Fun in the Sun at Tampa’s Sunset Music Festival

written by Connor McAuliffe

Back for its fifth year in Tampa, Florida, Sunset Music Festival offers a wide variety of electronic dance music for all attendees to choose from. The following is our take on why you should consider participating in the Sunset fun, broken down by the elements of any festival we find to be the most important.

Sunset Music Festival Quick Facts

Camping: No

Capacity: Medium (15k-20k attendees)

Crowd type:  Kandi / Ravers / Trendy

Music genre: Trap, Dubstep, House

How To Get There: Car/Uber

Where To Stay: Hotels in surrounding area of Raymond James Stadium


A range of vendors provided attendees with food options including grilled cheeses, burritos, pizza, fresh fruit, and smoothies. Three water stations were also available to fill up your water bottles and camelbaks free of charge.


The elegance of each stage at Sunset Music Festival made it particularly memorable. Artistic patterns and psychedelic colors beautifully enhanced the viewing experience, and changing light throughout the day kept the vibe fresh. Although the Eclipse and Horizon stages were quite close to each other, no sound bleeding affected the quality of the music.

Eclipse Stage: Photo by James Coletta

Eclipse Stage: Photo by James Coletta

Taken from SMF Facebook Page

Taken from SMF Facebook Page

The Sunset stage (main stage) featured a massive screen that danced with different visual artwork for each set, complemented by CO2 cannons and enough lasers to make your head spin. Each stage was flexible enough to complement different performers throughout the day, tailoring to each individual’s style and aesthetic.

Taken from SMF Facebook Page

Taken from SMF Facebook Page

Artists You May Not Have Heard of But Can’t Miss

Chicago natives Freddy Kennett and Robby Hauldren—known together as Louis the Child—may not be a duo you’re familiar with yet, but we’re betting they’ll be a household name by the end of this festival season. Their set on Sunday afternoon was everything I hoped it would be: pure happiness in sound form. After being listed as one of EDM’s top 3 artists to watch this year by Snapchat, and being named #1 Artist Taking Dance Music to the Next Level by Mixmag, it’s clear these two have big things coming. We can’t wait to see what their success will bring!

Louis the Child: Photo taken by Julian Bajsel

Louis the Child: Photo taken by Julian Bajsel

Things To Do

If you weren’t busy throwing down some crazy dance moves, the canopy located by the Sunset stage was an awesome place to grab some shade and refuel (one of my favorite past times of the available options). Otherwise, Bud Light Lime had a few mini golf holes and small viewing areas set up in the shade by the Eclipse stage, but overall, a wider variety of activities would have been welcomed.

Why Go VIP

VIP access included three different viewing areas at each stage. A private bar and food tent, air conditioned bathrooms, and a shaded viewing area was available at the Sunset stage (particularly nice given Tampa’s Memorial Day weekend weather). The Eclipse and Horizon Stages also had private bars, and VIP attendees were given lanyards with each day’s schedules.

What Makes The Festival Different?

  1. Cool Down Tent: Florida around this time of year is ridiculously hot and humid, and the creation of the Cool Down Tent is one of the most unique and relevant ideas I’ve ever seen at a festival. As the name suggests, this tent was made exclusively for patrons to wander through and enjoy the air conditioning, along with black lights and vibrant artwork. My friends and I definitely took advantage of this feature more than once a day to help keep us cool.
Inside the Cool Down Tent

Inside the Cool Down Tent

  1. LIV Skyloft: The LIV Skyloft definitely brought the feeling of a lavish Downtown Miami lifestyle. Located by the Sunset stage, patrons of the Skyloft were treated to a personal table escort. Those who opted for bottle service were also granted access to all VIP viewing areas.

Insider Tips

Compared to last year, dust was present in excess. In the future, I highly recommend bringing a bandana to help prevent inhaling too much of it. The blistering Florida heat can and will drain your energy levels fast, so bringing and constantly refilling a water bottle or camelbak is an absolute must. Parking was simple; surrounding lots charged between $10-$20 per day.

Final Comments

Overall, everything from box office lines to stage setups at Sunset Music Festival were well organized and artfully produced. This festival seems to be finding its niche in terms of audience as it ages, and the crowd only keeps getting better. Though relatively small, Sunset Music Festival brings in game-changing artists recognized as making a new space for themselves in music, who are becoming increasingly responsible for defining what dance music really is. I would recommend it to anyone who has just begun exploring the scene, or raving veterans on the hunt for something new.



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