Gulf Coast Jam | Panama City Beach, FL
Gulf Coast Jam is one of our new favorite country music festivals on the coast! It’s located at a sports complex just minutes from the gorgeous beaches of Panama City Beach. Typically, GCJ happens over Labor Day Weekend, but this was the rescheduled show from 2020 and took place in early June. This three day festival was the perfect way to kick off summer after a global pandemic and gosh did it feel great to be back in a crowd of 25,000 people!
Gulf Coast Jam 2021 Highlights
- Safety – Each day before the show started, every attendee had to complete a Covid survey to ensure you were feeling well upon arrival. QR codes containing your survey results were scanned at entry. We felt very safe all weekend long and returned to Nashville, Covid-free! Hooray! 🙂
- This festival was electric – the crowd AND the artists were so excited to be back watching live music again after more than a year off. This was the first live show for most of the artists and they were sure to show their gratitude for being on stage in front of thousands of fans again. That may have been our favorite part of the whole weekend – the excitement was contagious.
- Florida Governor, Ron Desantis, made an appearance on the last night of the festival to thank fans for attending Gulf Coast Jam. The entire crowd erupted into a ‘USA’ chant and it was a pretty special moment since this was the largest crowd since the pandemic hit in early 2020.
- Our favorite performances were Brothers Osborne, Lindsey Ell, Joe Nichols, Jon Langston, and Riley Green. For headliners, Luke Bryan always puts on a heck of a show and knows how to get the crowd going!
- Side Stage VIP – what an epic experience! Major shoutout to our friend Chase for hooking us up with the best tickets you could have at the festival. Each ticket came with 4 free drinks, light snacks, private bathrooms, exclusive 2-story views on both sides of the main stage, and the best seat in the house up against the front of the stage. It was amazing and some of the best ticket access we have seen.
- Vendors – We made time to walk the festival grounds and get the full festival experience. There was no shortage of food and beer tents, and plenty of photo ops! The merch tent offered everything from koozies to towels… you could even get a Covid shot on site!
Where to Stay at Gulf Coast Jam
Hotels are abundant along the coast, but be sure to book early because they do fill up and can get pricey! We opted for a VRBO on the coast called Origin at Seahaven. The location could not have been better – just steps from the white sand and plenty of fun restaurants and bars to grab a quick bite to eat and drink. Plus, we had a Gulf Coast Jam shuttle stop at our hotel.
Getting to Gulf Coast Jam
We hopped on a quick one-hour flight from Nashville and we’re greeted with no way of getting to our VRBO. Seriously. Ubers, Lyfts, even yellow cabs were nowhere to be found. Groups of people began to gather and talk about the lack of rideshare transportation. Luckily, we made friends with a nice guy had friends coming to pick him up and he invited us to tag along. I won’t go into details for safety reasons, but that was a PACKED truck.
Apparently, the pandemic mixed with unemployment has caused an extreme shortage of Uber and Lyft drivers in the area. So if you’re planning a trip to PCB for GCJ, be sure to check out the transportation situation before you arrive so you can hire a car or have another option.
The lack of ride share cars was a factor all weekend, but thankfully we had festival shuttle passes that made getting to and from the festival a breeze.
What to Wear to Gulf Coast Jam
When we first started planning outfits for this festival, we envisioned bikinis and beach attire, like Tortuga in South Florida. Although this festival is on the coast, it’s not on the beach. Gulf Coast Jam reminded us of a smaller version of Stagecoach in California. The grass was great and you didn’t have to worry about it turning into a mud pit if it rained.
We opted for shorts, tank tops, and sandals all weekend because it was hot and humid. The humid hair frizz was real, y’all. Many festival-goers wore their cowboy boots and hats and this was the perfect festival for it!
Side Stage VIP tickets included shuttle passes. The shuttle was for festival-goers only and visited each stop about every hour, but didn’t have specific shuttle stop times. So, if you wanted to arrive early to catch an early performer, you had to account for shuttle wait time.
Ride share was also an option, but as mentioned earlier the number of available cars was extremely limited and wait times were about 30 minutes per ride.