Florida Yearly Events Calendar

    The Sunshine State is home to a lineup of yearly events you can’t find anywhere else. Put some of these events on your must-do list and make the most of your Florida experience. 

    For more even more choices, see our monthly Florida Events Calendar.

    See jousting, artisans, living chess old world feats such as falconry, juggling and knife throwing at the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire in Gainesville.

    See jousting, artisans, living chess old world feats such as falconry, juggling and knife throwing at the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire in Gainesville.

    - Hoggetowne Medieval Faire

     
     
    JANUARY
     

    SOUTH FLORIDA

    ART DECO WEEKEND – What started out as a small grassroots festival 39 years ago has turned into one of the largest celebrations of Art Deco architecture and culture in the country.  Highlights: art exhibits, concerts, lectures, films, street theater, vendors, parades, antique autos, a variety of culinary offerings and Arf Deco (doggie activities).
    Where: Along Ocean Drive in Miami Beach
    Web: artdecoweekend.com

    SOUTH FLORIDA FAIR – This 17-day extravaganza features first class stage shows, national concert acts, midway rides, livestock shows, auctions, competitions, tons of kids activities and of course, lots of corn dogs and cotton candy and other tasty fair food.
    Where: South Florida Fairgrounds in West Palm Beach
    Web: southfloridafair.com

    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.
    Where: Key West
    Web: premiere-racing.com

    UNCORKED: THE KEY LARGO AND ISLAMORADA FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL – 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.
    Where: Various locations in Key Largo and Islamorada
    Web: floridakeysuncorked.com
    (EDITOR’S NOTE: They might as well designate January as Food & Spirits month in the Keys. There are a ton of other events, too, such as: the Florida Keys Seafood Festival, Key West Food and Wine Festival, Brew on the Bay and the Key Largo Stone Crab and Seafood Festival. Use Google or go to fla-keys.com/calendarofevents for more information.)

    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.
    Where: Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center, Naples
    Web: rookerybay.org

    MIAMI JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL – Expect the unexpected with internationally acclaimed dramas, documentaries and shorts live musical performances, social events, panel discussions and seminars.
    Where: Various theaters throughout Miami and Miami Beach
    Web: miamijewishfilmfestival.org

    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, along with cowboy poetry readings, a grand downtown rodeo parade and western-style dancing.
    Where: Doc DeMilly Arena at Harris Field, Homestead
    Web: homesteadrodeo.com

    DELRAY BEACH FASHION WEEK – This unique event features 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.
    Where: Delray Beach
    Web: downtowndelraybeach.com/Fashion-Week

    ARTS & CRAFTS GALORE – You’ll be able to see (and of course, purchase) great works of art in a variety of media: painting, photography, sculpture, ceramics, clay, glass, wood, jewelry and so much more. Here is the info on 15 outstanding arts & crafts events:

    YUM, YUM AND YUM – That’s one yum each for three niche foodie events: the Big Swamp Bar-B-Que Smoke-Off, the Delray Beach Garlic Fest (known as the Best Stinkin’ Party in Town) and the Kiss Country Chili Cook-Off. Each one offer
    mighty fine live musical fare, too.
    Where: Respectively, the Collier County Fairgrounds in Naples; downtown De
    Web: lray Beach, and CB Smith Park in Pembroke Pines.s Respectively, bigswampsmokeoff.comdbgarlicfest.com and wkis.com

    BROWARD SHELL SHOW – Thousands of beautiful and unusual shells from around the world will be on display and for sale. Other highlights: competitive displays by dozens of collectors, shell artists showcasing their designs, a shell ID station and shell arts and crafts and jewelry.
    Where: Emma Lou Olson Civic Center, Pompano Beach
    Webbrowardshellclub.com

    SWAMP BUGGY WINTER CLASSIC – Get down and dirty at the world’s muddiest swamp buggy races on a figure-eight track known as the “Mile O’ Mud.” The buggies range from standard jeeps with snorkels to giant monsters with NASCAR racing engines.
    Where: Florida Sports Park, Naples
    Webfloridasportspark.com

    THUNDER BY THE BAY MOTORCYCLE FESTIVAL – Were you born to be not quite as wild as the folks who attend the annual Daytona Beach bike bash? If so, this gathering is for you. You’ll see all the great new and vintage bikes, sample great food and see/hear outstanding live music – but, according to event organizers, it’s a tamer and more refined atmosphere than the Daytona version.
    Where: Various locations in Sarasota
    Web: thunderbythebay.org

    INTERNATIONAL CHOCOLATE FESTIVAL – It’s a celebration of the obroma cacao, the source of chocolate. Featured are chocolate treats, cooking demonstrations and sculpture competitions.
    Where: Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Coral Gables
    Web: fairchildgarden.org

    THE CELTS ARE COMING! THE CELTS ARE COMING! – At the Florida Keys Celtic Festival and the Caloosahatchee Celtic Festival, you’ll see Celtic bands, bagpipes and drums and a children’s glen and Celtic and local food fare and beverages.
    Where: Respectively, Marathon Community Park in Marathon (mile marker 49) and Centennial Park in Fort Myers
    Web: celticheritageproductions.com for both events

     

    CENTRAL FLORIDA

    GASPARILLA PIRATE FEST – Visitors from all over the country swoop in to celebrate as bead-wielding pirates invade the City of Tampa, beginning with a boat parade and brunch, a parade along Bayshore Boulevard and a street festival that draws thousands.

    Where: Multiple locations in Tampa
    Web: gasparillaextravaganza.com

    COLOR IN MOTION 5K – Begin at the starting line in white clothing and finish covered in splashes of vibrant pink, green, yellow, blue and orange. Join others in this moving rainbow of fitness to stay on top of your New Year’s resolution goals.
    Where: Artegon Marketplace, Orlando
    Web: colorinmotion5k.com/Orlando

    MANATEE COUNTY FAIR – This 11-day fun-fest recently turned 100 and features first class stage shows, national concert acts, midway rides, livestock shows, auctions, competitions, tons of kids activities and of course, lots of corn dogs and cotton candy and other tasty fair food.
    Where: Manatee County Fairgrounds, Palmetto
    Web: manateecountyfair.com

    FELLSMERE FROG LEG FESTIVAL – Hop on over to this annual event with 80,000 other folks. 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.
    Where: Fellsmere
    Web: froglegfestival.com

    MLK DAY NATIONAL PARADE – Thousands line the streets of St. Petersburg to cheer on booming marching bands, flamboyant dancing teams, colorful floats, waving politicians and other VIPs during what’s considered the oldest and largest MLK Day parade in the southeastern U.S.
    Where: Downtown St. Petersburg
    Web: mlknationalparade.org

    FLORIDA MANATEE FESTIVAL – Celebrate Florida’s beloved gentle giant with arts and crafts, live music, a beer garden and live manatee viewing at the nearby Three Sisters Spring. The event is a favorite among locals as it grows and adds attractions each year.
    Where: Downtown Crystal River
    Web: gomanateefest.com

    THE DRAGON FESTIVAL – Part Renaissance Fest and part Highland Games, this event honors a mythical dragon with two days of music, storytelling, jousting, jugglers, tomato-throwing, horse shoe games, ladder climb competitions, fortune telling, sword, archery displays and other shenanigans.
    Where: Wickham Pavilion, Melbourne
    Web: thedragonfestival.com

    ZORA NEALE HURSTON FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS & HUMANITIES – Set in the birthplace of Harlem Renaissance writer and cultural icon Zora Neale Hurston, fans celebrate her legacy and birthday through readings, music and other programs.
    Where: Eatonville
    Web: zorafestival.org

    PIGS IN Z’HILLS BBQ & BLUES FEST – BBQ connoisseurs, competitors, musicians, car buffs and history and aviation enthusiasts return to feast on award-winning dishes while they enjoy live blues, kids’ activities, aircraft and military history displays, classic cars, a business expo and more.
    Where: Zephyrhills Municipal Airport, Zephyrhills
    Webfacebook.com/PigzBBQBlues

    TAMPA BAY BLACK HERITAGE FESTIVAL – Celebrate African-American history and culture with 10 days of music, dancing, cultural events, business seminars, food, health tutorials, and uplifting speakers. The event’s two-day music fest features national performers and is surrounded by “villages” showcasing artists, authors and children’s activities.
    Where: Multiple locations in Tampa
    Web: tampablackheritage.org

    DESOTO COUNTY FAIR – Florida’s heartland puts on the ultimate county fair, complete with judged exhibits for beef, swine, rabbits, poultry and goats. The longtime fair – nearly 60 years running – also has carnival rides, cotton candy and corn dogs, arts and crafts booths and a pageant to crown the Fair Queen and Miss DeSoto County.
    Where: Arcadia
    Web: desotocountyfair.org

    SUNSHINE MUSIC FESTIVAL – Chill out in St. Petersburg’s breezy waterfront park and listen to folksy rock tunes by nationally-known artists. Refresh at the wine bar, craft beer tent and food trucks.
    Where: Vinoy Park, St. Petersburg
    Websunshinemusicfestival.com

    IMAGES: A FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS – As one of the top outdoor art shows in the southeastern United States, IMAGES draws artist from all over the world to participate in its juried show. The park is filled with group and solo musicians, hands-on activities for kids and a food court.
    Where: Riverside Park, New Smyrna Beach
    Webimagesartfestival.org/

    TARPON SPRINGS EPIPHANY – Every Jan. 6, Tarpon Springs’ Greek community rallies around a chilly body of water and watch boys dive for the golden cross, thrown in by a Greek Orthodox Archbishop. The cross is said to bring good luck all year to he who retrieves it, and it’s a tradition that has drawn onlookers and media coverage for decades.
    Where: Spring Bayou, Tarpon Springs
    Webvisitstpeteclearwater.com/tarpon-springs-epiphany

    CENTRAL FLORIDA SCOTTISH HIGHLAND GAMES – Fans of Scottish heritage and culture, or simply just those who love to watch a good competition, will love this jam-packed schedule of Highland dancing, bagpipes, archery, shortbread tasting, face painting and other Scot-centric fun.
    Where: Central Winds Park, Winter Springs
    Webflascot.com

    SEMINOLE SUNCOAST WOOD CARVERS SHOW – Woodcarvers of all skill levels and interests display and sell their pieces of work, which range from realistic-looking mounted game trophies to intricately engraved keepsake boxes to custom-made walking canes. Hobbyists can learn more at seminars and workshops.
    Where: Seminole
    Websuncoastwoodcarvers.com

    VOLUSIA BEER WEEK – Get to know some of Central Florida’s finest and most unique craft beers by kicking off Volusia Beer Week on a bus tour. The bus will pick up in downtown DeLand and make six stops throughout the county to taste at various breweries. The week will continue with a lineup of events to help enlighten those with curious palates.
    Where: Volusia County
    Webdrinkvolusia.com/volusia-beer-week

     

    NORTH FLORIDA

    ANNUAL FIRST DAY HIKE — Start the New Year on the right foot, or both feet. Most of the state parks are offering ranger-led walks through Florida’s most gorgeous places. This one at Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings State Park sounds fab.  A park ranger leads participants to The Yearling author’s favorite haunts while reading excerpts of her writing about nature and her experience living in Cross Creek. The walk concludes with a tour of the historic house.
    Where: Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park
    Web: floridastateparks.org/Marjorie-Kinnan-Rawlings

    ANNUAL ICHE NIPPY DIPPY DIP DAY — Polar bear plunge? Not so much in Florida, especially if the plunge occurs in one of the state’s beautiful blue springs where the water is always 72 degrees. At Ichetucknee Springs on the second day of the year, they call it the “nippy dip.” Also, free giveaways, hot chocolate and coffee.
    Where: Ichetucknee Springs State Park, Fort White
    Web: floridastateparks.org/Ichetucknee-Springs

    OLD TOWN ART SHOW — Start the New Year by indulging in a little retail therapy that supports small businesses. More than 100 artisans and craftsmen from Northeast Florida and other far-flung locales will be displaying hand-woven textiles, unique jewelry, pottery, wood carving and more.
    Where: Francis Field, St. Augustine
    Web: holidayartshows.com

    ANNUAL TOUR DE FELASCO — Mountain biking in Florida? Yes, although participants in this 50-mile, ecotour ride won’t be scaling ferocious terrain like in the Tennessee Smokies. Instead, they’ll be tackling rolling hills, short climbs, sinkholes, creek crossings and log bridges through the most scenic views in North Central Florida.  A light breakfast and post-ride pizza party is provided. Registration is limited.
    Where: San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park
    Web: sanfelasco.net

    WINTER JAM — This faith-based winter music festival has one mission: to share the Gospel with as many people as possible. In order to achieve that goal, tickets are affordable -- $10 for 10 artists.
    Where: Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena
    Web: jamtour.com

    APALACHICOLA OYSTER COOK-OFF — Oysters Rockefeller or Deep Fried Oysters? Leaf through your vintage recipe collection and enter your favorite dish in Apalachicola Oyster Cook-Off. Not much or a chef or bivavle lover? No worries. The annual event serves up smoked mullet, hamburgers and hot dogs to pair with local brews. Also includes a silent auction, dance performances, kids activities, live music and a 5K fun run.
    Where: Riverfront Park, Apalachicola
    Web: oystercookoff.com

    30A SONGWRITERS FESTIVAL — The lineup for this annual festival always reads like a who’s who of singer/songwriters spanning several decades. There are more than 125 artists playing on large and small stages in 13 different venues.
    Where: various venues along Hwy 30A in South Walton
    Web: 30asongwritersfestival.com

    ABITA MARDI GRAS PARADE — The Louisiana-based Abita Brewing Company lends some Cajun cred to Okaloosa Island’s annual parade. There will be beads. There will be treats. And there will be floats decked out in New Orleans finery! This family-friendly parade also includes a block party, lots of great food and a tent for the over-21 crowd to sample Abita’s newest brews.
    Where: Okaloosa Island
    Web: tripsmarter.com/abita-mardi-gras-parade

    AMELIA ISLAND RESTAURANT WEEK — Sample Amelia Island and Fernandina’s award-winning dining with a three-course prix-fixe lunch or dinner at local restaurants at low, low prices. The menus, both traditional and eclectic, include a non-alcoholic beverage. There are many culinary special events throughout the week, too.
    Where: various venues, Amelia Island and Fernandina
    Web: restaurantweek.ameliaisland.com

    ANNUAL HOGGETOWN MEDIEVAL FAIRE — Pledge your loyalty by wearing your team’s colors, choose sides during the life-size game of living chess featuring medieval heroes at battle 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.
    Where: Alachua County Fairgrounds, Gainesville
    Web: hoggetownefaire.com

    ST. AUGUSTINE FILM FESTIVAL — Cinephiles will have a full slate of entertainment and will have to pick and choose wisely between showings of more than 30 independent films. The festival, presented by St. Augustine’s Flagler College, has its opening night gala at the historic Lightner Museum. Films will be screened at five different venues around the city.
    Where: various venues, St. Augustine
    Web: staugfilmfest.com

    The Daytona 500 invites you to be a part of the biggest, most prestigious, must-see race on the NASCAR schedule.

    The Daytona 500 invites you to be a part of the biggest, most prestigious, must-see race on the NASCAR schedule.

    - Peter W. Cross for VISIT FLORIDA

     
    FEBRUARY 
     

    SOUTH FLORIDA

    COCONUT GROVE ARTS FESTIVAL – Nearly a mile of great art, gourmet food, fun and live entertainment. This annual event features more than 300 of the finest artists and craftsmen in the world.
    Where: Coconut Grove, Miami
    Web: cgaf.com

    ART & CRAFT FAIRS GALORE – Can’t make it to the Coconut Grove Arts Festival? Not to worry. There are others throughout SoFla during February. Among them: Artigras (best name, for sure!) in Jupiter, American International Fine Art Fair in Boca Raton, ArtFest Fort MyersPigeon Key Art Festival in Marathon, Old Island Days Art Festival in Key West, Downtown Sarasota Festival of the ArtsDowntown Stuart Art FestivalNaples National Art FestivalSiesta Key Craft Festival in Sarasota, Hobe Sound Festival of the ArtsSouth Miami Rotary Art Festival and the Delray Beach Fine Art Festival.
    Web: Google each event for more information

    CIRCUS SARASOTA WINTER PERFORMANCES – Sarasota is known as the circus capital of the world and here’s your chance to see why. These annual performances, showcased in a one-ring, five-star European big top, have been acclaimed around the globe for world-class artistry and entertainment.
    Where: The Circus Arts Conservatory, Sarasota
    Web: circusarts.org

     ART WYNWOOD – If you haven’t yet visited the Wynwood Arts District in Miami, you need to go! Art Wynwood continues to shine a spotlight on Midtown Miami and the Wynwood Arts District as a flourishing international cultural destination. More than 70 top international galleries showcase their art.
    Where: Art Miami Pavilion, Miami
    Web: art-wynwood.com

    BAKLAVA BACCHANALIA – Not one, not two, but count ’em, three Greek festivals are set for SoFla in February. Pick one and immerse yourself in all things Greek: food, drink, music, dance, clothing and so much more, including carnival rides and other activities for the kids.
    Where: St. Barbara  Greek Orthodox Church in Sarasota; St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Fort Lauderdale, and Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Fort Myers.
    Web: bradentonorthodox.com, fortlauderdalegreekfestival.org and greekfestfortmyers.com

    HONDA CLASSIC – The best golfers in the world will go for millions in prize money and try to rack up early points in the race for the Fed Ex Cup title at The Honda Classic at the PGA National Resort & Spa.
    Where: Palm Beach Gardens
    Web: thehondaclassic.com

    DELRAY BEACH OPEN – Tennis anyone? Here’s your chance to see both former and current stars at two back-to-back tournaments: The ATP Champions tour and the ATP World Tour.
    Where: Delray Beach Stadium & Tennis Center
    Web: yellowtennisball.com

    POLO – Want to chukker it all and see the greatest polo players in the world? Head straight for the International Polo Club through April, when the U.S. Open Polo Championship concludes. Also good for elegant tailgating, champagne sipping and celebrity watching.
    Where: Wellington
    Web: internationalpoloclub.com

    WINTER STAR PARTY -- Look! Up in the sky! It’s not a bird, plane, or Superman. At this event, it’s the stars, comets and the southern constellations in the clear night skies of the Lower Keys. Lectures and workshops round out the event. Book early because space is limited.
    Where: Camp Wesumkee, Big Pine Key
    Web: scas.org

    PROGRESSIVE MIAMI INTERNATIONAL BOAT SHOW – Preview the latest in powerboats, sailboats, engines, cutting-edge marine electronics, accessories and nautical apparel in a show that features more than 3,000 boats and 2,000 exhibitors from all over the world.
    Where: Miami Marine Stadium Park & Basin and other locations in Miami.
    Web: miamiboatshow.com

