Annual Events and Festivals in South Walton
November 15, 2022 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.
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.
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 Gospel brunch. More than 80 wines from across the globe are featured during the event, and proceeds benefit the Children’s Volunteer Health Network.
Crescendo! Sinfonia Gulf Coast - Enjoy an energy-infused cultural and culinary experience showcasing winemakers, celebrity chefs, auction items and award-winning musicians. Crescendo! is an exciting cultural extravaganza benefiting Sinfonia Gulf Coast and its music education and community engagement initiatives throughout Northwest Florida - www.sinfoniagulfcoast.org.
The Camellia Festival at Eden Gardens State Park, presented by The Friends of Eden Gardens State Park, showcases the gardens which have quite a collection of Camellias. Beginning to bloom in late November, Camellias bring beautiful flowers to the park through the winter months. In February tribute is paid to the Camellias, with an array of educational displays and presentations, and strolls through the Camellia garden and grounds.
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 kicks off the beautiful Spring in SoWal. Artists of all genres will feature mediums including but not limited to: Oil, Acrylic and Watercolor Paintings, Charcoal, Chalk, Pastel and Color Pencil Drawings, Photography, Printmaking, Digital Art, Glass Art, Jewelry, Fabric Art, Pottery, Wood Work, Fashion Design and more! Also, enjoy live music throughout the day and various food and libations!
Seaside Neighborhood School Half Marathon & 5K weekend has over 4,000 participants. The 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. Note: sometimes held in February.
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 is our main month for the arts with a jam-packed calendar of Art Month South Walton Events, produced by the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County. The ArtsQuest Fine Arts Festival is the centerpiece of Art Month and hosted at Grand Boulevard Town Center in Sandestin. ArtsQuest provides an opportunity to view and purchase original art by more than 150 artists from around the country.
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.
Hosted at The Village of Baytowne Wharf, the Tequila & Taco Fest includes local restaurants and food trucks competing for the Best Taco on the Emerald Coast. Sample many types of Tequilas and Margaritas from while indulging on some of the area's best tacos.
Memorial Day weekend at the end of May is the real beginning of tourist season on the Emerald Coast, coinciding with kids getting out of school, and families flocking to the beach.
June means the season is in full swing, the rentals are booked, families are happy, and Summer is fresh. The heated dog days of summer are on the way, but 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. Big fish and big money prizes have made the ECBC an exciting event. Nightly entertainment, fireworks, cooking demonstrations and big fish weigh-ins await you at this one-of-a-kind event.
A hot month in South Walton, and quite busy. You’ll want plenty of cold drinks and watermelon on hand. The South Walton 4th of July parade on Scenic 30A 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 of coast from Destin to Panama City.
In Sandestin, experience the sights and sounds of the 4th of July. The Village of 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!
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.
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.
Perfect Hues: Baytowne Art & Food Fest at The Village of Baytowne Wharf during Labor Day weekend. Each evening from 5-10pm stroll The Village streets as you browse a variety of artwork from local and regional artists, and savor bites from some of the area's best restaurants and food trucks. Enjoy LIVE music throughout the festival and a spectacular fireworks show over the lagoon on Sunday night.
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.
The South Walton Celebrity Golf Classic at Sandestin is a fantastic charity on the links event.
Get teed up and ready to golf at the Annual Fore Her Golf Outing . The day includes lunch on the turn, a silent auction, Putt Fore Jewelry, prizes, food & drinks on holes, the fun & infamous Dress Like A Girl Hole and a fun time at the 19th Hole!
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.
The Seeing Red Wine Festival in Seaside is a very popular part of Fall festivals in SoWal... get your tickets early.
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!
Holiday Parades & Christmas Tree Lightings - Holiday festivities begin early in SoWal becasue we get a lot of out of town visitor in November and folks get in a festive mood, shop for gifts, and chow down at Thansgiving buffets and many restaurants offer pick up Thanksgiving dinner packages. Almost every community has holiday events for families with Santa photos, plays, music, games and more. In addition to beach town events there is always a lot of holiday cheer happening at Grand Boulevard, The Village of Baytowne Wharf, 30Avenue and more destinations.
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.
The Artists at Gulf Place hold an annual Christmas Fest & Art Show at Thanksgiving.
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 - Beautiful, historic DeFuniak Springs invites all to come marvel at more than 10 million lights reflecting off a perfectly round spring-fed lake glowing in holiday splendor. Enjoy a holiday tradition that is a delight for all ages!
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 The Village of 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.