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Annual Events and Festivals in South Walton

November 15, 2021 by SoWal Staff

South Walton has something great going on every month of the year, and every weekend. While there are tons of great activities and events all Summer during the busy season, the major festivals are in the off season in Spring and Fall. That's great for locals and visitors. Temperatures are cooler and rentals and restaurants are less crowded.

Below is a list of some of the major, recurring annual festivals and events in SoWal. Festivals sometime shift months or locations so be sure to check the SoWal Events Calendar for specific dates for events. There are recurring events at the State Parks, the towns and resorts, and many of the restaurants and outdoor venues in SoWal. And of course plenty of live music at venues all year round. For food lovers, keep an eye out for culinary series by local chefs, and Farmers Markets in several locations.

Ongoing series occurring at various times of the year include theater and music productions by The Repertory Theater, Emerald Coast Theater, Sinfonia Gulf Coast, Mattie Kelly Arts Center, and The Village of Baytowne Wharf.


January
Traditionally, the quietest month of the year. Locals are hard at work preparing for visitors in the Spring. Some restaurants are closed for remodeling and preparations. Snowbirds (semi-long-term visitors from the North) rule the beaches every January and February.

Produced by the Cultural Arts Alliance, the 30A Songwriters Festival takes place each Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend, featuring over 250 performances from musicians and songwriters.  In bars and indoor & outdoor venues along Scenic 30A providing a weekend full of music.

Enjoy the fun of an old-fashioned Chautauqua in charming, historic DeFuniak Springs, Florida. Founded as a companion "winter assembly" of the New York Chautauqua, the Florida Chautauqua provided an opportunity for education through classes and workshops, craft activities, lectures by prominent speakers of the day, and a chance for solitude amidst life's busy days.


February
The Valentine Tour of Homes showcases a selection of gorgeous and unique homes of South Walton.

Every year, Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort pairs first-rate gumbo and family fun at  the Sandestin Gumbo Festival at Baytowne Wharf. Local restaurants and businesses compete for who makes the best gumbo and other prizes. Bring your appetite for this 2-day event featuring a seafood boil kick-off party and a day full of gumbo from over 20 restaurants on Saturday.

The Village of Baytowne Wharf presents the Fat Tuesday Baytowne Bash Parade through the streets. Keep an eye out for Mardi Gras parties and festivals all over SoWal.

The 30A Wine Festival at Alys Beach is a four-day event featuring a special wine dinner, Bourbon, Beer & Butts event, seminars and finishes the festivities with a Sunday brunch. More than 80 wines will be featured during the event, and proceeds benefit the Children’s Volunteer Health Network.

The Camellia Festival at Eden Gardens State Park showcases the many varieties of Camellias on the grounds and has arts and entertainment highlighting the Park. The Friends of Eden Gardens invite the community with presentations on camellias, from how they are air layered to floral arrangements. There are also heritage presenters throughout the park, demonstrating skills such as blacksmithing, chair caning and candle making, to name a few. Live music is provided on the bayou stage, so bring your chairs or blankets and plan to spend the afternoon.


March
Spring has sprung and Spring breakers have descended. The Beaches of South Walton are lively in March, but calm and family-friendly compared to most Spring Break destinations. SoWal has an abundance of wildflowers along the roadsides and in the forests which begin blooming this time of year, and on into the Summer and Fall. Also keep your eyes open for Blue Lupine, which gives Blue Mountain Beach it’s name. It used to cover the dunes so thickly that sailors said they looked like blue mountains.

Art In The Park at WaterColor's Cerulean Park expands each year and kicks off the beautiful Spring in SoWal.

Seaside Neighborhood School Half Marathon & 5K is presented by Vera Bradley and has over 4,000 participants. This 3-day event kicks off with Taste of the Race, a foodie paradise featuring local celebrity chef demonstrations, samplings and live music. On Saturday, local businesses gather for the race expo before Sunday’s final event, the race through the picturesque neighborhood of Seaside. Race partner, Vera Bradley, provides a gift at the finish line for all who complete the race.


