4th of July on Anna Maria Island

There’s nothing better than spending the 4th of July holiday laying out on the beach, grilling a burger on the BBQ, and watching some spectacular fireworks light up the summer night sky. Luckily Anna Maria Island offers all three and then some! Every year visitors flock to our lovely island and surrounding area for the festivities and firework displays.
Below is more information on local 4th of July fun:

4th of July Parade:
The AMI Privateers in their pirate ship making their way down the island

Families line the streets of the island every year to witness the annual Anna Maria Island Privateers Parade , which begins at Coquina Beach, and travels the entire length of the island to Bay Front Park.  The parade is a morning event, making it a super fun and exciting way to start the 4th!
Where: Entire length of the island
When: July 4th
Time: 10am – 12pm



 Sandbar Restaurant Firework Show:
A gorgeous firework display over the Gulf in front of the Sandbar Restaurant

The Sandbar restaurant will be having their firework display July 4th once the sun goes down (Please be aware that this event could be cancelled due to weather problems or bird nesting issues).
For a VIP Party Package visit,  http://www.groupersandwich.com/news/. Or call the Sandbar directly at 941-778-0444
Where: 100 Spring Ave, Anna Maria, FL, 34216
When: July 4th
Time: After the sun has set



Nathan Benderson Park Firework Show
Groups gather for a picnic in the grass before the fireworks begin.

On the 3rd of July, Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota will be hosting Fireworks on the Lake. The event lasts from 4pm – 10pm and includes musical groups, the chance for families to picnic on the grass, and a stunning firework show to top off the night.
Where: 5851 Nathan Benderson Circle, Sarasota, FL 34235
When: July 3rd
Time: 4pm – 10pm



Bradenton Riverwalk Firework Show:
The Zambelli firework finale lights up the nights sky over Bradenton Riverwalk.

The Bradenton Riverwalk in downtown Bradenton will have a Zambelli International fireworks show on July 4th at 9pm. For premium riverside viewing of the firework display, check out the event Pier 22 Restaurant is having.
 452 3rd Ave West, BradentonFL 34205
When: July 4th
Time: The grand firework finale will begin at 9pm





Have a Safe 4th Everyone

Fun Christmas Activities on & off the Island

Santa Clause makes a visit to Anna Maria Island in his sleigh

Christmas always feels a bit magical when it comes around each year. Beautiful, colorful, twinkling lights line homes and businesses on every street, and Christmas music plays from every radio station. Anna Maria Island may not be able to offer a white Christmas with snow angels, but we certainly can offer a fun tropical Christmas that will make all your family and friends up north jealous. The Island goes all out for Christmas time with a fabulous parade, a tree lighting ceremony, and more!

Check out the different events taking place during the holiday below!


Privateer’s Christmas Parade:
The Anna Maria Island Privateer’s Parade is a wonderful experience and brings joy to everyone viewing and participating in the event. The parade travels the entire length of the island, beginning at Bay Front Park in Anna Maria, and ending at Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach. Once the parade is over, the man in red (also known as Santa) will be handing out gifts to the kiddos. Come out to watch or apply to be in the parade itself. If you want to be a part of the Anna Maria Island Privateer’s Parade you can visit this link, http://www.annamariaislandchamber.org/events/privateers-christmas-parade/, and print out a Parade application to send in!
When: The second Saturday of December
Where: Entire length of Island
Time: 10am – 12:30pm



Holmes Beach Open House & Tree Lighting:
An evening to stroll the downtown Holmes Beach shopping and art district and a festive tree lighting celebration is a great way to get in the holiday spirit if you ask me. The Holmes Beach Holiday Open House & Tree Lighting event starts off the evening with a beautiful tree lighting celebration in the Anna Maria Chamber of Commerce parking lot, and then it’s time to explore and shop. Crosspointe Fellowship carolers along with Santa and his slay will truly bring out the Christmas spirit.
Where: Tree Lighting will take place at:  5313 Gulf Dr, Holmes Beach, FL 34217
When: First Friday of December
Time: 5pm – 9pm, Tree lighting will be at 6pm



Christmas on Bridge Street:
Yet another awesome family-friendly event on the Island during Christmas time is the annual event Christmas on Bridge Street. With an abundance of free entertainment, it’s sure to be a blast for every age. Live music, face painting, a visit from Santa, and so much more! Did I mention a variety of food, wine, and beer? Because there will also be plenty of that.
You’ll definitely want to take the whole family to enjoy this fun filled day on Bridge Street.
Where:  Bridge St, Bradenton Beach, FL 34217
When: Third Saturday of December
Time: Noon – 10pm



If you’re free the second weekend of December, head over to Winterfest, a Festival of Fine Arts & Crafts Show taking place at City Hall Field in Holmes Beach. This event is sponsored by the Anna Maria Island Art League and features food, drinks, live music, and of course some arts and crafts you can purchase from local artists.
Plus, admission and parking are free!
Where: 5801 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, FL, 34217
When: Second weekend of December (Saturday and Sunday)
Time: 10am – 4:30pm


