Top 5 Summer Events and Festivals


May 23-26

Various venues, Downtown


Downtown Jacksonville transforms into a jazz-lovers’ paradise (and people-watching safari) with four days of concerts, talent showcases, piano competitions and late-night jam sessions. Acts range from local favorites Tropic of Cancer and St. Johns River City Band to headliners Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Yellowjackets and Trombone Shorty. Special events, including Art in the Heart of Downtown and the “Off Jazz” concert featuring R&B favorites Brian McKnight and Avant, broaden the appeal to festivalgoers. Many events are free but some require tickets; VIP packages and preferred day passes are also available.



6:30 p.m. June 6

Touchdown Club East, EverBank Field, 1 EverBank Field Dr., Downtown

Tickets: $60 in advance, $70 at the door


For more than two decades, Second Harvest North Florida has hosted this tasty event created to “take a bite out of hunger.” Fifty of the city’s most popular restaurants join local beverage distributors for a evening of friendly competition, as chefs whip up samples of their signature dishes (and yes, desserts are on the menu). Live entertainment, raffles and hobnobbing with some of Jacksonville’s finest certainly put the “fun” in “fundraising.”



Kickoff 6 p.m. June 14, Drop-off 6:30 p.m. June 16

The Jacksonville Landing, 2 Independent Drive, Downtown

Screenings June 18-20

The Florida Theatre, 128 E. Forsyth St., Downtown

Tickets: $140-$175 to participate, screening prices TBA

One part “Project Green Light” and one part “The Amazing Race,” this international event challenges creative teams to write, shoot, score and edit an original four- to seven-minute film — within 48 hours — without knowing the genre until the last minute. Completed films are screened at a local venue with a panel of judges and audiences picking the winners. Admittedly, they aren’t exactly Sundance-worthy, but what do you expect in 48 hours — “48 Hrs.”?



June 21-23

Hyatt Regency Riverfront Hotel, 225 E. Coastline Dr., Downtown

Tickets: $10-$40

Attention, sci-fi, fantasy, gaming and anime enthusiasts: Northeast Florida’s multigenre fandom convention returns with even more out-of-this-world events. Designed to celebrate “geek niche” genres, the two-day event boasts film screenings, live music, industry panels, special guests (who hasn’t wanted to meet a comic book model?) and social games like an interactive zombie survival experience. Even non-fanboys and girls will appreciate the costume contest (no real weapons or threatening props, play-fighting or inappropriate attire, please), miniature painting contest and the ever-popular dating game. May the Force be with them.



July 4


With the number of Independence Day celebrations in these parts, you’d think fireworks grew on trees — or at least didn’t cost tens of thousands of dollars. But far be it from city officials to deprive residents of their inalienable right to watch explosive pyrotechnic devices spew sulfur, charcoal and strontium into the sky. Three of the biggest displays are in Jacksonville (, St. Augustine ( and Jacksonville Beach (, which returns after a year hiatus.

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