The culture, beauty and infectious vibrancy of The Florida Keys can be found reflected in the area’s eclectic events calendar. From fantasy-fiction inspired celebrations to some of the best seafood you’ll ever taste; here is our guide to the most exciting festivals of the year.
Art under the oaks – January
This annual Plantation Key festival is the destination for all things arts & crafts, and is a magnificent demonstration of the talent, creativity, and community that is on offer in the Florida Keys. Stools and stands boast a vast array of handmade and vintage pieces for sale and for collection; think ‘etsy’ but with refreshments, raffles, and fascinating conversation with the talented exhibitors.
Original Marathon Seafood Festival – March
With over 21,000 attendees in March 15’, the Marathon Seafood Festival is growing each year and promises to soon be the biggest festival in the Keys. The festival caters to a diverse crowd, including families looking for some fun, serious foodies, and those with a taste for freshly caught sea dishes. Live music, entertainment, cheap beverages and a plethora of vendors are also present, so you can be sure that your experience will be surprisingly varied.
The Key Lime festival – July
As you may know, the Florida Keys do not mess around when it comes to their key lime pies – it’s the official pie of Florida, and numerous locations in the Keys are always competing to hold the title of ‘best key lime pie in Florida’. What you might not know however, is that the key lime also goes into soups, alcoholic beverages, soaps, and salts. Yep, it’s not just a citrus fruit; it’s a way of life. The Key Lime festival, hosted every July, is an extravagant and eccentric celebration of all things Key Lime. Bake offs, outrageous fashions, pie-eating competitions and the chance to win the coveted ‘Key Lime Cup’ for the best pie is all spread out over the course of two exciting days.
Hemingway Days – July
Having recently marked its 35th year, the long-standing Hemingway Days Fest is a celebration of the life, works, and influence of the legendary American author. With readings and novel competitions overseen by Hemingway relatives, as well as a museum of exhibitions and even a lookalike contest, you’re sure to gain an insight into the life and mind of Ernest Hemingway. Fascinating, brazen, bold, and eloquent, Hemingway embodies the vitality and excitement of the Florida Keys.
Anything that floats race – August
Family fuelled fun and excitement is the name of the game for this easy-going ‘race’ on the Key Largo waters. Regardless of whether you decide to participate or spectate, there are bound to be thrills and spills as homemade improvised vessels race off Sundowners dock. It’s not all about coming 1st however, as prizes are also given for ingenuity, flamboyancy, decoration, and costume. This is a celebration that is all about pure fun.
Reef Fest – September
Celebrating the diversity and strength of marine life in the keys, Reef Fest is a must for would-be divers, nature lovers and those invested in the environment. Reef Fest offers educational seminars for those eager to learn about conservation in the bountiful waters of the keys, but also hands-on classes, celebratory dinners, and welcome parties with music and refreshing cocktails. In short, Reef fest is an impressive fusion of education, culture, and straight-up celebration.
Humphrey Bogart Film Festival – October
Celebrating the life of Humphrey Bogart, along with his serial charm and suaveness, the Humphrey Bogart Film Festival is more than just a showcasing of his films (although they do that, on massive screens beach-side as well). Expect to be transported back to the golden age of cinema as the festival puts on dinner and dancing, old-school style, along with glamourous cocktail receptions and roundtable discussions about the influence that such celebrated cinema continues to have. Perfect for true fans and casual movie-goers alike.
Key West Fantasy Fest (October – November)
A taste of some pure festival fun, the Key West Fantasy Fest was conceived in order to inject a party and carnival atmosphere into the Florida Keys in the later months of the year. The ten days of revelry last from late October to early November, and always have a great theme to help attendees assemble garish, flamboyant, and impressive costumes (past themes include Superheroes and Villains, Freaks, Geeks, and Goddesses, and even Future and Caribbean Fantasies). With parades, parties, competitions, and of course plenty of bars and restaurants to visit, Fantasy Fest is always an energetic experience that promises a great atmosphere.