Sarasota County Blog

Fall festivities around Sarasota County

There's a distinct crispness to the breeze, but the sun is still warm enough to wear short sleeves: Fall is in the air in Sarasota—and along with the magical weather, the season delivers an array of festivals, entertainment and opportunities for fun family outings.

Hitting Up the Pumpkin Patch

From the fields of pumpkin patches and harvest hayrides by day to the ghoulish haunts and frights that sweep through the streets at night, Halloween is a spooktacular affair that offers fun for all ages in Sarasota.

Are you on the quest for the perfect pumpkin to carve for Halloween? We have gourd news! Throughout the month of October, there's practically a pumpkin patch at every turn throughout Sarasota the nearby areas and of course, with every pumpkin patch there will be fresh pumpkin pie...

Sarasota's 27th annual Fruitville Grove Pumpkin Festival runs every weekend throughout the month of October, including Halloween day. Some festival events and features include hayrides and pony rides, a rock wall, "giant human water rollers," live music, local crafts vendors, and food.

Sarasota's biggest annual Sarasota Pumpkin Festival takes place in Payne Park the weekend of Oct. 23-25. This year's festival features over 100 free shows and free hayrides, carnival rides, costume contests, a pumpkin patch maze, a flying trapeze act, and more.

Trick or Treat in Spooky Sarasota
The annual Night of Fish, Fun and Fright at Mote Marine takes place among the creatures of the deep on Oct. 23. This family-friendly trick-or-treat zone features games, educational activities, and underwater pumpkin carving in Mote's shark tank: it's always a Jaws-ome Halloween experience at Mote.

Looking to dodge the vampires and werewolves on Halloween night? Trick or treat in the tropics at the Selby Gardens Spooktacular during the daylight hours from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31. The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens' inaugural Halloween celebration will include trick or treating, as well as pumpkin decorating, educational seed planting activities, and a "mad scientist experiment center."

The Siesta Key Village Association hosts its 29th annual Safe Treats for Kids trick-or-treat event this Halloween, hosted by local shops along Ocean Boulevard and surrounding areas in the village. Costume up the kids and visit the Siesta Key Village from 3 to 6 p.m. on Halloween Day for free trick-or-treating. Look for participating shops with black and orange balloons and Safe Treats for Kids flyers in the window.

Fright Night on St. Armand's Circle offers spooky fun for the whole family from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Halloween evening. Kids can trick-or-treat around the Circle, where statues are dressed for the occasion, wandering spirits from St. Armand's past roam the streets, and shops offer special holiday promotions. Stick around until 8pm for a performance of "Thriller" in collaboration with the Sarasota High School Drama department.

The Lakewood Ranch Boo Fest takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. on Oct. 30 at Premier Sports Campus. The family-friendly event includes trick-or-treating, live music, a haunted house, pumpkin patch and food and entertainment.

Have a furry friend with a flair for fashion? The Humane Society of Sarasota will host its 18th annual Howl-O-Ween Pet Costume Contest fundraiser on Halloween Day, at J.D. Hamel Park at the Ringling Bridge. Another great opportunity to support furry friends in Sarasota is the Rocky Horror Picture Show Fundraiser for Cat Depot taking place at Burns Court Cinema on Halloween night.

Other October Attractions

Halloween festivities are just one aspect of the seasonal fun in Sarasota, where autumn means breezy days with plenty of sunshine. It's the perfect weather to celebrate music, indulge in good food, enjoy cultural festivals, and more.

The Ringling Museum hosts its annual Ringling International Arts Festival (RIAF 2015) on Oct 15-18. The annual performing arts festival celebrates artists from across the globe in a four-day frenzy of cutting-edge, progressive theatre, music and dance performances. This year's festival puts a highlight on artists from Asia, including the Cambodian Circus, traditional Japanese puppet theatre, "rowdy" Indonesian folk music, progressive Chinese contemporary dance, and more.

