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Busy weekend of concerts ahead in Orlando area theme parks

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It's almost springtime in Orlando, which means it's time to party at SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and the Universal Orlando Resort. All three parks are hosting live acts for the next several weeks, and the best part is that the chance to see these nationally recognized entertainers is included in park admission.

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Already raging on at SeaWorld Orlando, Bands, Brew & BBQ is back for its seventh straight year at Busch Gardens® Tampa. The smokin’ hot festival is filling every Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 8 through March 9, with an unlimited sampling of more than 100 specialty and craft beers, saucy barbeque from the bay area’s most popular restaurants and live concerts from some of the biggest names in music.

The Gwazi Park stage sizzles with music throughout the day. Headline concerts start at 5 p.m. and the field will open at noon. The full concert area is free to guests and located just behind the Gwazi rollercoaster.

This year’s event kicks off with five time BMI Pop Award-winning artist Jason Derulo, who will be performing chart-topping hits like "Watcha Say," "In My Head," "Ridin' Solo," "Don't Wanna Go Home" and "It Girl."

On Sunday, Feb. 9, the opening weekend of Bands, Brew & BBQ rocks on with Rock-n-Roll Hall of Famer Dickey Betts and Great Southern, followed by The Marshall Tucker Band.

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 buschgardens.com 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 ofBusch 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!

As mentioned, the festival is also taking place at Busch Garden's sister park, SeaWorld. SeaWorld Orlando’s Bands, Brew & BBQ Festival features six weekends of signature mouth-watering BBQ, an array of thirst-quenching beer and an atmosphere that bring families together for much-loved foods and rockin’ music from now through March 9. This weekend, the entertainers include singer Gretchen Wilson on Saturday, Feb. 8 at 4:00 p.m., and funny man Bill Engvall on Sunday, Feb. 9 at 4:00 p.m.

Down the road from the home of Shamu, Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras celebration also begins this Saturday, Feb. 8, at Universal Studios Florida, combining unmatched theme park entertainment with delectable Cajun cuisine, authentic New Orleans bands, an awe-inspiring parade and live concerts by some of today’s hottest artists. The party continues every weekend through the end of May.

On Saturday, Grammy award-winning rock band Daughtry will kick off the celebration with a live performance on the Music Plaza stage. With popular hits like “Home,” “It’s Not Over” and “No Surprise,” Daughtry has sold more than 20 million albums worldwide. The band’s lead singer, Chris Daughtry, was discovered on season 5 of the hit show, American Idol.

Before the concert, guests can catch colorful beads by the handful during the festive Mardi Gras parade, which will feature 12 vibrant floats, including three new additions celebrating Jules Verne’s novel, “Around the World in Eighty 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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