Whatever your passion, Florida has it. Here are just some of the major events scheduled this month in the Sunshine State:
MIAMI BROWARD CARNIVAL – The two areas join forces to throw one heck of a party, showcasing Caribbean Soca music and steel bands, parades, concerts, colorful and elaborate costumes, yummy food and arts and crafts. The biggie events are: Carnival Sunday Parade and Concert, Junior Carnival, Steel Band competition and the King/Queen competition.
When: Oct. 5, 10-12
Where: Miami-Dade County Fairgrounds in Miami and Central Broward Regional Park & Stadium in Lauderhill
35th ANNUAL FANTASY FEST – Leave the kids at home and head for this non-stop, adult-themed mega-party, featuring lavish floats, parades, costume competitions (one for pets, too!), street fairs, island bands and great food. The BAHAMA VILLAGE GOOMBAY FESTIVAL marks the official beginning of the 10-day bash. And, book your table early for the outrageous 32nd ANNUAL HEADDRESS BALL, Fantasy Fest’s premier gay and lesbian event.
When: Oct. 17-26
Where: Where else but Key West (various locations)
Web: www.fantasyfest.com, www.bahamavillagegoombay.com, www.headdressballkeywest.com
LADIES & GENTLEMEN…THE BEATLES – This traveling exhibition examines the musical and cultural significance of the group on the U.S. and highlights the period from early 1964 to mid-1966, when Beatlemania swept through America. More than 400 items will be on display, including memorabilia, records, rare photographs, tour artifacts, video footage and interactive displays.
When: Oct. 10-Jan. 18, 2015
Where: HistoryMiami Museum, Miami
FORT MYERS BEACH PIRATE FEST – Ahoy, mateys and wenches – don’t miss the ninth annual two-day party. Enjoy live concerts or watch a pirate ship canon battle. Wear your best pirate garb and you could win the booty. Also features the Pub & Grub Crawl.
When: Oct. 10-12
Where: Fort Myers Beach Seaport
FESTIVAL MIAMI – Hosted by the University Of Miami Frost School of Music, one of Florida’s premiere live music festivals will present 30 diverse concerts featuring international guest artists, master faculty artists and award-winning student ensembles. Some of the musical biggies: Keb’ Mo’, rising country star Craig Campbell, Time for Three and Patti Austin (singing Ella Fitzgerald).
When: Oct. 10-Nov. 8
Where: Various venues at the University of Miami
SARASOTA PUMPKIN FESTIVAL – Orange is the new Sarasota, as the city hosts its sixth annual and biggest ever all-things pumpkin weekend. Featured: pumpkin patch, pumpkin maze, pie eating contests, hay rides, 100 live shows, kids’ zone and new this year: Live Ninja Turtle show.
When: Oct. 24-26
Where: Payne Park, Sarasota
MIAMI INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN’S FILM FESTIVAL – 2nd annual event includes “art films” for kids from around the world, workshops, parties and opportunities to meet filmmakers.
When: Oct. 17-19
Where: Coral Gables Art Cinema, Coral Gables
OKTOBERFEST I – Beer! Bratwurst! Live music! Kids activities! Bavarian beauties! More beer! Two big weekends of fun! 41st annual edition!
When: Oct. 10-12, 17-19
Where: American German Club of the Palm Beaches, Lake Worth
OKTOBERFEST II -- Beer! Bratwurst! Live music! Kids activities! Bavarian beauties! More beer! Two big weekends of fun! 29th annual edition!
When: Oct. 17-19 and 24-26
Where: German-American Social Club, Cape Coral
KITEOBER FEST – Hey you – go fly a kite! Or, just go watch as the sky over Miami Beach displays a marvelous array of colors and figures from hundreds of kites of all sizes (including a 150-foot flying rainbow and a 100-foot flying squid). Also included: Paper-kite building classes, demonstrations from longtime kite enthusiasts and competitions for kids and adults.
When: Oct. 19, noon to 5 p.m.
Where: Haulover Park, Miami Beach
25th ANNUAL DING DARLING DAYS -- A week of eco-activities in this great national wildlife refuge. Features free tours (via tram, foot and kayak), birding and kids crafting. Don’t miss the Endangered Species & Wildlife life-size puppets presentation, featuring Heather Henson, daughter of Muppets creator Jim Henson.