April
The Seabreeze Jazz Festival in Panama City Beach gets bigger and better every Spring. April continues a bit of Spring break, and like May, is slow relative to the coming Summer months. April can have some of the best weather of the year.

Annual Sandestin Wine Festival at Baytowne Wharf is an amazing collection of music, wine, and food. Known as the “Kentucky Derby of Wine Festivals” and named “Best Annual Event” by Destin Magazine, the Sandestin Wine Festival gets underway with a Kickoff Party on Thursday night. Throughout the course of the 4-day event guests can participate in seminars, dinners and tastings from local and international sources. Enjoy more than 500 domestic and international wines all while benefitting The Fisher House and Sandestin Foundation for Kids.

The Annual South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival at Grand Boulevard is amazing and includes the giant Destin Charity Wine Auction. A dazzling roster of dozens of celebrity winemakers, distillers, chefs, brew masters and entertainers converge in South Walton for four-days of food and wine filled celebration. Participants can indulge in over 800 wines, take a stroll down Spirits Row, visit the Rosé All Day Garden or savor the South Walton Culinary Village, Nosh Pavillions and more!

Bring the whole family for the Grayton Beach Kids' Fishing Tournament sponsored by CCA South Walton Chapter.


May
May is our main month for the arts with a jam packed calendar of Art Month South Walton Events, including the South Walton Street Art Festival with dozens of visual artists and students creating works of art using only pastel chalk and their imagination at Grand Boulevard in Sandestin. Produced by the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County.

Digital Graffiti at Alys Beach was created to celebrate and promote the world’s most talented and innovative digital artists. A one-of-a-kind projection art festival, Digital Graffiti combines the latest digital technologies with unique pieces of art to paint the iconic white walls of Alys Beach in vibrant hues. Each year the festival attracts digital artists, filmmakers, producers, celebrities and guests from all over for this astounding arts festival. The event features all-inclusive food and drink experiences as well as á la carte options.

Memorial Day weekend towards the end of May is the real beginning of tourist season on the Emerald Coast, coinciding with the kids getting out of school.


June
June means the season is in full swing, the rentals are booked, families are happy, and Summer is fresh. The heated dog days have not yet arrived.

The Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic at Sandestin is the Northwest Florida Gulf Coast’s entry to the world stage of premier marlin tournaments with over $1,000,000 awarded to the winners in this World Billfish Series-sanctioned event. The Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic (ECBC) is a premier sport-fishing tournament which draws record crowds. Big fish and big money prizes have made the ECBC and event you don’t want to miss. Nightly entertainment, fireworks, live cooking demonstrations and big fish weigh-ins await you at this one-of-a-kind event. Admission to the event is free and fun for the whole family!


July
A hot month in South Walton, and quite busy. You’ll want plenty of cold drinks and watermelon on hand. The 4th of July parade in Seaside gets more elaborate every year, while the parade in Grayton Beach is just a bunch of folks being crazy on bikes, skateboards, rusty trucks and waterguns. Strolling on the beach on the night of the 4th, you’ll see fireworks all along the gentle curve from Destin to Panama City.

In Sandestin, experience the sights and sounds of the 4th of July. Baytowne Wharf hosts a variety of children’s activities throughout the weekend, along with live music sure to entertain all ages. And, to end the Red, White & Baytowne events, the Village presents Independence Fireworks Spectacular over the Lagoon!


August
The last blast before school starts up again, August temps are sky high with frequent afternoon showers that blow in from the gulf and cool off the burning sands. There are plenty of things to do like music, farmers markets, yoga and fitness, but because it is so hot outside there is a scarcity of large events.

Paddle at the Park in Destin at Henderson Beach State Park features several different races at various lengths for standup paddlers, kayaks & inflatables so everyone can participate for a good cause.


September
Labor Day weekend is the last blast of the Summer, with folks desperate to eek out a bit more fun in the sun before Fall sets in and school is rolling full time. The temps are still high and the water is warm.

The International Coastal Cleanup Day is a feature for locals and visitors to volunteer time at several beaches and State Parks helping to keep our environment clean.

