people at sunfest

A festival beyond entertainment, SunFest is “Helping Neighbors”

SunFest, West Palm Beach’s iconic waterfront music and art festival, is not just about entertainment; it’s a powerful community-building event. Marking its 40th anniversary on May 3-5, SunFest 2024 will celebrate the historic milestone by bringing back initiatives that underscore its nonprofit status and community focus. “Helping Neighbors,” The Palm Beach Post Pathfinders Awards Program, Kids Day, fundraising opportunities for local nonprofits and volunteer opportunities make SunFest standout among other music festivals and have earned it 40 years of accolades as Florida’s favorite waterfront event.

“As we celebrate our 40th anniversary at SunFest, we’re reminded of the deep connection and sense of pride we share with the Palm Beach County community,” said SunFest Executive Director Dianna Craven. “Through our SunFest 365 initiatives, we’re not just hosting a festival, but nurturing a legacy that strengthens and unites our community.”

Underwritten again this year by Florida Power & Light Company (FPL), SunFest’s “Helping Neighbors” program is an annual community outreach program that donates 700 tickets to area charities for distribution to individuals who otherwise might not be able to attend the festival. Since the inception of the “Helping Neighbors” program, SunFest has given away thousands of tickets to underserved Palm Beach County residents, serving over 50 agencies each year. The application deadline is February 28, 2024 and applications are available at Thanks to FPL’s support, more Palm Beach County residents can experience a weekend of music and art in downtown West Palm Beach.

“At Florida Power & Light Company, we believe in the power of community and the strength that comes from lifting each other up,” said Pam Rauch, vice president of external affairs and economic development at FPL. “By supporting the Helping Neighbors program at SunFest of Palm Beach County, we aim to create a space where everyone, regardless of their circumstances, can come together, enjoy the festivities, and build connections that enrich our shared community spirit.”

Each year, SunFest awards a college scholarship to a high school senior in the area of instrumental music. The recipient of the SunFest Music Scholarship receives $1,000 a year for four years. Applicants must be graduating high school seniors from a public, private or charter high school in Palm Beach or Martin County, planning to major or minor in music, and have an overall grade point average of 2.5. Students cannot self-apply but must be nominated by their high school and will submit a completed application package through the Pathfinders of Palm Beach and Martin Counties scholarship program. For more information about the Pathfinder Awards visit

As a community partner, SunFest has a tradition of opening the festival early on Friday to welcome over 250 children, all with special needs of varying degrees. With sponsorship from Gehring Group, a Risk Strategies Company, activities, gifts, music, food and loving attention are offered to each child as they enjoy SunFest without the crowds in their very own way. This program has continued to grow and has embraced thousands of special needs children since its inception 21 years ago.

Over the past 10 years, SunFest has helped local nonprofit organizations raise more than $1 million for their causes. Participating nonprofits recruit their own volunteers for SunFest and get paid for their time during the festival, while exposing their mission to SunFest attendees.

“SunFest’s collaboration with Friends of Foster Children allows us to raise funds and awareness of the needs of foster children in Palm Beach County,” said Friends for Foster Children Executive Director Jane Richardson. “With SunFest’s support, we are given an extraordinary platform to speak about our mission to thousands of people. Sunfest is truly a highlight of Friends of Foster Children’s year.”

SunFest’s success hinges on its incredible volunteers. As the festival gears up for 2024, it invites more individuals to join its team. Last year, over 2,100 volunteers contributed an impressive 19,500 hours, not only during the festival but throughout the year. Volunteers enjoy perks such as free admission, parking, meals and an official SunFest t-shirt, all while experiencing the beauty of West Palm Beach’s waterfront.

From its roots as the 10-day Royal Palm Festival, SunFest has evolved into a three-day extravaganza of music, art and community connection. After four decades, the festival’s heart remains the same – a celebration of community spirit and togetherness. Many volunteers return each year, drawn by the festival’s enduring commitment to the West Palm Beach community.