When: Oct. 19-25
Where: J. N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel Island
DEERING ESTATE “SPOOKOVER” – Experience the amazing Deering Estate at Cutler – when all the lights are out! The League of Paranormal Investigators will take guests to the most active locations on the Estate, where you can attempt to communicate with the spirits that some folks say roam the historic houses and main grounds. Bring a flashlight, mosquito repellant and any ghost-finding equipment you want to use.
When: Oct. 17, 11 p.m. to 4 a.m.
Where: Deering Estate at Cutler, Miami
ARTS & CRAFTS FESTIVALS – They are literally all over the South Florida map in October, from Fort Lauderdale to Stuart to Delray Beach to Sarasota and Lauderdale-By-The-Sea. They have it all – from paintings, photography, sculpture, jewelry, ceramics and more. All are outdoors in unique downtown settings.
When & Where: Oct. 4-5 in Sarasota; Oct. 10-11 in Stuart; Oct. 18-19 in Delray Beach; Oct. 18-19 in Fort Lauderdale; Oct. 25-26 in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea
SEED FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL – You read that right – seed food, not sea food! This annual event celebrates delicious plant-based foods, fine wines and craft beers, while raising health awareness. Events include a film screening, upscale dinners, garden parties and a Southern brunch. It all leads up to a large-scale outdoor festival featuring food, wine, juices, music, yoga and everything that promotes conscious plant-based living.
When: Oct. 15-19
Where: Various locations throughout Miami and the Beaches
KEY LARGO SONGFEST – Elite Nashville songwriters become the singers as they perform songs they wrote for some of the biggies in music. Many of the featured songwriters have written hits for the likes of Martina McBride, Trisha Yearwood, Garth Brooks, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Lyle Lovett, Foghat and Hank Williams Jr. A shuttle will run between three downtown venues during the event.
When: Oct. 10-12
Where: Downtown Key Largo
WINTER GARDEN MUSIC FEST – Winter Garden’s historic downtown district opens its doors to all genres and artists, from rock to classical to world beat – all from Central Florida. Stroll through the shops, cafes and streets and see all performances for free.
When: Oct. 10-12
Where: Downtown Winter Gardenobi03
TAMPA BAY INTERNATIONAL CURRY FESTIVAL – Pay homage to one of the most pungent and complex spices in Indian and Asian cooking – curry. Both seasoned and amateur chefs compete for top prize while patrons get to sample the dishes at this family-friendly event.
When: Oct. 4
Where: Vinoy Park, St. Petersburg
BIKETOBERFEST – Set in the biker’s capital of Florida, Biketoberfest is a motorcyclist’s dream, filled with thousands of fellow bikers, a beach cruise down the hard-packed east coast sand and lots of nighttime events to keep even the most thrill-seeking enthusiasts entertained.
When: Oct. 16-19
Where: Daytona Beach
RV OKTOBERFEST IN OKEECHOBEE – Specifically geared toward the RV lifestyle, Oktoberfest in Okeechobee welcomes retirees and young travelers alike to its long weekend of entertainment, watersports, beer samplings, pet and human costume contests, RV expo demonstrations and other fall-themed activities.
When: Oct. 17-20
WINGS AND WILDFLOWERS FESTIVAL – Blue jays, falcons, butterflies and bees take the center stage in this fascinating and educational fair focusing on Florida’s more delicate but critical wildlife. Some of the nation’s top birders and naturalists teach seminars to both adults and children, and visitors can sign up for tours, excursions and lessons such as “Beekeeping 101” and “Spiders: Face Your Fear.”
When: Oct. 3-5
Where: Venetian Gardens, Leesburg
FESTIVAL OF READING – University of South Florida St. Petersburg and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Tampa Bay Times team up for a bibliophile’s delight: A day-long festival featuring dozens of local, national and international authors speaking and selling their books. R.L. Stein and Carl Hiaasen are among this year’s guests.
When: Oct. 25
Where: St. Petersburg
ART AND ALGORITHMS – Back for its second year, this avant garde and unusual event highlights the wonders of computer science, 3-D digital mapping, graphic design and animation in a way that entertains all ages and levels of tech literacy. Be sure to check out at least one of the viewings at the international short film portion of the festival.
When: Oct. 3-12
Where: Downtown Titusville
BOKTOBERFEST PLANT SALE – Enjoy free admission to this National Historic Landmark of nearly 700 acres of conservation lands and gardens and celebrate the start of Florida’s gardening season. Orchids, palms, tropical fruits trees, bamboo, roses, water lilies and more will be for sale while a three-member lederhosen ensemble performs authentic German music.