    LAKE WORTH STREET PAINTING FESTIVAL – It’s the chalk of the town, for sure. The pavement becomes canvas and the street becomes a museum for fine works of art. Lasting only until the next rain drops, these masterpieces are a true beauty to behold. Also: great food, live music and street performers.
    Where: Downtown Lake Worth
    Web: streetpaintingfestivalinc.org

    FOOD NETWORK SOUTH BEACH WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL – This star-studded affair showcases the talents of famous chefs, culinary personalities and wine and spirit producers. Celebrities abound and events include brunches and lunches, grand tastings and demos, seminars, intimate dinners, walk-around tastings and late-night parties. Where: various locations throughout South Beach and Fort Lauderdale
    Web: sobefest.com

    EDISON FESTIVAL OF LIGHT – Thomas Edison wintered in Fort Myers from 1885 until his death in 1931 and this almost month-long fest pays homage to the great inventor. Highlights include: the Thomas Alva Edison Science & Inventors Fair, Strolling Flower Show, Antique Car Show, Thomas Edison Birthday Party, Crafts on the River & Vintage Market, Grand Parade, Classic Car Show and the don’t-miss-it Mutt Strutt.
    Where: Various locations in Fort Myers
    Web: edisonfestival.org

    FLORIDA RENAISSANCE FESTIVAL – Come all ye wenches and knaves and journey back to the 16th Century as you step through castle gates and into the days of yore. Explore the artisans’ village and view live demonstrations of glassblowing, magic, jousting, the Lipizzan stallions, Irish dancing, archery and more
    Where: Quiet Waters Park, Deerfield Beach
    Web: ren-fest.com

    SEMINOLE TRIBAL FAIR – It’s a family affair at the annual celebration of Native American arts and culture. Highlights include wildlife shows, alligator wrestling, Native American dancing (for fun and competition), arts and crafts, drum circle, Seminole clothing contest and more.
    Where: Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Hollywood
    Web: semtribefairandpowwow.com

    BOATLOADS OF BLUES – It’s hard to get the blues in SoFla in February but you can get your share at the Riverwalk Blues & Music Festival at Esplanade Park in Fort Lauderdale or at the Suncoast Blues Festival at the Sarasota fairgrounds. Both attract stellar lineups ever year.
    Web: Respectively, riverwalkblues.com  and suncoastbluesfestival.com

    KEY WEST HOUSE & GARDEN TOUR – You’ll see a series of elegant and unique private homes, ranging from exquisite restorations to creative renovations that complement their architecture. Also: a look at some of the city’s spectacular private gardens.
    Where: Key West
    Web: fla-keys.com/calendarofevents

    EVERGLADES CITY SEAFOOD FESTIVAL – This small town of 500 swells to 50,000 and they all enjoy fresh seafood, country music, carnival rides and crafts booths. Check out this off-the-beaten path pocket of Old Florida with many original buildings and a rich history steeped in the lore of pirates and smugglers and murder and mayhem.
    Where: Everglades City
    Web: evergladesseafoodfestival.com

    CIVIL WARS DAYS HERITAGE FESTIVAL – Experience colorful Civil War reenactments, the roar of cannon fire and uniformed Yankee and Rebel soldiers, while learning about Key West’s past.
    Where: Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in Key West
    Web: fla-keys.com/calendarofevents

    POLYNESIAN CULTURAL FESTIVAL – Itching to do the hula? You just might win the big contest. Also: An authentic Polynesian show, fire & knife dancers, island music, ukulele exhibition, South Pacific arts and crafts, a kids corner and, of course, mouth-watering island food.
    Where: Jaco Pastorius Park, Oakland Park
    Web: polynesiancultureassociation.com

    YACHTS MIAMI BEACH – This event attracts thousands to a display of yachts and marine products, including more than 500 new and brokerage yachts and a wide array of the latest marine technology and accessories. Plus, cocktail lounges, food and live musical entertainment.
    Where: along Collins Avenue across from the Fontainebleau and Eden Roc hotels
    Web: showmanagement.com/miami_boat_show

     

    CENTRAL FLORIDA

    GRAPEFRUIT LEAGUE – Florida’s glorious winter and spring weather is best enjoyed while watching a spring training game (February through April) as 15 major league baseball teams get ready for the upcoming season.
    Where: Multiple locations in central and South Florida, including Kissimmee, Tampa, Sarasota, Jupiter and Port St. Lucie
    Web: floridagrapefruitleague.com

    RAPTORFEST – Learn everything you ever wanted to know about Florida’s sly and skilled birds of prey at this fascinating fair, which includes live animal encounters, tree climbing, tram tours, kids’ activities, art exhibits and a silent auction.
    Where: Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, St. Petersburg
    Web: raptorfest.org

    FLORIDA STATE FAIR – Nearly a half a million people are drawn to the thrill rides, indulgent food and headline bands at the long-running Florida State Fair, which still awards prizes to prized livestock, best pies and most impressive quilts. Try the pizza cone or bacon ice cream. (But not before stepping on the Tilt-a-Whirl.)
    Where: Florida State Fairgrounds, Tampa
    Web: floridastatefair.com

    CELTIC FAMILY JAMBOREE – Bring the kids, dogs, RV and your own food and drinks to this sleepover campsite festival, a two-day party packed with Celtic folk bands, Highland games and workshops teaching everything from fiddle to Irish dance to yoga.
    Where: Sertoma Youth Ranch, Brooksville
    Web: celticheritageproductions.com

    PASCO COUNTY FAIR – Get a glimpse of Florida country living at the Pasco County Fair’s pig races and bull and heifer show, along with days of quirky entertainment such as a sea lion show, a hypnosis and comedy act, alligator displays, pageants and lots of spinning rides and sugary treats.
    Where: Dade City
    Web: pascocountyfair.com

    CLEARWATER BEACH UNCORKED – Nationally acclaimed chefs wow guests with a pre-Valentine’s smorgasbord of appetizers, entrée samplings, desserts, fine wine and microbrew beer. This is one of Clearwater Beach’s biggest food and drink events of the year, drawing guests from all over the world.
    Where: Clearwater Beach
    Web: clearwaterbeachuncorked.com

    PINE CASTLE PIONEER DAYS – Local historians honor a piece of Central Florida history – The Pine Castle neighborhood between Orlando and Kissimmee – with a recreation of the area’s turn-of-the-century events. Actors play out old dueling scenes and give history lessons, folk bands play, horse carriages give tours and vendors sell handcrafted wares.
    Where: Cypress Grove Park, Orlando
    Web: pinecastlepioneerdays.org

    BEER, BOURBON & BBQ FESTIVAL – This tasty festival makes serves up pulled pork, brisket, sausages and sides, as well as all-you-care-to-drink beer and bourbon samples. Also: a giant Jenga, trike races and cornhole competitions.
    Where: Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, Tampa
    Web: beerandbourbon.com

    ZEPHYRHILLS AUTO EVENTS SWAP MEET – Car lovers, collectors and families enjoy three days of classic cars on display, food and fun while gearing up for the popular auction featuring more than 300 antique, luxury, exotic, muscle and classic cars, as well as motorcycles and specialty trucks.
    Where: Zephyrhills Festival Park, Zephyrhills
    Web: zephyrhillsautoevents.com

    LOCALTOPIA – Small and independent businesses showcase everything from smoothies to spa services and dog treats to mom and pop cafes. Artists and musicians entertain with exhibits and live music.
    Where: Williams Park, downtown St. Petersburg
    Web: keepsaintpetersburglocal.org/localtopia

    LEESBURG MARDI GRAS – Leesburg paints the town purple and gold, capping off a week of mixers and events with a king and queen-crowning ball and family-friendly street festival. Three parades fill the streets with the finale, featuring stilt walkers, fire eaters, jugglers, costumed pets and, of course, lots and lots of beads.
    Where: Downtown Leesburg
    Web: leesburgmardigras.com

    BAY AREA RENAISSANCE FESTIVAL – A museum lot is transformed into a 16th Century village, complete with live armored jousting, dancing, juggling, archery, human chess matches, artisans and minstrels, as well as marketplace vendor booths and old-time grub and refreshments.
    Where: Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), Tampa
    Web: bayarearenfest.com

    ENTERPRISE CHILI COOK-OFF – A quaint historic town holds its annual chili cook-off, offering several types of chili to hungry guests, with proceeds benefitting the town’s non-profit preservationist group.
    Where: Enterprise Heritage Center, Enterprise
    Web: oldenterprise.org

    HARDEE COUNTY FAIR – Attracting families and participants from all over the rural heartland of Florida, this fair features old fashioned livestock shows, pageants, arts and crafts competitions and rides. Check out the energetic livestock auction and Mexican rodeo.
    Where: Hardee County Fairgrounds, Wauchula
    Web: hardeecountyfair.org

    SEAFOOD AND MUSIC FESTIVAL – Seafood “experts” serve up a delicious spread of crab legs, shrimp, tuna, oysters, crawfish, calamari, lobster mac and cheese, fish and chips, smoked mullet spread and more. There’s also top notch live music.
    Where: Port Canaveral
    Web: visitportcanaveral.com

    DAYTONA 500 – Regarded as one of NASCAR’s most prestigious races, this event draws families and adrenaline junkies from all over the world. The popular Sprint FANZONE an exclusive peek into NASCAR garages, driver appearances and autograph sessions, entertainment, kids’ bounce houses and historic car displays.
    Where: Daytona
    Web: daytonainternationalspeedway.com

     

    NORTH FLORIDA

    MARDI GRAS PARADES — It’s a bead-lovers extravaganza with four days of Mardi Gras parties and parades. Elaborate floats and outlandish costumes will lead the Florida-style pageantry. It kicks off with the Krewe of Lafitte’s Illuminated Night Parade, continues with Pensacola’s Grand Mardi Gras Parade and with the Krewe of Wrecks Mardi Gras Parade. The finale is a Fat Tuesday Street Party.
    Where: Pensacola
    Web: kreweoflafitte.com, pensacolamardigras.com, pensacolabeachmardigras.com

    SCHOOL OF THE 16TH CENTURY — File this away in the part of your brain for skills you really don’t need but are just too cool to pass up learning -- like firing a crossbow, learning the inner workings of a cannon, winning a sword fight and other useful, domestic 16th-Century life skills.
    Where: Ponce de Leon Archaeological Park, St. Augustine
    Web: fountainofyouthflorida.com

    STONE AGE & PRIMITIVE ARTS FESTIVAL — If you think 16th Century life skills are too modern (see previous listing), then step even further back in time for this festival which features flint knapping, deer hide brain tanning, antler carving and Atlatl (spear) throwing.  Also includes basket weaving, early pottery and an art auction.
    Where: Ochlockonee River State Park, Sopchoppy
    Web: knapfest.com

    CHARIOTS OF FUR BEACH RUN & FESTIVAL — Pamper your pooch with a beautiful run along beautiful white beaches. The run, which can be done with or without your best friend, includes live music, contests, dog demos and a pet adoption event.
    Where: Seawalk Pavilion, Jacksonville Beach
    Web: saintfrancisanimalhospital.org

    USA NATIONAL CURLING CHAMPIONSHIPS — It’s a match made in heaven when teams decamp in the Sunshine State, home to many shuffleboard courts, for the National Curling Championships. Swap cues and pucks for brooms and stones and add an ice rink for the court. Winning teams will earn invitations to the Grand Slam of Curling Champions Cup in Alberta, Canada.
    Where: Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville
    Web: teamusa.org/usa-curling

    BLACK HERITAGE & CIVIL RIGHTS WALKING TOUR — Explore St. Augustine, which celebrates more than 400 years of African American history, on this private tour which includes 10 stops pivotal to the Civil Rights movement. Also includes a visit to the Civil Rights Museum.
    Where: St. Augustine
    Web: staugustineblackheritagetours.com

    SANDESTIN GUMBO FESTIVAL — Do you have gumbo running through your veins? Northwest Florida’s Emerald Coast celebrates all things New Orleans with this annual event that’s one of the region’s largest winter food fests. Arrive hungry and eat your way from table to table seeking out which entrant will get your vote for People’s Choice during Saturday’s Gumbo-Off.
    Where: Village of Baytowne Wharf, Destin
    Web: sandestingumbofestival.com

    BATTLE OF OLUSTEE REENACTMENT AND ANNUAL OLUSTEE FESTIVAL — Practice your oh-so-Southern drawl for a weekend full of tributes to days gone in Lake City. The Olustee Festival features more than 200 arts and crafts vendors, pig races, a parade and the Skirmish on Lake Desoto. Later, head to the historic battlefield for the annual Reenactment of the Battle of Olustee, the site of Florida’s largest battle of the Civil War.
    Where: Olustee Battlefield State Park (reenactment), downtown Lake City (festival)
    Web: olusteefestival.com, battleofolustee.org

    FIDDLER CRAB FESTIVAL — Enjoy a weekend along the Big Bend of Southern fun and hospitality. Pick a winner during the festival-favorite Fiddler Crab races, take a boat tour along the winding Steinhatchee River, dance to live music during the Suwannee River Jam, compete in the Lots of Spots Fishing Tournament and chow down on lots of great eats during the Swampwater Cookoff.
    Where: Steinhatchee
    Web: steinhatcheeriverchamber.org

    AMELIA ISLAND BOOK FESTIVAL — Get writing tips from authors and start adding titles to your summer reading list at this three-day event, which features a Thriller Authors Face-Off Dinner Gala and a writer’s workshop. Also includes an author expo, author presentations and book signings.
    Where: Amelia Island, various venues
    Web: ameliaislandbookfestival.org

    PALATKA BLUEGRASS FESTIVAL — More than 15 musical acts in three days round out the lineup for the one of the state’s can’t-miss tributes to Bluegrass.
    Where: Rodeheaver Boys’ Ranch, Palatka
    Web: adamsbluegrass.com

    PENSACON  — It’ll be a toss-up as to which popular sci-fi franchise -- Star Wars or Doctor Who -- turns out the most best-dressed fans. This three-day fest features guest appearances by sci-fi celebrities.
    Where: Crowne Plaza Pensacola Grand, Pensacola
    Web: pensacon.com

    If you want a boat, need a boat or you like to fantasize about boats,  the Palm Beach International Boat Show is for you.

    If you want a boat, need a boat or you like to fantasize about boats, the Palm Beach International Boat Show is for you.

    - Palm Beach International Boat Show

     

    MARCH
     

    SOUTH FLORIDA

    CARNAVAL MIAMI & CALLE OCHO –  Calle Ocho is the grand finale to Carnival Miami. It’s 23 city blocks long and filled with musical stages, street performers, youth activities, folkloric sites and a variety of food vendors. Other events Carnival events include: Carnaval on the Mile street fair, cooking contest, domino tournament, golf tournament and a 5K run.
    Where: Various locations in Miami
    Web: carnavalmiami.com

    FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS BOCA – This annual eclectic 10-day event always features the finest in music, dance, film and authors.
    Where: Mizner Park Amphitheatre and Mizner Park Cultural Arts Center in Boca Raton.
    Web: festivaloftheartsboca.org

    FLORIDA KEYS ISLAND FEST – Highlights include arts & crafts, live music, Taste of Islamorada (a culinary competition showcasing dishes from local restaurants), activities for kids and the All-American Road Vintage Cruisers Car show.
    Where: Founder’s Park, Islamorada
    Web: fla-keys.com

    LGBT DOUBLE SHOT – In the beginning of the month there’s the Winter Party Festival in Miami and at the end of the month, there’s PrideFest of Lake Worth and the Palm Beaches. The former features more than 20 events, such as pool parties, dance parties and the grand finale known as the sexiest beach party on the planet. The latter has a full slate of exceptional live music, fine merchandise from booth vendors and a great selection of food from many local restaurants.
    Where: Respectively, various locations throughout Miami and the Beaches; Bryant Park in downtown Lake Worth
    Web: winterparty.com and compassglcc.com

    MIAMI MUSIC MANIA – First up: Jazz in the Gardens Music Festival, featuring a lineup of world-class artists representing a dynamic mix of musical genres, including jazz, R&B, Neo-Soul and World Beat sounds. If electronic music is your thing, don’t miss the Ultra Music Festival, featuring top DJs and live entertainment from around the world.
    Where: Respectively, Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens and Bayfront Park in Miami.
    Web: jazzinthegardens.com and ultramusicfestival.com

    SEAFOODIES TRIPLE HEADER – There are two on the left coast: the Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Parade & Festival and the Marco Island Seafood & Music Festival. On the right coast, there is the Original Marathon Seafood Festival. All feature mouthwatering straight-from-the-sea fare and so much more: live music, arts & crafts vendors and a whole bunch of activities for kids.
    Where: Respectively, various locations in Fort Myers Beach, Marathon Community Park in Marathon and Veteran’s Community Park in Marco Island.
    Web: ortmyersbeachshrimpfestival.com, marathonseafoodfestival.com and marcoislandseafoodandmusicfestival.com

    DELRAY BEACH BACON & BOURBON FEST –
    Everybody knows that everything is better with bacon. And, when paired with an eclectic array of American bourbons, it’s like going to food and drink heaven. Pig out (pun intended!) on a wide-ranging menu developed by chefs exploring the boundaries of bacon and pork dishes, including, believe it or not, bacon ice cream. Seminars and great live music, too.
    Where: Delray Beach Center for the Arts and Old School Square Park in Delray Beach
    Web: delraybaconandbourbonfest.com

    BROWARD COUNTY WATERWAY CLEANUP – Take an eco-break from your SoFla vacation and help clean up more than 30 locations around the county. You’ll feel good about helping haul away some of the 15 tons of trash. And, you don’t need a boat! Also includes the annual Trash Bash that features food, drinks, raffle prizes and live music.
    Where: Various locations in Broward County
    Web: miasf.org

    OKEECHOBEE MUSIC & ARTS FESTIVAL – Three days of eclectic top national acts is just the beginning. Also included: a white-sand lakeside-swimming beach and bar, wooded VIP camping areas, immersive art installations, great food trucks, craft beer makers and yoga and meditation sessions.
    Where: Sunshine Grove, Okeechobee
    Web: okeechobeefest.com

    MIAMI-DADE COUNTY FAIR AND EXPOSITION – Known for years as The Youth Fair, this annual event offers nearly 50,000 exhibits, concerts, a circus, strolling entertainment, food, games and a 100-ride midway. Also includes an acrobatic equestrian show, an extreme motorcycle show and an amazing balloon stunt show.
    Where: Fair Expo Center, Miami
    Web: fairexpo.com

    FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL AIR SHOW – The show features amazing military and civilian aircraft, some doing death-defying stunts performed by some of the best pilots in the world. Also, enjoy an expanded aircraft exhibit, a kids’ area and great refreshments.
    Where: Punta Gorda Airport, Punta Gorda
    Web:  floridaairshow.com

    INTERNATIONAL ORCHID FESTIVAL – Choose from more than 10,000 orchid plants from world-wide vendors, explore the wonder of orchids during garden workshops and walking tours and marvel at rare orchid species in the American Orchid Society juried show. Good food and lots of entertainment, too.
    Where: Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Coral Gables
    Web: fairchildgarden.org

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TENNESSEE WILLIAMS! – Celebrate the great playwright’s and his life. Highlights include a series of classic movies adapted from his award-winning plays, a poetry contest, artist challenge, stage readings, letters & journals, a film forum and much more.
    Where: Various locations in Key West
    Web: twkw.org

    PALM BEACH INTERNATIONAL BOAT SHOW – You’ll see an amazing array of vessels – from Cigarette, Comanche, Super Cat, inflatables, cruisers, runabouts, fishing boats, high performance, bow riders and, of course, super yachts. Also: a full lineup of accessories and nautical fashions.
    Where: Lake Worth lagoon in downtown West Palm Beach
    Web: showmanagement.com

    MARCH MADNESS, ARTS & CRAFTS VERSION – You can’t swing a paint brush without hitting a great arts or crafts fair in SoFla in March. Here are some of them: Lauderdale-By-The-Sea Craft Festival, Downtown Venice Art Classic, Coral Springs Festival of the Arts, Marco Island Festival of the Arts, Delray Beach Marketplace Art & Craft Festival, Downtown Naples Festival of the Arts, Downtown Sarasota Art & Craft Festival, Rotary Key Biscayne Art Festival in Miami and Las Olas Art Fair, Part II in Fort Lauderdale.
    Web: For more info, let your fingers do the walking through the internet.

