SARASOTA, Fla. -- There's nothing like celebrating the Fourth of July in Sarasota with parades, food, festivals and, of course, fireworks!
With various locations all across the Suncoast offering events and places to celebrate, here's your one-stop guide to choosing the right place to relax and enjoy the evening!
Sarasota Bay: The Suncoast Offshore Festival is a free viewing that can be seen anywhere downtown including Bayfront Park and Island Park. The show will start at dusk or around 9 p.m. It is also privately funded and benefits Suncoast Charities for Children.
Siesta Key: The 24th Annual Firework Display and Party is located over Siesta Key with the firework show launching just north of the volleyball courts -- so viewing is good from anywhere south and along Crescent Beach (south of Siesta Public Beach), out on the Gulf, or from the Intracoastal waterway. The show is scheduled to begin just after sundown, and they're estimating 20,000 to 30,000 people in attendance (weather permitting, of course).
Bayfont: Enjoy a patriotic show from the beautiful grounds of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens (location: 811 S. Palm Avenue, Sarasota.) starting at 6 p.m. with food including barbecue, popcorn and ice cream. Folding chairs or beach blankets are encouraged with the Bayfront Fireworks beginning around 9 p.m. This party does come at a price, though, with $17 for members and $20 for non-members, but it is free for kids 11 and under.
Venice: The Venice area fireworks are located at the south Venice Jetty in Venice Beach. There are a number of good viewing areas: anywhere along Venice Beach, Nokomis Beach, or from a boat on the Gulf of Mexico or anchored on the Intracoastal waterway, northeast of the Jetty on the water. Fireworks should go up just after sunset, but plan on getting there early if you want a good seat!
Palmetto: Part of this year's Palmetto 4th of July Festival fun will be a free concert with special guest American Idol and country singer Scotty McCreery. The concert will start at 4 p.m. at the new Sutton Park Pavilion. Also appearing will be the Jake Castro Band and goodByeddie. Food and craft vendors will also be around the park. After the concert, you'll be able to view a firework show over the Manatee River. Location: Sutton Park: 1006 6th St W, Palmetto. 4 p.m. Free admission. Free and paid parking around the area.
North Port: The 11th annual Freedom Festival at North Port High School Stadium -- located at 6400 W. Price Blvd -- will start at 6 p.m. with fun, live music and entertainment for the entire family. A family activity area will also be available where kids can enjoy the day with a power jumper, obstacle course and tropical slide. There will also be food & vendor booths, refreshments and fireworks after dark. Again, they encourage you to B.Y.O.B. (bring your own blanket) or folding chair for the fireworks show.
Anna Maria Island: The 28th Annual Sandbar Restaurant Fireworks Spectacular is located at the north end of the island next to Pine Avenue. There will be a VIP Party under the open air Sandbar Event Pavilion, but only 100 tickets are available. As always, there will be a fireworks show after dark, free for all to enjoy!
Bradenton: The fireworks display over the Manatee is put on by the City of Palmetto. Spectators usually gather along both sides of the Manatee River Riverwalk waterfront in downtown Bradenton and Palmetto. The show will begin after dark around 9 p.m.
Englewood: At the Englewood Firecracker Festival (Dearborn Street, Englewood), you'll find daylong festivities that include food choices such as burgers, hot dogs, pulled pork and fries with soft drinks, beer tent, frozen daiquiris, pina coladas and margaritas available as refreshments. Live entertainment will include the Kate Keys, Ellie Lee and Blues Fury plus The Mulch Brothers. To top it all off, at dark there will be fireworks display over Lemon Bay to end the evening.