Whatever your passion, Florida has it. Here are just some of the major events scheduled this month in the Sunshine State:
SOUTH FLORIDA FAIR – Who doesn’t love a good fair? Some 500,000 folks will attend this Florida granddaddy of them all. There are 17 days of first-class stage shows, national concert acts, midway rides, amazing livestock (don’t miss the Hambone Express Pig Race) and, of course, lots of corn dogs and cotton candy. This year’s theme is Las Vegas, baby! And, new this year: the Bengal Tiger Encounter.
When: Jan. 16-Feb. 1
Where: South Florida Fairgrounds, West Palm Beach
QUANTUM KEY WEST SAILING REGATTA – This annual international regatta features world-class competition and yachting teams from 12 countries and 24 states. More than 100 yachts (large and small – 23 to 72 feet) compete for class championships. To view the action, fans can book seats on spectacular boats ranging from excursion catamarans to historic tall ships or from land at the city’s Atlantic-front eateries, resorts and beaches.
When: Jan. 18-23
Where: Key West
ART DECO WEEKEND – 38th annual festival celebrates the world famous historic district in Miami Beach and has more than 80 events, including: art exhibits, concerts, lectures, films, street theater, parades, antique autos, a variety of culinary offerings and Arf Deco (doggie activities).
When: Jan. 16-18
Where: Along Ocean Drive in Miami Beach
FELLSMERE FROG LEG FESTIVAL – You’ll be jumping for joy if you hop on over to the 24th edition of this annual event. You won’t be alone – about 80,000 folks are expected to attend. Highlights include: yummy frog’s leg and gator tail dinners, frog-jumping contests, hot legs contests, carnival rides, Red Neck Olympics (including Pig’s Feet Bobbin’) great live music and more than 100 booths featuring the work of unique craftsmen and artisans.
When: Jan. 15-18
LAS OLAS ART FAIR, PART 1 – The 27th annual event will feature the work of more than 150 artists in what looks a giant art gallery lining the iconic Las Olas Boulevard. Meet the creators of the art on display, commission a specific piece, and ask questions about techniques. Leave some time to enjoy the boulevard’s great eateries, too.
When: Jan. 3-4
Where: Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale
THE CHOCOLATE FESTIVAL – Chocoholics, this one’s for you. The area’s best chocolate and confection companies will present tastes and treats of everything chocolate, including truffles, cakes, cupcakes, cookies, ice cream and brownies. But wait, there’s more: chocolate BBQ sauce, meat rubs, wines and coffees. All in a museum known for its cool historic cars!
When: Jan. 17-18
Where: Miami Auto Museum at the Deezer Collection, Miami
UNCORKED: THE KEY LARGO AND ISLAMORADA FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL – Enjoy a multi-sensory experience as culinary experts step up to the plate – and the palate – with 30 tasty food, wine and spirits events. Enjoy 10 glorious days of wine-tasting events, cooking demonstrations, food and wine pairing classes, progressive wine dinners and the Grand Tasting on the last day.
When: Jan. 8-17
Where: Various locations in Key Largo and Islamorada
(EDITOR’S NOTE: January could almost be designated Food & Spirits month in the Keys. There's a ton of other events, too, such as: the 10th Annual Florida Keys Seafood Festival; Key West Food and Wine Festival; Brew on the Bay and the Sixth Annual Key Largo Stone Crab and Seafood Festival. Use Google or go to www.fla-keys.com/calendarofevents for more info, locations and dates.)
11TH ANNUAL SOUTHWEST FLORIDA NATURE FESTIVAL – Explore the local environment through 40 guided field trips to 20 wildlife hot spots, including the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and the Big Cypress National Preserve. The field trips include birding walks, buggy rides and boat tours.
When: Jan. 16-18
Where: Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center, Naples
MIAMI JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL – Expect the unexpected with 74 internationally acclaimed dramas, documentaries and shorts, including five Academy Award entries and 11 North American premieres. Producer Nancy Spielberg (sister of that Spielberg) will present her new film, Above and Beyond. The 18th annual event will also include live musical performances and encourages interaction through social events, panel discussions and seminars.
When: Jan. 15-29
Where: Various theaters throughout Miami and Miami Beach
SUPERCAR WEEK – Actually, it is nine days and you’ll be able to see some really cool but very hot cars all throughout Palm Beach County. You’ll see some of the most expensive brands in the world, including Bugati, Bentley, Maserati, Aston Martin, Tesla, Rolls Royce and Lamborghini. It all culminates with a free family day outing in downtown West Palm Beach.
