Celebrating Tradition and Community: The 2024 De Soto Heritage Festival Kicks Off March 29th

Bradenton, get ready! The annual De Soto Heritage Festival is back, promising a calendar packed with fun events for the whole community. This year, the Hernando de Soto Historical Society brings some exciting changes, along with the continuation of cherished traditions that have made the festival a must-attend event for locals and visitors alike. Here’s a look at what they have in store for us this year.

Children’s Parade and Party in the Park

When: Friday, March 29, 2024, at 10 AM
Where: Sutton & Lamb Parks, Palmetto

Kicking off the 2024 De Soto Heritage Festival is a heartwarming parade designed and led by kids, featuring homemade floats that bring the community’s creativity to life.

The parade kicks off at the Manatee County Fairgrounds in Palmetto, then heads south on 10th Avenue West and along Fifth Street West to Lamb Park.

After the parade, stick around for the “Party in the Park,” taking place in both Sutton and Lamb Parks. There will be food, games, and activities for children, including games, face painting, arts and crafts, and more.

Bradenton City Capture

When: Saturday, April 20, 2024, at 1 PM
Where: Old Main St., Downtown Bradenton

During this free, family-friendly event, Don Hernando de Soto and his Crewe will march up Main Street in downtown Bradenton and engage in a lively encounter with the Mayor, who will gladly hand over the “key to the city” to the Conquistadors in exchange for all of the lively entertainment they’ll be providing to the city over the coming week.

The City Capture is a spectacle of community spirit, where the young and the young-at-heart can immerse themselves in the excitement. The Conquistadors and Queens Court will be throwing beads, and children will receive foam swords to “defend” the Mayor and the City.

De Soto Ball

When: Friday, April 26, 2024, at 6 pm or 7:15 pm (depending on ticket choice)
Where: Bradenton Convention Center

Join the Conquistadors for their De Soto Ball. During this evening of elegance and celebration, they will crown the Queen and introduce the newest Hernando de Soto. This black-tie event is a glittering affair that has been one of Manatee County’s most prestigious social events for several decades.

Guests will have the option to enjoy dinner, followed by the ball and show or attend only the ball and show. Spaces are limited, so get your tickets today!

The Grand Parade

When: Saturday, April 27, 2024, at 8 PM
Where: Manatee Avenue, Bradenton

The Grand Parade is the highlight of Bradenton’s De Soto Heritage Festival, bringing together over 150 parade entries, including floats and marching bands. This event attracts more than 100,000 people each year, making it one of the biggest and most anticipated parades in the Southeast.

This year brings some major changes, as the parade has outgrown the previous format, thanks to an increase in the number of entries, larger floats, and record numbers of spectators. Now, the parade will begin in downtown Bradenton with a family-friendly street party”that will start several hours before the parade steps off. Spectators can watch the floats set up while also enjoying live music, street vendors, children’s activities, a 5K race, and more.

Check out the new parade route and additional details here!
Wondering what to expect? Here’s a sneak peek…

About the Hernando de Soto Historical Foundation

Founded in 1939, the Hernando de Soto Historical Society is a volunteer-driven, not-for-profit group that celebrates Manatee County’s Spanish-American heritage. Through events and sponsorships, the Society supports education and local charities, making a real difference in our community.

Each year, they redistribute $50,000 back into the community and their events generate an estimated 3 million dollars of economic stimulus to Manatee County. Local charitable beneficiaries include PACE Center for Girls, Feeding Empty Little Tummies (FELT), Big Brothers & Big Sisters, Boys & Girls Club, Dive Into Reading, Early Learning Coalition, Wreaths Across America, and more.

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