    SARASOTA FOLK FESTIVAL – With three stages of all-day music and a “jam tent” for aspiring musicians, this festival keeps folk music alive and fun for children and adults of all ages. Head to the workshop tent for pointers on honing your own skills, or head to the vendor tables to admire the works of painters, jewelers and craftsmen.
    Where: Oscar Scherer State Park, Osprey
    Web: sarasotafolkfestival.org

    BIG CYPRESS SHOOTOUT – Watch Seminole warriors and U. S. soldiers go at it as they reenact a battle form the Second Seminole War, circa 1835-42. Also: Native American food, live music, alligator wrestling, snake show, Seminole stomp dancing and much more.
    Where: Billie Swamp Safari at Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation in the Florida Everglades
    Web: bcshootout.com

    SOUTH FLORIDA UKULELE FEST – You’ll be strummin’ and hummin’ and diggin’ the pickin’ at this two-day affair featuring world famous ukulele artists and teachers. Also: workshops, hula lessons, good food and an all-star concert jam grand finale.
    Where: ArtServe in Fort Lauderdale
    Web: southfloridaukulelefest.com

    FLORIDA WINEFEST AND AUCTION – The highlight of this four-day fundraising event is undoubtedly the massive amounts of food served among various restaurants and banquet halls spread throughout Sarasota. There’s a street party featuring seafood and meat dishes, a lunch tasting, a brunch tasting and several wine tastings, including the final soiree, Wine on the Water.
    Where: Sarasota
    Web: floridawinefest.org

    SARASOTA JAZZ FESTIVAL – This yearly event always attracts some of the best jazz artists from around the country. And it always features the popular Jazz Trolley Pub Crawl.
    Where: Various locations in Sarasota
    Web: jazzclubsarasota.org

    MIAMI HOME DESIGN & REMODELING SHOW – It’s the largest home-improvement and design event in the Southeast. Thousands of products and services for upscale residential decorating, remodeling and home improvements will be featured.
    Where: Miami Beach Convention Center
    Web: homeshows.net

    FUZZY YELLOW BALL, DIMPLED WHITE BALL – The best in the world at hitting them will be in Miami, as the pro tennis and golf tours come to town for the Miami Open and the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship.
    Where: Respectively, Crandon Park Tennis Center and Trump National Doral.
    Web: miamiopen.com and worldgolfchampionships.com

    DUELING COUNTY FAIRS – You can’t go wrong with either of these two annual events: the Collier County Fair or the Sarasota County Fair. All the county-fare staples are included: livestock shows and competitions, arcade games, carnival rides, live music, kids’ activities, and all the cotton candy you could ever want.
    Where: Respectively, Collier County Fairgrounds in Naples and the Sarasota County Fairgrounds.
    Web: colliercountyfair.com and sarasotafair.com

    BACARDI MIAMI SAILING WEEK – Teams representing countries from all over the world will compete against the backdrop of beautiful Biscayne Bay. The marquis event is the Star Class race for the prestigious Bacardi Cup.
    Where: Regatta Park, Coconut Grove
    Web: miamisailingweek.com

    ARCADIA ALL-FLORIDA CHAMPIONSHIP RODEO –All the rodeo staples are included: saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, steer wrestling, calf roping and bull riding. There are kids’ events, too: mutton bustin’, calf scramble, barrel racing and steer and bull riding.
    Where: Rodeo Arena, Arcadia
    Web: arcadiarodeo.com

    KEYS WOOFSTOCK – Take a “paws” from your Keys vacation and visit this far-out and fur-friendly festival.  Who knows, you might even wind up adopting a Keys four-legged critter. In addition to adoptions, there will also be live music, food and beverages, goodie bag give-aways, vendor booths and doggie competitions.
    Where: Islamorada
    Web: keyswoofstock.com

    SEAFOODIES TRIPLE HEADER There are two on the left coast: the Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Parade & Festival and the Marco Island Seafood & Music Festival. On the right coast, there is the Original Marathon Seafood Festival. All feature mouthwatering straight-from-the-sea fare and so much more: live music, arts & crafts vendors and a whole bunch of activities for kids.
    Where: Respectively, various locations in Fort Myers Beach, Marathon Community Park in Marathon and Veteran’s Community Park in Marco Island.
    Web: ortmyersbeachshrimpfestival.com, marathonseafoodfestival.com and marcoislandseafoodandmusicfestival.com

    FLORIDA KEYS WILDLIFE REFUGES OUTDOOR FEST –Enjoy four action packed days of outdoor adventures and hands-on activities, including guided birding tours and nature walks, history-themed bike rides, kayak excursions, art and photography workshops and more.
    Where: National Key Deer Refuge on Big Pine Key and Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge on Key Largo
    Web: favorfloridakeys.org

    ASIAN CULTURAL FESTIVAL – This annual gathering features Asian crafts, art, exotic music and dance and a tasty selection of Far Eastern cuisine.
    Where: Fruit and Spice Park, Homestead
    Web: fruitandspicepark.org

     MIAMI INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL -- Year after year, it’s a film fan’s delight and includes world and state premieres and top actors and directors. Don’t forget the “after” parties!
    Where: Various locations in Miami-Dade County
    Web: maimifilmfestival.com

     

    CENTRAL FLORIDA

    RANCH JAM – Bring your whole camper or simply some folding chairs and a picnic blanket for this three-day festival of country, rock and blues bands. Plenty of beer and food vendors will be on hand to serve the masses, as well as bounce houses and face painters for the kids.
    Where: Myakka City
    Web: ranchjam.net

    SPRING OBSESSION – Get garden-inspired by the array of Florida native plants, orchids, roses, herbs, gingers, fruits, exotics and other interesting greenery while dropping in on presentations, listening to live music and shopping for unique outdoor artwork and patio furniture.
    Where: Munn Park, Lakeland
    Web: springobsession.org

    SUNLIT FESTIVAL – This nine-day festival devoted to entirely to literary culture is spread among several events at various venues – a Jack Kerouac night at one of the beat writer’s favorite dive bars, a huge antique book fair, an evening with local poets, a pub-and-coffee-shop crawl devoted to different eras of writing, and more. 
    Where: St. Petersburg
    Web: sunlitfestival.org

    UPTOWN ART EXPO – More than 150 of the country’s best painters, sculptors, photographers, glassworkers, potters, and crafters bring their best stuff to this juried art show, mingling with some new guests this year – chalk artists. Kids will love the street performances, sweet treats and lemonade stands.
    Where: Cranes Roost Park, Altamonte Springs
    Web: uptownartexpo.com

    WEEKI WACHI SWAMP FEST– Experience Florida swamp culture through fried alligator, black-eyed peas, folk dancers and singers and a “swamp monster contest” – kids and adults dressed in elaborate costumes depicting moss-covered, slime-drenched creatures of the swamp.
    Where: Weeki Wachi Springs State Park
    Webswampfestweekiwachee.com

    FIRESTONE GRAND PRIX OF ST. PETERSBURG – This thrilling open-wheel series race twists and turns along a waterfront backdrop, nestled right in downtown St. Petersburg. Even those who don’t have track-side tickets can enjoy the surrounding events such as a beer garden, driver autograph sessions, games, music and refreshments.
    Where: St. Petersburg
    Web: gpstpete.com

    SPRING FAIR – Port Orange welcomes the warming weather with carnival rides, ponies, a BMX stunt show, a skate competition, bands, laser tag and a pet costume contest and parade. Arrive early and hit the business and craft expo booths or stay late and watch a movie under the stars.
    Where: Port Orange
    Web: familydays.com/spring-fair

    THE WORLD’S LARGEST FOOD TRUCK FESTIVAL EVER – “World’s largest” is a heady claim but the Guinness record books don’t lie. Tampa continues its tradition of drawing hundreds of food trucks to one location for a weekend, giving guests tasty options from Philly cheesesteaks to fried ice cream.
    Where: Tampa
    Web: facebook.com/100TruckRally

    ST. PETE BEACH BEER FEST – Use your own commemorative tasting cup to sample more than 50 types of beer from all over Florida and other parts of the country while enjoying the beautiful beach setting. Keep your belly full with tacos, BBQ and other festival foods, and finish it all off with a cigar, hand-rolled right in front of you.
    Where: St. Pete Beach
    Web: visitstpeteclearwater.com/beer-fest

    BIKE WEEK – A Daytona Beach tradition for nearly 80 years, it’s the world’s most famous 10-day party for motorcycle enthusiasts and spring breakers, attracting bikers of all shapes, sizes, nationalities and eccentricities. Roam the streets and find vintage cycle shows, rock music concerts, biker breakfasts and planned rides. 
    Where: Daytona Beach
    Web: officialbikeweek.com

    GASPARILLA MUSIC FESTIVAL – An all-star alternative and indie lineup is sure to bring tens of thousands of young and hip concertgoers to blend with fans of other genres like blues, gospel, bluegrass, country and folk.
    Where: Downtown Tampa
    Web: gasparillamusicfestival.com

    WILL MCLEAN MUSIC FESTIVAL – This homage to the “Florida Father of Folk” brings families, campers, musicians and local historians to Hernando County, where they enjoy banjo and fiddle workshops, music by original songwriters, poetry, storytelling, Florida Cracker-style food, contests and crafts.
    Where: Sertoma Youth Ranch, Brooksville
    Web: willmclean.com

    NATIONAL CUBAN SANDWICH FESTIVAL – Miami and Tampa have been battling over who has the best and most authentic Cuban sandwich for decades. This festival aims to settle the debate – at least until the next year – with its annual three-day competition spotlighting sandwich makers from both regions, working their magic with pork, Swiss cheese and whatever other secret ingredients the competitors slip between slices of fresh-baked Cuban bread.
    Where: Historic Ybor City, Tampa
    Web: thecubansandwichfestival.com

    LAKERIDGE WINERY AND VINEYARDS WINE AND SEAFOOD FEST – As a perfect way to kick off Florida’s beautiful spring weather, Lakeridge Winery hosts its signature event featuring its own cuvee blanc, chardonnay, ports and other types of wine, as well as beer, soft drinks and a variety of seafood specialties. Complimentary tastings and tours are included.
    Where: Clermont
    Web: lakeridgewinery.com

    THE PREGO EXPO – Expectant parents, new parents and future parents (and grandparents) finally get their own expo event with educational seminars, safety tips, new product samples and more. New moms can visit a play area with their little ones and moms-to-be can get free 3D and 4D sonograms of their growing bumps.
    Where: Orlando
    Webthepregoexpo.com

    FLORIDA STRAWBERRY FESTIVAL – The Strawberry Capital of the World goes all out to honor its most prized fruit, serving it on shortcake, in milkshakes, by the container or by the flat. Plus, check out carnival rides, livestock shows, the fried candy bar truck and performances by nationally known headline artists.
    Where: Plant City
    Webflstrawberryfestival.com

    EPCOT INTERNATIONAL FLOWER & GARDEN FESTIVAL – For its special annual spring event, Epcot transforms into a maze of stunning flower and plant topiaries, outdoor kitchens with international food samples, home design presentations, a hippie-themed concert series and more. March through mid-May.
    Where: Lake Buena Vista
    Webdisneyworld.international-flower-and-garden-festival

     

    NORTH FLORIDA

    CUMMER GARDEN MONTH Jacksonville’s fine arts museum is revered as much for its permanent collection as it is for the gorgeous gardens originally constructed by premiere landscape architects for the Cummer family. The Italian Garden, designed in the 1930s, is the showstopper with its reflecting pools, cypress trees, azaleas and marble sculptures all overlooking the St. John’s River. The museum offers guided tours of the gardens, as well as outdoor concerts, a dance performance, lectures and a plein air watercolor workshop.
    Where: Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, Jacksonville
    Web: cummermuseum.org

    SMOKIN’ IN THE SQUARE BBQ COOKOFF Yes, there will be plenty of barbecue to sample (there’s both a pro and backyard division) but that’s just the tipping point. The Smokin’ Cornhole Tournament at the event is one of the qualifying tournaments for the Gulf Coast Cornhole Series. So take aim... and eat some barbecue, too.
    Where: Seville Square, Pensacola
    Web: smokininthesquare.com

    ANNUAL ST. AUGUSTINE LIONS SEAFOOD FESTIVAL If it’s fished from the water, then it’s fair game at this fete, which serves up its seafood in all manners beloved in the Southeast. There’s jambalaya from Louisiana, fried conch from Miami, Maryland crab cakes and fried shrimp from Fernandina. But don’t dine and dash. Great live music will have toes tapping and hips swaying.
    Where: Francis Field, St. Augustine
    Web: lionsfestival.com

    ANNUAL FORESTRY CONCLAVE & LUMBERJACK FESTIVAL Channel your inner Paul Bunyan for competitive fun, which includes “everyday” activities like knife or axe throwing, a log roll, bow or cross-cut sawing and a pulpwood toss. If that’s not your thing, at least put on your best plaid flannel for a day of bluegrass music, nature and wildlife exhibits and firefighting demos.
    Where: Pensacola State College, Milton Campus
    Web: lumberjack.pensacolastate.edu

    ANNUAL FLORIDA AZALEA FESTIVAL & 19TH ANNUAL AZALEA DAYS The steep ravines are cotton-candy-colored perfection when the 100,000 azalea bushes bloom throughout the hilly terrain of Ravine Gardens State Park. The park, a WPA project during the Great Depression, holds its festival in conjunction with the city’s festival, which features arts and crafts vendors, a beauty pageant, antique car show, parade and good eats.
    Where: Palatka
    Web: flazaleafest.com

    WORLD WIDE RODEO You don’t have to be a Texan to love a night of barrel racing, calf roping and bull riding under the lights at the World Wide Rodeo Association’s two-day competition.
    Where: St. Johns County Fairgrounds, Elkton
    Web: floridashistoriccoast.com

    CONCOURS D’ELEGANCE — This beauty pageant for unique, rare and lovingly-owned automobiles is one of the top five auto shows in the country. Check out all that gleaming chrome on a gorgeous golf course. Also included: a chance to test drive cars and a seminar with the auto designers of General Motors, Mercedes Benz and Porsche.
    Where: Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island
    Web: ameliaconcours.org

    BELK MUSIC FEST The crashing waves on the other side of the dunes at Jax Beach is a welcome accompaniment to a daylong salute to the roots and soul of Southern music. Pair featured Southern dishes with craft brews and make time to peruse the arts and crafts market.
    Where: Seawalk Pavilion, Jacksonville Beach
    Web: belkfest.com

    BONIFAY DOWN HOME STREET FESTIVAL Join the people of Bonifay (population 4,000) for a relaxed festival that mixes community pride with fun and family. Highlights include:  the Down Home Music Fest, great food, a 5K run and, of course, a beauty pageant.
    Where: Bonifay
    Web: bonifaystreetfestival.com

    CAVERNS TO COAST TOUR Spend seven days exploring Northwest Florida on two wheels in a 520-mile bike ride from Blountstown to the beautiful beaches of Port St. Joe. If that’s too ambitious, there are 1-, 2- and 5-day options and shorter fully supported mileage rides on most days. Also included: beer gardens, a beach party and fantastic food.
    Where: Blountstown, Marianna and Port St. Joe
    Web: bikeflorida.org

    TRENTON’S SUWANNEE VALLEY QUILT FESTIVAL Be inspired by the intricate fabric works of art created by more than 30 quilting groups throughout the state. To see these treasures explore historic downtown Trenton, where the quilts will be displayed in stores and town buildings both inside and out. Make time for sewing demos on paper piecing, embroidery, children’s dresses and needlework.
    Where: Trenton
    Web: trentonquiltfestival.com

    O’LENO OLE’ CHILI COOK-OFF & SPRINGS CELEBRATION After you set your taste buds afire with a spicy bowl of chili, cool off with a quick dunk in the Santa Fe River, which winds around O’Leno State Park. There are two prize categories. Also includes live music, interactive water educational displays highlighting the importance of Florida’s springs and kids’ activities.
    Where: O’Leno State Park, High Springs
    Web: floridastateparks.org

    SPRINGTIME TALLAHASSEE FESTIVAL What began as a small-town celebration to promote Tallahassee’s beauty has turned more than 40 years later into two full-fledged days of entertainment. Enjoy 200 arts, crafts and food vendors, the Grand Parade featuring floats and marching bands, live music, a beer garden and a children’s park to keep more than 200,000 festival-goers happy  and well fed.
    Where: Kleman Plaza, Tallahassee
    Web: springtimetallahassee.com

    SLIDE INTO SPRING MUSIC AND CRAFT BEER FESTIVAL Beach, beer and Bob Marley! Live the dream at Fernandina Beach’s two-day festival, which promises an eclectic mix of tunes and brews along one of the best stretches of beach in North Florida.
    Where: Main Beach Outdoor Festival Venue, Fernandina Beach
    Web: goincoastalmusic.com

    Sand sculptors make the best use of Clearwater Beach’s famous sugary white sand during the 10-day Sugar Sand Festival that also features demonstrations and fireworks.

    Sand sculptors make the best use of Clearwater Beach’s famous sugary white sand during the 10-day Sugar Sand Festival that also features demonstrations and fireworks.

