Tampa Riverfest is back! Here’s what you can expect and what’s new for 2023

One of Tampa’s biggest events, Tampa Riverfest, is back!

The popular event is produced by the non-profit, Friends of the Riverwalk, and kicks off on Friday, May 5th and continues through Saturday, May 6th. Taking place along the Riverwalk, there will be tons of family-friendly events showcasing Tampa’s cultural institutions, local music, and restaurants.

Keep reading for all the details on what to eat, what to do, and what’s new!

What to eat at Tampa Riverfest

Riverfest will feature two major foodie events. Taste of the Riverwalk will take place on May 5 from 5:30pm-9pm 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.

NEW for 2023! On May 7, guests can enjoy an all-new foodie event, RiverFiesta! This food-focused tent will offer tacos, bowls, and nachos with the purchase of a wristband. The menu includes:

  • Braised Beef Taco
  • Mojo Chicken Taco
  • Ropa Vieja Bowl
  • Chopped Blood Orange Chicken Bowl
  • Cuban Nacho Station with Mojo Pork and Cojita Cheese
Image Credit: Tampa Riverfest

Wristbands for both Taste of the Riverwalk and RiverFiesta are available for purchase in advance online, and are $15 for 3 samples, $20 for 5 samples. 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 5pm to 10pm on Friday and from 4pm-10:30pm on Saturday. Guests will have access to complimentary beer, cocktails, soda, water, light bites, front row access to the mainstage, and access to executive restrooms. Access to the tent is for guests 21+ only.

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 7:30am 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 at 9am. This donation-based class is for all levels and will be taught by Robin LC with The Calm Collective.

Riverfest Lantern Parade

Back for the second year, the Riverfest Lantern Parade taking place Saturday at 8:30pm. At this event, 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.

Image Credit: Tampa Riverfest

Local artists will host lantern-making workshops for kids and adults prior to Riverfest on April 17 and 27 from 6:30pm to 8:30pm at Armature Works Show + Tell Room and on April 25 from 6pm-8pm at Hidden Springs Ale Works. Registration for the workshops is required and can be found online.

Lanterns can also be created throughout the day on Saturday, May 6 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!


Wiener Dog Derby

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. This event will take place on Saturday beginning at 10am. Races will continue throughout the day. 

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. 

Friday, May 5 Concert Lineup

  • 5:30pm-7:30pm – Tribute to Katy Perry and No Doubt
  • 8pm-10pm – Tribute to Journey

Saturday, May 6 Concert Lineup

  • 1pm-2:30pm – Tribute to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood
  • 3pm-4:30pm – Bus Stop Band
  • 5pm-6:30pm – Tribute to Luke Bryan
  • 7pm-8:30pm – Tribute to Prince
  • 9pm-10:30pm – Tribute to Queen

What’s New at Tampa Riverfest

NEW for 2023! On Saturday, May 6 from 11am-5pm, Riverfest Market by Tampa Markets will feature a host of independent vendors at Water Works Park. Guests can enjoy local vendors including handcrafted goods, plants and more. While you shop and stroll, enjoy the music on the Water Works Park Stage and several delicious food trucks to choose from!

The Riverfest Market is organized by Tampa Bay Markets, a local grassroots organization that curates local markets for the greater Tampa Bay area.

Looking for more fun family-friendly activities? Check out 20+ Awesome Things to Do this Weekend in Tampa Bay.