Some 450 years ago, Spanish galleons sailed into Pensacola Bay, and explorer Don Tristan de Luna led an expedition ashore to establish the first European settlement in America. This historic landing is the basis of numerous celebrations every year, making Pensacola a destination where it’s always easy to find a festival or special event.
Flags of five governments have flown over Pensacola – Spain, France, England, the Confederacy and the United States – and an organization called the Fiesta of Five Flags organizes an array of activities every year. Its calendar includes the DeLuna Treasure Hunt, the Pensacola Crawfish Festival, the Fiesta Sand Sculpture Contest, the Fiesta Boat Parade and the Pensacola Seafood Festival.
June 1 this year is a big day because of the Fiesta Landing Ceremony that reenacts DeLuna’s arrival, and June 5 resounds with the Fiesta Day Parade. There are more than a dozen events from this one organization.
The Pensacola Bay Area’s rich history and diverse population set the stage for many other events.Pensacola starts the year with the family-friendly Pelican Drop Celebration, and Mardi Gras follows quickly in February. Music fills the air in April with the Pensacola Jazz Fest, and November features the two-week Frank Brown International Songwriters’ Festival.
The area is steeped in military history as well. Top attractions include the National Naval Aviation Museum and the Navy’s Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels. You can watch the Blue Angels practice their full length air show every Tuesday and Wednesday from March through November.
And don’t forget the beaches. Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key have miles of the sugar-white sand that makes the Gulf Coast famous. After all, these beaches have been attracting visitors for centuries.