    - Nick Collura_for_VSPC

     
    APRIL
     

    SOUTH FLORIDA

    SUNFEST – Join about 175,000 other attendees as music meets the water at the granddaddy of South Florida festivals. More than 50 top live acts will be on hand. Also: a juried art and craft show, three floating bar barges, fireworks and tons of kids activities.
    Where: Flagler Drive, downtown West Palm Beach
    Web: SunFest.com

    VERITAGEMIAMI – This yearly event is brings together a who’s who of more than 3,000 food, wine, beer and spirits lovers, along with top sommeliers and notable chefs. Events include a fine wine tasting, craft beer tasting and an interactive dinner, at which a celebrity chef guides you and your guests to help make your own gourmet dinner.
    Where: Various locations throughout Miami and Miami Beach
    Web: veritagemiami.com

    UPCYCLE! ART FEST – Artists from around the country will show their works at this fine arts & crafts festival that requires the use of repurposed and re-envisioned materials. Activities include a silent auction for an exclusive piece and a make-and-take craft session for kids and adults
    Where: J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge Visitor & Education Center, Sanibel Island
    Web: dingdarlingsociety.org

    ANNUAL CONCH REPUBLIC INDEPENDENCE CELEBRATION – The Florida Keys didn’t really officially leave the United States – or did they? Judge for yourself at this 10-day Conch Republic tongue-firmly-planted-in-cheek birthday bash. Events include: a drag race (not cars), a wacky bed race, a light-hearted sea battle featuring tall ships and a cruiser car show.
    Where: Various locations in Key West
    Web: conchrepublic.com

    BARRETT-JACKSON AUTO AUCTION – As one of the premiere collector-car auctions in the country, each year this event brings thousands of viewers to the Palm Beaches to view millions of dollars’ worth of classics. There’s more to see (and buy) than cars, too: dealership signs, hood mascots, gas pumps, racing posters and much more.
    Where: Expo Center at the South Florida Fairgrounds in West Palm Beach
    Web: barrett-jackson.com

    BALLOONS OVER PARADISE FESTIVAL – This annual event will feature 60 hot air balloons and all kinds of great entertainment. Also: yummy food, arts & crafts, tethered balloon rides, a classic car show, dog agility performances, a polo exhibition and an equestrian drill team performance.
    Where: Seminole Tribe Youth Ranch, Immokalee
    Web: paradisecoast.com

    EASTER EVENTS – They’re hopping throughout SoFla in April (just Google any city and Easter events), but here are two that we really like: Bunny-Palooza at the Miami Seaquarium and the Underwater Easter Egg Hunt in Islamorada. Web: www.miamiseaquarium.com and fla-keys.com

    DELRAY AFFAIR – It’s pedestrians only, so join the throngs who cram 12 city blocks and side streets for all kinds of fun: concerts, street entertainers, arts & crafts exhibitors, great food (don’t miss the conch fritters) and much, much more.
    Where: Downtown Delray Beach
    Web: delrayaffair.com

    ROCK THE OCEAN TORTUGA MUSIC FESTIVAL –The sands of Fort Lauderdale will once again be transformed into an oceanfront multi-stage festival for music lovers and ocean lovers alike. The lineup always includes the very best country and country-rock bands.
    Where: Fort Lauderdale Beach
    Web: tortugamusicfestival.com

    HEINEKEN TRANSATLANTIC FESTIVAL – This annual event explores modern world music from the great cities of the Atlantic rim – Europe, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and North America. It features artists working in the beautiful collision between traditional rhythms and electronica/DJ culture.
    Where: North Beach Bandshell, Miami Beach
    Web: rhythmfoundation.com

    MIAMI BEACH GAY PRIDE – This annual event draws about 60,000 people land features more than 125 LGTB-friendly vendors, exciting celebrities, musical performances, parties, parades, refreshments, food and a family-friendly play area.
    Where: Ocean Drive, between 5th and 15th Streets, Miami Beach
    Web: miamibeachgaypride.com

    SOUTH BEACH COMEDY FESTIVAL – Be prepared to laugh yourself silly at this outstanding, if somewhat raunchy, gathering of top comedians.
    Where: The Fillmore, Miami Beach
    Web: southbeachcomedyfestival.com

    FAB FILM-FEST FOURSOME -- There are four film festivals of note in SoFla in April, two on the west coast (Sarasota Film Festival and Fort Myers Beach Film Festival) and two on the east coast (Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and Miami and the Beaches Environmental Film Festival).
    Web: Respectively: www.sarasotafilmfestival.com, www.fmbfilmfest.com, www.mglff.com and mbenvironmentalfilmfestival.com

    POMPANO BEACH SEAFOOD FESTIVAL – Yummy food for sure – but so much more. There’s a craft fair and lots of great music, too.
    Where: On and near the Pompano Beach Pier in Pompano Beach
    Web: pompanobeachseafoodfestival.com

    REDLANDS BLUES & BARBECUE FESTIVAL – You can get award-winning BBQ, but there is a whole lot more: Miccosukee Indian alligator show, interactive Homestead Miami Speedway zone, bungee jumping, rock climbing and pony rides.
    Where: Fruit & Spice Park, Homestead
    Web: fruitandspicepark.org

    CRAWDEBAUCHERY FOOD & MUSIC FESTIVAL – A relative newcomer, it already is gaining a reputation as one of the best New Orleans-style festivals this side of Mardi Gras. Yummy food (po’boys, beignets, redfish, gumbo, etouffee, pralines, and jambalaya), great Zydeco music and a kids’ zone (face painting, jugglers, clowns, storytelling, interactive games and crawfish races).
    Where: Pompano Beach Amphitheater, Pompano Beach
    Web: crawdebauchery.com

    FORT PIERCE OYSTER FESTIVAL – Oysters Casino, Oysters Mexicali, oyster stew, grilled oysters, raw oysters, fried oysters. While oyster lovers get their fill, festival goers will also contribute to a better ecosystem as shells will be gathered for oyster reef restoration projects.
    Where: Downtown Fort Pierce
    Web: ftpierceoysterfest.com

     

    CENTRAL FLORIDA

    FUNK FEST – Combining old school and new school rhythm and blues, the long-running Funk Fest brings its tour through Orlando. Top national acts always appear at this this all-evening outdoor show that also has plenty of food and merchandise vendors.
    Where: Central Florida Fairgrounds, Orlando
    Web: funkfesttour.com

    SUN 'N FUN INTERNATIONAL FLY-IN & EXPO – This weeklong celebration of aviation is packed with activities for the young and old, the cutting edge and nostalgic, the adrenaline junkies and the picnic packers. Watch fighter jets soar and hot air balloons float after visiting entertaining and educational programs and expos.
    Where: Lakeland
    Web: www.sun-n-fun.org

    TAMPA BAY BLUES FEST – One of Florida’s most popular blues music events returns for the 20th year, set against the beautiful waterfront backdrop of Vinoy Park. This fest always attracts the America’s top blues performers. Refreshments are plentiful, with seafood, barbeque, Cuban cuisine, beer, wine, and mixed drinks on the menu.
    Where: Vinoy Park, St. Petersburg
    Web: tampabaybluesfest.com

    FIESTA IN THE PARK – Experience the beauty of springtime weather in the most scenic area of downtown Orlando, where patrons can gaze at oil paintings, portraits, metal sculptures, Indian arts and crafts and other wares for sale while enjoying live music and feeding the geese in the Lake Eola. Pets welcome!
    Where: Lake Eola, downtown Orlando
    Web: fiestainthepark.com

    INDIAN RIVER FESTIVAL – This colorful and quaint festival is family-focused, with lots of interesting and fun activities for all ages including kite flying, kayaking, arts and crafts tents, food, music, an obstacle course and more.
    Where: Sandpoint Park, Titusville
    Web: nbbd.com/festivals

    FLORIDA BLUEBERRY FESTIVAL – Playing second fiddle to the strawberry, the Florida blueberry is often the state’s forgotten treat. But not at this annual festival, which features blueberry desserts, blueberry wines, blueberry vinegars and jams, as well as a beer garden, dog show, car show and a Blueberry Kids Zone.
    Where: Brooksville
    Web: floridablueberryfestival.org

    FESTIVAL OF CHOCOLATE – This touring celebration spreads cocoa love among the chocoholic attendees with traditional and creative desserts, candies and drinks. Small businesses show off their handmade products, pastry chefs and chocolatiers work their artistry and magic and chocolate advocacy groups (yes, these exist) educate guests on all that is wonderful about chocolate.
    Where: Tampa
    Web: festivalofchocolate.com

    SUGAR SAND FESTIVAL – This gathering centers around a stunning display of sand sculptures crafted by 10 master sculptors who have nine days to create fairytale and literature-themed works.
    Where: Pier 60, Clearwater Beach
    Web: sugarsandfestival.com

    BOOMTOWN DAYS – The small town of Dunnellon pays homage to its roots -- the discovery here of phosphate in the 1800s. Don’t miss the Lil’ Miss and Mr. Dunellon Pageant, which is the highlight event among other entertainment, crafts vendors and delicious BBQ and fair food tents.
    Where: Historic Dunnellon
    Web: dunnellonhistoricvillage.com

    EASTER SURF FESTIVAL – This unusual combination of Easter and surfboards has something for everyone, particularly if you love Florida’s east coast waves. Along with various levels of surfing and skim board competitions, there’s an Easter egg hunt and a special sunrise service on the beach. 
    Where: Lori Wilson Park, Cocoa Beach
    Web: eastersurffest.com

    LEESBURG BIKEFEST – Unleash your wild side at this loud and raucous three-day event devoted to motorcycles, music and gentle mayhem. Also included: Live music, a tattoo expo, a classic bike show, bikini contests and more.
    Where: Leesburg
    Web: leesburgbikefest.com

    SIESTA FIESTA – Siesta Key Village blocks off its streets for a weekend to create the perfect springtime art show only blocks from the Gulf of Mexico and its delightful breeze. Admire or buy paintings, glass art, metalwork, jewelry, sculptures and photography, or check out the live bands and nearby shops.
    Where: Siesta Village, Siesta Key
    Web: escape-to-sarasota.com

    FESTA ITALIANA – It kicks off with a wine party featuring more than 70 wines, as well as Italian antipasti, cuisine and desserts. It ends with the main event, during which dozens of the Tampa Bay area’s top restaurants and catering companies serve delicious dishes and tastings.
    Where: Historic Ybor City, Tampa
    Web: festaitalianatampa.com

    CENTRAL FLORIDA EARTH DAY– Learn about Florida’s endangered species, sample some vegan foods, do some Tahitian dance moves, buy some plants and paint a “paper bag mushroom” at Central Florida’s longest-running Earth Day celebration.
    Where: Lake Eola Park, Orlando
    Web:  cfearthday.org

     

    NORTH FLORIDA

    BLUE ANGELS PRACTICE — Ooh and aah while the world-famous pilots speed by overhead at speeds of 700 miles per hour while defying physics with their dazzling aerial feats. Each practice session is an hour long. The pilots sign autographs after Wednesday sessions in the Blue Angels Atrium at the National Naval Aviation Museum.
    Where: Naval Air Station Pensacola
    Web: blueangels.navy.mi

    ANNUAL SUWANNEE RIVER PADDLING FESTIVAL — Catch a glimpse of lazy gators and turtles sunning themselves during a morning paddle along two of North Florida’s most gorgeous rivers, the Suwanee and the Withlacoochee. The festival also includes a concert (benefitting regional waterway conservation), paddling demos and an evening ghost tour.
    Where: Suwanee River State Park near Live Oak
    Web: paddleflorida.org  

    COTTONTAIL TEA PARTY & EASTER GARDEN BRUNCH — There are plenty of activities for both kids and adults at this annual two-day holiday gathering. The Easter Brunch features an elaborate spread that includes a seafood bar, prime rib carving station, omelets and a dessert station with sweets to die for.
    Where: The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island
    Web: ritzcarlton.com

    WORD OF [SOUTH] — This two-day festival explores the relationship between musicians and authors with lectures geared to both book and music lovers. The work of more than 200 authors and musicians will be featured.
    Where: Cascades Park, Tallahassee
    Web: wordofsouthfestival.com

    SOPCHOPPY WORM GRUNTIN’ FESTIVAL — That age-old idiom about the early bird getting the worm is a way of life for earthworm harvester Gary Revell. Revell and his wife spend their mornings making “music”, which sounds like grunting, to coax thousands of earthworms from the dirt. Also includes: a 5K run, live worm gruntin’ demo, the crowning of the Earthworm King and Queen, the Wakulla County Horseshoe Championship, live music and art vendors.
    Where: downtown Sopchoppy
    Web: wormgruntinfestival.com

    NORTH FLORIDA VEGFEST — This event is a celebration of healthy, local plant-based eating and is a fantastic addition to the food fest scene. Attend vegan cooking demos, sample vegan food from veg-friendly restaurants or food purveyors and attend lectures by nationally known speakers and authors.
    Where: Cascades Park, Tallahassee
    Web: northfloridavegfest.com

    ANNUAL RHYTHM & RIBS FESTIVAL -- Kiss a pig, groove to live music and fulfill your BBQ craving at this three-day extravaganza. There are top national music acts, arts and crafts vendors, rides and kids’ activities and a Kiss the Pig contest.
    Where: Francis Field, St. Augustine
    Web: rhythmandribs.net

    BRADFORD COUNTY STRAWBERRY FESTIVAL — With the “the sweetest strawberries this side of heaven,”  this two-day downhome family fest held during the peak growing season features free train rides,  live music and, of course, strawberry shortcake.
    Where: downtown Starke
    Web: bradfordcountystrawberryfestival.com

    ANNUAL SANDESTIN WINE FESTIVAL — Life doesn’t get much better than yoga and mimosas at sunrise on the beach while the gentle waves of the Gulf provide a soothing soundtrack. There are nightly wine dinners with celebrity chefs, a champagne and seafood cruise and live music. The finale is the Grand Tasting event.
    Where: Village of Baytowne Wharf, Destin
    Web: sandestinwinefestival.com

    ANNUAL DOWN HOME DAYS FESTIVAL: Take a fun-filled day trip to one of the “Best Little Towns in Florida” for the three-day festival featuring a themed parade, a classic car show, 1K and 5K runs, a watermelon seed-spitting and an antique tractor and engine show.
    Where: Madison, various venues
    Web: madisonfl.org

    ANNUAL APALACHICOLA ANTIQUE & CLASSIC BOAT SHOW — There are plenty of boat shows in Florida that feature the latest and the biggest boats and yachts, but head to this one for the old vintage stuff. Examples: antique outboard engines and a 50-foot Traders’ Canoe used in the late 1700s. Also on display: authentic oyster boats, steam engine demos and model boat building for kids.
    Where: Water Street, Apalachicola
    Web: antiqueboatshow.org

    FLORIDA BIRDING AND PHOTO FEST — Learn flash techniques and the best way to photograph Florida’s abundant bird species in nature during this five-day festival, featuring 170 lectures conducted by 19 top wildlife photographers who take you on nature tours by boat or kayak to a reserve’s more secluded locales.
    Where: GTM Research Reserve Environmental Education Center, Ponte Vedra Beach
    Web: floridasbirdingandphotofest.com

    NORTH FLORIDA WILDFLOWER FESTIVAL — With warm weather finally arriving in North Florida, green thumbs can fill in backyard paradises with new flowering plants and get tips on how create a sustainable garden. The event includes speakers, demos, as well as a marketplace full of plant and garden accessory vendors.
    Where: downtown Blountstown
    Web: facebook.com/NFLWildflowerFest

    CHIPOLA FEATHER FEST — Explore the Florida Panhandle backwoods during a variety of field trips geared to birders who hope to check off their list sought-after species, such as Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, Bachman’s Sparrow, Mississippi Kite, Swainson’s Warbler and a Purple Gallinule.
    Where: Citizen’s Lodge, Marianna
    Web: chipola-feather-fest

    SPRINGTIME TALLAHASSEE – On a jam-packed weekend, the city’s downtown Chain of Parks overflows with arts, crafts and food vendors, and there’s a Grand Parade featuring floats and marching bands, live music, a beer garden and a children’s park.
    Where: Downtown Tallahassee
    Web: springtimetallahassee.com

    WANEE MUSIC FESTIVAL – The Allman Brothers Band founded this roots-rock extravaganza that draws thousands to the rustic music park on the banks of the Suwannee River. Past performers include Hot Tuna Acoustic, Blind Boys of Alabama, Ziggy Marley, Blues Traveler, Rusted Root, Tedeschi Trucks Band and, of course, the Allmans.
    Where: Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park near Live Oak
    Web: waneefestival.com

    ISLE OF EIGHT FLAGS SHRIMP FESTIVAL  Indulge in a three-day gorge on fresh-from-the-boat shrimp served anyway you like ‘em, along with other Florida seafood delicacies. Take time for a family photo along the waterfront, enjoy live music on the festival stage and take in the arts and crafts vendors who set up shop along the downtown streets.
    Where: Downtown Fernandina Beach
    Web: shrimpfestival.com

    Scatting, trombone solos and improv are all the rage during the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, an annual free music festival that showcases three days of live music on three stages.

    Scatting, trombone solos and improv are all the rage during the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, an annual free music festival that showcases three days of live music on three stages.