The AMI Privateers aboard their ship for the Christmas Parade




The Annual Cortez Fishing Festival


The Cortez Fishing Festival, a local tradition and rightly so with the delicious fresh seafood and old Florida atmosphere it brings. The festival which takes place in Cortez’s historic fishing village is a fun filled day for everyone. Enjoy fantastic live music, nautical art, and plenty of delicious seafood for you to munch on. This event is a favorite for visitors and locals, which is why it draws a crowd of around 20,000 people! The Cortez Fishing Festival certainly keeps growing and getting better each year. The festival is organized entirely by a volunteer committee of the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (F.I.S.H.), a Florida not-for-profit corporation.

*Expert tip: the earlier/later you get to the festival, the less of a crowd there will be. If you don’t enjoy large crowds, avoid going mid-day*

What you need to know:

Cortez Fishing Village
Cortez, FL 34215

Usually takes place the 3rd weekend (Saturday and Sunday) of February.

10am to 6pm

Adults – $4
Children 12 and under – FREE

Every year there is something new at the Festival. Festival goers will want to note that there is a remote parking area in west Bradenton. You can avoid the traffic and enjoy the bus ride with your friends to the Festival ($2.50 round trip). The new parking site is located at G. T. Bray Park (5502 33rd Ave. Dr. W., Bradenton, 34209). Just turn east off of 59th St. onto 33rd Ave. W. You can’t miss it. As in past years, this same shuttle service is being provided from the remote parking area located at Coquina Beach on Anna Maria Island. Island folks can take the free trolley to the parking site.

Also, the parking area just east of the village off of Cortez Road has been expanded again this year. But get there early or later in the day as this parking area tends to fill up quickly. Parking spots open up later in the day.

Another option is to park in the western part of town. Many folks manage small parking areas throughout the village with some charging a fee depending on how close they are to the village.

Eat Anna Maria Island Oysters While Vacationing

Anna Maria- When vacationing on the coast eating fresh seafood is a must, and Anna Maria Island Oysters are no exception. With countless restaurants on the island, finding some delicious oysters to eat is easier than ever!

Anna Maria Island Oysters

Many people believe humans have eaten oysters since the Roman times from evidence of oyster farms in France and the United Kingdom. Crazy right?

Oysters can be found in all of the world’s oceans. They are bivalve mollusks that have rough irregular shells. While most oysters are edible, there is a difference between food oysters and pearl oysters. Even though it is possible, most food oysters don’t produce pearls. Both are also in two different families of bivalves.

Surprisingly enough, oysters breathe much like fish, using both gills and mantle. They can be both male or female, and can change genders one or more times throughout their life.

Health Benefits

Oysters are one of the most nutritionally balanced foods because they have proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids in them. Just eating four or five medium sized oysters supply the recommended daily source of iron, copper, iodine, magnesium, calcium, zinc, manganese and phosphorus!

Where to celebrate!

With so many restaurants on the island, there’s plenty of options for eating Anna Maria Island Oysters! Here’s a few to think of going to:

AMOB on the Pier– Located in Bradenton Beach, enjoy delicious oyster platters such as Grandma Georgie’s Chipotle Oysters, Rockefeller or an oyster sampler.

Anna Maria Island Oysters
Eat at AMOB on the Pier!

 Island Gourmet Grill– Serving baked oysters with toppings such as cheese, bacon, and jalapenos, there’s no way to go wrong here! You can find Island Gourmet on Holmes Beach.

Anna Maria Island Oysters
Enjoy yummy oysters at Island Gourmet!

Island Fresh Market– Specializing in locally caught and grown food, the Fresh Market serves oysters caught right around the island! You can order them cooked or raw. You can find them on Holmes Beach!

Be sure to enjoy Anna Maria Island Oysters on your next visit!

New classes starting at the Anna Maria Island Art League

Holmes Beach – The Anna Maria Island Art League recently announced a series of new classes centered around Sea-Life painting.

Anna Maria Island Art League 2014 Calendar

Anna Maria Island Art League happenings

The art league presents a series of three classes exploring the basics of Sea-Life painting. John Allison is a renowned mural artist. He teaches classes that are designed to show the basics of form and tone. Additionally, he’ll teach drawing with light to create movement under water and how to achieve the effects of nature through paint. Also producing finished artwork at the end of each lesson.

The classes take place April 26th, may 3rd and May 10th 2014 from 1:00pm-3:30pm. Please call the Anna Maria Island Art League, at 941-778-2099, for registration as space is limited.



Easter 2014 Bunny fun at The Sandbar Restaurant

The day before Easter 2014 Sunday The Sandbar Restaurant will be hosting their 28th annual Easter Egg Hunt. The event is co-sponsored by the Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper.

