Downtown Lighting Ceremony to Launch First City Lights Festival on Nov. 23
Posted: Oct 3, 2018 6:10 PMUpdated: Jan 29, 2019 9:46 PM
On Black Friday the Downtown Improvement Board's annual holiday lighting ceremony will kick-off the First City Lights Festival, a season-long lineup of  diverse holiday events that range from Ballet Pensacola’s “The Nutcracker and a “Little Spruce” makers market,  to Christmas lights tours with Go Retro, Winterfest trolley performance tours, O'Riley's Holiday Pub Crawl and many others. Join your friends in downtown Pensacola at around 5pm November 23rd, immediately following the Winterfest Elf Parade, to watch the grumpy Grinch attempt to prevent Augustus Maywho—that mythical mayor of Whoville—from flipping the switch to light up downtown streets with half a million white lights. By then, Winterfest Elf Parade characters from the Peanuts Gang, the Island of Misfit Toys and other Christmas classics, along with hundreds of costumed kids, their wagons, elf ears and sleighs, will have made their way from the T.T. Wentworth Museum to the steps of Artel Gallery to enjoy live  performances,“reindeer” games, faux snow, music, hot chocolate, food, fireworks and more. All evening, Winterfest’s popular Performance Tours will transport visitors along a 60-minute trolley ride through downtown's historic streets, stopping along the way for live street performances featuring carolers, meticulously detailed sets and a full cast of Christmas characters. Tours depart every 15 minutes from the steps of Artel Gallery. Throughout the holiday season you'll experience music, shopping, food, art and nightlife under a canopy of white lights illuminating downtown Pensacola's historic buildings, parks, shops, galleries and outdoor spaces. Navigate the eclectic district, voted “Florida’s Greatest Place," on foot or by Segway(R),  horse and carriage, pedi-cab or a Winterfest trolley. Wandering along Palafox throughout the holidays, you may chance upon live street performances, caroling in the streets, Santa posing for photos and Winterfest Trolley Tours.Funded in part by grants from the City of Pensacola and Visit Pensacola, the dazzling downtown lights and 68-day festival have become a popular attraction for visitors and residents alike. Pensacola’s Downtown Improvement Board (DIB) conceived the idea of lighting up the district, then coordinating, supporting and branding all of the district’s diverse holiday events synchronously. Come light up the holidays with us!CLICK HERE FOR MORE HOLIDAY EVENTS!PHOTO CREDIT: Laura Bogan Photography
Public Art Around the Downtown District
Posted: Sep 19, 2018 3:41 PMUpdated: Jan 4, 2019 7:24 PM
Downtown Pensacola has become a beacon for local artists looking to make a visual and cultural impact in their community. The historic buildings and picturesque landscapes allow our cultural hub to celebrate artwork in many different forms. Discover the galleries, murals, and public art projects that provide a modern twist to “Florida’s Greatest Place.” Take a walk along Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza and you’ll come across the 9/11 Homage to America, a sculpture designed by Peter King and Xinia Marin—a beautiful and touching memorial to the victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in NYC. Further south in the historic district are a set of murals depicting antique ships docked in Pensacola painted on the walls of the Voices of Pensacola Multicultural Center and a painting of a horse-drawn steam-pumping engine with firefighters painted on the side of the Quayside Gallery. The engine is similar to the one housed by the building in the late 1800s when it was used as the headquarters for the Germania Steam Fire Engine and Hose Company. A bit north of Cervantes, you can enjoy the bright, whimsical street art lining the walls of the First City Art Center, painted as part of the annual Foo Foo Festival, which celebrates local art, music and culture.Spread throughout downtown Pensacola you'll find colorful, hand-painted painted parking meters. The re-purposed meters comprise the Better Way to Give project created by the Greater Pensacola Chamber Foundation’s Leadership Pensacola (LeaP) Class of 2016, installing re-purposed obsolete parking meters — painted by local artists and local businesses — in downtown parks to accept coins that are donated to a local homeless charity, providing an alternative to giving money directly to panhandlers. Throughout the downtown area you’ll also find a pod of colorful five-foot tall pelicans. The Pelicans in Paradise project was created by the Pensacola News Journal as a way to celebrate local art and culture in a fun, fresh way. See how many you can spot on your next downtown visit.As you head further west, you can enjoy the ever-changing Graffiti Bridge located on N. 17th Avenue. The old railroad overpass is constantly transformed by locals and visitors—a living canvas to express inspiration and creativity. In the historic Belmont-Devilliers district,  you’ll find various works from local artist Carter J. Gaston, whose brightly painted murals depict many of the area’s well-known residents and landmarks. The self-proclaimed “world’s best live portrait artist” once spent a week painting local African-American leaders including Gen. Daniel “Chappie” James Jr., the nation’s first black four-star general; Dr. John Sunday, a trail-blazing legislator and James Polkinghorne, Jr., among many other important historic and cultural figures. “It’s great to see public art inspiring more artistic projects that reflect the city’s future while showcasing our rich history,” said local artist Evan Levin. In 2016, Levin partnered with artist Ashton Howard to design and then paint the colorful 3,000 sq. ft. Jefferson Street Mural that illustrates Pensacola’s iconic history on the side of the Jefferson St. parking garage. One year later, the duo returned with CUBED, a 12-day mural installation and live public art performance, featuring 16 local artists who painted their original designs onto four giant cubes. These colorful works of art are now on display at the UWF Historic Trust Museum Plaza located behind the T.T. Wentworth, Jr. Florida State Museum. Head south and see all of the public art dotting our historic district, and for a regular dose of art head downtown every month for Gallery Night, when downtown galleries, boutiques, restaurants, and bars open their doors to the night air and visitors and locals flood the streets to enjoy music, art and cuisine.