    - Jacksonville Jazz Festival

     

    MAY
     

    SOUTH FLORIDA

    FLEET WEEK – This annual Fort Lauderdale event allows visitors to tour active Navy and Coast Guard ships for free. But don’t wait – reservations are necessary and there are only 12,000 slots open. Even if you don’t get to see the ships, who doesn’t like to see a man or a woman in a uniform? They will be all around town during the week.
    Where: Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale
    Web: browardnavydaysinc.org

    MIAMI INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL – The best South Florida has to offer in Latin jazz, fusion and “Cubop” (short for Cuban bop) will be presented. This festival always gets a great lineup.
    Where: Different locations in Little Havana, Miami
    Web: miamiinternationaljazzfest.org

    ARTSNAPLES WORLD FESTIVAL – Each year a different country is honored gets the royal treatment with concerts, piano recitals, jazz, chamber music, opera, cinema and, of course, great food and wine.
    Where: Various locations in Naples
    Web: artsnaplesworldfestival.org

    STUART SAILFISH REGATTA – It’s an exciting weekend of speed and excitement with hydroplanes, race boats and powerboats competing for prize money and bragging rights. There’s a lot more, including live music, food and a swimsuit contest.
    Where: North side of the Stuart Causeway bridge, Stuart
    Web: stuartsailfishregatta.com

    A DOUBLE DIP FOR FLOWER LOVERS – What’s your pleasure: orchids or hibiscuses? At the Annual Punta Gorda Hibiscus Festival, specialty hibiscus and other exotic plants, trees and organics will be displayed and up for sale. Lots of other fun stuff, too: Restored antique cars, Li’l Miss Hibiscus Pageant, a farmers’ market, live music and a secret garden tour. The Redland International Orchid Show is one of the largest in the country, featuring more than 50 booths of orchid vendors and educational events and material. You’ll find all kinds of gorgeous orchids and more: lectures by experts, raffles and international food.
    Where: Respectively, Gilchrist Park in Punta Gorda and Fruit and Spice Park in Miami
    Web: Respectively: thehibiscusfestival.com and fruitandspicepark.org

    A DOUBLE DIP FOR SINGER/SONGWRITER LOVERS: – The Key West Songwriters Festival features some of America’s foremost songwriters performing in intimate, audience-friendly settings.  At the Key Largo Original Music Festival, hit songwriters from Nashville and around the country perform on multiple stages and a variety of on-the-water venues.
    Web: Respectively, keywestsongwritersfestival.com and keylargooriginalmusicfest.com

    WATERMELON FESTIVAL – Come celebrate the harvest season at this annual tribute to the watermelon. Highlights include: Speed eating and seed spitting competitions, community showcase exhibition area, live entertainment on two stages, stilt walkers, skill games, balloon animals and, of course, mouth-watering watermelon.
    Where: Fleamasters Flea Market, Fort Myers
    Web: fleamall.com

    KEY WEST PADDLEBOARD CLASSIC – Participants will enjoy a challenging course over crystal blue waters, circling the city through scenic mangroves, passing by the historic Seaport District and more. Open to paddlers on standup paddleboards, prone boards, outrigger canoes, dory boats, surf skis and kayaks.
    Web: fla-keys.com

    HAITI HOME – This exhibit celebrates Haitian Heritage month and features the unique art and craft of Haitian artisans placed within the context of home and hearth. Work featured will highlight the connections of tradition and innovation as they meld with utility and comfort.
    Where: Little Haiti Cultural Complex, Miami
    Web: littlehaiticulturalcenter.com

    ANNUAL TASTE OF THE BEACH – More than 20 restaurants will offer samples of their signature dishes and compete for prizes in Best Entrée, Best Appetizer and Best Desert. Live concerts are also featured.
    Where: Old San Carlos Boulevard, Fort Myers Beach
    Web: fortmyers-sanibel.com

    SOUTHEAST BUNFEST – Florida’s only festival devoted to rabbit and guinea pigs owners or owners-to-be. Learn Bunny Basics 101 while treating your pet to a snack, “critter spa” treatment or photo shoot, and shop for rabbit-specific products and toys.
    Where: Stuart
    Web: facebook.com/southeastbunfest

     

    CENTRAL FLORIDA 

    SPACE COAST NERDFEST – Nerds and geeks from all over the region come together to unite as one, celebrating sci-fi cultural icons, video games, comics, Renaissance faire-style live jousting, collectibles and more. Don’t miss the costume contest!
    Where: Melbourne
    Web: spacecoastnerdfest.org

    CLEARWATER BEACH RESTAURANT WEEK – It’s actually two weeks long and gives you the chance to sample some of the area’s top-notch dining or casual fare, all it super low prices. It all begins with a kick-off party that features beer and wine tastings, music and fireworks.
    Where: Various restaurants in Clearwater Beach
    Web: clearwaterbeachrestaurantweek.com

    FOOD AND WINE ON PINE – Top chefs and culinary students from around the region prepare their best dishes, from lobster and shrimp ceviche to gourmet tater tots to frozen wine slushies, as guests watch chalk demonstrations and sip Kentucky Derby drink specials along Anna Maria’s Pine Avenue.
    Where: Along Pine Avenue in Anna Maria
    Web: foodandwineonpine.com

    FISHSTOCK – Thousands of fishing enthusiasts flock to the fish-filled waters of New Smyrna to show off their skills in various events, including the Redfish-Trout Challenge and the Striker Offshore Tournament. Children can learn to fish in the Kidstock seminars, and there’s a boat show and a 5k for those on the sidelines.
    Where: New Smyrna Beach
    Web: fishstock.com

    BIG GUAVA MUSIC FESTIVAL – Some of the most popular names in alternative, rock, indie and hip-hop are always on hand to make this one of Florida’s best music festivals of the year.
    Where: Florida State Fairgrounds, Tampa
    Web: bigguavafest.com

    SCOTT’S ZELLWOOD SWEET CORN JAMBOREE – Long & Scott Farms is a one-of-a-kind, authentic farm and market, complete with a seven-acre maze and country store. Spend a day listening to music, taking your kids to the on-site playground, checking out various crafts vendors, and of course, trying the delicious Florida sweet corn.
    Where: Mt. Dora
    Web: longandscottfarms.com

    ORANGE BLOSSOM JAMBOREE – Dozens of Florida bands, ranging from funk to country to hard rock, jam in this four-day event held on a sprawling campsite. Spend a day or roll up in your RV and spend the whole long weekend listening to original and cover tunes and eating BBQ, vegan dishes and other concessions.
    Where: Sertoma Ranch, Brooksville
    Web: orangeblossomjamboree.com

    NEW SMYRNA BEACH BLUES FESTIVAL – Relax and get into the summer spirit at this annual and much-anticipated blues fest, which draws music fans from all over Florida to the streets of New Smyrna, where talented musicians entertain at various bars and stages throughout the town.
    Where: New Smyrna Beach
    Web: nsbfla.com/bluesfest

    ORLANDO INTERNATIONAL FRINGE THEATER FESTIVAL – This 14-day arts festival offers theatre, music, dance performances and artists of all genres. Kids Fringe for children and families features entertaining performances by Fringe artists, workshops, hands-on art activities.
    Where: Orlando
    Web: orlandofringe.org

    SUNSCREEN FILM FESTIVAL – About 90 full-length films and shorts, including narratives, documentaries, foreign films, Spanish-language films, and animated works are featured. Attend workshops to help hone your own filmmaking skills.
    Where: St. Petersburg
    Web: sunscreenfilmfestival.com

    ST. JOHNS RIVER FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS – More than 125 regionally and nationally accredited fine artists and craftsmen line the charming brick streets of downtown Sanford, bringing paintings, pottery, sculpture, woodworking, photography, jewelry, blown glass and more. Enjoy hand crafted food at the Culinary Arts Court and see live artist demonstrations.
    Where: Historic Downtown Sanford
    Web: stjohnsriverartfest.com

    CENTRAL FLORIDA’S BBQ BLOWOUT – One of the state’s biggest BBQ events of the year, the Blowout brings 80 professional and backyard teams grilling and smoking their hearts out to compete for cash, trophies and a chance to go on to the World Food Championships in Vegas.
    Where: Oveido
    Webbbqblowout.com

    TROPICAL HEATWAVE – Eclectic local bands share stages with national acts in this long-running Tampa Bay area music event hosted by community radio.
    Where: Ybor City, Tampa
    Web: tropicalheatwave.org

    FOOD AND WINE ON PINE – Try delicious dishes from local restaurants, pair them with fine wines and craft beer, and dance along to the live rock, blues and jazz bands.
    Where: Pine Avenue, Anna Maria
    Webfoodandwindonpine.com

    COUNTRY 500 – Top country music acts rock Daytona on Memorial Day weekend as racing’s greatest venue turns into a festival-goer’s dream for three days and nights. Check out the artist meet-and-greets located throughout pit road and the garages.
    Where: Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach
    Webcountry500.com

     

    NORTH FLORIDA

    BIG BEND KAYAK CLASSIC Anglers break out your gear … and your kayak. Yes, kayak! This fishing tournament has one strict rule: no motorized transportation allowed.  It’s just you, your kayak (or canoe), your paddle and your fishing line during the hours of the competition. Cast your line in either the saltwater or freshwater division.
    Where: downtown St. Marks
    Web:  bigbendkayakclassic.com

    SEAFOOD EXTRAVAGANZA Eat your way across the northern part of the state in one weekend, sampling three different fresh-from-the-boat delicacies. Start at the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival in Fernandina before heading west for stops at the Panacea Blue Crab Festival and the Pensacola Crawfish Festival. Each fest also features live music and family activities.
    Where: Fernandina, Pensacola and Panacea
    Web: shrimpfestival.com, fiestaoffiveflags.org, bluecrabfest.com

    ANNUAL GAMBLE ROGERS FOLK FESTIVAL This gathering features more than 60 acts on six stages and always attracts an amazing and eclectic lineup.
    Where: St. Augustine Amphitheatre
    Web: gamblerogersfest.org

    WORLD OF NATIONS FESTIVAL No suitcase is required to travel around the world at this annual festival highlighting the cuisine, customs and culture of more than 35 different countries including Romania, India, Kenya, Jamaica, South Korea, St. Lucia, Taiwan, Venezuela and the Bahamas. Key festival events include a naturalization ceremony, VIP Tasting Experience and Parade of Flags.
    Where: Metropolitan Park, Jacksonville
    Web:  makeascenedowntown.com

     FORGOTTEN COAST EN PLEIN AIR: AMERICA’S GREAT PAINT-OUT Imagine how Florida might have appeared on canvas at the hands of Impressionist masters Edgar Degas, Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro, some of the original plein air artists. This 10-day event features workshops, guest speakers and painting stations along the Gulf of Mexico.
    Where: Alligator Point to Mexico Beach in Gulf and Franklin counties.
    Web:  pleinairfl.com

    FUNK FEST & JACKSONVILLE JAZZ FESTIVAL Downtown Jax is getting groovy in May with two major music fests turning the city streets into one big outdoor party. The jams get started at The Shipyards thanks to top national funk/soul acts for the Funk Fest. Then things turn a little more mellow chill at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival.
    Where: downtown Jacksonville
    Web: funkfesttour.com, makeascenedowntown.com

    FIESTA Pensacola celebrates its founding in 1559 by the Spanish Conquistador Don Tristan de Luna. Five different flags have flown over the city in the years since, and locals pay tribute to their rich history with a series of events throughout the month: the 41st Annual Fiesta 10K and 5K Run/Walk, Pen Air Grand Fiesta Parade, Fiesta Family Weekend, Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon Fiesta Days Celebration and the Prayer Service/Boat Parade/Landing Ceremony.
    Where: various venues, Pensacola
    Web: fiestaoffiveflags.org

    THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP It’s affectionately known as the PGA tour’s fifth major, featuring the world-famous “Island Green” at the 17th hole. Top stars such as Rory McIlroy, Jordan Speith, Jason Day, Bubba Watson, and Rickie Fowler are expected to compete for their share of at least a $10 million dollar purse.
    Where: TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach
    Web:  pgatour.com/tournaments  

    ARTSQUEST More than 125 crafters and artists will be displaying their best work in mediums as varied as woodworking and jewelry making. Also included: a Gourmet Galley featuring South Walton’s best food trucks, a kids’ play area and live music and dance performances all weekend long.
    Where: Grand Boulevard at Sandestin, South Walton Beach
    Web:  artsquestflorida.com

    ANNUAL WINDSOR ZUCCHINI FESTIVAL Zucchini is no longer plentifully harvested in Windsor but that’s beside the point. Channel your artistic skills during one of the zucchini-carving contests, cheer on the contestants of the Duke of Zuke and Zuqueenie Pageant and sample unusual zucchini-flavored treats like cornbread and ice cream.
    Where: Windsor Volunteer Fire Department
    Web:  windsor-z-news.org

    ECO-TOUR: WET PRAIRIES AND RARE PLANTS OF POINT WASHINGTON STATE FOREST Learn the difference between a pitcher plant and sundew on this guided walking tour of the boggy, wetland prairies located in the Panhandle. A biologist will speak about the historical significance of this ecosystem and identify rare carnivorous native plants.
    Where: South Walton Center of Northwest State College, Santa Rosa Beach
    Web:  basinalliance.org

    ANNUAL TUPELO HONEY FESTIVAL Get a glimpse of Real Florida with a day trip to Wewahitchka with its one stoplight, Spanish moss dripping from Live Oaks, eerie Dead Lakes and three generations of beekeepers harvesting the world famous Tupelo Honey. Purchase locally-made products featuring the honey, attend the Miss Tupelo pageant, participate in a 5K run and enjoy live music.
    Where: Lake Alice Park, Wewahitchka
    Web: tupelohoneyfestival.com

    ANNUAL FLORIDA FOLK FESTIVAL For more than 60 years, Florida’s folk artists, craftsmen and musicians have gathered along the banks of the Suwannee River where the Spanish moss drips from the live oak trees to celebrate Florida’s rich cultural history and traditions.
    Where: Stephen Foster State Park in White Springs.
    Web:  floridastateparks.org

    BLUE CRAB FESTIVAL Ring in the Memorial weekend holiday with 200,000 new friends at this annual seafood festival that pairs small town charm with big-time fair-inspired food and fun. Think carnival rides, arts and crafts vendors, live music, a kids’ zone, Memorial Day parade and fireworks.
    Where: downtown Palatka
    Web:  bluecrabfestival.com

    Watch paddle boarders compete for more than $10,000 in prize money at the Battle On The Blueway  in Fort Myers Beach.

    Watch paddle boarders compete for more than $10,000 in prize money at the Battle On The Blueway in Fort Myers Beach.

    - Battle On The Blueway

     

    JUNE
     

    SOUTH FLORIDA 

    LAUDERDALE LIVE: Just minutes away from vibrant Las Olas Boulevard, you’ll be able to rock and roll all weekend. Attendees will enjoy great music set against the backdrop of historic waterways and top restaurants
    Where: Huizenga Plaza on the New River, Fort Lauderdale
    Web: lauderdalelivemusic.com

    CARIBBEAN-AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH EVENTS: At Taste of the Caribbean, you can savor the best in Caribbean cuisine at tasting meals, workshops and seminars with leading chefs who will provide insider secrets on enhancing your dining experience. It’s a competition-style event that showcases the region’s best chefs, pastry chefs, junior chefs and bartenders. Colors of the Caribbean is a free family-friendly festival celebrating Caribbean culture. Event features live music, A Caribbean Travel Expo, a Kids Zone, arts and crafts, a food village and smaller stages featuring folk dancing and steel bands.
    Where: Respectively, Hyatt Regency hotel, Miami, and Young Circle in downtown Hollywood
    Web: Respectively, caribbeanhotelandtourism.com and colorsofthecaribbean.com

    ST. ARMANDS CIRCLE AND DOWNTOWN VENICE CRAFT FESTIVALS: Peruse booths filled with painting, crafts, stained glass, pottery, jewelry, photography, personalized products for kids and pooches and much more, including a Green Market for plants, handmade soaps, tangy BBQ sauces and gorgeous orchids.
    Where: St. Armands Circle on St. Armands Key just off the coast of Sarasota; Miami Avenue in Venice
    Web: artfestival.com

    SUMMERLAND CONCERT TOUR: If the 1990s was your decade, this one’s for you. This annual event features the best acts that were popular in that decade.
    Where: Top Rocker Field, Fort Myers
    Web: SixBends.com

    SUMMER MOONLIGHT SEA TURTLE WALKS: Enjoy an evening of sea turtle exploration and identification while uncovering the natural history and myths of turtles. With a little luck and weather permitting you might just see a 300-pound loggerhead venture out of the ocean to lay her eggs.
    Where: Museum of Discovery & Science and the beach, Fort Lauderdale
    Web: mods.org

    KEY WEST PRIDE: This LGBT five-day celebration includes a film festival, dance parties, drag shows, bike tours, pool parties, water excursions, a street fair, Pride Pageants and a “Pride in Our Community” parade down Duval Street.
    Where: Various locations in Key West
    Web: fla-keys.com/calendarofevents

    SEEK IN THE CITY: Here’s a chance to participate in a great scavenger hunt and learn about one of SoFla’s great towns. You can enter by yourself or as part of a team up to five. You’ll have a lot of fun and maybe win some cash, too.
    Where: Downtown Delray Beach
    Web: seekinthecitydelray.com

    REDLAND SUMMER FRUIT FESTIVAL: Summer’s a comin’ and it’s time enjoy seasonal and rare fruits and much more at this annual affair. Vendor booths will feature local wines and yummy foods. Children age 11 and under get in free.
    Where: Fruit & Spice Park, Homestead
    Web: fruitandspicepark.org

    SARASOTA SUP CHAMPIONSHIPS – Paddleboard enthusiasts, competitors and newbies hit one of the world’s best beaches to watch various elite, juniors, sprint and distance events on the water. Demos for kids and adults help even the paddle-weary learn to enjoy this accessible and popular sport.
    Where: Siesta Key Beach
    Web: sarasotasupchampionships.com/

    STONEWALL PRIDE STREET FESTIVAL & PARADE: It’s an 11-hour LGBT blast, with performances late into the evening on three different stages, along with a marketplace featuring vendors selling arts, crafts and more. There will also be food trucks, frozen drink tents and a Kids Zone. Don’t miss the Stonewall Summer Pride Twilight Parade.
    Where: Wilton Drive in Wilton Manors
    Web: wiltonmanorsstonewall.com

    WEST AFRICANA FESTIVAL: Explore music, art and Afro-Caribbean culture during a three-day destination retreat that focuses on thought, culture and wellness. The festival integrates music, art and cultural tourism.
    Where: Various locations in Key West
    Web: fla-keys.com/calendarofevents 

    HUKILAU POLYNESIAN FESTIVAL: Tikiphiles can expect an all-things Polynesian extravaganza, including great musical acts.
    Where: Hyatt Regency Pier 66 and the world-famous Mai-Kai restaurant, Fort Lauderdale
    Web: thehukilau.com

    SUMMER JAZZ ON THE GULF: An appealing and diverse selection of Jazz acts will be presented in a series of concerts amid a hotel setting that has beautiful views of the Gulf of Mexico, stunning sunsets and cool breezes.
    Where: Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club
    Web: naplesbeachhotel.com

    iHEARTRADIO ULTIMATE POOL PARTY – Presented by VisitFlorida.com, the musical weekend getaway is broadcast nationally on the CW network. Past performers include Jennifer Lopez, Neon Trees, Ariana Grande, Iggy Azalea, Tiesto and Lil John.
    Where: Fontainebleau Miami Beach, Miami Beach
    Web: BleauLive.com

    SARASOTA MUSIC FESTIVAL – Hundreds of music students from some of the top programs in the world attend this three-week festival to showcase their talent and learn new skills. Festival audiences are invited to any of the concerts or lectures, including the Thursday afternoon Artist Showcase concerts, Friday Festival chamber concerts, and Saturday Symphony orchestra concerts.
    Where: Sarasota
    Web: sarasotaorchestra.org/festival

     

    CENTRAL FLORIDA 

    MAIN STREET BLAST – For those who can’t wait until July 4 to get the party started, New Port Richey’s KIAFEST Main Street Blast early Independence Day celebration includes all the holiday highlights: fair food, a Miss Firecracker contest, live music and, of course, fireworks.
    Where: Downtown New Port Richey
    Web: nprmainstreet.com

    TAMPA BAY CARIBBEAN CARNIVAL– Festive music, loud colors and fiery foods take over St. Petersburg’s Albert Whitted Park while a colorful street parade honors the Caribbean culture. Great live music, too.
    Where: St. Petersburg
    Web: tampacarnival.com

