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SUN ‘n FUN is Family-Friendly FUN – Tips for taking kids to Lakeland’s Air Show

SUN and FUN Lakeland

In early April, start listening for the sound of more planes flying over Lakeland… that’s your cue that the SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo is revving up for another action packed week of aviation activities, air shows, hands on workshops, and a whole lot more.

Beginning Tuesday, April 9, 2024 Lakeland will host more than 200,000 guests, volunteers, sponsors, performers, and exhibitors over 6 days at one of largest airshows in the US, held right here in Lakeland. Whether you are a pilot, aviation enthusiast, or just looking for a fun family-friendly event, SUN ‘n FUN has something for everyone.

The 2024 SUN ‘n FUN fly-in runs from April 9 – 14, 2024, and we can help you make the most out of this annual local event. While we love SNF every year, this one is extra special – SUN ‘n FUN is celebrating 50 YEARS in 2024!

2023 SUN n FUN Lakeland FL Poster

SUN ‘n FUN is also the perfect way to introduce children to the world of aviation. You can view more than 4,500 aircraft from homebuilts to warbirds on the 1,000 acre SUN ‘n FUN campus, attend kids workshops, check out the Junior ACEs youth education area, and catch special events such as the afternoon Air Shows, Saturday morning hot air balloon launch, nighttime Air Shows Wednesday and Saturday, and MUCH MORE.

Many of you have likely watched the airshow in Lakeland from the side of the road near the airport, but if you’ve never been inside the gates of SUN and FUN Lakeland you are missing out on the MANY other features of this great annual event. Make this the year you check it out!

NEW IN 2023 Children 10 and under are now FREE. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

NEW IN 2024 – Don’t miss the Opening Night Concert featuring Dylan Scott with Special Guest Sara Evans. Tuesday, April 9 at 6pm, included with your SNF Admission. Discount admission available after 5pm.

SUN 'n FUN Lakeland Florida Fly In
You can walk inside some of the planes

Helpful Tips for taking kids to SUN ‘n FUN

It can be daunting to take kids to a new event, or any event that covers a large area, is mostly outside in the sun, and requires a commitment of a good part of the day, but with our handy tips below, you’ll be a pro before you even hit the entry gates.

Before You Go

  • Slather on the sunscreen – while there are vendors and exhibits indoors in the hangars, much of the event is outside in the sun.
  • Wear comfy clothes and walking shoes – you will be outside most of the day, walking on dirt, grass, and concrete.
  • Check out the SUN ‘n FUN map so you know what you might like to see – copies are available on-site as well
SUN 'n FUN Lakeland Florida Fly In

Things to Take With You

  • Stroller or Wagon – the planes and exhibits cover a very large area. If you wouldn’t go to a theme park without a stroller, don’t go to SUN ‘n FUN without one either!
  • Backpack – backpacks are allowed (may be subject to search), and are always the best way to carry gear when you need your hands free to keep track of the kiddos.
  • Chairs and blankets – if you want to sit down and watch the airshow, you might like to have a blanket or chairs instead of sitting on the ground.
  • Portable phone charger
  • Ponchos – it’s Florida in April, there is usually a chance of rain, but often only a brief shower. There aren’t a lot of indoor spaces where you can find cover, so pack a poncho if anyone will be upset about getting wet.
  • Earplugs or noise-canceling headphones – if you have little ones with ears that need protecting – some of the airshow planes get LOUD!
SUN 'n FUN Lakeland Florida Fly In
Military Aircraft

Things NOT Allowed inside SUN ‘n FUN

  • Pets
  • Coolers, outside food or drinks – there are plenty of food and drink vendors inside the event (if you see the light blue Peachey’s Bakery Amish Donut truck, trust us and get one!)
  • Bicycles, hoverboards, skates, strap on skate shoes, golf carts, skateboards, kids scooters, pop-up tents
  • Rules are specific to the SNF event/airside space, different guidelines may apply for the campground. There is a full list of FAQs and more info on the SUN ‘n FUN website.

Safety Tips while at SUN ‘n FUN

  • Safety is paramount at SUN ‘n FUN. Talk to your kids before you go about behavior and safety. You’ll be walking through an active airport where aircraft might be moving right in front of you. Spinning props, loud engines, aircraft in motion – there is a LOT of activity in certain areas of the show.
  • Take a photo of your kids so you’ll know what they were wearing in case you get separated and need to alert security.
  • Take precautions just as you would at any theme park or event with a large crowd. Be sure older kids have your cell phone memorized. For younger kids, write your number on their body or pin it inside their shorts. Be sure they know who to approach if they get lost – SUN ‘n FUN utilizes police support as well as a security team of volunteers with bright matching shirts. 

