I’m going to let you guys in on a little secret: Tampa in March is awesome. Like, really awesome.

The weather’s perfect. There’s beer everywhere (everywhere.) And every weekend is a celebration of something, from fruit to art to airplanes.

Here are five reasons why it’s great to be a Tampanian* in March.

(*Call us “Tampons” and we won’t give you any beer.)

The Weather Is Perfect

Look, I’m not going to insult the rest of the world by calling our winters cold. But there are days when it gets downright chilly here. And because we flip-flopped Floridians don’t own these things y’all call coats or gloves, we’re pretty miserable on those January and February days when the highs are in the 50s.

But come March the cold snaps are over. The highs are in the mid-70s and nighttime lows hover around 60 degrees. The humidity that suffocates us in the summer is still a few months away. The songbirds come out. The azaleas are in full bloom….

BRB, I’m gonna go outside and play.

Downtown Tampa Tight Shot

Forgive our blank stares when you speak of these things called winter coats. Tampa’s skyline by Matthew Paulson/flickr

There’s Beer Everywhere. Everywhere!

Tampa has a pretty kick-butt beer scene. At the time of this post we’re currently home to about 30 independent breweries. That’s up from just three or four a few years ago.

Every March since 2012, we’ve celebrated our area’s ales at Tampa Bay Beer Week. Events are held throughout the month and include everything from beer dinners, to tastings, to festivals and more.

For many the highlight of beer week is Hunahpu’s Day at Cigar City Brewing.

The celebration marks the annual release of Cigar City’s limited-edition Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout, rated one of the best beers in not only the country, but the entire world by Ratebeer.com.

(Update: Looks like Hunahpu’s Day is no more. But don’t worry, beer week lives on!)

Gasparilla Music Festival

In 2012 about 6,500 people showed up in Tampa’s downtown Curtis Hixon Park. Some say they were there to see bands like Ra Ra Riot, Lee Fields & the Expressions and Deer Tick. But I think they were there to see if Tampa can throw a proper music festival.

We can.

The Gasparilla Music Festival nearly sold out its second year. The lineup was even better in 2013 (in my humble opinion), with bands like Dr. Dog, Dawes and Best Coast.

This March the event spanned two days (!!!) and was headlined by The Flaming Lips, Jason Isbell, (whose Southeastern was my favorite album of 2013,) Trombone Shorty and RJD2.

GasparillaMusicFestival.jpg

The Flaming Lips headlined 2014’s Gasparilla Music Festival.

The festival wrapped up late yesterday. Greg and I are exhausted. A little hungover. And so sad we have to wait until next March to do it all again.

A Celebration of Sandwiches

March is Cuban sandwich month here in Tampa. The sandwich’s layers of roasted pork, salami, cheese and pickles were created in the 1900s by the Spanish, Cuban and Italian settlers who came to work in the city’s cigar factories.

At that time Tampa outproduced Havana, Cuba in the manufacturing of fine cigars, earning it the nickname “the cigar capital of the world“.

Today, the Cuban sandwich is a menu staple in Tampa. It’s also the star of this month’s Cuban sandwich festival in Ybor City, the epicenter of Tampa’s former cigar-rolling empire.

All The Gazillion Other Festivals

In addition to the beer, music and food festivals above, March also brings the Strawberry Festival, Gasparilla Arts Festival, MacDill Air Force Base’s Air Fest and the Bay Area Renaissance Festival.

MacDill Air Force Base

Fellow airplane geeks will dig the performance of the U.S. Air Force’s elite Thunderbirds at MacDill Air Force Base’s Air Fest in March. Epic shot by Airman Magazine/Flickr

See you here next year?

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