34th Annual Manatee Festival returns to Crystal River March 27-28

By Diane Bedard Posted on March 11, 2021

The Florida Manatee Festival returns to downtown Crystal River on Saturday and Sunday, March 27-28. Make your plans to attend now!

The Florida Manatee Festival is consistently rated as one of the best outdoor events in Citrus County by attendees.  This year promises to continue that tradition with the return of many favorite attractions, along with a host of exciting new ones!

Featuring a wide selection of delicious cuisine choices, the Florida Manatee Festival is pleased to offer a tasty selection of delectable delights in two food courts. One will be located in Little Springs Park along with a beer and wine garden. The second food court will be located right near the main stage in Kings Bay Park with another beer and wine garden. New this year is the addition of hard seltzers ot the liquid refreshment lineup!

Sign up for a $10 Guided Kayak Tour around Kings Bay

New this year, $10 guided kayak tours will be offered at the festival through Hunter Springs Kayaks. Tour guides will take you on a 1-hour tour of the bay and Hunter Springs area, giving participants a first-hand glance at the beauty of our Nature Coast! Book your time in advance online by clicking here.

Sign up ahead of time for a one-hour guided kayak tour by Hunter Springs Kayaks. Image by Diane Bedard.

Manatee Boat Tours Available at the Festival

Returning are manatee boat tours in partnership with META (Manatee Eco-Tourism Association) Saturday and Sunday starting at 9:30 am. Buy tickets at the boat dock area in Kings Bay Park, at the end of NW Third Street. The cost is $10 for adults, $5 for ages 6-12, and free for ages 5 and under.

Tours leave from Kings Bay Park, at the end of NW Third Street, and are approximately 25-30 minutes.  Participating local guides will take you to their favorite manatee watch spots for a chance to see our favorite floating friends up close!

Manatee at Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
The manatee is king at Crystal River National Wildife Refuge. Image by Sally White.

Live Music on Four Stages both Days

Musical entertainment will be ongoing both days from four stages. The Main Stage at Kings Bay Park will feature the local band, Bad Luck Penny, on Saturday from 10 am-noon, followed by Gypsy Sparrow from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m., and headliner, Stonegrey, taking the stage at 3 p.m.

Sunday’s Main Stage entertainment will kick off with local favorite Barefoot Bob & the Hope from 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. followed by the headliner MoonFlower “Spirit of Santana” from 2 – 3:45 p.m. Moonflower is a tribute to the music of Santana performed by 5 musicians whose love for Santana and the music comes first!

Saturday’s headline band, Stonegrey, takes the Main Stage at 3pm. Image courtesy of Stonegrey.

The Gazebo Stage at Little Springs Park is another entertainment stage. On Saturday, The Jojo and Jay Experience will be rocking from 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. On Sunday we welcome Jeffrey Eckhoff Studios from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., followed by the Lecanto Jazz Band from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Hippie Village Returns to Florida Manatee Festival bringing that Flower Power vibe

Behind the large white Victorian house on N. Citrus Ave. (home to the Heritage House), Hippie Village is back offering a chill stroll through themed vendors, food options, and groovy music on the Festival’s third stage, sponsored by BubbaQue’s BBQ – Crystal River.

Rob Nichols will entertain guests in Hippie Village from 10 am – 2pm Saturday. Image courtesy of Rob Nichols.

Saturday’s entertainment will feature Rob Nichols from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Rob Nichols grew up in the small farming town of Groveland, Florida. He began singing Gospel songs in church, and by the age of 5 became fascinated with the charm and charisma of Elvis Presley. He entered his first talent competition as a teenager and after that, there was no turning back. He began his journey to Nashville and by the age of 21, he had become a published songwriter, member of BMI, and an experienced demo singer. Rob has played many of the venues on Music Row as well as the hundreds of Honky Tonks and Music Fests throughout the Southeast. He has shared the stage with some of County Music’s Greatest including Diamond Rio, The Bellamy Brothers, Confederate Railroad, The Hank Williams Jr. Band, and the Judd’s.

YouTube video

On Sunday, Palomino Blonde returns to take the stage from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Originally a four-piece band based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Palomino Blonde is now a duo made up of an acoustic guitar and vocals covering everything from Alison Krause to Alice In Chains.

Fine Art, Arts & Crafts, and Art in the Park at the Festival

Additionally, a vast array of fine art, craft, commercial, and non-profit vendors will line the streets on both the north and south sides of downtown.  “Art in the Park” will be held in Crystal River’s beautiful town square, offering the perfect setting to browse and purchase an original piece of art for your home, business, or a wearable piece of jewelry as a treasure of special meaning forever.

Art is in the park, as well as along the streets at the 34th Annual Manatee Festival. Image courtesy of Florida Manatee Festival and Citrus County Chamber of Commerce.

Kids Zone, Magic, Comedy, and Classic Cars Round out the Fun

For the kiddos, a Kids Zone will reside in King’s Bay Park with fun games, inflatables, face painting, carnival food and more! We are excited to welcome some fun entertainment to the kid’s zone this year!

On Saturday, Magician/Comedian, Todd Bogue, will perform from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Center Stage’s 2018 Magician of the Year, Todd’s unique combination of humor and magic has amazed thousands of audiences all over Florida. On Sunday, the Nature Coast Dulcimer Players will perform from 1 to 3 p.m.

And of course, there will be more food, along with beer and wine gardens near both music stages and throughout the festival.  

Top it all off with cool cars to drool over, compliments of the Citrus County Vettes & Camaros Club and the Nature Coast Mustangs.  With something to please everyone, the 34th Florida Manatee Festival is the place to go!

Manatees are the main stars of the Florida Manatee Festival. Image courtesy of Explorida.

COVID-19 Regulations

The Citrus County Chamber of Commerce is excited to move forward, safely and responsibly, as we enjoy the beauty of our nature coast and see just why Crystal River is the Manatee Capital of the World.

Festival-goers should stay home if they are vulnerable or feeling ill. All attendees are encouraged to practice social distancing, wash hands regularly, utilize the on-site sanitation stations, and wear a mask if social distancing is not possible.

Come and play safely at the Manatee Festival. Image courtesy of Explorida and Save Crystal River.

The Florida Manatee Festival and the Citrus County Chamber of Commerce will be implementing and practicing safety precautions to ensure the health of our attendees, volunteers, vendors, and staff.

​Additionally, in accordance with the state-mandated requirement of masks on public transportation, all attendees, volunteers, staff, and vendors will be required to wear a mask if they choose to utilize the free shuttles to and from the festival.

34th Annual Florida Manatee Festival in Crystal River March 27-28 Things to Know

  • Manatee Boat Tour tickets can only be purchased at the Festival and are good only on the day purchased. Tours are held from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm on Saturday and 9:30 am to 3:30 pm on Sunday.
  • Free parking and shuttle service to the Festival will be available at the Crystal River Mall, 1801 US 19, north of Crystal River. Masks are required on shuttles.
  • Pets are allowed at the Festival but discouraged due to crowds and loud noises.
  • Cool merchandise, like t-shirts and hats, can be pre-ordered online to ensure you get what you want. Click here to see what’s available and place your order.
  • Festival hours are Saturday, March 27 from 9 am to 5 pm, and Sunday, March 28 from 9 am to 4 pm.
  • Online reservations are strongly suggested for kayak tours.

For more information: www.GoManateeFest.com, www.facebook.com/FloridaManateeFestival, or 352-795-3149.

Featured image by Miles Sanders, courtesy of Discover Crystal River.


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