     ONE MAGICAL WEEKEND – One of the world’s biggest LGBT weekend events returns to the Walt Disney World resorts, bringing an exciting lineup of pool parties, film viewings, Epcot drink-around-the-world shenanigans and other fun times.
    Where: Lake Buena Vista
    Web: onemagicalweekend.com

    COCOA BEACH PIRATE FEST – This family-friendly pirate fest has enough to keep everyone entertained, including interactive treasure hunts, water-cannon battles in a pirate-themed splash pool, black powder weapon demonstrations and an adults-only Pirate’s Ball.
    Where: International Palms Resort, Cocoa Beach
    Web: cocoabeachpiratefest.com

    ST. PETE PRIDE – One of the southeast United States’ largest LGBT pride celebrations features artists, musicians, fashion designers, community leaders, business owners and activists. The grand finale is the evening night parade and family- and pet-friendly street festival on the last weekend of Pride.
    Where: St. Petersburg
    Web: stpetepride.com

    SILVER SPURS RODEO – More than 70 years old, this classic Central Florida rodeo is still going strong, drawing the best bull riders, barrel racers and ropers to the Silver Spurs Arena. The event kicks off with the glitzy Miss Silver Spurs pageant and has various kids’ activities and interesting vendors to visit during rodeo breaks.
    Where: Osceola Heritage Park, Kissimmee
    Web: silverspursrodeo.com

    POLKA DOT FLEA – As cute as it sounds, the annual Polka Dot Flea is filled with cool vintage items and wares, more like a Paris street market than a junkyard of overstock items. Treasure hunters delight in one-of-a-kind finds for their home and garden, as well as unique items of clothing, funky antique jewelry, repurposed bikes, furniture and more.
    Where: Central Florida Fairgrounds, Orlando
    Web: polkadotflea.com

    NEW SMYRNA BEACH KITE FESTIVAL – What better way to kick off the summer than by flying a good old-fashioned kite? See kite demonstrations and kite club competitions and get free lessons by the pros. A kid's zone offers free kites to the first 400 children each festival day.
    Where: New Smyrna Beach
    Web: new-smyrna-beach-kite-festival

    ANNUAL HARVEST FESTIVAL – Lakeridge Winery invites the public this popular event featuring an annual stomping of the grapes and live music. Local artists and crafters show off their goods while patrons may sample dozens of types of wine and beer, as well as soft drinks, food and desserts.
    Where: Lakeridge Winery, Clermont
    Web: lakeridgewinery.com

    HISTORIC COCOA VILLAGE’S BBQ & BLUES – In one of Cocoa Village’s most competitive events of the year, culinary teams from around the southeastern U.S. bring their pork butts, ribs, sauces and A-games to grill, smoke and slow-cook their way to win $9,000 in cash prizes. You be the judge of People’s Choice, Best Sauce and Best Dessert.
    Where: Historic Cocoa Village
    Web: cocoavillagebbqandblues.com

    REPTICON – This long-running annual features tub-loads of slithery, cold-blooded creatures for petting, handling, photographing, purchasing or watching in one of the many educational lecture events devoted to snakes, geckos, iguanas, toads, turtles and more.
    Where: Florida State Fairgrounds, Tampa
    Web: repticon.com

    THE BEER PROJECT – St. Petersburg’s Museum of Fine Arts teams up with the homegrown Green Bench Brewing to present this well-meshed combo of arts and craft beer. Cast your vote in a homebrewed beer competition and taste local breweries’ special beers inspired by selected works in the Museum’s collection.
    Where: St. Petersburg
    Web: fine-arts.org/beer-project

     

    NORTH FLORIDA

    BILLY BOWLEGS PIRATE FESTIVAL — Scallywags beware! The dread pirate Billy Bowlegs and his nefarious crew are sailing the Gulf’s emerald waters of the Panhandle looking for the perfect spot to celebrate another successful year at sea. In addition to the pirate ship landing and family festival, other swashbuckling events include a Pirate Pub Crawl, Fireworks and Torchlight Parade.
    Where: Fort Walton Beach
    Web: billybowlegsfestival.com

    RENDEZVOUS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL — Let your creative juices flow during this 9-day fest geared toward budding filmmakers, up-and-coming musicians and gamers. It’s a movie lovers dream: seven films will have red carpet premieres; plus there will be screening 37 animated films, nine feature films, 25 international feature and short films and 10 documentaries.
    Where: various venues, Amelia Island
    Web: rendezvousfestival.org

    DRAKE’S RAID — In 1586, the English corsair Sir Francis Drake and his band of raiders invaded the city of St. Augustine and burned the city. The highlight of this two-day reenactment is a battle between the British and Spanish in the historic district, ending at Plaza de la Constitucion.
    Where: Fountain of Youth Park, St. Augustine
    Web: hfm.club/events/annual/drakesraid

    SUN, SAND AND SONGS — Kick off your shoes and get your groove on during these two beachfront music festivals. Perdido Key’s Third Annual Shindig on the Sand features at least 70 musical acts during three days. On the east coast, make your way to Jacksonville Beach for a taste of the Bold City at the Seawalk Music Festival which emphasizes all things local: music, food and culture.
    Where: Flora-Bama in Perdido Key and Seawalk Pavilion in Jacksonville Beach, respectively
    Web: florabama.comcommunityfirstseawalkmusicfest.com

    WELLBORN BLUEBERRY FESTIVAL — Indulge in all things blueberry: from cobblers and pies to ice cream and jellies to syrups and fudge.  The day includes the crowning the blueberry queen and king, water walkers, ponies, the blueberry parade, the blueberry bake-off and a blueberry pancake breakfast. Blueberry bushes will be for sale.
    Where: Andrews Square, Wellborn
    Web: wellborncommunityassociation.com

    MARJORIE KINNAN RAWLINGS AND WORLD WAR II: AN AUTHOR’S EXPERIENCE— Learn the role that The Yearling author played during World War II as recounted through her books and through the letters of her wartime correspondence with servicemen and women.
    Where: Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park, Hawthorn
    Web: floridastateparks.org/Marjorie-Kinnan-Rawlings

    SEED SPITTIN’ SHINDIGS — Mark Twain said, “When one has tasted a watermelon he knows what angels eat.” True or not, get ready to indulge in the juicy fruit at one of these annual fests: the Watermelon Festival in Chiefland, the Jefferson County Watermelon Festival and the 59h Annual Panhandle Watermelon Festival. All include parades, live music, running (5K or 10K) and, of course, a seed-spitting contest.
    Where: Chiefland, Monticello and Chipley, respectively
    Web: chieflandchamber.commonticellojeffersonfl.companhandlewatermelon.com

    ANNUAL FLORIDA AFRICAN DANCE FESTIVAL — Kick off your shoes and let the frenetic beat consume you during one of the dance or drum workshops at this annual event sponsored by the African Caribbean Dance Theatre. Workshops include traditional dance styles from the Congo, Senegal and Guinea taught by renowned instructors. Also includes children’s workshops and story hours, a wheelchair dance class and evening performance concerts.
    Where: Tallahassee Community College
    Web: fadf.org

    LATIN SALSA FESTIVAL — Play a friendly game of dominoes or work on your hot salsa moves at this annual fete geared to the Puerto Rican and Caribbean lifestyle. DJs will spin merengue and reggae tunes, the Tallahassee Salsa Dancers will perform as will other well-known Latin-American acts. Also includes Caribbean food and a kids’ zone.
    Where: Fort Walton Landing Park
    Web: boricuasausentes.org

    WILD BLACKBERRY FESTIVAL — Explore three of the state’s meandering rivers — the Suwannee, Withlacoochee and Alapaha — either on foot or by boat, then head to downtown Jasper for the festival that features blackberry pancakes, cobblers, jams and jellies, as well as live music, family activities and craft vendors.
    Where: downtown Jasper
    Web: facebook.com/pages/Wild-Blackberry-Festival

    FLORIDA COUNTRY SUPERFEST — This two-day gathering always lives up to its name and attracts the very best country music artists.
    Where: Everbank Field, Jacksonville
    Web: floridacountrysuperfest.com

     VETTES AT THE VILLAGE — Treat your dad to a pre-Father’s Day trip to admire the sleek lines and natty details of more than 100 late-model and custom Corvettes. Cast your vote for the People’s Choice winner and then enjoy lunch at Murray Bros. Caddy Shack.
    Where: World Golf Village, St. Augustine
    Web: nfca.net

    DODGE BRAWL — Remember of the 5 Ds of dodge ball, at least according to movie Dodgeball’s Patches O’Houlihan — “Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive and Dodge” — while competing in this 64-team, double-elimination tournament. The top three teams receive medals and a monetary award for the charity of their choice.
    Where: Pensacola Bay Center
    Web: pensacolabaycenter.com/events

    AMERICA ON TAP: Sips and samples will be plentiful at America On Tap’s ode to craft beer. The three-hour event l features more than 100 releases from some of the country’s best craft breweries paired with live music and food.
    Where: Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center, Jacksonville
    Web: americaontap.com

    ST. GEORGE ISLAND MULLET TOSS – If flinging fish is your thing, hit the sand at the Blue Parrot Oceanfront Café for this annual competition and beach party. There are prizes for longest throw in the men’s, women’s and children’s divisions.
    Where: Blue Parrot Oceanfront Café on St. George Island
    Web: blueparrotsgi.com

    ANNUAL WATERMELON FESTIVAL – The watermelon growers of Jefferson County get a chance to shine with an array of events, including beauty pageants, dinners, a street dance, an arts and crafts fair and more.
    Where: Monticello
    Web: monticellojeffersonfl.com

    No matter where you are in Florida on the 4th of July, you’ll be able to find a great fireworks display – like this one in Jacksonville-- as Americans celebrate the birthday of our nation.

    No matter where you are in Florida on the 4th of July, you’ll be able to find a great fireworks display – like this one in Jacksonville-- as Americans celebrate the birthday of our nation.

    - Visit Jacksonville

     
    JULY
     

    SOUTH FLORIDA 

    IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MANGO! – There are two July mango-centric events in SoFla, both guaranteed to please the palate – one on the east coast and one on the west coast. East coast: Fairchild International Mango Festival. West Coast: Pine Island MangoMania. A variety of mango-related activities will be offered at both, including yummy tastings, recipes, food demonstrations, refreshing mango smoothies, mango trees for sale, pie-eating contests, island-flavored music and children’s activities.
    Where: Respectively, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables and the German American Club in Cape Coral (the event got so big it had to be moved off Pine Island).
    Web: Respectively, fairchildgarden.org and mangomaniafl.net

    INTERNATIONAL HISPANIC THEATRE FESTIVAL OF MIAMI – At this long-running annual event, you’ll be able to see some of the best theater companies from Latin America, Europe and the United States.
    Where: Various venues throughout Miami and Key Biscayne
    Web: teatroavante.com

    MIAMI SPA MONTH – Dang, it’s hot out there. What better way to chill than to pamper yourself at some of Miami’s world-famous luxury spas – at discount prices, no less. Actually, it’s not one month, it’s two months long!
    Where: Various luxury spas throughout Miami-Dade County.
    Web: miamispamonth.com

    THE KEY LIME FESTIVAL – Who would think that condensed milk, egg yolks and the juice from tiny Key limes could be the basis for such a famously delicious dessert? This event is a yummy celebration of Florida’s official state pie. Includes, of course, pie eating and pie making contests, but also much more: an attempt to make a world-record largest Key Lime pie, the Key Lime Bar Sip & Stroll, a wacky talent show, samplings of Keys-distilled rum flavored with the tangy lime and the Miss Key Lime Pie and L’il Miss Key Lime pageants.
    Where: Various locations in Key West
    Web: keylimefestival.com

     ANNUAL UNDERWATER MUSIC FESTIVAL – Divers and snorkelers go deep at this quirky concert for divers and snorkelers that emphasizes reef preservation and is a whole lot of fun. Classic rock is piped in underwater via speakers suspended from boats hovering above the third largest reef in the world.
    Where: Looe Key Reef (about six miles south of Big Pine Key).
    Web: fla-keys.com

    BUGFEST BY-THE-SEA – Win thousands of dollars by catching big bugs – as in lobsters. It’s timed to coincide with Florida’s two-day lobster mini-season. Also included: bug hunting seminars, a wreck-diving workshop, underwater photo and video contests, a lobster cook-off and much more. If you haven’t yet been to Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, this is the perfect time to see this quaint town. Hotels are offer 10 per cent off their already lower summer rates.
    Where: Lauderdale-By-The-Sea
    Web: lbtsevents.com/bugfest

    FUNKSHION SWIM WEEK – It’s a four-day long platform for innovative designers who are emerging on the Miami and international fashion scenes. The designers will show case their latest swim-suit creations at various locations in and around Miami Beach, including four fabulous runways that protrude over the water. There’s almost always a DJ to accompany the shows and don’t miss the dinner parties and after-show parties.
    Where: Various locations in Miami Beach
    Web: funkshion.com

    HEMINGWAY DAYS – The annual Papa-fest features readings, a museum exhibit of rare Ernest Hemingway memorabilia, a zany Running of the Bulls, a three-day marlin tournament, a short story competition, street fair and, of course, the famous Look-Alike Contest.
    Where: Various locations in Key West
    Web: fla-keys.com/hemingwaymedia

    PALM BEACH SUMMER BEER FEST – Is there anything better than that first sip of an ice cold brewski on a hot summer day? Now that we have your attention, don’t miss this event that features an amazing array of more than 150 craft beers. The hot music will go great with your cold beers.
    Where: South Florida Fairgrounds, West Palm Beach
    Web: palmbeachfl.com

    MEL FISHER DAYS – Has it really been over 30 years since famed treasure hunter discovered the shipwrecked Spanish galleon Nuestra Senora de Atocha near Key West? Yup. Fisher fans, past and present crew members, Fisher family members and treasure-hunting enthusiasts will gather to celebrate the discovery. Events include a treasure hunt on land ($5,000 to the winner!), a rockin’ block party on Duval Street, pirate pub crawl and ball, bingo brunch, poker and a dock party.
    Where: Various locations in Key West
    Web: melfisherdays.com

    MIAMI SALSA CONGRESS – Five days. Five hundred performers. Five thousand fans. Miami Salsa Congress presents non-stop salsa action, showcasing world-renowned international dancers strutting their stuff and showing others how they do it. Highlights include dance workshops, concerts, all-star DJs, parties and exhibition dances.
    Where: 
    Deauville Beach Resort, Miami Beach
    Web: miamisalsacongress.com

    SARASOTA IMPROV FESTIVAL – Comedy troupes from all over the country – and some from overseas – bring three days of laughs and performances, including all-female acts, musicals, audience interactive plays and other entertaining displays of off-the-cuff talent. Participants can also buy tickets to workshops and seminars.
    Where: Florida Studio Theatre, Sarasota
    Web: floridastudiotheatre.org

     

    CENTRAL FLORIDA

    THUNDER ON THE RIDGE – This annual event sets Polk County a-glow with the area’s largest July 4th fireworks display, including a Guinness World Record number of sparklers lit at once. General admission is free and includes live music, children’s activities, games, arts & crafts vendors, a beer garden and food concessions.
    Where: Haines City
    Web: hainescity.com

    SHARKCON – Shark! Ease your fears of these saw-toothed beasts by learning more about their fascinating history, psychology, physiology, habits and pop culture significance at the returning SharkCon, a weekend of education and interactive fun honoring the ocean. See displays featuring touch tanks, paddleboard lessons and even mermaids.
    Where: Florida State Fairgrounds, Tampa
    Web: shark-con.com

    FIREWORKS AT THE FOUNTAIN – The Orlando Concert Band entertains the July 4th crowd with patriotic favorites while families enjoy a kids’ activity area with basketball, tennis and more. Grab some BBQ and drinks before settling near the lake to watch a dazzling nighttime fireworks display.
    Where: Lake Eola Park, Orlando
    Web: cityoforlando.net/fireworks

    COOL ART SHOW – This popular, free indoor (read: air-conditioned!) art show fills the St. Petersburg Coliseum with ceramics, jewelry, photography, paintings, sculpture and multimedia works. Food and drinks, including beer and wine, are also on the menu.
    Where: St. Petersburg
    Web: pava-artists.org

    MAJOR BEACH SOCCER – More than 100 teams and thousands of spectators flood the white sands of Clearwater Beach to take part in this serious beach soccer competition series. It’s a fun break from the usual beach sports of volleyball and Frisbee and one of five qualifying tournaments leading up to the December national championships.
    Where: Clearwater Beach
    Web: majorbeachsoccer.com/clearwater-beach

    A SCI-FI FOURTH OF JULY – Dress up as your favorite sci-fi movie character and hit the streets of Celebration for this quirky, upbeat Independence Day party. Live music provided by colorful bands, artists and artists will lead up to a spectacular fireworks display set to a sci-fi soundtrack.
    Where: Downtown Celebration
    Web: celebrationtowncenter.com

    TASTE OF THE BEACHES – Sample seafood, desserts, hot sauces, jams, ice cream, ethnic cuisine and more from local favorite restaurants and caterers serving the beach foodie scene. Buy a $25 drink wristband and taste unlimited beer and wine, too.
    Where: Madeira Beach
    Web: tampabaybeaches.com

    SNOOTY’S  BIRTHDAY BASH & WILDLIFE FESTIVAL – Florida’s most famous manatee, the oldest living in captivity, continues his golden years with this free birthday party and educational event. Kids can bring their best handcrafted birthday cards for old Snooty, to be entered into a card contest for prizes.
    Where: South Florida Museum, Bradenton
    Web: southfloridamuseum.org

    SYMPHONY UNDER THE STARS – Check out the Brevard Symphony Orchestra and its score of patriotic and pops classics while watching an evening of fireworks under the stars. Turn it into an all-day event by also going to the preceding Red Hot & Boomin’ BBQ at the nearby Cocoa Civic Center, which includes VIP seating for the fireworks.
    Where: Cocoa Riverfront Park, Cocoa
    Web: brevardsymphony.com

    VANS WARPED TOUR – Music fans from all over the state flood the waterfront Vinoy Park to see some of the world’s most popular alternative rock bands. Cool off at the misting station and slip n’ slide if you don’t mind getting wet.
    Where: Vinoy Park, St. Petersburg
    Web: vanswarpedtour.com

    COKE ZERO 400 – A favorite Independence Day weekend event for decades among NASCAR fans, this Sprint Cup Series stock car race is always filled with thrills and surprises for its thousands of diehard spectators. Be sure to stay for the huge fireworks display after the race.
    Where: Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach
    Web: daytonainternationalspeedway.com

    LEESBURG’S 4th of JULY – This small-town, family-focused celebration seems to grow larger every year, filling the day-long schedule with swimming, face painting, games, BBQ, snow cones, stilt walkers, balloon artists, free ice cream, live bands, and of course, elaborate fireworks.
    Where: Venetian Gardens, Leesburg
    Web: 4thofjuly.leesburg.com