Easter 2014

The Easter Bunny will be in attendance at 9 a.m. for the kids to enjoy. Refreshments will be served in the pavilion next to the restaurant starting at 8:30 a.m. The Easter egg hunt itself will start at 9 a.m.. The Easter Bunny will lead a parade down Pine Avenue. The parade will end at the Fifth Annual Easter Egg Roll and the Fourth Annual Easter Bonnet Contest.

Dara Caudill of Island Photography will provide complimentary pictures at the event, which also includes face painting, egg painting and dyeing. That will be happening all while DJ Chuck Caudill provides music and the always tasty AMI Donuts please the crowd with tasty fresh made donut bites.

Easter 2014 at The Sandbar Restaurant


Blues, Brews BBQ on Bridge Street March 29th

Bridge street in Bradenton Beach will be closed on Saturday March 29th from 11am-10pm for Blues, Brews BBQ.

Blues Brews BBQ

Blues brews bbq Bridge Street Bradenton BeachLive music, good food and drinks are the order of the day for this family fun event. The music lineup includes AJ & the Automatics, Lauren Mitchell Band, RJ Howson & Friends, Kara Nally Band and Kettle of Fish. A VIP Section will also be available with preferred seating under the tent. Additionally the vip tickets include the BBQ contest, alcohol, beer and a meal from Bridge Street Bistro.

The BBQ contest is amazing too! From 2-6pm local restaurants will compete to see who can make the best barbecue!

2014 Island City Fest

The 2014 Island City Fest is taking place April 11th from 5-10pm and Saturday, April 12th from 10am-10pm at the Holmes Beach City Hall Field.

2014 Island City Fest

2014 Island City Fest on Holmes BeachIsland City Fest is a 2-day family oriented event featuring live music, a food court with local retaurants and vendors, the LaPensee Classic Car Show, AMI Fitness Kids Zone, Island Fine Arts, Jewelry & Crafts and libations. This year is bringing something special, the world famous Wallenda’s performing 3 shows over the course of both days! Never having performed on Anna Maria Island, it’s going to be an exciting time. You can catch their daredevil tightrope antics on Friday April 11th at 5:30pm and on Saturday April 12th at 1pm and 5pm.




Band Line-Up Friday April 11th:

Mike Sales – MC

6:00-7:30pm – Renegade

8:00-10:00pm – Scott’s Garage

Band Line-Up Saturday April 12th:

Chris Grumley – MC all day

12:00-1:00pm – Can’t Turn Left

1:30pm-2:30pm – Jesse Sliger

3:00pm-5:00pm – Mike Sales & Restless Natives

5:30pm – 7:30pm – Koko Ray & the Keepers

8:00pm-10:00pm – Shotgun Justice

Artists' Guild of Anna Maria Island April Featured Artist

On April 1st, wildlife will take over the Artists’ Guild Gallery window at 5414 Marina Drive in Holmes Beach.

There will be a reception for photographer Margaret Kelley, Friday, April 11, 5:30 to 7:30 PM . This event is free and open to the public.

Margaret Kelley, April featured artist at the Artists' Guild of Anna Maria Island
Margaret Kelley, April featured artist at the Artists’ Guild of Anna Maria Island

Margaret Kelley has been taking pictures for more than 40 years, starting with a “handed down” Miranda and a “handed down” Kodak enlarger. Some of her favorite pictures were taken with a throw away plastic camera, called the Diana, the chief characteristic of which was “what you got was always a surprise of lighting and focus.” She studied photography and dark room techniques at Northern Virginia Community College, and subsequently graduated to newer cameras. She has traveled widely in Europe, Egypt, India and Africa. Her pictures have been gathered into books and albums. Since coming to live in Florida, she has focused on the abundant water bird life of the area capturing images in various lighting situations that emphasize the subtle characteristics of her subjects that more casual viewings miss.  She strives to work with natural light, patiently staking out her subjects in their usually watery surroundings emphasizing the play of the light on form and feathers and their reflections on the water. She recently had a show of her water birds in Gibson Island, Maryland.

For more information call the Gallery at 941-778-6694 or check the web site, www.amiartistsguildgallery.com.

16th Annual Beach Bistro St Paddy’s Day Parade on Holmes Beach

The Beach Bistro St Paddy’s Day Parade is right around the corner and we can’t wait! Enjoy this event in its 16th year!

Beach Bistro St Paddy’s Day Parade

16th Annual Beach Bistro St Paddy's Day Parade on Holmes BeachTaking place on Sunday March 16th 2014 starting at 2:00pm, the parade will assemble at Holmes Beach City Hall at 5801 Marina Drive and will proceed at a leisurely Irish strolling pace northward along Marina Drive to its juncture with Palm Drive and then north on Palm to the parade’s conclusion at the corner of 78th and Palm.

This route should permit traffic to circumvent the parade area. Cars will proceed relatively unimpeded north and south along Gulf Dr. The parade will celebrate with the usual panoply of dignitaries, cyclists, floats, dancers, high school bands and pipe bands garnished with greenery and smiling faces.

Read more about the parade on Beach Bistro’s blog!