When: Jan. 3-11
Where: Various locations throughout Palm Beach County
HOMESTEAD CHAMPIONSHIP RODEO – All the rodeo staples are included -- bull riding, saddle-bronc riding, bareback-bronc riding, calf roping, steer wrestling and women’s barrel racing. Also: cowboy poetry readings, a grand downtown rodeo parade, live music and, of course, western-style dancing.
When: Jan. 23-25
Where: Doc DeMilly Arena at Harris Field, Homestead
DELRAY BEACH FASHION WEEK – This unique event showcases the local, national and international designs found in the downtown boutiques. It features high energy fashion design events, beauty experiences, in-store designer trunk shows, makeovers, art expositions and the grand finale: The Fabulous Fashion Show showcasing more than 150 looks from 50 different stores.
When: Jan. 17-24
Where: Delray Beach
FLORIDA KEYS CELTIC FESTIVAL – Grab your kilt (or buy one at the event) and enjoy Celtic bands (including the return of Albannach from Scotland), along with bagpipes and drums, a children’s glen, athletics and Border Collie sheepherding demonstrations. Celtic and local food fare and beverages are sure to please the palate.
When: Jan. 9-10
Where: Marathon Community Park, Marathon (mile marker 49)
CAPE CORAL FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS – More than 100,000 people attended this annual event last year. It showcases the works of more than 300 juried artists and artisans, featuring fine art, sculpture, pottery, jewelry, photography, mixed media and more.
When: Jan. 10-11
Where: Cape Coral Parkway in downtown Cape Coral
SOUTH FLORIDA DEPRESSION GLASS CLUB 41ST ANNUAL AMERICAN GLASS, POTTERY & DINNERWARE SHOW – This long-named event is also long on talent as dealers from around the country present their depression glass, mid-century modern glass, pottery and dinnerware. Also included are hourly door prizes and free seminars.
When: Jan. 31-Feb. 1
Where: Emma Lou Olson Civic Center, Pompano Beach
FLORIDA GULF COAST CLUSTER DOG SHOWS – Eleven days, 10 all-breed dog shows. This series of American Kennel Club events features canines ranging from Dachshunds to Danes and includes food vendors and eye and heart clinics, plus a golfing event for dog owners.
When: Jan. 5-18
MLK DRUM MAJOR FOR JUSTICE PARADE – Recognized as the largest Martin Luther King parade celebration in the southeast, this two-mile parade draws nearly 100,000 spectators to watch the colorful floats, high school marching bands from all over the country and politicians, businesses and organizations pulling their displays along the streets of St. Petersburg.
When: Jan. 19
Where: Downtown St. Petersburg
IMAGES: A FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS – In its 39th year, this juried fine art show snakes along streets surrounding Riverside Park and draws hundreds of artists from all over North America. The festival includes live music, food, a student art exhibit and a creativity tent with hands-on art projects for children.
When: Jan 30-Feb. 1
Where: New Smyrna Beach
OUTBACK BOWL – A New Year’s tradition for 27 years running, this matchup between Big Ten and SEC football teams is the grand finale of a series of events surrounding it, including a colorful pre-game show with a flyover and a halftime show featuring 3,500 band members and performers.
When: Jan. 1
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa
HANDS ACROSS THE HARBOR – Anyone from the casual bike rider to the hardcore runner can enter this morning of races, which begins with a sunrise yoga stretch, followed by 10- and 20-mile bike rides, 8K runs and 5K fun walks. A sanctioned longboard race also takes place along the scenic waterfront trail.
When: Jan. 31
Where: Punta Gorda
CIRQUE ITALIA – Acrobatic artists from all over the world fill a tent along with 35,000 gallons of water, creating a show with moveable water stage, colorful dancing fountains and a water curtain. A combination of dazzling visual effects, aerial acts, hand balancing, contortionists, hula hoops and other body-defying tricks keep the audience mesmerized.
When: Jan. 9-11
Where: Wickham Park, Melbourne
SUNSHINE MUSIC & BLUES FESTIVAL – Tedeschi Trucks Band, Los Lobos, Grace Potter and other national blues and rock acts perform in the elegant Vinoy Park. Bring a picnic blanket and soak up the sun in the middle of Florida’s “winter.”
When: Jan. 17
Where: St. Petersburg
KUMQUAT FESTIVAL – As one of Dade City’s most well-attended events of the year, this festival honoring the small, squat little citrus fruit draws tens of thousands of visitors and hundreds of vendors, most of whom rise to the challenge of creating various kumquat jams, syrups, pastries, smoothies, ice creams and salsas.