Get Off the Eaten Path at These Downtown Restaurants
Posted: Sep 12, 2018 9:22 PMUpdated: Nov 26, 2018 2:46 AM
Pensacola has a rich culture—made evident in the eclectic food options of its downtown area. From southern comfort food to Middle Eastern cuisine, you will have no problem finding a spot to satisfy your culinary cravings. Let’s take a trip off the “eaten path” of downtown Pensacola to discover your new favorite dining destinations!  Located on Palafox Street is Dog House Deli, a casual and lively spot for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Its menu features a plethora of mouthwatering options ranging from Cajun style crawfish andouille to a Chicago-style hot dog worthy of the Windy City. “The Doghouse” has monthly, and even weekly events that highlight food specials, guest chefs and charitable projects.  Further down Palafox is Four Seasons Catering and Eatery. This local gem specializes in event catering and dine-in options and features a dainty menu of fresh salads, premier seafood and signature flatbreads. Around the corner is Jordan Valley, a Middle Eastern restaurant featuring authentic cultural dishes like hummus plates and lamb platters. The outside patio offers a relaxing hookah lounge area.   Further west, you’ll find Union Public House located across the street from the Blue Wahoos Stadium and Community Maritime Park. This crafty southern pub combines fresh ingredients with inventive ideas to curate a wide variety of delicious menu items, including the wild boar sloppy joe and heirloom tomato grilled cheese. UPH offers a main, lunch and happy hour menu featuring shareable small plates and hearty entrées.   One of the newest additions to the downtown area is Big Top Brewery, which is the only downtown brewery to serve both beer and food on its menu. With 24 beers on tap, table seating, big screen TVs and game tables, Big Top offers a lively environment for the thirsty (and hungry) guest. Be sure to check out some of their unique brews, including the sweet, zesty Conch Republic Key Lime Wheat ale and the rich, full-bodied Okefenokee Backwater Imperial Stout. Next time you visit downtown Pensacola, be sure to explore some different dining options and venture to one of these unique spots off the eaten path!
International PARK(ing) Day: Transforming Parking Spaces into Public Places
Posted: Aug 17, 2018 3:34 PMUpdated: Aug 22, 2018 7:36 PM
Pensacola’s Downtown Improvement Board is inviting the local community to submit a design to turn a parking space into a mini, temporary “parklet” to celebrate International PARK(ing) Day. The #ParkPensacola event takes place during Gallery Night on Sept. 21 and the deadline to submit applications and parklet concepts is Aug. 30, 2018. International PARK(ing) Day is an annual event that was created in 2005 by art and design studio, Rebar as a way to encourage community members, students and designers to take metered parking spaces and liven up city streets. Motivated by the desire to activate the metered parking space as a site for creative experimentation and cultural expression, PARK(ing) Day offers a fun opportunity for members of the community to create temporary installations, with a mission to encourage people to imagine the positive impacts of green spaces in urban areas. On Gallery Night, guests will be able to enjoy the 10 parklets and cast a vote for their favorite. “We are very excited to celebrate International PARK(ing) Day during the upcoming Gallery Night event and challenge our local community to reinterpret our typical parking spots into creative spaces,” remarked DIB Interim Executive Director, Lisa Dees, “Whether you want to create a giant chessboard, install an interactive sculpture or host a croquet tournament, our aim is to have some fun with these spaces and rethink our relationship with parking.” The call for submissions is FREE open to all and can contain sketches or a brief description of the idea for transforming the parking space into a parklet. The competition is limited to 10 designs and qualifying design teams will be notified once selected. While branding is permitted, parklets are intended for non-commercial use only. Email submissions to: [email protected] #ParkPensacola
New Monument Honors the Man Who Helped America Win the Revolution
Posted: Jul 3, 2018 12:24 AMUpdated: Nov 9, 2018 10:10 PM
There’s something new at the intersection of Palafox and Wright Streets—a magnificent, 19 ft. monument that celebrates the heritage of both Pensacola and the United States of America. Created by sculptors Bob Rasmussen and Kathryn R. Vincze, the monument includes a bronze statue of celebrated Spanish General Bernardo de Gálvez astride his horse and facing north toward the site of Fort George, his hat raised in victory.  After waiting for many hurricanes and storms to pass, Spanish General Bernardo de Gálvez sailed into Pensacola Bay in 1781 to drive the British from the Gulf Coast, leading the naval charge into the well-defended Pensacola Bay in a masterpiece of military strategy that would earn him a royal patent adding the words “Yo Solo” (“I alone”) to his coat-of-arms.His forces landed near Bayou Chico and began a steady advance towards the city’s defenses, which included Fort George on Gage Hill (Palafox Street) and its two advance redoubts. After weeks of siege, a Spanish mortar detonated the powder magazine at the Queen’s Redoubt on May 8, devastating the British fortification. Gálvez accepted the surrender of British Governor John Campbell and claimed West Florida for Spain.By taking Pensacola, Gálvez stripped Britain of a key foothold on the Gulf Coast, which in turn benefited the American Colonists in their quest for independence. For this reason, Gálvez has been recognized by Congress as a hero of the Revolutionary War who risked his life for the freedom of the United States people and provided supplies, intelligence, and strong military support to the war effort.SOURCE/PHOTO CREDIT: Pensacola Heritage Foundation