St. Augustine, Fla. - You’ll feel as if you’ve stepped back in time to both the Spanish Colonial era and the Guilded Age when you visit St. Augustine, the charming seaside town located on the northeast coast of Florida. St. Augustine is the oldest city in the Nation and recently celebrated its 450 year anniversary. Its history is unparalleled and it is easy to see why.
Founded in 1565 by Spanish Admiral Don Pedro Menendez, the explorer hailed from Aviles on the north coast of Spain. Proud and loyal to his home, Menendez claimed Florida for the Spanish and named it after the patron saint of his hometown, Saint Augustine of Hippo.
Since its beginnings as a settlement, St. Augustine has always been home to a diverse culture – the indigenous Timucua Indians, Spanish settlers, British invaders, Menorcan peoples and the country’s elite families including the Rockefellers. St. Augustine is also home to the first free African settlement in the U.S. The city’s historic fort, homes and brick-paved streets, along with more than 60 historic sites and attractions, serve as authentic reminders of a by-gone era.
Culture and heritage events along with food festivals and sporting championships fill the annual calendar and include:
March 4 Menorcan Cultural Celebration
The Menorcan Cultural Society is again hosting the Menorcan Heritage Celebration in the gardens of the Llambias House. The event is from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. There will different types of pilau, bake goods and displays. Admission is free. 31 St. Francis St., St. Augustine 904-826-3388 www.menorcansociety.net
March 4-5 Searle’s Raid of St. Augustine
This annual event commemorates the bloody pirate raid led by Robert Searle against the city and inhabitants of St. Augustine in 1668. To introduce the event, a procession of participants will begin on St. George Street next to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine, 24 Cathedral Pl., at 4:30 p.m. on Friday and will proceed to the grounds next to the Santo Domingo Redoubt. During the day on Saturday, 17th century weapons, clothing, equipment, camp life and social activities will be shown and demonstrated to and for the general public at the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, 11 Magnolia Ave., from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The freebooters and the city’s Spanish defenders will join in battle in St. Augustine’s historic district beginning at 4:30 p.m. in the evening. 904-534-6168 www.searlesbucs.com
March 10-12 St. Augustine Celtic Music & Heritage Festival
The sounds of the ancient Celtic peoples of Scotland and Ireland are as alive today as ever at the St. Augustine Celtic Music and Heritage Festival at Francis Field. The event features Celtic clans from around the world showing their ancestral pride, Highland games athletes demonstrating their mind-boggling strength, and vendors offering Celtic cuisine and handmade crafts. The favorite feature of the St. Augustine Celtic Festival is the music, which will include Scottish and Irish bands playing both traditional tunes and modernized renditions of the ancient Celtic. The headlining band is The Real McKenzies. The band brings together the sound of soaring bagpipes and ferocious electric guitars. W. Castillo Dr., St. Augustine 904-891-0326 www.celticstaugustine.com
March 18 Founding of Fort Mose
Spanish Florida Governor Manuel de Montiano founded Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose sometime between March and September 1738. Fort Mose, as we know it today, was the first legally sanctioned free Black town in the continental USA. This event recreates Governor Montiano’s proclamation extending freedom to Captain Francisco Menendez and his fellow militia men and establishing Fort Mose. Following his proclamation, Franciscan Friar Don Joseph de Leon, assigned by the church to Mose, blesses the site. There will be a scholarly presentation in the Visitors Center followed by a Middle Passage Remembrance Ceremony, honoring the countless thousands who were lost at sea or risked the journey south to Spanish Florida in search of their freedom. The free event is from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. 15 Fort Mose Tr., St. Augustine 904-823-2232 www.fortmose.org
March 22-24 St. Augustine Fashion Week
The Lightner Museum is pleased to host St. Augustine Fashion Week spring 2017. Three evenings of high-style fashions take the runway on the Lightner Museum’s mezzanine floor overlooking the historic pool area. Designers are both local and national. Proceeds benefit local non-profit organizations. Admission starts at $60 per evening event. Food and drinks as well as swag bags full of goodies are provided. 75 King St., St. Augustine 904-669-9245 www.stafashionweek.com
March 23-26 St. Augustine Race Week
This event features four great days of multiple sailing events with racing formats for everyone. This is a citywide sailing celebration with three days of spectator-friendly races along the city’s bayfront and free entertainment for everyone in the big event tent. Visit the website for the race and event schedule. This event is sponsored by the First Coast Sailing Association and raises funds to send underprivileged children to local sailing camps. 904-687-5145 www.staugustineraceweek.com
March 31-April 2 Rhythm and Ribs Festival
Non-stop music and award-winning scrumptious barbecue all weekend long is featured at St. Augustine’s Francis Field during the Rhythm and Ribs Festival. Friday and Saturday nights offer great musical entertainment. Founded in 1995 by St. Augustine’s Sunshine Rotary Club, the festival has grown from a small BBQ fest to the largest festival in St. Johns County. Festival hours are Friday 5-10 p.m.; Saturday 11 a.m.-10 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Admission is $10 Friday and Saturday; $5 Sunday. W. Castillo Dr., St. Augustine 904-417-8470 www.rhythmandribs.net
April 22 A Taste of St. Augustine
This signature food festival at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre serves up tastes from St. Augustine’s famous restaurants. From 11 a.m.-5 p.m., the area’s best restaurants will offer samples of their signature dishes. Restaurants will compete for the prestigious TOStA (Taste of St. Augustine) awards, with categories including Best Family Dining, Best Ethnic, Best Upscale and Best Dessert, as well as the ever-popular People’s Choice. Everyone gets to vote. There will be a children’s area with fun activities including crafts and face-painting as well as live music throughout the day. Admission is $5 and taste tickets are $1 each with restaurants charging between 1-5 tickets per taste. 1340 A1A South, St. Augustine 904-829-3295 www.epicbh.org
April 26-30 Florida’s Birding & Photo Fest
Florida’s Historic Coast is spreading its wings to present another great year of birding and outdoor photography. The 2017 Birding & Photo Fest will feature the return of festival favorites, world-class photographers along with new professionals and instructors who will offer technical training opportunities and more birding in-field programs than ever before. As always, festival participants will benefit from insights and instruction from a collection of upper echelon international nature and wildlife photographers, a group that continues to solidify Florida’s Birding & Photo Fest as one of the premier events in North America. The event takes place at the GTM Research Reserve Environmental Education Center. 505 Guana River Rd., Ponte Vedra Beach 904-829-1711 www.floridasbirdingandphotofest.com
May 9-14 THE PLAYERS Championship
Come see your favorite golf pros compete at the world-famous PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass at Ponte Vedra Beach. Recognized by PGA TOUR members as “their” championship tournament, THE PLAYERS features one of the most coveted titles in professional golf, the strongest field of competitors and the richest purse. www.pgatour.com
Located midway between Daytona Beach and Jacksonville, Florida’s Historic Coast includes historic St. Augustine, the outstanding golf and seaside elegance of Ponte Vedra Beach and 42 miles of pristine, Atlantic beaches. For more information on events, activities, holiday getaway and vacation opportunities in St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches, go to the Visitors and Convention Bureau website at www.FloridasHistoricCoast.com, become a fan on Facebook or call 1.800.653.2489.