When: Jan. 31
Where: Downtown Dade City
SPACE COAST BIRDING & WILDLIFE FESTIVAL – Scientists, biologists, photographers, ornithologists, naturalists, artists and authors – as well as the average attendee who just likes birds and nature – come from all over the country to honor Florida’s natural habitat by participating in kayaking tours, photographing classes, field trips and more.
When: Jan. 21-6
DESOTO COUNTY FAIR – Set in the rural center of the state, the long-running DeSoto County Fair has everything you would expect from a down-home, Florida country event: Carnival rides, corn dogs, beauty pageants, gospel music, 4-H exhibits and a livestock show displaying cows, pigs, goats and rabbits.
When: Jan. 16-25
GASPARILLA – The famous and historic celebration that brought Tampa its pirate-y reputation, Gasparilla is bookended by two big parade events: The booze-free Children’s Gasparilla Extravaganza and fireworks show, and then the booze-full Gasparilla Pirate Fest, both along Tampa’s iconic Bayshore Boulevard.
When: Jan. 24 & 31
LAKELAND PIGFEST – More than 150 BBQ teams, including locals as well as professional chefs from all over U.S., compete for titles at this charity event. Taste ribs, sauces, sides and desserts of all types, and be sure to stop by the Kids-Q contest, too.
When: Jan. 30-31
WALT DISNEY WORLD MARATHON WEEKEND – Runners, joggers, walkers and even crawlers can get in on this five-day event for fitness and Disney enthusiasts alike. From the Diaper Dash to the longer race events, this week draws visitors from all over the world. Newbies that are 18 and up can enter the final race of the weekend – the 26.2-mile Disney Marathon – but be warned that you’ll be among some serious speedsters.
When: Jan. 7-11
Where: Lake Buena Vista
EPIPHANY CROSS DIVE – With its prominent Greek population, Tarpon Springs is said to have the largest Epiphany celebration in the western hemisphere. Large crowds gather at the Spring Bayou to watch dozens of teenage boys dive into the chilly waters to retrieve the cross, thought to bring a year of blessings.
When: Jan. 6
Where: Tarpon Springs
TAMPA BAY BLACK HERITAGE FESTIVAL – This 10-day celebration leading up to the Martin Luther King holiday weekend honors black heritage with college and professional marching bands, a golf tournament, a gospel night, a gala and a fashion show.
When: Jan. 17-25
TAX SLAYER GATOR BOWL & FESTIVITIES — Catch a bowl game in person when the Tennessee Volunteers take on the Iowa Hawkeyes at the home of the Jacksonville Jaguars. But the football game is just the conclusion of two days of events that will keep fans on the go. Start the new year right with the VyStar 5K Run, cheer on the teams during the Bands on Parade and attend a Tennessee or Iowa pep rally.
When: Jan. 1-2
Where: Everbank Field and various venues, Jacksonville
“THE ALICE IN WONDERLAND SERIES” — Once upon a time, there was a British author name Lewis Carroll who penned an instant classic featuring the whimsical journey about a lost girl named Alice who fell through a rabbit hole. Now, 150 years later, artist Stefani Joseph used oil and canvas to bring Carroll’s fantasyland to life in this special exhibit. Joseph, a British figurative painter and professor at the Savannah College of Art & Design has had her work featured in group exhibitions and solo shows worldwide.
When: Jan. 2-31
Where: Pensacola Museum of Art
FLORIDA HERITAGE BOOK FESTIVAL — Listen to Pat Conroy, the literary mastermind and New York Times bestselling author behind The Great Santini and The Prince of Tides, spin tales about writing, characters and Southern storytelling. Other authors speaking about the craft include Bernie Schein (Famous All Over Town) and Florida authors Janis Owens (The Cracker Kitchen) and Mark Powell (Blood Kin).
When: Jan. 8
Where: Lewis Auditorium at Flagler College, St. Augustine
RINGLING BROS. & BARNUM AND BAILEY CIRCUS — Be amazed by the “Greatest Show on Earth” with two new tours created for 2015 at the start of their Florida swing. Built To Amaze (Tallahassee and Pensacola) and Circus Xtreme (Jacksonville) features all your circus favorites: death-defying stunts, amazing animals and feats of superhuman strength.
When: Jan. 8-10 (Tallahassee), Jan. 15-18 (Pensacola) Jan. 15-23 (Jacksonville)
Where: Donald L. Tucker Civic Center at Florida State University, Pensacola Bay Center, Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena
WINTER JAM 2015 — This faith-based winter music festival has one mission: to share the Gospel with as many people as possible. Toward achieving that goal, tickets are affordable -- $10 for 10 artists. This year’s headliners include the Grammy nominated rock band Skillet (a festival favorite) and the Grammy-nominated and top-selling Christian chanteuse Francesca Battistelli.
