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Set your mind at easel at this weekend's Gasparilla Festival of the Arts in Tampa

Painting of a woman
Pavlina Alea
Gasparilla Festival of the Arts / Courtesy
Pavlina Alea's "Submerged Lazuli" is an acrylic on gessoboard. Alea's works will be among the pieces exhibited at the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts in Tampa.

Art lovers − expert, casual and novice − will pack Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park this weekend as the area's top talent will showcase their works for the 53rd year.

Offering proof that even scallywag pirates can make room for culture, the annual Gasparilla Festival of the Arts brings the best of local and international artistic talent to Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park this weekend.

Considered a staple of Tampa’s Gasparilla’s season, the juried outdoor exhibit introduces new artists and their works to thousands of visitors, for show or purchase.

The 53rd version of event runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free.

Here’s a quick rundown on what art lovers − expert, casual and novice − will experience amid the 25-acre park, with a backdrop of the Hillsborough River reflecting the downtown skyline.

Gasparilla Festival of the Arts: 2023 Festival Map
Gasparilla Festival of the Arts
Gasparilla Festival of the Arts: 2023 Festival Map


You can’t have an art show without artists. And as usual, the festival includes a wide range of talent using a variety of media, including ceramic, digital, drawing, fiber, glass, jewelry, mixed, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, watercolor and wood.

The Emerging Artists program invites amateurs pursuing a career in visual arts to enter and display their works at no cost. A limited number of artists were selected from this year’s pool of about 200 applicants by a jury process and given at $350 creative stipend.

This year’s announced selections were Kyra Connolly, Madie, Gotshall, Gary Greer, William Keeling, Valerie Lamott, Damien LaRue, Natalie Pagan, Olivia Rogowska, Ashley Rivers, Christopher Roll, Sketzii, Dr. Michael Stevenson, Erin Titus, Nathalia Toledo and YD.

Since 2020, the festival board selects five local artists to be featured in a Local Artists Spotlight. An additional five artists will be offered the opportunity to set up a remote studio at the event, where they will complete a work of art. Attendees can watch and ask questions about their creative processes.

The Young Artists Expo shares works of art submitted through Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Polk, Manatee and Sarasota county public schools. The program includes categories for elementary, middle and high school.


All amateur artists are welcome at the festival, which includes several interactive experiences. Visitors can watch a parade of colorful, painted cars, add to a giant mural on the Nomadstudio Art Bus, learn about the intricate process of glass-blowing and more.

At the Chalk Walk, attendees can observe specially commissioned chalk artists as they create 8-square-foot works. The live-art experience has been a part of the festival for 13 years.

Festival goers paint The Nomad Art Bus
Nicole Slaughter Graham
WUSF Public Media
Among the interactive experiences at the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts, amateur artists can add to a giant mural on the NomadStudio bus.

For Kids

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days, ages 6 to 14 will have the opportunity to participate in the Art Collectors in Training Program, which was developed to "encourage the appreciation of the arts in young people," according to the festival website. Children who participate will be able to purchase works from festival artists for a low price, usually $5 to $10.

A children's activity area will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. There, youngsters can learn art techniques from festival artists.

Community Outreach Village

This gallery displays the works of artists with disabilities. According to the festival website, participants are invited through programs such as Arts4All, Pyramid and MacDonald Training Center. Their art is available for viewing and sale, while raising community awareness of the programs.


After the festival’s conclusion, displayed art will be available for purchases 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are required and can be purchased from the festival website.

Live Entertainment

A full lineup of entertainers is booked, including musical headliners Mandy Harvey and the Apple Butter Express as well as other local bands and even a morning yoga class. The full entertainment lineup and schedule can be found on the festival website.

Gasparilla Festival of the Arts: Parking map shows parking locations, shuttle services, and water taxi stops.
Gasparilla Festival of the Arts
Gasparilla Festival of the Arts: Parking and Transportation Map

More Gasparilla

Gasparilla Music Festival – March 11-12 at Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park. The performance lineup has not been announced. More information is at the music festival website.

Gasparilla International Film Festival – March 23-26. Screenings of local productions and world premieres. Titles will be announced soon. Tickets are available online.

Joanna Keen is the WUSF Stephen Noble Digital News intern for spring of 2023.