Gasparilla Music Festival 2023 will happen in downtown Tampa next month

At Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, too.

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click to enlarge After some uncertainty, Gasparilla Music Festival has announced a return to downtown Tampa for April 29-30, 2023. - Blake Yeager c/o Gasparilla Music Festival
Blake Yeager c/o Gasparilla Music Festival
After some uncertainty, Gasparilla Music Festival has announced a return to downtown Tampa for April 29-30, 2023.
In January, after receiving news that one of its parks was unavailable, Gasparilla Music Festival (GMF) organizers said they were “optimistic” about throwing their party before the year was over.

Today, they delivered on that promise when Executive Director David Cox told Creative Loafing Tampa Bay that a modified version of GMF would happen in and around Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park on Saturday-Sunday, April 29-30.

“We’re full steam ahead on the festival right now,” Cox added.

He said that Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park will be home to GMF 2023’s main stage, with additional stages being added downtown nearby.

Kiley Garden, which GMF has utilized since its inception, will not host any festival stages.

"GMF 2023's lineup will feature many exciting acts bringing a great energy to downtown,' Cox added.

Earlybird tickets for Gasparilla Music Festival 2023 go on sale Friday, March 10. Single-day general admission starts at $50. As usual, there are a limited number of early bird two-day GA and VIP options ($65-$175).
Event Details

Gasparilla Music Festival 2023

Sat., April 29 and Sun., April 30

Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park 600 N Ashley Dr., Tampa Tampa

For longtime fans of GMF, Cox’s claim that there would be a festival seemed like a pipe dream. The festival usually happens at the end of February or early March, with ticket and lineup announcements well before that.

Making matters worse, a City of Tampa spokesperson told CL in January that Kiley Garden—where GMF has placed three stages in recent years—is unavailable because of “water intrusion issues that have been identified through an exploratory evaluation.”

The spokesperson added that the city is not allowing events at Kiley until it gets an engineer’s full approval to put loads on the surface of Kiley, which is above a parking garage.

Public records show that the evaluation by Walter P Moore engineering firm was delivered to the City of Tampa in July 2021. The evaluation said Kiley’s plaza deck waterproofing system was “currently exhibiting signs of deterioration and is considered to be in generally ‘Poor’ condition overall with isolated elements in “Failed” condition.”

“These conditions are critical to long-term service of the plaza and parking structure and require a repair program to return them to intended serviceability,” the evaluation added.

Base repair recommendations from the firm included a feasibility study for retrofitting a new drainage system and 11 different waterproofing repairs. Not including the retrofitting, the firm estimated the probable cost of the base repair recommendations at $9 million-$11 million.

There was also no verbiage in the evaluation saying that it would be dangerous for Kiley to bear the kind of load the music festival brings.

In a statement to CL, Tampa's Special Events Superintendent, Tony Mulkey said Kiley's position on top of a parking garage made for limitations on event production since Walter P Moore issued an original guidance in 2011.

Mulkey added that when the city received the 2021 report, permitting for GMF and other events was already underway, so the city made a decision to move forward and determine next steps afterwards. Ultimately, they decided to halt any permitting until a further evaluation could determine a clear path towards mitigation, or provide an approval to stage events in the area.

"While the report did not address activities such as the music festival directly, observations included in the report highlighted the need for additional study to know the full extent of the conditions. Given the unknowns of the space, we deemed that the safest and most prudent approach is to assist events with adapting to new locations or configurations. We continue to work with all of our events to find successful paths forward," Mulkey told CL.

Cox told CL that the city told him about the waterproofing report after GMF’s February 2022 festival.

Public records requests showed that GMF submitted booking requests for February and March dates in Curtis Hixon, plus another date at Julian B. Lane just up the Hillsborough River. Those dates came and went.

And while local music fans can now circle the end of April for GMF 2023, Cox said the festival is locked in for next year, too.

“Friday-Sunday, Feb. 16-18. At Julian B. Lane Park,” he said. “Kiley could be unavailable for a while, so we’ve figured out how we want to settle in down the river until it’s ready.”

About The Author

Ray Roa

Read his 2016 intro letter and disclosures from 2022 and 2021. Ray Roa started freelancing for Creative Loafing Tampa in January 2011 and was hired as music editor in August 2016. He became Editor-In-Chief in August 2019. Past work can be seen at Suburban Apologist, Tampa Bay Times, Consequence of Sound and The...
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