TAMPA — With the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts approaching on March 2 and 3 at Curtis Hixon Park, festival officials announced Wednesday that the event will change venues next year. For its 50th anniversary in 2020, the festival will move to Julian B. Lane Waterfront Park.
Opened in May 2018, the picturesque park sits on the west side of the Hillsborough River and has views of downtown Tampa's skyline. The move will allow the outdoor festival to expand, as the footprint of the park is double that of Curtis Hixon Park and Kiley Garden, where the event has been held for years.
Gasparilla Festival of the Arts is a juried outdoor festival that showcases the work of more than 250 local, national and international artists. It includes an emerging artists program, a scholastic showcase and a Collectors in Training program that encourages children to start collecting affordable works of art.
Throughout its history, the festival has changed locations several times, always growing with the city of Tampa.
"By moving to the park, we will be one of the early adopters of the city's goal of an expanded downtown on the west side of the river, said festival president Andy George at an event Wednesday to celebrate the festival. "It demonstrates our festival's commitment to supporting the city's initiatives."
The extra space allows for more food and drink vendors, a larger stage for live music and performances, shaded seating options and larger playground areas.
Parking is a big factor in the decision. The park has on-site parking, and the festival will have designated areas for ride sharing and bicycle parking. Visitors will also have the opportunity to use water taxis to access the festival.
The most important aspect of the move is to make the artists' experience more convenient. A larger park means more ease for set up and break down of booths. There's also space for double booths, something that wasn't possible at Curtis Hixon Park. That creates the opportunity to attract artists who hadn't been able to participate because of size limitations.
"As this city has transformed itself, so is it appropriate that this festival grow with the city and become part of what is now one of America's most exciting places," said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
If you go
Gasparilla Festival of the Arts
March 2-3, 2019 at Curtis Hixon Park and Kiley Garden. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. 600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa. gasparillaarts.com.