Sunset Music Festival, more outdoor concerts could be soaked by weekend rain

Rain starts to pour as Mako performs at the 2015 Sunset Music Festival in Tampa. (Luis Santana | Times)
Rain starts to pour as Mako performs at the 2015 Sunset Music Festival in Tampa. (Luis Santana | Times)
Published May 24 2018
Updated May 24 2018

 

Your Memorial Day weekend weather forecast is not looking good, with a big low pressure system, Invest 90L, hovering out in the Gulf of Mexico and threatening to dump several inches of water on Saturday.

For music fans, it couldn't be coming at a worse time.

Saturday brings three huge concert festivals to different corners of Tampa Bay: The Sunset Music Festival at Raymond James Stadium, the Tampa Bay Margarita Festival at Curtis Hixon Park and the 97X Barbecue Music and Arts Festival at Vinoy Park.

In a normal year, that might mean north of 40,000 fans at huge outdoor concerts on a single Saturday. While the forecast might temper that figure just a bit, the more pressing question is: What happens if the rains do come?
As of Wednesday, all three festivals were still a go. All are also rain-or-shine events, meaning if they get rained out, there will be no refunds. But that doesn't mean we couldn't see some disruptions.

TAMPA BAY WEATHER: Latest forecasts, radar and more

Here's how the three fests are preparing:

SUNSET MUSIC FESTIVAL

The gigantic EDM fest, which takes place Saturday and Sunday with headliners Marshmello and Excision, has some experience with nasty weather. In 2014 and 2015, rain, wind and lightning forced some 20,000 festivalgoers to evacuate into Raymond James Stadium.

Sunset Music Festival attendees take shelter inside Raymond James Stadium to wait out inclement weather in 2014. [Jay Cridlin | Times]
Sunset Music Festival attendees take shelter inside Raymond James Stadium to wait out inclement weather in 2014. [Jay Cridlin | Times]

FROM 2015: After last year’s Sunset Music Festival storms, safety is a top concern

That will likely be the case this year, too, if the radar looks too nasty. Organizers encourage fans to keep up with weather reports and follow the fest on social media for the latest updates.

Umbrellas and tents are prohibited at SMF, but hats, ponchos and plastic tarps are allowed. Click here for more details on the fest.

97X BARBECUE MUSIC AND ARTS FESTIVAL

The Dirty Heads and Awolnation top the bill at this long-running but newly rechristened festival, which hits Vinoy Park on Saturday. In addition to the music, local artists, including muralists, will be on site creating new works throughout the day.

MORE: The Dirty Heads talk backyard barbecues, shedding the 'reggae rock' label and more

But the alt-rock station will be working with St. Petersburg city and fire officials the day of the event to make any decisions about evacuations; updates will be posted to 97X's social media accounts. The 97X app, which has set times and other details, also has a weather section with radar.

Umbrellas are not permitted at the 97X Barbecue. Click here for more details on the festival.

TAMPA BAY MARGARITA FESTIVAL

With headliners like the Wallflowers and Plain White T's on Saturday and Everclear and Fastball on Sunday, organizers were hoping for a two-day crowd of 20,000.

This week, after consulting with Tampa city officials and the National Weather Service, they decided to add more covered areas for shade and rain protection. If nasty weather prompts an evacuation — as happened in 2015 — festivalgoers will be ushered to the Poe Garage next to Curtis Hixon Park. (And if you're wondering, yes, you can take your margaritas with you.)

Umbrellas and rain ponchos are permitted at the Margarita Festival; tents are not. Click here for details.

— Jay Cridlin

 

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