TAMPA — It looks like Sunset Music Festivals from years past, but at merchandise booths the promoters emphasize one thing that’s different about this weekend’s event: “1st Festival Back.”
Last spring, the festival was one of Tampa’s last major concerts to throw in the towel due to the coronavirus pandemic. After two more postponements, it was finally a go for this Memorial Day weekend with a lineup of top electronic dance music artists.
The first Sunset Music Festival was held in 2012.
The two-day show Saturday and Sunday, with headliners such as AC Slater, Destructo, Lizzy Jane, 12th Planet, LSDream, Rezz and Zomboy, attracts fans who like to dance while clad in neon, glitter and tie-dye.
The pandemic seemed a distant memory as people crowded around the festival’s four stages Saturday. Promoters said on social media that many types of tickets for the event were sold out and all others, 99 percent gone.
Gates open 3 p.m. Sunday at the north lot of Raymond James Stadium.
Promoters are emphasizing safety in their messaging, still mindful of calls to shut it down for good after two festival-goers died of accidental drug abuse in 2016. The psychotropic MDMA was found in their systems.
On Saturday, Tampa police made eight arrests at the festival on felony narcotics charges, police spokesman Eddy Durkin said. One suspect faces an additional charge of battery on a law enforcement officer.
Emergency medical personnel handled 87 calls at the festival and made 29 transports to local hospitals, none of them for what appeared to be life-threatening issues, Durkin.
Just before midnight Saturday, a car struck a woman as she was crossing Himes Avenue west of the Raymond James property. The woman was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and the driver cooperated with police.
The messaging this year also emphasizes the need to guard against heat and dehydration. Maps show festival-goers where to find multicolored shade stations, cool-down zones and free water.
The forecast for Sunday from the National Weather Service: Scattered showers and thunderstorms, mainly between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Partly sunny, with a high near 89. Calm wind becoming west southwest 5 to 7 mph in the afternoon. Chance of rain is 40 percent during the day, 30 percent at night.
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Staff writer Anastasia Dawson contributed to this report.