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Big name bands take the stage in Orlando and Tampa theme parks this weekend

This time of year, the fun doesn't stop at area theme parks, as the annual Bands, Brew & BBQ festival continues at Busch Gardens® Tampa and SeaWorld Orlando, while Mardi Gras brings the streets of New Orleans to Universal Studios Florida.

I wonder if Shamu likes BBQ?
Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images

This weekend, the Gwazi Park stage at Busch Gardens Tampa sizzles with music throughout the day, with headline concerts starting at 5 p.m. and the field opening at noon. The fun starts on Saturday, March 1 with Lifehouse, and continues on Sunday with a concert with ZZ Top.

Their sister park, SeaWorld Orlando, welcomes rocker Scotty McCreery on March 1, and the Steve Miller Band on March 2. Event area opens at 11:30am. Concerts begin at 4pm on March 1 and March 2.

Guests can reserve the best seat in house for their favorite acts with the Bands, Brew & BBQ VIP Ticket. The VIP Ticket is $34.99 per person and includes priority reserved seating at center stage, plus an entrée platter and non-alcoholic beverage at any festival tent location OR an entrée, one side salad, side dish or dessert, and a regular-sized non-alcoholic beverage from any of Busch Gardens’ restaurants. The VIP ticket is available for sale at and in park at the Adventure Outpost store, located at the front gate.

With more options than ever before, the expanded Beer Festival will feature more than 100 imported, domestic and craft beers. Select brews are available at each of the tents along the Bands, Brew & BBQ pathway, as well as in Gwazi Park.

For those looking to sample several of the specialty brews, unlimited sampling is available from noon to 5:30 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday with a Beer Festival Wristband. Wristbands are $30 per person (ages 21+), or two for $50 for active Busch Gardens Tampa Pass Members, and also include sampling privileges at the Desert Grill restaurant, Crown Colony pub, Garden Gate Café and Zambia Smokehouse.

The festival also serves up a savory series of food tents, with Outback Steakhouse, Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill, Penguin Pretzel Factory and local favorite Kojak’s House of Ribs, as well as a selection of Busch Gardens’ own barbeque favorites. Whether hungry for a sampler plate or a hearty platter, guests will have their choice of perfectly prepared chicken, beef, ribs, sides and more!

SeaWorld Orlando's Bands, Brew & BBQ allows SeaWorld chefs and some of Central Florida's local favorites, including Bubbalou's Bodacious Bar-B-Que, Cecil's Texas Style BAR-B-Q and Sonny's BBQ, to serve smokin' BBQ foods tendered to perfection, and quench your thirst with a selection of more than 30 craft brews from domestic and international breweries.

Down the road at Universal Studios Florida, the award-winning rock band Collective Soul, best known for their singles, “Shine” and “The World I Know,” will light up the stage at Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras Celebration on Saturday, March 1 at 8:00 p.m.

Before the concert, guests can catch colorful beads by the handful during the festive Mardi Gras parade, which features 12 vibrant floats, including three new additions celebrating Jules Verne’s novel, “Around the World in 80 Days.” Guests can also visit Universal Studios Florida’s very own French Quarter Courtyard to enjoy authentic Cajun cuisine and see performances by bands pulled straight from Bourbon Street.

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