Sarasota's popular festivals this week

A frenzy of wine auctions, chalk art, movies and chamber music

Our festival schedule has been heavy this year, nearly one good-sized festival each weekend. This week is different, a frenzy start to some of the most attended festivals to choose from in art, music, wine and film. While two of these festivals continue into next week, a fifth festival begins for whiskey aficionados.

Wine Auction to benefit children's programs in Sarasota

Florida Winefest Auction Sarasota
Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall - Florida Winefest Auction kicks off the series of festivals

Four days of events for wine connoisseurs and philanthropists begins Thursday with proceeds to benefit 18 Sarasota children programs, the Florida Winefest Auction kicks off on the South lawn of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. The Pique Nique Sur la Baie, Winefest Style “Where the Guests are the Show” is at 11 AM, followed by an opening reception at noon. The “Apre La Fete” luncheon starting at 1:30 PM with half of your reservation fee is tax deductible toward the charities.

Wine dinners follow at Mattison’s Forty One, Sage SRQ and San Remo private residence. On Friday a lunch tasting will be held at the bayfront of the Van Wezel with a grand banquet on the block of Lemon Avenue starting at 6:30 PM. Educational seminars and classes are Friday and Saturday with the Grand Tasting, Brunch and Charity Auction at 11 AM Saturday at the Van Wezel Bayfront. Enjoy Wine on the Water Sunday at 1 PM on the Bayfront. A complimentary Business Trade Tasting Friday open to licensed members is by invitation only.

Chalk Festival returns to downtown Sarasota for the first time since 2013

Sarasota Chalk Festival
The Sarasota Chalk Festival returns to downtown

One of the top festivals in Sarasota was moved to the Venice Airport grounds to attract 200,000 visitors from around the world. The Sarasota Chalk Festival last year in November was postponed and rescheduled to start April 5 at its original location in downtown Sarasota. The regular schedule will pick back up November 15 in Venice. The streets of Burns Square will come alive with street chalk artwork from the masters of their craft that travel here from around the globe.

Under the theme of “Museum in Motion” the streets of Burns Square will become the canvas for these artists to transform downtown into a festival of beauty for the first time in six years. A world debut of 3-dimensional illusion art by 3D pavement illusion designer Kurt Wenner will be on display. Stroll through the artwork at night on Saturday evening when the streets become illuminated with lanterns. Live music, late shopping and the artists will be discussing their artwork starting at 6 PM. Amateur adult artists and students over the age of 12 can also participate in the three-day festival for free by requesting a spot on the website.

Sarasota Film Festival for 2019 starts with a look at the career of Mike Wallace

Friday begins the Sarasota Film Festival with a look at the career of one of the most iconic broadcast journalists in “Mike Wallace is Here” by award winning director Avi Belkin. The movie at 6 PM in the Municipal Auditorium will be followed by a panel discussion led by Belkin on the legacy Wallace left behind. An opening night party follows at The Modern in downtown Sarasota. The Regal Hollywood Stadium 11 will host many of the 200 feature and short film screenings during the nine days of the festival.

The festival continues award ceremonies and parties at multiple locations in Sarasota. Have an upfront conversation with Greg Kinnear, Oscar nominee for “As Good as It Gets,” 1 PM at Sage SRQ on April 13, the last night of the festival when his directorial debut of “Phil” premieres. The closing night party at Sage SRQ is destined to be one of the most elegant and enthusiastic parties of the year. But save your energy for the last day on Sunday as multiple award winning actress Blythe Danner takes the Sage SRQ stage for a personal discussion of films and Broadway. Anne Heche, actress, director and screenwriter follows at 1 PM.

Chamber music is highlighted at the Opera House in the La Musica Festival

Sarasota Opera House, 61 N. Pineapple Ave, Sarasota, FL 34236
La Musica events will be hosted at the Opera House

Artistic director Bruno Giuranna has put together four concert performances in the Opera House downtown to begin next Monday and continue every three days during the 2019 La Musica International Chamber Music Festival. Giuranna is a world renown violinist and conductor, providing direction for the festival with associate artistic director, American born and famed pianist Derek Han.

On concert off days you may want to take in a rehearsal of the masters in the Mildred Sainer Pavilion at New College of Florida, the first of which is Saturday. A free panel discussion on the continuing legacy of chamber music, "Truthful and Timeless", will follow the rehearsal April 9 at New College. Bradenton resident Harold J. Bott Jr. will lead a discussion of panelists Giuranna, Han and others.

Meet the musicians and enjoy a mini concert, “An Irish Melody and Mozart’s Flute Quartet”, April 12 in the Dolphin Aviation Hangar at SRQ Airport starting at 5:30 PM. Although sold out, the Musical Chefs Interactive Dinner in Michael’s Wine Cellar is an annual treat. You can put this on your plans next year when La Musica returns for its 34th year.

“It Must be the Whiskey” and everything about it during its obsession 2019

Look out Sarasota, the seventh annual Whiskey Obsession, the largest whiskey festival in the United States hits Sarasota for four days starting April 10. An elegant four course kickoff dinner with executive chef Anthony Puccio at the Sarasota Yacht Club gets the festival rolling.

On Thursday, two intimate small group dinners at the Hyatt Regency are paired with panel discussions of relevant topics. Four award winning whiskies are celebrated at the World Whiskey Dinner, while four Scotch whiskies are paired with dinner during the Single Malt Scotch Dinner. A panel of unique distillers and Whiskey experts share brands at an interactive tasting after the dinners. Samples of Whistle Pig Rye conclude the evening on Thursday, a lively late night gathering with live music.

A master class of single malt scotch begins the activities on noon Friday at The Bijou restaurant. One of the highlights of the festival is the Grand tastings and Masterclasses Friday evening at the Hyatt Regency. There are three ticket levels for these events. Two events on Saturday conclude the festival, the Women of Whiskey brunch at the Sarasota Yacht Club and Beer, Bourbon and Cigars at Smokin’ Joes on Main Street.

You can find these festivals and hundreds of other events through May 3, 2020 on our Upcoming Events page. This page is updated every week on Thursday to help you plan for the weekend and beyond.

Last week I listed a sunny and open three-bedroom townhome at 1555 Napoli Drive West in Sarasota. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing or if you have a property to sell or buy. Enjoy the remainder of your April Fool’s Day, this list of events was no joke.

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