TAMPA BAY, Fla. — Different parts of the world mark the arrival of fall in different ways.

In some places, the changing colors of the local foliage produce breathtaking natural hues that draw admirers from miles around. In others, residents celebrate the harvest with festivals and carnivals.

What You Need To Know

  • Tampa Halloween parade/party Guavaween began in Ybor City in 1985

  • Guavaween occurred off and on until 2018

  • The event will not return for Halloween 2021

  • Despite COVID-19, there are still plenty of Tampa Bay fall events scheduled

Here in Tampa Bay, we don’t really have a gorgeous fall shift in leaf color, or a big, economy-sustaining fall harvest. Heck, we really don’t have a fall. But many of us do participate in an annual end-of-summer tradition by noting the calendar’s progression from August into September and asking the same question:

Are we gonna have a Guavaween this year?

Once upon a time, Guavaween was Tampa’s premiere Halloween party. Originally a costumed “parade” down the sidewalks of historic 7th Avenue, Guavaween officially began in 1985 as an Ybor City Chamber of Commerce-backed fundraiser for a local theater company. (Unofficially, some say the event was a civic co-opting of the parties organized by the upstart provocateurs of Tampa’s Artists & Writers Group as an underground alternative to Gasparilla’s moneyed shenanigans.)

Guavaween grew exceedingly popular over the ensuing years, trying out various formats to accommodate increasing (and increasingly varied) crowds while mitigating drunken buffoonery: Closing off 7th and having the parade in the street. Adding live music. Taking away live music. Making it more of a bar/venue crawl. Fencing in a bare city block to create a post-apocalyptic stockade of drunken buffoonery. Sponsors, promoters and concepts came and went; some years, there wasn’t a Guavaween at all.

In 2018, following a five-year break and a couple of attempts to return a kindler, gentler Guavaween to its costumed-parade roots, the thing just petered out.

That hasn’t stopped those who either remember Guavaween fondly or never got a chance to attend from asking, year after year, if it’s coming back. They’re Tampa Bay’s Party Linuses, faithfully awaiting the return of their Great Pumpkin, in whatever form its next iteration might take.

Alas, 2021 won’t be their year, according to sources who’ve worked on Guavaween in the past. It’s not just the pandemic; some just see the festival as part of another time, before there were half a dozen big events to choose from on any given fall weekend (and perhaps before Ybor City sacrificed so much of its character and culture on the altar of clubby, generic “nightlife experiences” and residential units).

COVID or not, that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of hefty seasonal alternatives, however. Many newer and equally storied Tampa Bay traditions are returning from last year’s cancelations — here are five that are well worth a reveler’s attention and, at press time, still slated to go on despite the Delta variant.


Tampa Bay’s biggest and coolest homegrown music fest returns to Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park this year with three days of performances that include hip-hop icon Nas, southern/jam-rock legends Gov’t Mule, indie faves Parquet Courts, retro-rap hitmaker Young MC and dozens more on multiple stages. GMF is working to keep patrons safe by requiring proof of COVID vaccination or a recent negative test at the gate. “We are looking forward to a fun weekend with some incredible live music,” said Gasparilla Music Foundation’s David Cox. Oct. 1-3. 600 N. Ashley Dr., Tampa.


Municipalities, event planners and craft breweries alike are putting their own spin on the traditional German harvest and beer festival with plenty of authentic brews, food, fashion and culture. Check out our running list of Oktoberfest events for info, dates and details.


The Tampa Convention Center plays home to all things inked next month when it hosts this massive body-art con. Several big names in the tattoo world will be making appearances, including multiple contestants from the popular Ink Master reality competition series. Oct. 22-24. 333 S. Franklin St., Tampa


Now in its tenth year, the annual Tampa Pig Jig combines a heated cooking competition, delicious food, live music and a spirit of philanthropy to Tampa’s Julian B. Lane Park on the Hillsborough River. This party consistently raises inspiring sums for NephCure Kidney International, and this year’s musical lineup features former Hootie & The Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker and eclectic roots-alternative family outfit Judah & The Lion, among many others. Sat., Oct. 23. 1001 N. Blvd., Tampa.


Over on the St. Pete side of the bay, the celebration of local independent makers and businesses known as Shopapalooza is slated for Thanksgiving weekend at Vinoy Park. “We’ll be following all CDC recommendations in place at the time,” says founder and LocalShops1 principal Ester Venouziou. “Shopapalooza is free and open to all, but this year we will be fencing the entire park to better control crowds and/or do temperature checks, if needed. We’ll also have extra wash stations, and encourage vendors to have cashless payment options.” Nov. 27-28. 701 Bayshore Dr. NE, St. Petersburg.