Celebrate the Florida Keys

The calendar holds the keys to what the Florida Keys are all about: the water, the arts, the food and the heritage.

This winter and spring, visitors can celebrate its marvelous attributes every day, but especially during annual festivals, tournaments and other events that focus the spotlight on the best of the Florida Keys. Plan to time your visit around one or more of these red-letter occasions.

Just Add Water

The Keys’ fishbowl-clear waters and trippy-hued reefs are its greatest gift to mankind, so getting out on a boat to fish, snorkel, dive or merely sightsee is required. If you need a better reason, the Islamorada Fishing Club Sailfish Tournament in January pays up to $30,000 winner-takes-all prize for a 30-boat tourney headquartered in the Sportsfishing Capital of the World. April 10-13, island anglers cast for a different sort of fish in flats instead of deep water during the Jim Boker Islamorada All-Tackle Spring Bonefish Tournament.

Mahi-mahi is the catch of the day every day during the Sixth Annual Marathon Offshore Bull and Cow Dolphin Tournament, taking place May 3-6.

On Easter Sunday, April 8, the Scuba Bunny will plant decorated eggs
in the shallow, clear waters off Key Largo during the Underwater Easter Egg Hunt. Snorkelers and divers search for the real eggs, decorated with nontoxic colorings to avoid any negative environmental impact, in the ultimate quest for the golden egg and the grand prize.

Keying in on Art

Water attracts artists like fish to bait, so it’s no wonder art communities school in the Keys and celebrate the rampant creativity that seems to be in the air – and in the water. Each year, artists from around the U.S. and abroad descend on the beach at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park and other venues to construct their oversized abstract and realistic works during Sculpture Key West, which
opens this year on December 1, 2012 and closes February 23, 2013.

International artwork at the Annual Pigeon Key Art Festival in February in Marathon
must contain a 25% tropical theme. Categories of display include a wide variety of mediums from watercolors, sculpture, oil painting, jewelry, photography, pottery, graphics, glass, wood and fine crafts.

The Lower Keys, home to the annual Underwater Music Festival July 29th. Key West too celebrates music from May 2-6 at its world-famous Key West Songwriters’ Festival, in its 17th year of entertaining.

Sea. Food.

The Keys dish up an extra helping of seafood, cuisine and wine at such festivals as the 3rd annual Key West Food & Wine Festival, Jan. 26-29.
The 4th annual event will take place Jan. 24-27, 2013. The 3rd annual Key Largo Stone Crab & Seafood Festival, Jan. 28 and 29, pays special homage to its eponymous rock-hard shellfish. The 4th annual will take place Jan. 26 and 27, 2013. Finally, the 36th Annual Original Marathon Seafood Festival revels in the variety and bounty of Keys fin and shell fish March 10 and 11.  The 37th annual event is set for March 9 and 10, 2013

Island Heritage

One Keys’ culinary specialty, conch, is derived from its Bahamian roots and ties. Islanders celebrate their conch-connection in Key West during the Annual Conch Shell Blowing Contest.

Key West, which once declared its secession from the Union as the Conch Republic, rejoices in its freedom from mainland, mainstream existence at the 30th Conch Republic Independence Celebration, April 20-29.

This article is brought to you by The Florida Keys & Key West Tourist Development Council. For more information on celebrating Keys’ style, visit The Florida Keys & Key West's website at www.fla-keys.com, or call 800-FLA-KEYS.

Sponsored listings by VISIT FLORIDA Partners


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