Directions + Parking at SUN ‘n FUN

Location – Parking for SUN ‘n FUN is located off W. Pipkin Road. Use 4075 James C. Ray Dr, Lakeland, FL 33811 (MAP IT) to get directions to the general area, and then follow signage or directions by traffic control officers as there are multiple entrances to the parking lots. CLICK HERE for additional info on getting there.

Parking Cost – $10/day or $60/week WHEN PURCHASED IN ADVANCE. Preferred parking available for $30/day at the gate. TIP – Parking rates will be higher at the gate so buy parking online in advance to save.

READER TIP: One Lakeland Mom reader says to be sure you make a note or photo of where you parked your car. Will make it much easier to remember at the end of the day in a field full of cars.

Admission Rates + Florida Resident Deals for SUN ‘n FUN Lakeland

Daily Admission Rates

  • Adult Admission Daily: $45
  • Youth (11-17) Admission Daily: $20
  • 10 & Under are FREE! (be sure to reserve ticket online)
  • Discounts available for admission after 5pm, Certified Pilots, Members of the Florida Air Museum, Aviation Member Organizations and Active U.S. Military – click here for prices

SUN ‘n FUN Florida Resident Deals for Saturday & Sunday

  • Saturday & Sunday Admission: $45 Adults / $20 Youth (11-17)
  • Sunday Admission Only: $30 for Adults / $10 Youth (11-17)
  • 10 & Under are free every day (be sure to reserve ticket online)

Weekly Rates

  • Adult Weekly Admission: $170.00
  • Youth (11-17) Weekly Admission: $70.00

Click here for more details on admission rates and discounts. 

SUN ‘n FUN Activities for Kids

Once you get to SUN ‘n FUN, it’s time to find some fun! Check out some of the best activities for kids and families:

Junior ACEs Activities

Junior ACEs is a week-long, awesome open house where kids can dive into all things related to STEM and aerospace learning at the SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo. This enhanced learning and engagement opportunity for youth between the ages of 7 and 17 includes:

  • Sphero Robots – The ultimate coding robotic ball! Come explore as you learn coding skills, and inventiveness.
  • 3D Printing – Unleash your creativity, transform your ideas from sketches to tangible objects.
  • NOAA Science On a Sphere – Immerse yourself in all things Earth Space Science on our global display system that projects visualizations of planetary data on a six food diameter sphere.
  • Build an airplane – Learn how to build an airplane in the Buehler Restoration and Skills Center
  • Flight Simulation – Learn how to fly with Redbird Flight Simulations (that’s me on a simulator below – it is so cool)

Junior ACEs activities are open daily during SUN ‘n FUN and are free with SNF Admission. Pick up a Junior ACES Lanyard when you arrive. Once your Junior ACEs have completed 10 activities at the ACE locations they will receive a reward. Visit the website for more info and a map of the Junior ACEs areas, along with suggested ages for each activity.

Future ‘n Flight Plaza

Brand new in 2024, the The Future ‘n Flight Plaza will be the SUN ‘n FUN headquarters for aspiring aviators of all ages. This area is the place for youth activities (including some of the Junior ACE youth STEM activities mentioned above), aviation careers and new tech in aviation. There is also a Family Oasis that includes comfort stations, nursing areas, and an escape from the sun.

Florida Air Museum

The Florida Air Museum, Florida’s Official Aviation Museum, is located on the SUN ‘n FUN Campus. The Florida Air Museum is open year-round along with the SkyLab Innovation Center, be sure to visit during the SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo when Florida Air Museum admission is included in your SNF ticket. It features a dynamic display of the best examples aviation has to offer including one-of-a-kind designs, classics, ultra-lights, antiques and war-birds. Explore the Discovery Zone featuring hands on STEM games and activities for kids. Learn more about the Florida Air Museum.

Florida Air Museum Lakeland Polk County
Florida Air Museum – Free with SUN ‘n FUN Ticket

Exploring the Planes and Displays

Get up close and personal with thousands of planes – from homebuilt planes to warbirds, every year there are new aircraft on display. Some of the planes on site are open for you to walk through or climb aboard. Kids will love seeing the controls up close and personal and meeting real pilots!

Meet + Greets with Content Creator Ambassadors

Do you have teens or family members who love social media? Stop by the designated area near the Media Center to say hello to your favorite aviation content creators! Throughout the week you can meet the SUN ‘n FUN Brand Ambassadors, spanning over millions of followers combined across all social media platforms. View the In-Flight Guide or the Daily Schedule for more details on Meet & Greet times.

