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Rejoice, live music lovers. Festival season is upon us.
Around here it comes a little earlier. Before the big daddys such as Bonnaroo, Coachella, Lollapalooza and the like draw fans from around the country, the Tampa Bay area will already have seen a half dozen fests for every taste from classic rocker to raver. It's a good thing, because standing shoulder to shoulder with thousands of other fans can be a little rough in the heat of a Florida summer.
The big music festival has always been a wholly different proposition form a regular concert, though. It's a bigger crowd, bigger hassle, bigger commitment, and ultimately, a way bigger payoff. They're a place not only to celebrate the music you already love, but to discover artists you're going to love. They're a place where what happens off the stage is often as memorable as what happens on it.
There's a festival for you out there, whether it's the long-running Taste of Pinellas, resurrected after its near death, or the Big Guava, a new event with a lineup to rival any fest in the country, or a different option. Follow our guide above and you'll find your way there.
With Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo, Loverboy, The Blues Brothers with Dan Aykroyd & Jim Belushi, KC & The Sunshine Band and Bruce Hornsby and The Noisemakers,
When: May 9-10
Where: Albert Whitted Park, St. Petersburg
Tickets: $22.50 to $75 (VIP) daily; (800) 745-3000 and www.tasteofpinellas.com and www.Ticketmaster.com
Outkast, Vampire Weekend, Foster the People, Slightly Stoopid, Cake, Tegan and Sara, Violent Femmes, Girl Talk, Sleigh Bells, Haim, Earl Sweatshirt, plus food trucks, thrill rides and craft beer
When: May 2-4
Where: MidFlorida Amphitheatre, Florida State Fairgrounds, Tampa
Tickets: $65 daily, $148.50 to $499 three-day pass; livenation.com
With The Hold Steady, I-Resolution, Katchafire, Victor Wainwright and the Wild Roots, Hayes Carll, The Real Clash, Amandia Tunesmith, Shoeless Soul, Sunshine and Bullets, Black Taxi, David Mayfield Parade and more
When: May 9-10
Where: Cuban Club, New World Brewery, Carmine's Courtyard, Orpheum, The Crowbar, Market on 7th, Ybor City, Tampa
Tickets: $40 weekend pass (advance), $50 at the gate; (813) 238-8001 and www.wmnf.org
With The Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Trey Anastasio Band, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Gov't Mule, Jaimoe's Jassz Band, Umphrey's McGee, Ziggy Marley, Blues Traveler, Chris Robinson Brotherhood and more
When: April 10-12
Where: Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, Live Oak, Fla.
Tickets: $215 for three-day pass; www.waneefestival.com
Buddy Guy, Michael McDonald, Irma Thomas, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Shemekia Copeland, Coco Montoya, Tommy Castro and The Painkillers and more
When: April 11-13
Where: Vinoy Waterfront Park, 701 Bayshore Drive NE, St. Petersburg
Tickets: $45 to $50 general admission, $110 three-day general admission, $175 to $200 VIP daily, $400 three-day VIP; www.tampabaybluesfest.com
With Avenged Sevenfold, Volbeat, Chevelle, Black Stone Cherry, Saigon Kick, The Pretty Reckless, Trivium, Lacuna Coil, Fozzy and more
When: April 25
Where: The Forum, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa
Tickets: $19 to $59; www.Ticketmaster.com
Zedd, Hardwell, Benny Benassi, Krewella and more than 40 other EDM artists
When: May 24-25
Where: Raymond James Stadium (North Lot), Tampa
Tickets: $114 two-day pass, $199 VIP two-day pass; smftampa.com