Every year in December you’ll find great blues and a mellow day of sunshine in Bradenton, Florida at their annual Bradenton Blues Festival. The festival takes place on the first Saturday of December. It’s rated one of the top Blues Festivals in the U.S. for good reason – the entertainment is non-stop, the food delicious, and the crowd is friendly and laid back. Not to mention, the sunshine feels fine!
We give a big thumbs up to Realize Bradenton for hosting a Blues Festival that is non-stop, clean, safe, well-planned, and offers free shuttles to and from festival parking. Here’s what we liked:
- Foremost, the musicians are top-notch. The 2015 festival treated the crowd to Rick Estrin and the Nightcats, Joanna Conner, Mike Zito and The Wheel, Super Chikan and the Fighting Cocks, Girls with Guitars, Janiva Magness, and in-between the acts music by a local group, In Layman Terms. There’ s non-stop music from opening to close.
- You’ll enjoy plenty of fresh food from the many food trucks, conveniently set up close to the music. You can get fresh seafood, BBQ, burgers, ice cream, caramel corn, and more. You won’t go hungry!
- No-hassle buy-as-you-go tickets pay for anything you want from food to souvenirs, so there’s no waiting in line for change at the vendors. We bought $25 worth of tickets as we entered the grounds and added more tickets as we needed.
- Community organizations offer first aid.
- There are plenty of portable bathrooms, the “lux” models. There are several handicapped accessible portable restrooms, too.
- Volunteers are everywhere and are super-friendly and helpful. Everyone is out to have a great time.
- There’s not much shade so bring hats and sunscreen and maybe a long-sleeved shirt.
- We recommend bringing your own comfortable camping chairs rather than paying for the small white plastic folding chairs that are in the VIP area (close to the stage). Our view was every bit as good, the sound was great, and we managed to spend part of the day under one of the few shade trees.
- You’ll want a camera to capture the views (the venue is right on the Manatee River in downtown Bradenton) and the crowd. People dance, sing, and jump to the great blues music all day long.
- Buy your tickets online ahead of time and save a few bucks for a souvenir poster, t-shirt, or hat. When you enter, show your printed out ticket and you’ll be given a wristband so that you can come and go as you please.
- If you need lodging, reserve it well ahead of time. We recommend The Hampton Inn and Suites Bradenton Downtown Historic District or The Courtyard by Marriott Riverfront, which you can reserve on our travel booking site. You’ll be within walking or shuttle distance with either hotel. Reserve now!
Realize Bradenton works hard to give Florida a super-organized and very fun blues festival and to support the local community. Mark your calendar for Saturday, December 7, 2019 and join in the fun! The 2019 lineup includes Kenny Neal, Toronzo Cannon, Biscuit Miller, the Duke Robillard Band, Annika Chambers, John Primer, Zac Harmon, Angela Easley, the Rusty Wright Band, Duffy Bishop and her band, and the Divebombers. Get tickets here. And remember to contact us for hotel reservations right now, or you won’t get a place to stay anywhere close by.