Festivals or not, weather drives tourism in Florida. The colder it is elsewhere, the better it is in Tampa Bay for attracting those who long for a respite in short-sleeve shirts and shorts. You can still plan visits around festivals and fairs too, including Gasparilla in January, the 12-day Florida State Fair in February, the Renaissance Festival with activities in February and March, and the AirFest at MacDill Air Force Base in March.
If you can handle the heat, you’ll get lower rates all summer and especially during the dead period after Labor Day in September. It’s probably not much higher in temperature than where you are, the difference as everybody knows is the humidity. If you visit the beach it’s very important to limit exposure and protect your skin. This of course calls sitting under the thatch room of a tiki bar drinking rumrunners and the like—strictly for medicinal purposes to keep your body temperature cool, mind you. Steamy days aside, summer is convenient for annual vacations and out-of-schoolers. Better yet, come down in December (except from Christmas to New Year) when rates again drop, kids are in school and everything is less crowded.
It’s still not blazing hot in May while October through November will be downright pleasant. Several major festivals take place in fall, such as like Guavaween in Ybor City just before the witches start flying on October 31. It’s easier at this time to get reservations at the best restaurants or even drop by without them if before or after the more popular times of day.