Ready for the Bradenton Area River Regatta? Here are 5 things to know before you go

By land and by water, the Bradenton Area River Regatta arrives this weekend to entertain all of Manatee County.

The watersports festival is a chance to see some of the fastest boats in the world zip down the Manatee River.

And there is so much more to enjoy at this year’s regatta.

Festivities in Bradenton and Palmetto on Saturday include live music all afternoon, a flyboarding performance, dog shows, a fishing tournament, family fun areas, food, beer and more.

Here are five things to know before you head out to the 2019 Bradenton Area River Regatta.

Formula 2 boats racing for the championship at the Bradenton Area River Regatta. Tiffany Tompkins ttompkins@bradenton.com

What’s happening and where to see it

The Regatta schedule is packed and some events overlap, so it’s best to plan out your schedule ahead of time.

Here’s the lineup for the day:

Bradenton events:

DeSoto Little Anglers Fishing Tournament — 8:30 a.m. at the Palmetto Pier;

“Dog Frisbee Shows” — Noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. on the Bradenton Riverwalk Main Lawn;

Stunt Dog Shows — 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. at the Bradenton Riverwalk Ampitheater;

“Distinguished Daredevils Variety Show” — 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the Bradenton Riverwalk Ampitheater;

Pittsburgh Pirates/Bradenton Marauders Family Fun Zone and Area Food Festival — All day at the Bradenton Riverwalk main lawn;

Kristen Smoyer, 2016 World Flyboard Champ — 7:15 p.m. at Pier 22 Restaurant.

Palmetto events:

Vintage Powerboat Show — 10 a.m.-7 p.m. at Riverside Avenue/Riverside Boat Ramp;

Pittsburgh Pirates/Bradenton Marauders Family Fun Zone and Area Food Festival, USF Bulls and Tampa Bay Lightning Street Teams and DeSoto Beer Garden — All day long at Riverside West Park.

On the river:

The powerboat races can be viewed from both sides of the Manatee River. Some prime places to watch are Bradenton Riverwalk, the Palmetto Pier, Riverside Drive and the Green Bridge, which will be closed to vehicle traffic all day.

Powerboat race test runs — Formula 3 at 10 a.m. and Formula 2 at 10:30 a.m.;

Qualifying heats — Formula 3 at noon;

USF Ceremonial Band — 1 p.m. at the base of the Green Bridge;

Qualifying heats continued — Formula 2 at 2 p.m.;

Championship races — Formula 3 at 3 p.m. and Formula 2 at 3:45 p.m.;

Zambelli Fireworks Spectacular — 6:45 p.m.

Fireworks will be visible from both sides of the river, and this year, the Green Bridge will remain open to pedestrians during the display.

A man in stilts walks through the crowds gathered on the Green Bridge at the Bradenton Area River Regatta. Tiffany Tompkins ttompkins@bradenton.com

Who’s playing?

Music kicks off at noon in Bradenton and Palmetto and goes all day long. So pick a stage and settle in or go show-hopping and create your own lineup.

Regatta headliners provided photo 1.JPG
Bradenton’s own We the Kings returns home to headline the fifth annual Bradenton Area River Regatta. Cherry King Provided photo

Bradenton Riverwalk Pavillion Stage

Noon — Couch Music Foundation Education Students;

1 p.m. — Penny Fountain;

1:45 p.m. — Trevor Bystrom Band;

2:45 p.m. — “Tribute to Abba” by Shaman Band

4 p.m. — Under the Moon and Friends;

4:30 p.m. — Sam Woolf;

5:15 p.m. — We the Kings.

Palmetto Main Stage

Noon — Couch Music Foundation Education Students;

1 p.m. — 301 Travelers;

2 p.m. — Matt Walden;

3 p.m. — Brandi Sparks;

4 p.m. — “Tribute to George Strait” by Andy Pursell Band;

5:15 p.m. — Andy Pursell Band.

Crowds gathered on the Green Bridge watch as the Formula 2 boats arrive to race at the Bradenton Area River Regatta. Tiffany Tompkins ttompkins@bradenton.com

Come prepared

If you plan to spend all day at the festival, it’s best to know the lay of the land.

Good news: You are allowed to bring your own coolers.

Bad news: You are not allowed to bring your own alcohol, but there will be a beer garden near the Palmetto main stage. Law enforcement may check coolers.

You can bring your own food to the event, but there will be lots of tasty offerings on site.

Pets are also OK, but they should be well-behaved and leashed.

And how about the weather? At the moment, this Saturday is forecast to be pleasant, with highs in the 70s, lows in the 60s and only a small chance of rain. However it is Florida, so having some sunscreen and a poncho on hand is never a bad idea.

Bradenton parking map. Parking in front of Bradenton City Hall (P1) is currently unavailable due to construction. City of Bradenton

Where to park

There’s lots of free parking throughout downtown Bradenton and Palmetto.

Some good bets in Bradenton are the Riverwalk parking lot off of Third Avenue West (east of Manatee Performing Arts Center) and the lot off of Riverfront Boulevard (by Mattison’s City Grille).

Check the City of Bradenton’s website for more public parking locations.

In Palmetto, look for parking on Riverside Drive.

Also keep in mind that the Green Bridge will be closed from 4 a.m. Saturday to 1 a.m. Sunday, so you will have to use the DeSoto Bridge if you plan on traveling back and forth.

Fireworks explode in the distance behind a boat floating in Twin Dolphin Marina after the third annual Bradenton Area River Regatta in 2017. Bradenton Herald File Photo

Where to party

There are several Regatta celebrations happening around Bradenton this weekend.

A few highlights:

Meet some of the powerboat drivers the night before the Bradenton Area River Regatta at Mattison’s City Grille on Bradenton Riverwalk. Courtesy of Mattison's

Meet the drivers at Mattison’s

Mattison’s City Grille on Bradenton Riverwalk will host a pre-Regatta party on Friday night where guests can meet powerboat drivers and crews participating in the big day. The boats will be there too, and local bands will perform.

Details: 6 p.m. Friday. Mattison’s City Grille, 101 Riverfront Blvd., Bradenton. mattisons.com.

Regatta day drinks and dining at Pier 22

For those who want some suds on the Bradenton side of the river, Pier 22 is hosting a beer garden on Regatta day from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The restaurant offers prime views of the water.

On Saturday night, Regatta fans are invited to dine al fresco for the fireworks show and a second performance by flyboarder Kristen Smoyer. This time, she’ll be decked out in neon lights.

Details: 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Pier 22 Restaurant, 1200 First Ave. W., Bradenton. Reservations recommended. pier22dining.com.

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