Mark your calendars — the Bradenton Area River Regatta returns to Bradenton and Palmetto on Saturday, February 8th. This FREE EVENT offers you a chance to get up-close and personal with Formula-2 Powerboats that hit speeds of up to 120 mph. As if that wasn’t exciting enough, this year, they’re also adding Jersey Speed Skiff racing.
While the races are certainly the headliner of the event, there are a TON of fun things going on all day long. On both sides of the river, you’ll find live music, food, and a wide variety of family-friendly entertainment. Make sure you stick around until the sun goes down, because the Zambelli International fireworks show is sure to blow your mind! Here’s everything you need to know so you can plan your day.
Live Music Schedule
If you’re into live music, you’re in luck! There are many excellent options on both the Bradenton and the Palmetto sides of the river. Here are the schedules:
Bradenton Riverwalk Pavillion Stage
2 pm – Delaney and Friends
3 pm – The Klick Band (Beatles Tribute)
4 pm – Bowie Live (David Bowie Tribute)
5 pm – Sam Woolf (Chicago Tribute)
5:20 pm – Shaman Band (ABBA Tribute)
Palmetto Main Stage
3 pm – The Billy Rice Band (George Strait Tribute)
4 pm – Andy Pursell Band (Country with a rock twist)
5:15 pm – Soul Circus Cowboys
Kids and adults will both love watching Flyboard World Champion Kristen “The Destroyer” Smoyer and Water Jetpack Champion Mike “Thrasher” Traster show off their skills on the Bradenton side of the Manatee River. Performances will occur between noon and 5 pm in between the boat races. There will also be a special show at 7:15 pm at Pier 22 restaurant.
Team Zoom and Dare Devil Stunt Dogs will be performing on the Manatee Riverwalk great lawn. Watch as these expertly-trained dogs navigate obstacle courses, jump rope, hula hoop, dance, and more! There will be canine performances choreographed to music, lots of audience participation, photo ops, and a chance to meet the dogs after the show. Performances will occur on the hour from 10 am until 6 pm.
You’ll also want to head over to the main lawn of the Bradenton Riverwalk to check out the Pittsburgh Pirates/Bradenton Marauders Family Fun Zone and Area Food Festival, which will be open from 10 am until 7 pm.
On the Palmetto side, you can check out Vintage Powerboats on Riverside Avenue and at the Riverside Boat Ramp between 10 am and 7 pm. You’ll also want to take the kids over to Riverside West Park where they can enjoy the “Family Fun Zone” with rides and an expo area with the US Army and The National Guard.
Lil’ Anglers Fishing Tourney
Grab your little ones and head down to the Palmetto Fishing Pier to start the day off with the Lil’ Anglers Fishing Tourney, sponsored by the Hernando DeSoto Historical Foundation. It’s free to enter and there will be prizes and trophies! Best of all, it’s easy! They’ll have 70 rods rigged and ready to go, so the kids can jump right in and have some fun! The tourney runs from 8:30 am until 10 am. You can register ahead of time or on the day of the event using this form.
Regatta Bridge Run
As soon as the races are done, the Regatta Bridge Run begins. This chip-timed run will feature “celebratory surprises” along the course and prizes for the top 100 male and top 100 female racers. Everyone who participates will also receive a race t-shirt, finisher medal, and “glow gear.” The afterparty will include locally catered food and refreshments and a special VIP viewing area where racers can enjoy the fireworks.
No matter what your age or ability, you’ll have a chance to get in on the fun. This race is open for all paces including walkers and there will also be age-bracketed kids’ dashes. The Kids River Run begins at 5 pm and the 5k run/walk starts at 5:30. The earlier you register, the more you’ll save. You can sign up by clicking this link.
You’ll probably be tired from a full day of fun, but you’ll definitely want to stick around for the Zambelli Internationale Fireworks Spectacular! This musically choreographed display promises to be one of the best fireworks shows you’ve ever seen. The display, which will be shot from barges in the Manatee River, begins at 6:50 pm.
Tips for Enjoying Your Day
The Green Bridge will be closed on Saturday, February 8th from 4 am until 11 pm. Spectators are permitted and encouraged to use the bridge as a viewing area for all water activities, and, this year, you’ll also be able to stay there and watch the fireworks display!
This event is pet-friendly, so go ahead and bring your furry friend as long as he’s well behaved. Dogs must remain on leashes and owners are required to pick up after them.
You’re also allowed to bring coolers, but no alcohol is allowed within the “event footprint” except in the designated “beer gardens,” where you can purchase beer from the event vendors. Outside food is permitted, but there will be so many great concession options that you probably won’t want to bother.
There are no seating areas, so you might want to bring some folding chairs or a blanket that you can spread out when you want to kick back and relax.
For more information about the event and to keep up with any news and announcements, be sure to follow the Bradenton Area River Regatta on Facebook.