The COVID-19 pandemic may alter Busch Gardens Tampa Bay’s seasonal events, but guests will still get to enjoy Mardi Gras, Sesame Street Kids Weekend, and Food & Wine Festival in 2021.

The park announced dates for three events in the first four months of the year. All will come with the same COVID-19 safeguards that have become familiar to park guests. 

“The Busch Gardens team has consulted with medical experts to offer modified events with required reservations and limited capacity for safe celebrations,” the park said in a press release. “All seasonal events feature open-air entertainment throughout the park’s more than 300 spacious acres as well as enhanced health and safety measures including increased cleaning and sanitation, temperature checks, face covering requirements and physical distancing.”

The first event will be held this coming weekend with Busch Gardens’ “Appreciation Nights.” On Jan. 8 and 9, annual pass and Fun Card holders will be able to enjoy extended time in the park from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. A limited number of attractions will be open, including the coasters Cheetah Hunt, Cobra’s Curse, Kumba, Montu and Scorpion. 

During those passholder exclusive events, guests can get a preview of the food options coming to next seasonal event, Mardi Gras, which itself will be held Jan. 16 to Feb. 16. 

“There will be plenty of room to dance through spacious walkways while enjoying festive tunes from live musicians while flavorful dishes and cocktails tempt the senses,” the park said of the Mardi Gras event in a press release. 

Mardi Gras beignets (Busch Gardens Tampa Bay)

Mardi Gras beignets (Busch Gardens Tampa Bay)

Mardi Gras will overlap with Sesame Street Kids Weekends, running on weekend days from Jan. 30 to Feb. 14. This year’s edition will include new physically-distant celebrations for Elmo’s birthday and Valentine’s Day. 

Rounding out the calendar is the Food & Wine Festival, running on Fridays through Sundays from Feb. 20 to April 25. While Busch Gardens didn’t mention anything about the menu, its press release did confirm that local musical acts will be a part of event — unlike Disney World’s larger International Food & Wine Festival at Epcot in 2020, which went without its typical concert series due to the pandemic. 

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