We are already starting to hear the sound of more planes flying over Lakeland, marking the start of the annual SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo. Beginning Tuesday, April 13, 2021 Lakeland will host more than 200,000 guests, volunteers, sponsors, performers, and exhibitors over 6 days at the 2nd largest air show in the world, 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 event runs from April 13 – 18, 2021.
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, play in the KidZone, 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 airshows from the side of the road near the airport, but if you’ve never been inside the gates of SUN ‘n FUN you are missing out on the MANY other features of this great annual event. Make this the year you check it out!
Fun Fact: During the week of SUN ‘n FUN the Lakeland Airport becomes the world’s busiest airport with over 14,000 aircraft operations within the span of a week.
- Helpful Tips for taking kids to SUN ‘n FUN
- SUN ‘n FUN Activities for Kids
- SUN ‘n FUN Family-Friendly Special Events
- Things to Do Near SUN ‘n FUN
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
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, 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, it might rain (it rained for 15 minutes when I was there last time). There aren’t a lot of indoor spaces where you can find cover.
- Earplugs or noise-canceling headphones if you have little ones with ears that need protecting – some of the airshow planes get LOUD!
- Hand Sanitizer and a Mask – Visit the SUN ‘n FUN website for the most up-to-date COVID-19 policies.
READER TIP: One Lakeland Mom reader says “Sunscreen, snacks, earplugs or other noise help if you are going for airshows, a lot of it is dirt so comfy clothes and shoes that can get messed up. It’s hot and dirty but lots of fun!!”
Things NOT Allowed at SUN ‘n FUN
- Coolers, outside food & drinks – there are plenty of food and drink vendors inside the event
- Bicycles, hoverboards, skates, strap on skate shoes, golf carts, skateboards, kids scooters
Safety Tips while at SUN ‘n FUN
- Take a photo of your kids so you’ll know what they were wearing in case you get separated and need to alert security.
- 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 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. Shuttles to and from Lakeland Linder Regional Airport Terminal are no longer be available. Use 4175 Medulla Rd, 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 $40/week. Preferred parking available for $25.
READER TIP: One Lakeland Mom reader says to be sure you make a note or photo where you parked your car. Will make it much easier to remember at the end of the day!
Admission Rates + Florida Resident Deals for SUN ‘n FUN
Daily Admission Rates
- Adult Admission Daily: $45
- Youth (7-17) Admission Daily: $20
- 6 & Under are FREE!
- After 5pm Daily – Admission is only $10 for Adults & Youth (7-17). Not available online.
- Discounts available for Certified Pilots, Members of Florida Air Museum, Aviation Member Organizations and Active U.S. Military – click here for prices
SUN ‘n FUN Florida Resident Deals for Saturday & Sunday
- Purchase Saturday & Receive Sunday Admission for No Charge: $45 Adults / $20 Youth (7-17)
- Sunday Admission Only: $30 for Adults / $10 Youth (11-17)
- 6 & Under are free every day
- Must show some form of Florida ID or Drivers License at ticket window to redeem.
- Youth (7-17) Admission Weekly: $70.00
- Adult Admission Weekly: $170.00
(Look how tiny the people are waiting to walk into this plane! It was HUGE!)
SUN ‘n FUN Activities for Kids
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!
Aviation Themed Kid Zone
Check out the Aviation-themed Kid Zone and Mobile Mountain at SUN ‘n FUN. Inflatables, zip line, games and more! Kid Zone activities are an additional charge – click here for more details and Kid Zone Pricing.
SUN ‘n FUN Family-Friendly Special Events
SUN ‘n FUN Daily Airshows
SUN ‘n FUN hosts a daily airshow every afternoon – click here for the full schedule. The planes performing each day vary but the week includes the SOCOM Para-Commandos, Warbirds, F-16’s and many other talented pilots.
This year the Blue Angels will perform the finale of the Daily Airshows on Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday beginning at approximately at 4 – 4:30 PM.
Tuesday, Wednesday – 1pm – 4:30pm
Thursday – 12pm – 4:30pm
Friday, Saturday, Sunday – 1:00pm – 5:30pm
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 (not all areas are shaded), bag storage and free water all day. Purchase allows for all day access to the Preferred Seating Area. Only $25 daily, children 6 and under are free. Click here to purchase online. (This cost is in addition to your entrance ticket)
Night Airshows – Wednesday and Saturday
When the skies go dark, the planes light up! Catch an amazing night air show on Wednesday and Saturday, including a drone light show. A video from dusk at a previous year’s night airshow is included below.
Wednesday – 7:30 – 9:30pm
Saturday – 7:30 – 10:30pm – ending with FIREWORKS!
Hot Air Balloon Launch – Saturday AM
The Hot Air Balloon Launch happens Saturday morning between 6:30-8:00am (typically at 7am, weather permitting)
Classic Car Show – Saturday + Sunday
Check out the Classic Car Show on Saturday and Sunday. Car viewing is included with SUN ‘n FUN Admission.
These favorite activities will return in 2022:
The Florida Air Museum – Closed for Private Events through April 22
During the 2021 Aerospace Expo, the Florida Air Museum is closed for private events, it will reopen on April 22, 2021. Check back soon as they near completion of the expansion initiative “Project SkyLab”.
The Florida Air Museum, Florida’s “Official Aviation Museum and Education Center” 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. Walk through this Center for Aviation Excellence hosting exhibitors, lecturers, and authors. Explore interactive learning workshops featuring a wind tunnel, ham radio, and a hurricane station. See the new presentation of artifacts from our Howard Hughes aviation collection. Click here to learn more.
Student Tours – Returning in 2022
SUN ‘n FUN offers tours to college, K-12 school, home school, church, family, and scouting groups. Supported by Polk State College. During these tours, students, teachers, and chaperones have the opportunity to see one of the largest aviation events in the world. Our interactive walking tour may include flying aircraft demonstrations, historic aircraft, forums, high-tech ultralight and light sport aircraft, warbird airplanes, a museum visit and more. Pre-registration with advance ticket purchase is required. Book your tour by calling 863-904-4073. Click here for more details.
STEMfusion Tent – Returning in 2022
SUN ‘n FUN has made the commitment and is working to “Build a Brighter Future through Aviation.” Expanded education opportunities and youth workshops create learning environments on the SUN ‘n FUN campus in which children can thrive. Age specific activities have been designed to allow students of all ages to explore their interests in the world around them.
This year our STEMfusion Tent will host a range of STEM demonstrations to include:
- 3D Printers
- Drone Obstacle Course
- Flight Simulation
- Stories from Space
- Robotics Course
- Wind Tunnel
- Airplane Design Challenge
Hours: STEMfusion Tent is open Daily 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Location: Outside Hangar A (Skylight Hangar) East side.
Spring Activities Guide
Check out our full Spring Activities Guide for more things to do in Lakeland, Polk County, and Central Florida from January – May.