Student Tours + Field Trip Group Rates at SUN ‘n FUN

SUN ‘n FUN offers field trips throughout the week of SUN ‘n FUN.  Group rates are available for 10 or more people including college, K-12 school, home school, church, family, and scouting groups. Pre-registration is required and closes in late February. {Did you know the Aerospace Center for Excellence offers interactive field trips year round? Check out this unique learning opportunity}

Summer Camp Savings

The Aerospace Center for Excellence offers Aviation Summer Camps at the SUN ‘n FUN Campus for aspiring aviators ages 6 – 17 with 4 different camps to choose from! ACE summer camp programs foster excitement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) through aviation.

SUN ‘n FUN Family-Friendly Special Events

Opening Day Concert featuring Dylan Scott with Special Guest Sara Evans

Join SUN ‘n FUN for an unforgettable Opening Day Concert on Tuesday, April 9, 2024, at 6 PM, as country music legends Dylan Scott and Sara Evans take the stage on the Warbird Ramp at the SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo’s 50th Fly-In Celebration! Included with your SNF Admission.

Trace Adkins Sara Evans SUN n FUN April.2024

SUN ‘n FUN Daily Airshows in Lakeland

SUN  ‘n FUN hosts a daily airshow every afternoon – Tuesday through Sunday from 1pm – 5pm. The planes performing vary each day but the week includes the SOCOM Para-Commandos, Warbirds, F-16’s and many other talented pilots. {We might be biased but this is the best Florida airshow there is!}

Preferred Airshow Seating – this area is located on the flightline in front of the SUN ‘n FUN Announcer’s Stand. You will have access to seating, bathrooms, some shade, bag storage and free water all day. Preferred Seating Area Tickets are required in addition to your admission, children 6 and under are free but need a ticket. Click here to purchase online.

Thunderbirds Airshow in Lakeland

This year the US Air Force Thunderbirds will perform the finale of the Daily Airshows Friday, Saturday & Sunday. They typically begin at approximately 4PM but be sure to check the full Lakeland Airshow Schedule (view airshow schedule here) and SNF Social Media channels for updates and any additional Thunderbird flights, such as their arrival Thursday or additional rehearsals.

{Wondering if the US Navy Blue Angels fly in Lakeland this year? No, the Blue Angels are not performing in the Lakeland SUN and FUN Airshow in 2024 – they traditionally rotate each year between the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds. Both put on an amazing show! The US Navy Blue Angels will likely return to Lakeland in April 2025.}

SUN and FUN Lakeland Florida

Night Airshows – Wednesday and Saturday

When the skies go dark, the planes light up! Catch an amazing night air show on Wednesday and Saturday from 7pm-9pm, including a fireworks show to close out the night. A video from dusk at a previous year’s night airshow is included below.

Sunset Aerial Circus at Paradise City

From 7pm-8:30pm on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday night of the 2024 SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo, you can see the Sunset Aerial Circus. STOL aircraft demonstrating short takeoff and landing capabilities, the BlackFly electric-powered VTOL personal air vehicle, powered paragliders flying in formation with lights and smoke, skydivers with pyrotechnics, and RC airplanes performing unbelievable aerial feats.

Hot Air Balloon Launch – Saturday AM

The Hot Air Balloon Launch happens Saturday morning between 6:30-8:00am (typically at 7am, weather permitting). Check the SUN ‘n FUN Facebook page and other social media channels for last minute updates.

As you can see, there is SO.MUCH.TO.DO at SUN ‘n FUN in Lakeland, FL! To plan your visit and stay up to date:

  • Visit the SUN ‘n FUN website for full details on this Florida air show near you in Lakeland, FL happening April 9 – April 14, 2024
  • Buy your parking and admission tickets in advance
  • Check the schedule and map and have a general idea of what you plan to do
  • Get the SUN n FUN App (search SUN n FUN Aerospace Expo in the App Store)
  • Sign up for text alerts (info below)
  • Follow along on social media for information and updates – Facebook | Instagram | Tiktok | Twitter
SUN n FUN Text Alerts Weather

Future SUN ‘n FUN Dates:
SUN ‘n FUN 2025: April 1 – 6
SUN ‘n FUN 2026: April 14 – 19

Things to Do Near SUN ‘n FUN

Are you visiting Lakeland for the SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo?
We can help you find things to do with kids in Lakeland, Florida!
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