From colourful history, quirky ambiance to underwater wonders
ONE FUN YEAR: So much fun! Providing entertainment and enjoyment for visitors throughout the year, the events celebrate everything from colourful history, artistic culture and quirky ambiance to underwater wonders, outdoor adventure and tasty cuisine. While some selected highlights are spotlighted here, a full year-long schedule of events throughout Florida Keys & Key West to be found at the Event Calendar
Food year every year
The Keys’ bountiful fish and seafood harvests, culinary diversity and innovative chefs provide a focus for ‘taste-full’ festivals throughout the island chain. Foodies can savour the flavours at events including Uncorked the Key Largo and Islamorada Food & Wine Festival (January), the Key West Food & Wine Festival (January) and the Original Marathon Seafood Festival (March)
Events also abound for athletes and fans of land and sea adventures. Runners can chart a course over one of the world’s longest segmental bridges, the centrepiece of the Florida Keys Overseas Highway, during Marathon’s renowned Seven Mile Bridge Run in March/April, while distance swimmers can test their strength in Islamorada’s 9-mile open-water Swim for Alligator Lighthouse (September)
Each July, several hundred divers and snorkellers submerge for a subsea concert celebrating the continental United States’ only living coral barrier reef. The Lower Keys Underwater Music Festival (July, ) takes place about six miles off Big Pine Key in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
Sailing and high-speed
Powerboat and sailing aficionados can observe internationally renowned challenges in Key West: the Quantum Key West Race Week sailing regatta January, and the adrenaline-fuelled Super Boat World Championship series for high-speed powerboats in November.
The life and work of legendary author Ernest Hemingway, who lived and wrote in Key West during the 1930s, are recognised during the annual Hemingway Days Celebration July, while Humphrey Bogart’s films and legacy take centre stage during the Humphrey Bogart Film Festival October – held in Key Largo, where parts of the eponymous Bogie classic were filmed.
Stars of a different kind draw several hundred astronomers to the Lower Florida Keys each winter. The Winter Star Party February, features unparalleled opportunities for viewing southern constellations, comets and celestial objects.
Costume creativity ranks high each October during Key West’s Fantasy Fest (October). The outrageous masking and costuming festival’s packed schedule culminates in a dazzling parade of large-scale floats and marching groups.
Some events are designed to appeal specifically to the Keys’ LGBT visitors, such as Key West Pride (June), and Womenfest (September).
And for those who want to experience the eccentric spirit of Key West, it’s embodied in the Conch Republic Independence Celebration (April). The offbeat event commemorates the Florida Keys’ symbolic secession from the United States in 1982, and rebirth as the independent Conch Republic, to protest the establishment of a U.S. Border Patrol blockade at the head of the island chain.
More inspiration: Jazz it up in New Orleans