Everything you need to know about Gainesville's Tom Petty birthday weekend celebrations


Tom Petty, Gainesville’s son, may no longer be with us but he lives on in so many hearts worldwide.

October 19-20 is Petty’s birthday weekend, which Gainesville will celebrate with music festivals.

“It’s really happening here at Depot Park,” said Jason Hedges, organizer of Tom Petty Birthday Bash. “We’re really looking forward to a great weekend of free music throughout the park and at First Magnitude.”

The Birthday Bash is completely free to the public, but V.I.P. upgrades are available for extra merchandise, preferred seating, and access to special areas. All proceeds from this festival goes to UF Health Shands Arts in Medicine.

Depot Park will have loads of food trucks, art, vendors, kid-friendly activities and multiple stages throughout the park with different music.

But the Birthday Bash isn’t the only celebration this weekend

“Heartwood has music and storytellers,” said Dave Melosh, organizer of Tom Petty Birthday Weekend at Heartwood Sound Stage. “There’s crafts and a craft market and all kinds of great events happening over the next two days,”

Heartwood Sound Stage is hosting Tom Petty Weekend. Both of these festivals are within walking distance of each other.

“At Heartwood we have an outdoor stage,” Melosh said. “We have an indoor sound stage, which is a 150 seat listening room and recording studio. So that’s where we’ll do some of the more intimate shows in between each act.”

You may not see Petty on stage, but he will be celebrated by so many bands he has inspired that will cover his songs but also displaying their own music.

Both of these events say the same thing—They know Petty would have wanted to also celebrate other musicians as well.

“It’s a wink and a nod to Tom Petty, but it is also a way to show original thought and art and people that were inspired by his music,” Hedges said.

Organizers say this is a way to keep these festivals relevant and attractive for the years to come.

Gainesville residents aren’t the only ones who will be flooding these venues. These events say they’ve found people from all over the world coming to Gainesville this weekend.

“I’ve talked to people that are coming from Australia, England, Canada and all over the country for this weekend,” Hedges said.

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