    DUNEDIN ORANGE FESTIVAL – In a town known for its history of oranges, orange groves and citrus packing, this festival became a natural fit in 2010 and has been held every July in Edgewater Park since. Sample some contest entries in the local restaurant Mojo cook-Off Contest, or try some fruity ice cream, smoothies and juice blends.
    Where: Dunedin
    Web: dunedinorangefestival.com

     

    NORTH FLORIDA 

    SCALLOP SEASON — Skip the seafood market; harvesting bay scallops is more like a fun-filled treasure hunt than hard work. All you need is a saltwater fishing license, snorkel, mask and dive flag — all readily available from local outfitters. Scallops love making their home amid the gorgeous grass beds of the Florida Aquatic Preserve. Once you find a cache, drop the dive flag and start collecting. 
    Where: St. Joseph’s Bay
    Web: visitgulf.com/scalloping

    TURTLE TALKS — The Apalachicola National Estuaries Research Reserve (ANERR) staff has been monitoring more than 200 loggerhead sea turtle nests annually on St. George and St. Vincent Islands for almost 30 years. Learn from experts during this lecture series that addresses the nesting habits of turtles, identification and protection of these nests and how you can help. Sea turtle nesting season begins in May and extends through October. 
    Where: Apalachicola National Estuaries Research Reserve
    Web: dep.state.fl.us/coastal/apalachicola

    FLORIDA’S GLOBAL KITCHEN — The Sunshine State is melting pot of ethnic cuisines — Spanish, African, Native American, British, Cuban, Caribbean and more — and this special exhibit features the recipes, artifacts and stories that highlight this diversity. The museum also recreated author Majorie Kinnan Rawlings’ (The Yearling) kitchen. Rawlings is known for introducing the country to Florida cracker cooking (rustic, inexpensive dishes that highlighted local meats and produce) in “Cross Creek Cookery.”
    Where: Matheson History Museum, Gainesville
    Web: mathesonmuseum.org  

    AMERICANA UNDER THE STARS — It’s BYOB, lawn chair and companions for Topsail Hill State Park’s salute to traditional Americana music: think folk, jazz and blues. The concert series mainly features acts that represent Florida or the downhome beat of the South.
    Where: Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, Santa Rosa Beach
    Web: luckymudmusic.com

    SMOKE ON THE COAST BBQ AND FIREWORKS FESTIVAL — Twenty restaurants and local BBQ masters will use their best culinary tricks and secret sauce recipes to win your heart … and vote. Also includes live music, kids’ activities, street performers and a whole lot of boom during the fireworks extravaganza.
    Where: Destin Commons
    Web: smoke-on-the-coast-bbq-and-fireworks

    SAN AGUSTIN’S ROWING CHALLENGE — Cheer on competitive teams rowing chalupas along the city’s historic waterfront. No, they are not rowing boats that resemble the edible Mexican snack made famous by Taco Bell. This is a different kind of chalupa — the long boat that Spaniards used to navigate the waters around St. Augustine in the 16th century.
    Where: Bayfront in St. Augustine between the Castillo and Bridge of Lions, St. Augustine
    Web: staugmaritimeheritage.org

    RED, WHITE AND DEEP BLUE CELEBRATION — Go gourmet for the Fourth with whiskey BBQ split chicken, pork belly with smoked jalapeño relish, fresh-from-the-boat shrimp and the can’t-eat-just-one dessert bar at the Ritz. After dinner, sink into your favorite seat for fireworks along the beachfront. Also includes children’s activities and live music. Reservations required.
    Where: Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island
    Web: ritzcarlton.com

    STARS & STRIPES AT SEASIDE — Embrace your flag-waving, patriotic fervor for a full day of America the Beautiful activities that begins with the annual July 4th parade along State Road 30A and concludes with a concert by the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra and fireworks under the stars.
    Where: State Road 30A and the Seaside Amphitheater, Seaside
    Web: seasidefl.com

    PENSACOLA BEACH AIR SHOW: RED, WHITE AND BLUES — Catch the world-famous Blue Angels’ daredevil tricks and incredible aerial acrobatics on their home turf. Although the annual Pensacola Beach Air Show features other high-flying acts, the Blues are the stars.
    Where: Pensacola Beach
    Web: visitpensacolabeach.com

    SWAMP STOMP MUSIC FESTIVAL — Spread your blanket under the Spanish moss dripping from the dense live oak canopy for one night of acoustic music by Southern singer/songwriters. Kids can explore the museum’s 52-acre park along Lake Bradford either at ground-level along the boardwalk and trails or from the treetops on the zipline adventure.
    Where: Tallahassee Museum
    Web: tallahasseemuseum.org

    ANNUAL GREATER JACKSONVILLE KINGFISH TOURNAMENT — Grab your rod and enjoy one of the coolest outdoor locales in July as you cruise along the coast during the granddaddy of all fishing contests in Jacksonville. More than 300 boats and 20,000 spectators participate in the five-day tournament that also features a contest for future anglers under 16 years old.
    Where: Jim King Park & Boat Ramp at Sister Creek, Jacksonville
    Web: kingfishtournament.com

    TRIVIA NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM — When it’s hot outside, Floridians take shelter inside. Hallelujah for AC! Skip the sports bar trivia night for a more refined, yet no less competitive evening in the state capitol. With it being July, the night’s theme is, of course, patriotic, and contestants will enjoy hors d’oeuvres and drinks while hoping to be the final victor.
    Where: Florida Historic Capitol Museum, Tallahassee
    Web: flhistoriccapitol.gov

    FIESTA DE SAN FERMIN EN PENSACOLA — Pensacola’s tongue-in-cheek and far less hazardous salute to Spain’s annual running of the bulls includes women roller-derby destroyers wielding wiffle ball bats along the two-mile route. Runners are required to wear a white shirt, white pants and a red neckerchief. Seriously.
    Where: Seville Quarters, Pensacola
    Web: sevillequarter.com/running-bulls

    SMOKIN’ ON THE SUWANNEE – The largest barbecue contest in the Southeast features a car, truck and tractor show, vendor booths, live music, children’s activities and lots of mouthwatering barbecue.
    Where: Live Oak
    Web: smokinonthesuwannee.com

    Florida goes to the dogs in the Hang 20 Surf Dog Classic in Jupiter Beach, which features doggie surfing and paddle boarding competitions as well as agility shows, doggie surfing lessons, live bands, a kids zone and good eats.

    Florida goes to the dogs in the Hang 20 Surf Dog Classic in Jupiter Beach, which features doggie surfing and paddle boarding competitions as well as agility shows, doggie surfing lessons, live bands, a kids zone and good eats.

    - Hang 20 Surf Dog Classic

     
    AUGUST
     

    SOUTH FLORIDA

    MIAMI SALSA CONGRESS – This five-day festival features a gathering of the world’s top salsa talent, including local and international touring artists, award-winning dancers, world-class dance instructors, top industry DJs and great Latin bands.
    Where: Deauville Beach Resort, Miami Beach
    Web: miamisalsacongress.com

    UPPER KEYS REEF CRAWL – Here’s a great way to see the beautiful reefs of the Upper Florida Keys. You can dive, snorkel, kayak and/or stand-up-paddle from reef to reef, checking out the stunning array of fish and coral and explore wrecks and mangroves. There are seminars, too, on reef eco-systems, coral restoration and fish identification. See you at the Reef Crawl, ya’ll.
    Where: Off the coast, from Key Largo to Islamorada
    Web: reefcrawl.com

    HILLSBORO INLET LIGHTHOUSE TOURS – This historic beauty has been operational since 1907 and here’s your chance to see it up close and personal. It’s called “The Big Diamond” because each piece of glass on the outside of the lantern room is in the shape of a diamond. Make sure to climb the tower for a spectacular view of the area.
    Where:  Boats depart Sands Harbor dock in Pompano Beach
    Web: hillsborolighthouse.org

    ANYTHING THAT FLOATS REGATTA RACE: Grab your oars and anything that floats and enjoy this race of vessels crafted from  non-motorized items from around the house. It’s free to enter (prizes will be awarded in several categories) and watch. Waterfront watering holes and eateries are great viewing areas. Bonuses: Live music and, of course, a great Keys sunset.
    Where: Blackwater Sound, Key Largo, Mile Marker 104
    Web: keylargoanythingthatfloatsrace.com

    ANNUAL AFRO-CUBAN DANCE FESTIVAL – Groove to Mambos, Rumbas, Congas, Chancletas, Salsas and many more. This exciting, colorful fest has dance workshops with live drumming, a street fair and culminates with a gala performance featuring guest artists and the IFE-ILE Afro-Cuban Dance Company.
    Where: Dade County Auditorium, Miami
    Web: ife-ile.org

    SUMMER BUTTERFLY WALK -- See some extremely rare species as you walk through various habitats with a naturalist guide. If you’re lucky you’ll see a Dina Yellow, a Dingy Purplewing, a Fiery Skipper or an Atala, as well as some of the other 40 rare species at the Deering Estate. Free with estate admission.
    Where: Deering Estate, Miami
    Web: deeringestate.org

    KEY WEST LOBSTERFEST – Florida’s spiny lobster season is as brief as the lobster’s meat is sweet – divers and snorkelers have only two days to catch their limit of crustaceans. Celebrate the opening of the season with a beach party, lobster boil, free concert and street fair and more in the southernmost city in the continental U.S.
    Where: Key West
    Web: keywestlobsterfest.com

    TASTEMAKERS OF DELRAY BEACH – Sample fare from some of the city’s best restaurants. There’s a bonus, too: Your event $30 “passport” can be used for special promotions at each participating restaurant. Don’t wait – this event tends to sell out quickly.
    Where: Downtown Delray Beach
    Web: downtowndelraybeach.com

    ANNUAL MYSTERY WRITERS’ KEY WEST FEST – This relative newcomer is open to established and aspiring authors and fans of the genre. Included are workshops, presentations, panel events with renowned crime fiction and true-crime authors and one-on-one consultations with publishing industry experts.
    Where: Marriott Beachside, Key West
    Web: mysterywriterskeywestfest.com

    DANCIN’ IN THE STREETS – Part music festival and part street party, it features five stages, a kids zone and great eats.
    Where: Downtown Stuart
    Web: facebook.com/stuartdancininthestreets and lyrictheatre.com

    TROPICAL HEAT – More than a dozen intriguingly decadent all-male events, ranging from drag shows to themed pool parties and gatherings at island clubs, have made this a world-renowned gay vacation destination.
    Where: Various locations in Key West
    Web: tropicalheatkw.com

    CAR SHOW & FARMERS MARKET – Who doesn’t like vintage and muscle cars and fresh seasonal produce? But wait, there’s more – arts and crafts vendors, all kinds of food (don’t miss the baked goods) and live entertainment.
    Where: Heritage Park, Sunny Isles Beach
    Web: Sibfl.net

    HANG 20 SURF DOG CLASSIC – Need a dog fix when you come to South Florida? Then don’t miss this fun gathering.  In addition to doggie surfing and doggies on paddle boards, there are live bands, face painting, good eats, ice cream, cowabunga cocktails by Perfect Vodka and a whole lot more.
    Where: Carlin Park at Jupiter Beach Civic Center
    Web: furryfriendsadoption.org

    SARASOTA SLAM – Fishing amateurs beware! This is a fiercely competitive tournament for skilled inshore and offshore anglers yielding impressive results snapper, trout and other tough catches to weigh in and compete for money prizes. There’s a category for Jr. Anglers and a dockside BBQ and party for competitors and guests.
    Where: Marina Jack, Sarasota
    Web: sarasotaslam.com

     

    CENTRAL FLORIDA

    NIGHT IN THE TROPICS – Feel like you’re in Key West without driving hours south by hitting the heart of downtown New Port Richey and partying with the parrot-heads. The all-night-long street party includes Latin-style food and music, tropical and exotic birds, dancing, street performers, a classic car cruise-in and a tropical beer garden.
    Where: Historic downtown New Port Richey
    Web: nprmainstreet.com

    HARVEST GRAPE STOMP – Fun for kids and even more fun for adults over 21, Lakeridge Winery’s annual grape stomp is a great late-summer event that invites families to feel the squish of grape skins between their toes while being serenaded by local musicians and tasting a variety of wine and beer. Soft drinks are also on-hand for the kiddos, as well as food for purchase.
    Where: Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards, Clermont
    Web: lakeridgewinery.com

    80s IN THE PARK– Get ready to tease your hair, fringe your T-shirts and brush up on your air guitar skills at this musical homage to the ‘80s, a simpler time of hair metal, arcade games and hot rods.  Also includes a food court, music video wall, photo booth and great after-parties. 
    Where: Melbourne Auditorium, Melbourne
    Web: 80sinthepark.com

    SUMMER OF RUM FEST – What better way to stay cool in the Florida summer heat than with a sampling of various rum punches, rum runners, rum coladas, rum mojitos and more rum.  Patrons have the option of partying outdoors for a true tropical experience or cooling off indoors, with music and dancing throughout.
    Where: The Cuban Club, Ybor City (Tampa)
    Web: summerofrumfest.com

    ORLANDO GIFT SHOW – Get your holiday shopping done early at this popular expo and trade show where home-shopping fanatics, collectors and other curious buyers can sift through a wide selection of vendors selling decorative accessories, aromatherapy, greeting cards, paper goods, tabletop, resort and tourist merchandise, logo products, fashion accessories, toys, games, gourmet products, jewelry and even gift cards for those who can’t decide.
    Where: Orange County Convention Center, Orlando
    Web: orlandogiftshow.com

    NEW SMYRNA BEACH SHRIMP & SEAFOOD FESTIVAL – Dozens of restaurants offer up samples of their best shrimp, oyster, scallop, grouper, lobster and seasonal fish dishes to hundreds of hungry guests at one of New Smyrna’s most popular food events.
    Where: Flagler Avenue, New Smyrna Beach
    Web: nsbfla.com

    INDIAFEST OF MANASOTA – The Gujarati Association of Manasota and the Indian American Association team up to raise awareness and appreciation of the culture, traditional dance, food, handmade merchandise and historical presentations highlighting Indian life and the spirit of India.
    Where: Bradenton Area Convention Center, Palmetto
    Web: manasotaindiafest.com

    FLORIDA KIDS & FAMILY EXPO – All types of family-focused exhibitors – from playground-makers to Girl Scouts to petting farms – gather to display their goods and provide interactive fun for kids of all ages and their parents. Teens can learn makeup techniques, kids can play laser tag and parents can learn more about party planning, daycare and other innovative offerings. Bonus: It’s all indoors and air-conditioned.
    Where: Orange County Convention Center, Orlando
    Web: mycentralfloridafamily.com

    GULFPORT GECKO CRAWL – The little town of Gulfport signifies the end of summer and kicks off its signature GeckoFest with its annual Gecko Crawl, a six-bar pub crawl and street festival that ends at the local favorite, O’Maddy’s.
    Where: Historic Waterfront District, Gulfport
    Web: geckofest.com

    TAMPA BAY COMIC CON – Geek out at one of the Tampa Bay area’s most well-known and long-running “cons,” filled with everything you’d expect at weekend devoted to comic book junkies: cosplay, celebrity guests, toys and graphic novels, an electronic gaming arena and a “game cave” with tabletop and board games, foam sword fighting, a kids play zone and more.
    Where: Tampa Convention Center, Downtown Tampa
    Web: tampabaycomiccon.com

    WAZOO  – Named one of the “10 Great Beer Festivals in the Country” by USA Today, this annual tasting event features 275 beers and beverages from around the world, tasty food samplings from favorite Tampa Bay area restaurants and live music throughout the Zoo.
    Where: Lowry Park Zoo, Tampa
    Web: lowryparkzoo.com/wazoo

     

    NORTH FLORIDA

    ECO-SHRIMPING TOUR — Get a better understanding about what it’s like to be a shrimper on this two-hour boat cruise through the St. Mary’s River basin. You’ll get to deploy and retrieve an Otter Trawl, the net invented by a fisherman on Amelia Island on 1913 and used to catch the regional shrimp. Any catch will be placed in an onboard aquarium and identified before being released back into the wild.
    Where: Fernandina Beach
    Web: ameliarivercruises.com

    46TH ANNUAL WAUSAU POSSUM FESTIVAL & FUNDAY — This tribute to the possum also features down-home family fun like hog callin’, sack race or rooster crowin’ contests. There’s also a corn pone baking contest, a pancake breakfast, quilt auction and 5K walk/run and a square dance. Of course, it wouldn’t be the annual festival without the crowning of the king and queen, but the possum is the true royalty at this “real Florida” fest.
    Where: Wausau
    Web: wausaupossumfestival.com 

    ANNUAL KINGFISH SHOOTOUT — May the odds be ever in your favor during the annual Kingfish Shootout, especially with the winning angler taking home the $5,000 prize for reeling in the largest Kingfish. Prizes also go to Youth Angler (16 years or younger), Lady Angler and largest Spanish Mackerel.
    Where: C-Quarters Marina, Carrabelle
    Web: c-quartersmarina.com/shootout

    SUMMER RESTAURANT WEEK — Delight your taste buds on this fixed-price culinary adventure through Pensacola’s top restaurants. Each chef has geared their menus toward local and seasonal ingredients.
    Where: Various restaurants in Pensacola
    Web: greatsouthernrestaurants.com

    NORTH FLORIDA SHARK FESTIVAL — See a shark fin trawling the surf, and your heartbeat immediately kicks it up a notch and John Williams’ score for Jaws starts playing in your mind. Kids will enjoy the shark-themed crafts and Stingray Bay and penguin animal experiences. The festivities also include a night Groove at the Zoo with live music and dancing.
    Where: Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
    Web: jacksonvillezoo.org

    PENSACOLA COMIC CONVENTION — This convention proves geeky, sci-fi love has no borders as fan-boys and girls of seemingly diverse groups like MMA and horror movies or gamers and paranormal enthusiasts can coexist under one roof. Celebrities abound. And, no comic con would be complete without a costume competition, so start planning what you’ll be wearing now.
    Where: Pensacola Fair Grounds Expo Hall
    Web: pensacolacomiccon.com

    HIPPIFEST — Are you a “Devil with a Blue Dress On” or just one of the “Everyday People?” Let your hair down, get those bell bottoms out of storage and get ready for an evening of tunes that celebrates the funky-free sound of the 1960s.
    Where: Florida Theatre, Jacksonville
    Web:  floridatheatre.com

    TALLAHASSEE SOUTHERN EXTREME RAM RODEO — No guts, no glory for the brave contestants in this two-day competition. They’ll be holding on to their broken-in Stetsons during these events: bull riding, saddle bronc riding, bare bronc riding and barrel riding. 
    Where: Cross Creek Place, Tallahassee
    Web: gosebra.com

    SEA TURTLE BABY SHOWER — Save the date for this fantastic shell-a-bration for all the sea turtles that make the Pensacola area beaches home during sea turtle nesting season. Representatives from the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center will have an educational booth and merchandise. This family-focused event also includes games, activities and live music.
    Where: Park West at Fort Pickens Gate, Pensacola Beach
    Web: facebook.com/Navarre-Beach

    CIVIL WAR BATTLE OF GAINESVILLE — Travel back in history 151 years for the Battle of Gainesville, which erupted in the heart of downtown Gainesville on Aug. 17, 1864. Civil War reenactors will bring the battle to life and the Matheson House will be open for tours. Also includes a reenactors’ camp, historically accurate uniforms and equipment.
    Where: Sweetwater Park, Gainesville
    Web: mathesonmuseum.org

    ANNUAL GREAT SOUTHERN TAILGATE CLASSIC — This isn’t just a BBQ competition; it’s a tailgating bonanza. Yes, what you serve to eat is still important (creativity counts!), but teams will be also be judged on beverage choices, decor and team spirit. So deck yourself and your vehicle in garnet and gold or orange and blue and load your playlist with your favorite school’s fight song.
    Where: Main Beach Park Outdoor Festival Venue, Fernandina Beach
    Web: greatsoutherntailgateclassic.com

    GRAPE HARVEST FESTIVAL — Channel your inner Lucille Ball. Kick off your shoes. Let down your hair. And squish some grapes. The grape stomp is just one part of the wine festival, which opens up 45 acres of muscadine grapes to visitors to festival goers. Other activities include a 5K vineyard run, grape and wine sampling, pick your own grapes, grape throwing or and hula hoop competition and kids’ petting zoo.
    Where: FAMU Center for Viticulture, Tallahassee
    Web: famu.edu  

    Enjoy seafood, live music, arts and crafts vendors, children’s activities, cooking demonstrations and a 5k walk/run at the Pensacola Seafood Festival.

