People head to Key West year after year for all of their favorite activities, like fishing with All In Fishing Charters, snorkeling at Dry Tortugas National Park, and eating lobster rolls from the famous Eaton Street Seafood Market and Restaurant. But if you’re looking to shake up your trip to this sunny paradise and find new and exciting things to do, check out these annual festivals. They offer great opportunities to see a new side of the city you love.
The Key West Food and Wine Festival is the best way to kick off a year. It lasts roughly five days and includes home and garden tours plus city tours. The focus is on culinary treats like key lime pie, seafood dishes, and other local favorites. Activities are held throughout Key West and include things like food and wine tastings hosted by area chefs. It’s a wonderful experience for foodies who want to explore the amazing culinary fusion of Key West. In the sprint, visitors can participate in the Key West Home Tours, which is another great opportunity to learn more about the history, culture, and architecture of the Florida Keys. Plus you’ll be inspired by the home decor you’ll see on these tours.
If you’re a movie buff, fall is an ideal time to visit. The Key West Film Festival focuses on the essence of Key West through creative filmmaking. The festival offers plenty of screenings and meet-and-greets that take place over several days. In many cases, the cast and crew of films showcased here attend the festival, too. Look for special film festival packages at nearby hotels. Some offer discounted rates or add special perks to your stay.
Runners from around the world land in Key West every January for the famous half-marathon and 5k. It’s ideal running weather. The temperatures are quite mild and the humidity is low. But don’t worry if you miss it, there are several other marathons and 5ks throughout the year that you can sign up for. You may have even seen photos of the most famous one, the Hemingway Sunset 5k run and walk. Some runners even dress up like Papa himself for the event! Participants of all experience levels and ages are welcomed, and there are usually after-parties, too, that celebrate the accomplishments of the runners and walkers.
Fishing has its own series of tournaments and festivals throughout the year. The Redbone Celebrity Tournament supports a cure for cystic fibrosis while inviting participants to join in charter fishing trips and events. Those who like to fish for tarpon and bonefish often sign up for the SLAM event, a catch and release tournament that’s short for the Southernmost Light Tackle Anglers Masters. The Key West Fishing Tournament is similar, and welcomes participants of any age and experience level. This one actually takes place over a period of several months, so you have plenty of time to join.
Kids aren’t left out in the many festivals and tournaments that happen in Key West every year. Each spring, there’s Ocean Fest, and kids love the touch tanks and community art projects that are arranged by the Mote Marine Lab at NOAA Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center and Truman Waterfront. The event often includes fishing clinics, too, plus live music and vendors selling arts and crafts. The Mermaid Festival is also popular because of the mermaids, of course, but the real focus is ocean conservation and other issues that are important for healthy marine life.
Treat the little artists in your life to a Key West vacation during the springtime Papio Kinetic Sculpture Parade that celebrates the life and work of artist Stanley Papio. Floats and bicycles that come down the parade route are all people-powered, with a little creativity for good measure. A great complement to the parade is a visit to the Key West Art and Historical Society’s Fort East Martello, where you can view some of Papio’s works for yourself.
Key West is a great vacation destination all year long, and if you’re looking for ways to revitalize your trip, consider planning it to coincide with one of the many festivals and special events that take place all year long. This is just a short introduction to all of the many sporting, cultural, artistic, and culinary celebrations, so there is certain to be something for every interest. The great thing is that festival and event organizers like to keep things fresh, too, so programs can change slightly from year to year, and remain new and exciting for visitors every time they come to Key West. There’s no better way to truly soak up the culture of Key West than through these amazing opportunities to immerse yourself and your family in the authenticity of food, sports, and art.