When: Jan. 9
Where: Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena
WINTER SUNRISE CANOE TOUR — During the summer months, tubers bump and jostle for position during the lazy ride down the river that’s almost a rite of passage for North Florida youth. Instead, experience the river with nary a tuber in sight and mist rising from the warm spring water at sunrise with only a flashlight to illuminate the boat launch.
When: Jan. 10
Where: North Entrance of Ichetucknee River, Fort White
WHAT’S ON THE REEF? —There are many hot spots along Northwest Florida beaches to get a glimpse of what’s under the deep. Learn the about the fishes of the Navarre Beach’s artificial reefs from the scientists who study them. Snorkeling is optional; a wet suit or long-sleeved rain jacket is recommended.
When: Jan. 10
Where: Navarre Beach Marine Science Station in Navarre Beach Marine Park
NATIONAL STEPHEN FOSTER DAY — The 97 bells in the 200-foot Carillon Tower playing the music of Stephen Foster will be the highlight of the annual event honoring the “father of American music.” Foster is best known for his classic American folk songs Oh! Susanna, Camptown Races and Old Folks at Home which made Florida’s Suwannee River famous. Also includes musical performances and a statewide vocal competition.
When: Jan. 11
Where: Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park, White Springs
5TH ANNUAL OYSTER COOK-OFF — Oysters Rockefeller or Deep Fried Oyster? Leaf through that vintage recipe box and enter your favorite dish in Apalachicola’s Oyster Cook-off. Not much or a chef? No worries, the annual event serves up shrimp and mullet in addition to oysters for those more into the eating part of the food festival. Also includes a silent auction, dance performances, kid activities, live music and the Half-Shell Hustle, a 5.5K fun run.
When: Jan. 16-17
Where: Riverfront Park, Apalachicola
30A SONGWRITERS FESTIVAL — The lineup for the 6th annual festival reads like a who’s who of singer/songwriters spanning several decades, including the Indigo Girls, Leon Russell, Jason Isbell, Shawn Mullins and Glen Phillips. Graham Nash, who earned the honor of being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with two different bands, is the headliner of the event, which has 150 artists playing on large and small stages in 25 different venues.
When: Jan. 16-18
Where: various venues along Hwy 30A in South Walton
7TH ANNUAL AMELIA ISLAND RESTAURANT WEEK — Sample Amelia’s Island award-winning dining with a three-course prix-fixe dinner at local restaurants. The menus, both traditional and eclectic, will be priced at either $19 or $29 and will include a non-alcoholic beverage. New for 2015: Select restaurants will offer a three-course lunch menu for $12. Enjoy a tribute to modern Southern cuisine during a five-course dinner at the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island to kick off the week.
When: Jan. 16-25
Where: various restuarants in Amelia Island, Fernandina and Fernandina Beach
ARBOR DAY CELEBRATION — This annual event, always held the third Saturday in January, features arts and crafts vendors, outdoor yard and lawn items for sale to dress up your green space, and other nature-based businesses highlighting services.
When: Jan. 17
Where: Hudson Park, Crawfordville
29TH ANNUAL HOGGETOWNE MEDIEVAL FAIR — Prepare yourself for a days of centuries-old festivities. Pledge your loyalty by wearing your man’s colors, choose sides during the life-size game of living chess with medieval heroes battling each other and test your skills in games of chance. There will be live jousting, juggling, dancing and mounted knights on horseback in full-body armor. Children can visit the royal pavilion, ride a camel and feast on giant turkey legs.
When: Jan. 24-25, Jan. 30-Feb. 1
Where: Alachua County Fairgrounds
10TH ANNUAL GIRLS GETAWAY WEEKEND AT ROSEMARY BEACH — Enjoy a Super Bowl weekend at the beach with other women who either don’t know the difference between a fumble and interception, or who don’t care to the spend the weekend cooking, cleaning and hosting a party. In past years, this weekend has featured a red carpet arrival, fashion advice, a soulful Sunday brunch, live music and lots of shopping. Shop ‘til you drop, ladies!
When: Jan. 29 - Feb. 1
Where: Rosemary Beach, various locations
SPANISH GARRISON GRAND MUSTER — Follow re-enactors dressed as 17th Century soldiers, militiamen and townsfolk during the march from Castillo de San Marcos to the Governor’s Palace on the City Plaza. The annual torchlit parade is the culmination of a day of drills and weapons demos, crafts and other period activities honoring St. Augustine’s deep history.
When: Jan. 31
Where: St. Augustine
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