With the fall breeze arrives a whirlwind celebration of world culture in Sarasota: The 9th annual Sarasota Hungarian Magyar Festival takes place on Oct 17-18 at the Sarasota Fairgrounds. The festival is one of the largest in the country, and includes food, folk music and dance performances, folk theatre, worship services and opening and closing ceremonies. On Nov. 7, the 13th annual Hispanic Festival takes place at St. Jude Catholic Church with live music, entertainment, dance, food and children's activities. On Nov. 14, Lakewood Ranch hosts a full day of Italian music and food, Old World Italian traditions, Venetian mask painting, pony rides and more at Festa Italiana, a celebration of Italian culture.

The Sahib Shriners celebrate Sarasota's favorite tradition, the circus, with the Sahib Shrine Circus taking place the weekend of Oct. 23-24. Trapeze acts, motorbike stunts, clowning, juggling and animal shows delight circus fans of all ages in this annual Sarasota tradition.

Fall in Love with November in Sarasota
Knights in shining armor, wizards and princesses take over the Sarasota County Fairgrounds during the weekends of Nov. 7-8, 14-15, and 21-22 for the annual Sarasota Medieval Fair. Get in touch with that feudal feeling while you gnaw on a juicy roasted turkey leg, take in a jousting match, and explore the medieval artisan marketplace. Just beware of the dragons!

The 19th annual Giving Hunger the Blues Festival takes place all day on Nov. 8, rain or shine. The annual family-friendly festival features two stages of live music, dance and martial arts performances, and food and beverage vendors. This year's festival features headliner Selwyn Birchwood, a young rising star on the national blues scene hailing from Florida. Proceeds from the festival benefit the Mayor's Feed the Hungry Program and the Women's Resource Center of Sarasota.

Another charitable music festival, Rock for a Cause, takes place at Payne Park on Nov. 21. Rock for a Cause is a collaboration between S-One Holdings Corporation and the Sarasota Young Professionals Group (YPG) to support local musicians through a "Battle of the Bands" style cash competition that also puts money into Sarasota County music programs of the winning musicians' choice. This year's Rock for a Cause includes food and local vendors and a "kids only" area with games and prizes.

The 6th annual Siesta Key Crystal Classic Sand Sculpting Festival takes place Nov. 13-17 at Siesta Beach. This year's competition includes a dozen teams of master sand sculptors from around the world who will spend three days creating sculptures from the powder-perfect Siesta sand, creating a "sculpture gallery" right on the beach to be judged on the final day of competition. The Crystal Classic is a uniquely Sarasota event that is not to be missed, drawing over 35,000 attendees annually.

During the fall harvest season, and with Thanksgiving right around the corner, it's impossible not to think about food. Tide yourself over with the Suncoast Food and Wine Festival hosted by the Rotary Club of Lakewood Ranch on Nov 14. The Suncoast Food and Wine Festival features live entertainment and samplings from more than 40 of the area's top fine restaurants, and tastings of more than 300 American and international wines. Tickets are $75, purchased by advance only, and will not be available at the gate.

Live From Downtown Sarasota: It's Friday Night!

On Friday nights in downtown Sarasota, there's always something to do—so get out and explore:

Every Friday night is a blast in downtown Sarasota during the fall. Celebrate local business with First Fridays at Five Points Park on Main Street and Palm Ave., Second Fridays at Burns Court, Third Friday Art Walks in Towles Court, and Fourth Friday Festivals in the Historic Downtown Village in Gillespie Park. Each area celebrates one Friday evening of the month with extended business hours, live entertainment and refreshments.

Fill Your Fall Calendar

Between the pumpkin patches and Halloween festivities, cultural outings, concerts and festivals and competitions—the possibilities for a fun fall in Sarasota feel endless. So take a breath of that crisp autumn air, soak in the sunshine, and remember—it's October, and we're still wearing short sleeves.

Take advantage of the magic that is fall in Sarasota, and get out and have fun