Baytowne Art Walk takes place in The Village of Baytowne Wharf on (Fri-Sun) during Labor Day weekend. Stroll the streets and enjoy the art, live music and children's activities throughout the Village in the heart of Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. Free admission.

Get teed up and ready to golf at the Annual Fore Her Golf Outing  at Santa Rosa Golf & Beach Club.  The day includes prizes, breakfast, food and drink samples along the course, lunch and an incredible silent auction.


October
The crowds are gone, along with the hot temps and the humidity of Summer. The water is still warm and there’s plenty to do leading up to the unfortunate changing of the clocks. Get running for a cause at the 30A Half Marathon & 5K at Gulf Place.

The ArtsQuest Fine Arts Festival is produced by the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County and hosted at Grand Boulevard Town Center in Sandestin. ArtsQuest provides an opportunity to view and purchase original art from over 150 artists from around the country.

The South Walton Celebrity Golf Classic at Sandestin is a fantastic charity on the links event.

Eggs On The Beach is an official Big Green Egg Competition in Miramar Beach and it is officially tasty. The Big Green Egg is an all-in-one smoker and grill, and those who have tried it know that everything tastes better on the Egg. Foods are so delicious that the Big Green Egg now has a loyal following of chefs and admirers (also known as "EggHeads") who specialize in cooking great-tasting food using only these grills. EggHeads travel from all over the country to cook and compete for best tasting dish.

The Harvest Wine Festival is a big deal in WaterColor by Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation, featureing renowned wine makers and local restaurants offering a chance for attendees to sip and savor some of the world’s finest culinary and wine selections. The three-day event is hosted in the South Walton community of WaterColor.

The Bloody Mary Festival at The Market Shops at Sandestin benefits local charities and features unlimited tastes of the Emerald Coast’s most creative and innovative Bloody Marys, served by the finest restaurants and bars on the Panhandle.

Rosemary Uncorked features fine wines and good food from Rosemary Beach's excellent restaurants. This wine festival one sells out every time. 

Baytowne Wharf Beer Festival is the place in Sandestin for dozens and dozens of beer vendors and delectable food.


November
The Seeing Red Wine Festival in Seaside is a very popular part of Fall festivals in SoWal... get your tickets early. [note: suspended for 2022]

30A 10K Thanksgiving Day Race at Rosemary Beach is a chance to burn off the bird and stuffing.

Flutterby Children's Art Festival is fun for all ages, produced by the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County, celebrating the migration of the Monarch Butterfly through our area with art activities, live music, theater and dance performances, art exhibits, and a butterfly parade!

South Walton Holiday Parade and Seaside Turn on the Town - Parade, Santa Arrives, turning on the lights on the Christmas Tree and the Town.

Old Florida Holiday and Winter Market covers Watercolor in dazzling lights, features horse-drawn carriage rides, visits with Santa and so much more at this holiday season kick-off event! Enjoy falling snow while snacking on s’mores and a winter market for that perfect Christmas gift! This event is free and open to the public and features bonfires, carriage rides and more.

Telluride MountainFilm on Tour returns to WaterColor on the big screen under the stars in the WaterColor Marina Park. Lawn seating — bring blankets and lawn chairs. 

Christmas Reflections  - Spectacular light display with over 4 1/2 million lights surrounding beautiful Lake DeFuniak in Historic Downtown DeFuniak Springs.


December
The white sands of SoWal make a great substitute for snow-covered slopes. It’s not uncommon to have gorgeous 75 degree days in December, with fish pulled in off the beach.

Eden State Gardens Christmas Candlelight Tour  Visit Eden State Gardens in Point Washington for a stunning illuminated old-fashioned Christmas and entertainment by The Friends of Eden Gardens, Florida State Parks, and citizens of Point Washington,  www.FriendsOfEdenGardens.org.

Look for New Year's Eve celebrations all over South Walton and along the Emerald Coast, including bashes and fireworks in Seaside, Rosemary Beach and in Sandestin at Baytowne Wharf - Enjoy live music in the Events Plaza all night long leading up to firework’s extravaganza over the lagoon at midnight. Pier Park is known for its New Year's Eve celebration with live music entertainment and beach ball drop.

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