest. A large tent will be set up at Curtis Hixon Park offering a wide selection of tacos for purchase. The day’s festivities begin at 10 am with the Florida Wiener Dog Derby. Back by popular demand, the dogs compete in a race and other contests like best kisser, best costume, and the ever-popular tail wag. One of the largest Dachshund gatherings in the state, the festivities will include games, raffles, foster dogs and a silent art auction.
The fun continues at Water Works Park with Paddle Invasion and races starting at 8:30 a.m. In partnership with Urban Kai, runners can choose to run a long (6-mile) or short (2-mile) course as they compete for prizes . From 9 am to 10 am Riverfest welcomes Yoga in the Park with a donation-based class for all levels taught by Robin LC with The Calm Collective. Food trucks with items will be available for purchase from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Throughout the day, Hillsborough County Schools music students will perform from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a spring concert featuring the Tampa Bay Pride Band starting at 7pm
The highlight of this year’s event is the inaugural Riverfest Lantern Parade sponsored by The Beck Group. Participants design their own colored paper creations and register to march with them during a joyous one-mile parade along the Riverwalk from Water Works Park to Curtis Hixon Park with local music and marching bands starting at 8: 30 p.m.
Local artists will host lantern-making workshops for children and adults prior to Riverfest on April 27 at Armature Works, and April 21 and May 2 at The Straz Center for Performing Arts. The workshops will be held from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm Registration is required for the workshops and can be found online at http://www.TheTampaRiverwalk.com. The registration fee covers supplies and instruction. Lanterns can also be created throughout the day on Saturday, May 7 at Water Works Park. Participants can also visit http://www.TheTampaRIverwalk.com to purchase a flashlight kit to assemble at home to bring to the parade. Supplies and kits available for purchase are limited, so order early.
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As the sun sets on both Friday and Saturday nights, Curtis Hixon Park will light up with one of Riverfest’s signature events, the hugely popular Hot Air Balloon Glow, which begins at 8:30 p.m., weather permitting. It allows. The balloon glow is sponsored by Coastal Construction, Re/Max Alliance Group and Tampa Bay Lightning.
“Riverfest is a celebration of our Riverwalk and what it means to our community,” said David DeVaney, chairman of the Friends of the Riverwalk board. “We are delighted to be back and offer such a wide range of activities for festival goers of all ages to experience. Friends of the Riverwalk is committed to hosting world-class free public events along the Riverwalk for all of Tampa Bay to enjoy.”
This year’s event also includes a full series of concerts with bands and a DJ entertaining the crowd on the main stage at Curtis Hixon Park on both Friday and Saturday. Saturday night’s headlining band will host the Ultimate Lenny Kravitz Experience.
All events and entertainment at Riverfest are free and open to the public. Taste of the Riverwalk and TacoFest require the purchase of a wristband for food sampling. A portion of each purchase will be donated to Friends of the Riverwalk. Taste of the Riverwalk and TacoFest wristbands are available for purchase in advance online at http://www.thetampariverfest.com, and are $15 for 3 samples/tacos, $20 for 5 samples/tacos. Online food sales will end 24 hours prior to the start of Riverfest and if they don’t sell out, wristbands will be available at the event.
A VIP tent, hosted by Tito’s Handmade Vodka, JW Marriott and Tampa Marriott Water Street, will be available from 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and will offer beer, cocktails, soft drinks, water, light snacks, first class access row to the main stage and access to the executive restrooms. Friday Night VIP tickets include a wristband for 5 Taste of the Riverwalk samples. Tickets are for a specific day and are $75 for Friday night, $100 for Saturday or $150 for both days and are available for purchase at http://www.thetampariverfest.com. Online sales end 24 hours before the start of Riverfest and if they don’t sell out, wristbands will be available at the event.
Event sponsors for Riverfest include: Baker Barrios Architects, Inc., Famous Tate, Florida Aquarium, The Leytham Group, Lifeguard Imaging, Lincoln Center – Westshore, Regions Bank, Saint Leo University, T-Mobile, Tampa Bay Rays/Rowdies, Urban Kai, Wade Trim, The Beck Group, Bliss Wellness Market, Busch Gardens, Bush Ross, Diamond Resorts, ECS Florida, Freedom Boat Club, Glazer Children’s Museum, GTE Financial, J & J Realty, Modera Tampa, Re/Max Alliance Group , Estado Farm, Tampa Downtown Partnership, University of Tampa, Valley Bank, Verra Mobility, Visit Tampa Bay, Coastal Construction, Couch Family Foundation, Milo’s Tea Company, Inc., Tampa Bay Lightning, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Mad Bear Productions, Pepin Distributing , Inc., Splitsville Southern + Social, City of Tampa, Hillsborough County, JW Marriott, and Tampa Marriott Water Street.
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