Tampa Riverfest is back! Here’s what you can expect and what’s new for 2022

After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, Tampa Riverfest is back!

The popular event is produced by the non-profit, Friends of the Riverwalk, and kicks off on Friday, May 6th and continues through Saturday, May 7th. Taking place along the Riverwalk, there will be tons of family-friendly events showcasing Tampa’s cultural institutions, local music, and restaurants.

What to eat at Tampa Riverfest

Riverfest will feature two major foodie events. Taste of the Riverwalk will take place on May 6 from 4pm-10pm and will showcase the variety of dining options along the Riverwalk. Festivalgoers can purchase a wristband and enjoy samples of signature dishes from local restaurants and dessert food truck vendors.

On May 7, guests can celebrate a belated Cinco de Mayo with Tacofest! A large tent set up in Curtis Hixon Park will offer a wide selection of tacos with the purchase of a wristband. A portion of the wristband proceeds for both events go to Friends of the Riverwalk.

Wristbands are available for purchase in advance online, and are $15 for 3 samples/tacos, $20 for 5 samples/tacos. Online food sales will end 24 hours before the start of Riverfest. Wristbands will be available at the event (if available).

A VIP tent, hosted by Tito’s Handmade Vodka, JW Marriott,and the Tampa Marriott Water Street, will be available from 4pm to 10pm on both Friday and Saturday. Guests will have access to complimentary beer, cocktails, soda, water, light bites, front row access to the mainstage, and access to executive restrooms.

Friday night VIP tickets include a wristband for 5 Taste of the Riverwalk samples. Tickets are day specific and cost $75 for Friday night, $100 for Saturday, or $150 for both days and are available for purchase here.

What to do at Tampa Riverfest

Throughout the weekend, there will be tons of fun events to check out! On Friday and Saturday nights, Curtis Hixon Park will light up with the Hot Air Balloon Glow. This signature Riverfest event will kick off at 8:30pm both nights.

Image Credit: Tampa Riverwalk

On Saturday morning, head over to Water Works Park for a Paddle Invasion in partnership with Urban Kai. Races will begin at 8:30am and racers can choose to race on a long (6 mile) or short (2 mile) course as they compete for awards.

Following the Paddle Invasion, you can get your zen on with Yoga in the Park. This donation-based class is for all levels and will be taught by Robin LC with The Calm Collective.

Ready for the cutest race in town? The Florida Wiener Dog Derby returns by popular demand! Watch dogs compete in a running race and other contests like best kisser, best costume, and the ever-popular tail wagging.

One of the largest Dachshund gatherings in the state, the festivities will include games, raffles, foster dogs and a silent art auction. To register your dog to race, click here

Image Credit: Tampa Riverwalk

There will also be tons of live music throughout the event. A full concert series will feature bands and a D.J. that will entertain the crowd on the main stage at Curtis Hixon Park both Friday and Saturday. Saturday night’s headline band will feature the Ultimate Lenny Kravitz Experience.

The Tampa Bay Pride Band Spring Concert will take place at 7pm on Saturday at Water Works Park, and Hillsborough County Schools Music performances will be held throughout the day from 11am-5pm.

What’s New at Tampa Riverfest

New this year is the inaugural Riverfest Lantern Parade taking place Saturday at 8:30pm. At this event, sponsored by The Beck Group, participants can design their own colorful paper creations and register to march with them during a one-mile parade along the Riverwalk.

The parade route will go from Water Works Park to Curtis Hixon Park and will feature music and local marching bands.

Local artists will host lantern-making workshops for kids and adults prior to Riverfest on May 2 at The Straz Center. Workshops will be held 6:30pm to 8:30pm. Registration for the workshops is required and can be found online.


Lanterns can also be created throughout the day on Saturday, May 7 in Water Works Park. Participants may also purchase a lantern kit to assemble at home and bring to the parade. Supplies and kits available for purchase are limited, so place your order early!

Get ready for more fun at Pied Piper’s XOXO Carnival!

Be sure to head to Armature Works May 4-8 for the inaugural XOXO Carnival! Experience your favorite carnival rides, midway games, and tasty treats. Enjoy music from acts like Lil John, The Black Honkeys, Shaggy, and Circus Cowboys! From Pied Piper Productions, the XOXO Carnival will be filled with over 300,000 square feet of fun for kids and adults. This event will act as a precursor to the Tampa Riverfest.

General admission is available for all ages and VIP tickets are available for ages 18+. Ticket prices range from $5-$95. Click here to purchase.

Image Credit: Armature Works



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