Where: Bok Tower Gardens, Lake Wales
When: Oct. 18
MAGIC MANSION EXPERIENCE – For a truly spooky and memorable Halloween, stay overnight in the historic Dr. Phillips House, where you can explore the 100-year-old home and watch an array of magicians and sleight-of-hand artists perform perplexing tricks and illusions to keep you wondering all night.
Where: Downtown Orlando
When: Oct. 27-30\
GUPPYWEEN – Bring your little superheroes, vampires or princesses to a safe and educational trick-or-treat outing right inside the Florida Aquarium. Kids can collect candy, toys and other takeaways among the tanks of seahorses, fish, sharks, eels and other sea creatures.
When: Oct. 26
Where: Florida Aquarium, Tampa
ST. PETERSBURG SCIENCE FESTIVAL – This student-oriented and free science fest offers hands-on, interactive activities involving Florida water resources, climate and weather, coastal erosion, life sciences, fisheries and coral reefs, robotics and more. Adults will also appreciate a $30 beer-brewing science lesson, held Oct. 7 at Three Daughters Brewery, with proceeds benefitting the festival.
Where: St. Petersburg
When: Oct. 17-18
SARASOTA PUMPKIN FESTIVAL – Florida finally feels like fall with a pumpkin patch, maze, pie eating contests, a petting zoo and pony and hayrides. Vendors will offer safe trick-or-treating while the parents can enjoy live music and a beer garden.
Where: Downtown Sarasota
When: Oct. 24-26
COOTER FESTIVAL – The world-famous Florida festival with the funny name returns to Inverness, complete with live rock ‘n roll shows, a culinary Cooter Crawl, a Cooterlicious Farmer’s Market, the Cooter Triathlon and the ceremonious crowning of the Cooter Queen. Cooter? That's "turtle."
Where: Liberty Park, Inverness
When: Oct. 24-26
MELBOURNE AIR & SPACE SHOW – Some of the nation’s top military and civilian flight and parachute performers, including the headlining U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, take to the skies to put on one of the most exciting and picturesque aviation events all year.
Where: Melbourne International Airport
When: Oct. 4-5
OKTOBERFEST IN THE BEACH – The sandy, sunny answer to traditional Oktoberfest, this free, day-long event features music, dancing, produce stands, as well as stein-carrying and keg-throwing contests. Kids will particularly enjoy the three-hour Kinderfest in the middle of the day.
Where: Kalb Park, Indian Rocks Beach
When: Oct. 11
70TH ANNUAL NORTHWEST FLORIDA CHAMPIONSHIP RODEO — Don’t mess with ... Florida? Texas isn’t the only state to embrace bull-riding, cattle-roping, barrel-racing fun; this annual rodeo has been held in the small Northwest Florida town of Bonifay since 1944. More than 25,000 people arrive (eight times the town’s population) to watch hopefuls rack up points while seeking a spot in the national finals.
When: Oct. 2-4
Where: Memorial Field, Bonifay
6TH ANNUAL PENSACOLA BEACH SONGWRITERS FESTIVAL — Kick back and learn the stories behind the beautifully crafted lyrics of hit songs or enjoy seeing up-and-comers take the spotlight when 10 stages play host to more than 50 songwriters.
When: Oct. 2-5
Where: various venues, Pensacola Beach
35TH ANNUAL DESTIN SEAFOOD FESTIVAL — Stroll along the mile-long Harbor-front stretch of boardwalk that celebrates Destin’s love affair with the sea. More than 60,000 people come to enjoy the fresh-off-the-boat seafood, 30 musical acts on three stages, arts and crafts, the Destin Fishing Rodeo and the gorgeous Gulf Coast sunsets.
When: Oct. 3-5
Where: Destin Harbor
OKTOBERFEST — You don’t need dirndls and lederhosen to enjoy an ice-cold beer stein filled with the best Oktoberfest brews. Nor do you need to fly to Germany. Instead, prepare yourself for two days of German food, music, contests, and, of course, beer to welcome fall.
When: Oct. 3-4
Where: Perdido Key Visitor and Information Center
CORN MAZE — Sykes and Cooper call their fall spectacular agritainment — combining nine acres of “cornfusing” turns in this year’s maze. Other entertainment includes a donkey named Jack, a pumpkin patch, two kid-themed mazes (one maze is based on the best-selling book, Spookley the Square Pumpkin; the other is titled Jack and the Cornstalk), a hayride and fall treats and eats.
