Spring breakers have headed back to college, but solar-powered parties shine on with Clearwater's 59th annual Fun 'N Sun Festival.
The city's signature celebration that started out nearly 60 years ago with a parade begins tonight with a concert in Coachman Park and continues through next weekend with a plethora of events.
Did we mention that the concert series with headliners such as Rick Springfield, Ambrosia, Ronnie Dunn and Firefall is free?
"The fact that we can still get sponsors for the concerts in this economy is a mighty good feat," said Brian Craig, the city's events and athletics coordinator.
Diehard fans who want to be up close to the stars have a variety of reserved seating options that range from $20 on up to $85 for a VIP hospitality package that includes dinner, drinks and seats in front of the stage. Visit ticketmaster.com for tickets.
Organizers ask that you don't bring pets (except registered assistant animals), coolers, food or drinks to Coachman Park.
Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets. One sealed bottle of water per person is allowed.
New this year is the free Spring Star Spectacular and Classic Car Show, held April 28 from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the downtown Cleveland Street District. The Star Spectacular is a tribute to the original event by the same name that got its start in the 1960s. Back then, both national acts and garage bands played in the Clearwater Municipal Auditorium, helping to give birth to the rock 'n' roll movement.
During this year's event, four bands — the Belloise Brothers, the Tempests, the New Tropics and the Impacs — play in Station Square Park. Meanwhile, a classic car show takes place on Cleveland Street between East and Fort Harrison avenues.
For more information on the Sun 'N Fun Festival, visit myclearwater.com/funnsun.
Day Off! Concert presented by Bright House Networks: Take a Ferris Bueller day and enjoy the sounds of Greg West and the Jeremy Thomas Band. Folk rocker Matt Nathanson headlines at 9 p.m. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. at Coachman Park, 301 Drew St. Free general admission or purchase reserved seating at ticketmaster.com.
QFest presented by Q105 & the City of Clearwater: Party like it's 1979 with Greg West, Big Brother, Whole Lotta Zeppelin and Ambrosia. At 8:25 p.m., '80s rock star Rick Springfield takes the stage. Gates open at 1 p.m. at Coachman Park, 301 Drew St. Free general admission or purchase reserved seating at ticketmaster.com. Find more info at myq105.com.
WQYK Fun 'N Sun Toyota Country Concert: Enjoy city life and country music on the main stage with Suite Caroline, Andy Gibson, J.T. Hodges, the Farm and Chris Cagle. Ronnie Dunn (from the former Brooks and Dunn) gives a solo performance at 7:45 p.m. On the Archery Shop acoustic stage: Greg Bates, Canaan Smith and Brett Eldredge. Gates open at 1 p.m. at Coachman Park, 301 Drew St. Free general admission or purchase reserved seating at ticketmaster.com. Find more information at wqyk.com.
Athleta Iron Girl Clearwater: This female-only racing event starts with a half-marathon at 7 a.m. and a 5K at 7:30 a.m. It starts at Coachman Park and finishes at Clearwater Beach. irongirl.com/events/clearwater.
Clearwater Threshers "Bark at the Ball Park": What could be better than sharing a hot dog with your own dog while watching Clearwater Threshers take on the Brevard Manatees? The game is at 1 p.m. at Bright House Networks Field, 601 N Old Coachman Road. Dog tickets are $5 each with proceeds going to the Humane Society of Pinellas. Human tickets range in price from $5 to $9.50 threshersbaseball.com or (727) 467-4457.
Friday, April 27
Casanova's Blast Friday: Rev up old memories as Firefall performs their gentle 1976 love hit You Are the Woman on the Tampa Bay Times Cleveland Street stage. The free event in the downtown Cleveland Street district runs from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. rutheckerdhall.com.
Clearwater Threshers '70s night with Disco InferNO: Dress in your favorite '70s getup for a 6:30 p.m. ball game between the Threshers and Daytona Cubs followed by a concert by Disco Inferno. Bright House Networks Field, 601 N Old Coachman Rd. Tickets are $5 to $9.50. threshersbaseball.com or (727) 467-4457.
Friday and Saturday, April 27 and 28
Sunset Cinema at Pier 60: Free family fun with films shown on a jumbo screen at Clearwater Beach's Pier 60 (weather permitting). The Smurfs movie is shown Friday at 7:45 p.m.; Saturday is Jack and Jill at 7:45 p.m. Bring a blanket or low-sitting chair. (727) 449-1036.
Saturday, April 28
Spring Star Spectacular and Classic Car Show: 12:30 to 6:30 p.m. Free. For more information or to register for the car show, visit clearwater starspectacular.com
Saturday and Sunday, April 28 and 29
Disc Golf Tournament: It's Frisbee golf and no green fees as the Tampa Bay Disc Sports Club presents its 2012 Fun 'N Sun disc golf tourney at NE Coachman Park, 1120 Old Coachman Road. Saturday's disc throwing starts at 8 a.m.; the event begins Sunday at 10 a.m. Call (727) 656-9570 or visit pdga.com.