When: Oct. 4 - 26
Where: Skyes and Cooper Farms, Elkton
DATIL PEPPER FESTIVAL — Local chefs salute the agricultural star of St. Augustine — the datil pepper — with a Cook-Off during the two-day festival. St. Augustine is one of the largest producers of the datil pepper and its local chefs are challenged to create dishes that uses it as the main ingredient. Festival-goers can also judge the chefs to crown the People’s Choice Award.
When: Oct. 4-5
Where: St. Johns County Agricultural Center, St. Augustine
MOON OVER MACLAY GARDENS — With the haunting trombone notes of Glenn Miller’s Moonlight Serenade as your soundtrack, pack the picnic basket and grab a blanket before heading out for an enchanting evening of Jazz in the Gardens with friends. The Leon Anderson Group and the Three Divas are scheduled to perform.
When: Oct. 5
Where: Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park, Tallahassee
10TH ANNUAL MUNSON COMMUNITY HERITAGE FESTIVAL — Examine what life was like before smart phones and Publix, when Floridians ground corn with a grist mill, did their laundry with a washboard and made their own cane syrup. There’ll also be plenty of food, Native American displays, Civil War re-enactors, an archery contest and more.
When: Oct. 11-12
Where: Krul Lake State Recreation Area, Milton
4TH ANNUAL PIRATES OF THE HIGH SEAS FESTIVAL — Celebrate a more scandalous group of seafaring explorers this Columbus Day weekend when pirates of all ages turn this beach community into fun-loving party for the whole family. The event begins with a pirate invasion, includes a treasure hunt and ends with a communitywide block party and fireworks.
When: Oct. 10-12
Where: Panama City Beach
PENSACOLA INTERSTATE FAIR — Stroll the fair midway and plot your plan of attack on which cheerily-lit rides you’ll twirl through the night -- after indulging in this year’s new “fad” food, which can only be battered and fried. Of course, there are the traditional fair favorites: livestock, baked goods, classic cars and musical entertainment highlighted by the ‘80s hitmaster Eddie Money.
When: Fairgrounds, Pensacola
Where: Oct. 16-26
PANAMA CITY BEACH SEAFOOD AND MUSIC FESTIVAL — Arrive hungry because seafood goes gourmet when Panama City Beach’s best chefs get their hands on the best locally-sourced seafood, including grouper, pompano, oysters and shrimp. Dine along the waterfront while listening to these award-winning musical acts: The Band Perry, Blue Traveler, Foghat and the Outlaws.
When: Oct. 17-18
Where: Various locations Panama City Beach
ALLIGATOR WARRIOR FESTIVAL — Between 1800 and 1859, Lake City was known as Alligator, Fla., named for the Seminole commander Alligator Warrior. The annual event includes a re-enactment of the Battle of San Felasco Hammock (1836), a celebration of the state’s Native American cultures, music, dancing, living-history camps and traders.
When: Oct. 17-19
Where: O’Leno State Park, High Springs
40TH ANNUAL 1890S FESTIVAL — Turn back time under the live oak trees in Victorian McIntosh. Vendors will host demonstrations on candle making, glass blowing and basket weaving; or get a glimpse into the past at the town’s museum in the restored downtown railroad depot. Also, antique vendors, live music, children’s activities and food.
When: Oct. 25
TAILGATE — Seriously, this couldn’t be more perfect. The superstar country duo Florida Georgia Line will perform an outdoor concert of the eve of this year’s Florida vs. Georgia football game (Or Georgia vs. Florida football game if you hail from the northern side of the state line.) Either way, Gator and Dawg fans descend on neutral Jacksonville for one of the biggest football weekends of the season.
When: Oct. 31
Where: Shipyards, Jacksonville
NAS JAX AIR SHOW — Once a year, the Blue Angels return to their birthplace in Jacksonville to wow spectators with their aeronautical feats above the St. Johns River. Their commanding officer has at least 3,000 tactical jet flight hours and has commanded a tactical squadron. Other aircraft on display during the show include a C-130, CH-147 Chinnok, F-18, P-3 Orion and more.
When: Oct. 25-26
Where: NAS Jax, Jacksonville
If you have an event you’d like to be considered for inclusion in this monthly feature, please forward information at least 30 days in advance of the event’s date to one of our correspondents:
Our mission is to support and promote Florida tourism across the state. Because of the heavy volume of requests for listings, not all submissions can be included in our calendar each month.
You can also submit press releases for consideration to insiders@VISITFLORIDA.org