    Enjoy seafood, live music, arts and crafts vendors, children’s activities, cooking demonstrations and a 5k walk/run at the Pensacola Seafood Festival.

    - Pensacola Seafood Festival

     

    SEPTEMBER
    SOUTH FLORIDA

    INTERNATIONAL BALLET FESTIVAL OF MIAMI – This one-of-a-kind festival will showcase the best works of more than 100 artists from 20 ballet from around the world There’s a lot more, too: film, art, literature and classes and workshops featuring classical ballet, modern dance and jazz.
    Where: Various locations throughout Miami-Dade County
    Web: internationalballetfestival.org

    MIAMI SPICE & FLAVOR PALM BEACH– Go on a mini-diet now and then splurge during these two yum-on-the-cheap dining programs. In the Miami area, close to 200 restaurants and bistros off three-course prix fixe menus for lunch and dinner. Further north, more than 50 eateries from Boca Raton to Jupiter will also offer three-course prix fines menus for lunch and dinner.
    Where: Various restaurants throughout Greater Miami and the Beaches and also throughout Palm Beach County
    Web: iLoveMiamiSpice.com and flavorpb.com

    BOFFO BEER BASH NO. 1 –At the annual Key West BrewFest more than 150 varieties of beers and ales, including unique microbrews, will be there for the sampling during this six-day gulp-a-thon. The schedule also features brew-focused dinners, beer and cigar gatherings, a light-hearted “beer run,” pool parties and a lavish tasting festival on the beach.
    Where: Various locations in Key West
    Web: keywestbrewfest.com

    BOFFO BEER BASH NO. 2 -- At Brew 2 at the Zoo you get to sample savory suds and check out cool critters at the same time. More than 25 Florida craft beer breweries, with a special emphasis on those in Palm Beach County, will be available at tasting stations spread throughout the county’s fantastic zoo. Also on tap: specialty-themed food sections, food trucks and a VIP lounge, at which you can get great eats and beers not found elsewhere on the grounds.
    Where: Palm Beach Zoo, West Palm Beach
    Web: palmbeachzoo.org

    NATIONAL PUBLIC LANDS DAY SCAVENGER HUNT – Grab your friends to create a team and explore a great Florida state park as you follow clues and snap photos. Participants will discover hidden gems of the park, as well as completing tasks along the route which make a positive impact on the environment
    Where: Lovers Key State Park, Fort Myers Beach
    Web: floridastateparks.org/Lovers-Key

    RIVERWALK FALL FESTIVAL – It might not feel like it yet in SoFla, but summer is coming to an end. This festival  features fall-themed carnival games, activities and competitions. Also on hand: great live music and an assortment of vendors and food trucks.
    Where: Esplanade Park, Fort Lauderdale
    Web: goriverwalk.com

    SOUTH BEACH BIKE WEEK – Events include the Bikers, Bites & Brews Food Festival, Chopper Showdown, Bikers & Bottles nighttime party and Women on Two Wheels, a photo exhibit that shows how women have played a big role in the biker industry. All the activities take place in the bigger and better Biker Village, which will host all the bike shows, contests, vendors, food and drink offerings and more.
    Where: Along Ocean Drive, Miami Beach
    Web: southbeachbikeweek.com

    REEF FEST – Activities include seminars, social gathering, silent and live auctions and diving events along some of the best coral reef sites in the country. All seminars are free, but pre-registration is recommended.
    Where: Various locations in and near Key Largo
    Web: reef.org/REEFFest2015

    AMERICAN INDIAN DAY FESTIVAL – Step into a world of tradition and heritage at this annual free event. Happenings include Native American music and dance and food, a Miccosukee fashion show, airboat rides, tribal arts and crafts and, of course, alligator wrestling shows.
    Where: Miccosukee Resort & Gaming, Miami
    Web: Miccosukee.com

    BRAZILIAN FILM FESTIVAL OF MIAMI – 25 full-length films and shorts will be presented during the event’s eight days.
    Where: Various locations throughout Miami Beach
    Web: brazilianfilmfestival.com

    ISLAND HOPPER SONGWRITER FEST – Behind every great country music hit, there is usually another outstanding singer/songwriter who wrote the tune. This annual event always features some of the best. This event is so big it has been expanded to three locations over 11 days.
    Where: Captiva Island, downtown Fort Myers and Fort Myers Beach
    Web: fortmyers-sanibel.com/island-hopper

    MIAMI FASHION FILM FESTIVAL – A variety of films and filmmakers will showcase and creatively examine the art and culture of fashion, both locally and nationally.  You’ll get a close and colorful look at the creative, fast-paced world of the fashion industry.
    Where: Miami Beach Cinematheque
    Web: miafff.com

    BOCA BRAZILIAN BEAT -- Celebrate Brazilian Independence Day with live bands, a Zumba showcase, Capoeira dancers, samba drummers, and of course, authentic Brazilian food.
    Where: Sanborn Square, Boca Raton
    Web: DowntownBoca.org

    KEY WEST WOMANFEST – Thousands of singles, couples and groups of women are expected to attend and immerse themselves in activities ranging from concerts, comedy acts, pool parties, sailing and snorkeling to late-night dance parties and a drag king pageant.
    Where: Various locations in Key West
    Web: womenfest.com

    TAPA HOP – The annual pub crawl features trolley transportation to six great restaurants that will provide appetizer items, a.k.a. tapas. Also included will be raffle prizes, grand prizes and a poker run.
    Where: Pinchers Crab Shack, Fort Myers Beach
    Web: fortmyersbeachtapahop.com

     

    CENTRAL FLORIDA 

    SHINE MURAL FESTIVAL – More than a dozen local and national mural artists put their work on display on downtown building walls and inside galleries throughout St. Petersburg’s funky, growing arts district. Watch art students take part in a community mural project outside of a bar along Central Avenue or take one of the trolley or walking tours.
    Where: Downtown St. Petersburg
    Web: shineonstpete.com

    TAMPA THEATRE WINEFEST – At a beloved and historic old theater holds its biggest fundraiser, patrons are encouraged to come dressed as their favorite character based on the yearly theme. Also: sample fare from some of the area’s best independent restaurants and rare, top-rated wines from around the world.
    Where: Tampa Theatre, downtown Tampa
    Web: tampatheatre.org/WineFest

    NEW SMYRNA BEACH JAZZ FESTIVAL – Enjoy an all-jazz weekend and by dropping in on some of New Smyrna Beach’s intimate music, restaurant and bar venues. Enjoy the sounds of bands and artists from around the country.
    Where: Locations throughout the New Smyrna Beach area
    Web: nsbjazzfest.com

    HOWL-O-SCREAM FREAKY PREVIEW – Dare to be among the first guests – or victims – at Busch Gardens’ annual haunted freak show opening weekend. Expect lots of terrifying surprises and pop-ups as you encounter roaming creatures, scare zones and interactive entertainment, as well as navigating some of Florida’s top thrill rides in the dark.
    Where: Busch Gardens, Tampa
    Web: seaworldparks.com/buschgardens-tampa

    PIONEER DAYS – The long-running, two-week celebration wraps up with the Annual Pioneer Days Parade on Labor Day morning. But before that, enjoy a weekend packed with family-friendly activities such as cardboard boat races, a photo contest, a car show, a fish-a-thon, a chalk art festival, “Englewood’s Got Talent” and more.
    Where: Englewood
    Web: englewoodpioneerdays.com

    FESTIVAL OF FLIGHT – Take a ride on a helicopter, float through the air on a hot-air balloon, co-pilot a plane or just sit back and watch the beauty of colorful flying objects, including deltas, trikes and kites. This festival brings together the pilot and aviation community with Florida families.
    Where: Wesley Chapel
    Web: festivalofflightwesleychapel.com

    TASTE OF THE FIELDS – Just as the early fall temperatures begin to drop, enjoy an evening of “country elegant” outdoor dining with a multi-course plated meal, served family-style, made from food grown on Hernando County soil. Then relax and enjoy live music, wine tasting, a corn maze and other fun grown-up activities.
    Where: Lakeside Ranch, Brooksville
    Web: kiwanisofthebrooksvilleridge.com

    GECKOFEST – A month of gecko-themed fundraiser events finishes with the well-attended, daylong Geckofest, which takes over the waterfront streets of quirky Gulfport with residents and visitors dressed up as the reptiles. The day consists of a walking parade, a costume contest, street performers, food vendors, two musical stages and arts and crafts tents.
    Where: Downtown Gulfport
    Web: geckofest.com

    ART IN ODD PLACES ORLANDO – This inaugural event is exactly what it sounds like: the discovery of unusual and fun works of art in places you would never expect to find them. Check out performances and installation pieces from more than 60 artists along the entire stretch of Orlando’s 14th Street, from FDR Drive to the High Line.
    Where: Downtown Orlando
    Web: artinoddplaces.org/orlando

    FLAVOR RUN 5K – Engage all the senses while getting a good workout at this unusual and hilarious 5K run/walk/stroll event, similar to a “color run” except tastier. Entrants make their way toward the finish line while being doused with brightly colored powder that tastes like blueberry, strawberry, orange, banana, watermelon and grape.
    Where: Florida State Fairgrounds, Tampa
    Web: flavorrun.com/tampa

    ST. PETE OKTOBERFEST – Celebrate Oktoberfest St. Pete-style with an afternoon and evening of costume, yodeling and stein-holding contests, knockwurst and homemade kraut, specially brewed beers, kid-friendly activities and a lineup of some of the area’s favorite bands and solo artists.
    Where: Grand Central District, St. Petersburg
    Web: stpeteoktoberfest.com

    ROCK THE UNIVERSE – Florida’s largest Christian music festival returns to Universal Studios, where some of the country’s best Christian rock and worship music bands and inspirational speakers entertain a large turnout of enthusiastic fans. Guests can also join in a moving Candle Lighting Ceremony and a special Sunday Morning Worship Service.
    Where: Universal Studios, Orlando
    Web: universalorlando.com/Rock-The-Universe

    I LIKE IT HOT! FESTIVAL – If you like it hot – we’re talking mouth-burning, tear-jerking, forehead-sweating spicy – you’ll likely meet your match at this annual event. The toughest of palates, as well as those who like it considerably milder, can try hundreds of gourmet and novelty foods, including beef jerky, sauces, salsas, jellies, rubs, lollipops and straight-up raw hot peppers. 
    Where: Minnreg Hall, Largo
    Web: ilikeithotfestival.com

    AFT, CRAFT & WINE FESTIVAL – More than 150 artists and craftsmen sell original artwork and gifts in beautiful Cranes Roost Park. Guests can also stop by the various wine tents and taste a wide variety of reds, whites, champagnes and roses as a part of the event’s Wine Stroll. 
    Where: Crane Roost Park, Altamonte Springs
    Web: aacwf.com

    FOOD TRUCK WARS – Come very hungry and pace yourself at Winter Haven’s Food Truck Wars, where patrons can vote for their favorite dishes among 40 trucks. The offerings include gelato, doughnuts, kabobs, pizza, lobster rolls, tacos, chowders, hummus and more.
    Where: Central Park in downtown Winter Haven
    Web: foodtruckwars.com

     

    NORTH FLORIDA

    PEPSI GULF COAST JAM — Floridians love their country music, whether it twangs, trills or has crossover pop appeal. More than 15,000 people gather annually for the Labor Day weekend to sing Dixie tunes while swaying barefoot in Panama City Beach’s sugar-soft sand. This one always attracts country music’s top acts.
    Where: Frank Brown Park, Panama City Beach
    Web: gulfcoastjam.com

    BULLS ON THE BEACH — This really is live bull riding on the beach. Seriously. Enjoy two nights of a rock-and-roll rodeo featuring some of the Southeast’s best professional bull riders.
    Where: Flora-Bama, Pensacola
    Web: florabama.com/bulls-on-the-beach

    ANNUAL JUANA GOOD TIME REGATTA — The Gulf will be awash in color as amateur mariners hoist their sails for three-days of fun (read as not super competitive) racing. The regatta boasts a handful of categories from long-distance racing featuring multihull sailboats to one-man Hobie Wave timed-beach races. There’s even a windsurfing competition called Run Whatcha Brung.  
    Where: Juana’s Pagodas, Navarre Beach
    Web: juanaspagodas.com/RegattaNews

    FLEA ACROSS FLORIDA — Trinkets, treasures and useful goods will be for sale by the box load during Florida’s largest yard sale. More than 50 shops and communities are signed up to participate in the event, which stretches along Highway 90 in the northern part of the state. 
    Where: Live Oak to Pensacola
    Web: thefleaacrossflorida.com

    PLEIN AIR PAINT OUTS — Be one with nature — or something like that — when you take advantage of two events that bring together art in an outdoor setting. Stroll the beautiful grounds at Kanapaha Gardens until you find the perfect scene for your masterpiece during the 13th Annual Worldwide Artist Paint Out. Or, attend a three-day, instructor-led workshop (Field Studies to Studio Painting) in that spends the first half doing field studies and the second half creating a larger studio painting from the smaller work.
    Where: Kanapaha Botanical Gardens in Gainesville and Apalachicola, respectively
    Web: kanapaha.org, apalachicolaschoolofart.com

    STEPHEN FOSTER OLD-TIME MUSIC WEEKEND — It’s a three-day music workshop offering instruction on old-time music techniques for banjo, guitar and fiddle players of all levels. Friday and Saturday evening the workshop instructors will put on a show.
    Where: Stephen Foster Folk Center Culture Park, White Springs
    Web: floridastateparks.org Stephen-Foster

    DRAGON BOAT FESTIVALS — A dragon boat, by the numbers, is 40 feet long, 550 pounds in weight when empty, and has 20 paddlers and one steersperson. But it’s the one drummer who keeps the festive boats moving in synchronicity. Either get in on the action (entry fees are a charitable donation) or head out to watch crews paddle along the waterfront in Jacksonville (Fidelity Investments Jacksonville Dragon Boat Festival) and Pensacola (Pensacola Dragon Boat Festival).
    Where: Jacksonville Landing, Bayview Park in Pensacola
    Web: pensacoladragonboatfestival.com, jacksonvilledragonboatfestival.com

    PONTE VEDRA BEACH AUTO SHOW — From Brass and Vintage Classics (pre 1945) to American Muscle (Mustang, Camaro) to European Elegance (Porsche), the Ponte Vedra Auto Show is a gearhead’s dream. More than 180 cars compete for more than 30 awards.
    Where: TPC Sawagrass
    Web: pvautoshow.com

    OLDEST CITY PIRATE WEEKEND — Buy an eye patch and start teaching the kids the best pirate slang before heading to St. Augustine’s weekend-long family festival in conjunction with Talk Like a Pirate Day. You also might want to practice your map reading skills — or at least make sure you know how to use the compass feature on your smartphone for the treasure hunt. Also includes a poker run, mini-golf pirate tourney and family dinner.
    Where: St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum
    Web: facebook.com/events

    INTERNATIONAL COASTAL CLEANUP — Every year, some 560,000 volunteers in 91 countries clear local beaches of more than 16 million pounds of trash. Take the pledge this year to help make our oceans a healthier and trash-free environment.
    Where: Various locations from St. Augustine across the Panhandle to Perdido
    Web: oceanconservancy.org

    SWAMP AND STOMP MUD RUN  — This 5K-ish run features rolling farmland and gorgeous North Florida scenery with tree-lined trails and sun-drenched fields, but the highlight is the Calhoun County Mud Pit. That’s right. Hence the classification as a 5K-ish run. This off-road adventure is not only down n’ dirty, but loads of fun and features obstacles such as hay bales and climbing walls.
    Where: Altha Recreation Park, Altha
    Web: active.com/swamp-and-stomp-mud-run

    QUILT FEST: SPECIAL EFFECTS — If you can casually mention quilting terms such as “fat quarter” and understand the purpose of a jelly roll that has nothing to do with breakfast, then make plans to spend a day at one of Southeast’s largest quilt shows. With more than 400 entries in the annual show, it is hard not to be inspired by the color play, intricate stitching and creativity expressed through fabric that has moved well beyond retro sewing circles to high-end art.
    Where: Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center, Jacksonville
    Web: quiltfestjax.com

    ANNUAL PENSACOLA SEAFOOD FESTIVAL — Sample a variety of mouthwatering seafood dishes and enjoy live entertainment in Fountain Park. Arts and crafts vendors will be displaying their unique wares, many items reflective of our area's unique Gulf Coast lifestyle. A children's area is filled with activities for all ages. The Fiesta Seafood Grille offers cooking demonstrations where you can watch area chefs prepare local delicacies.
    Where: Pensacola, various venues
    Web: fiestaoffiveflags.org

    ANNUAL CHASIN’ THE SUN MUSIC FESTIVAL — In the Sunshine State, summer is a year-round state of mind. Head to the beach to harmonize with thousands of your new best friends, as this fest always attracts an eclectic, fun lineup.
    Where: Aaron Bessant Park Amphitheater, Panama City Beach
    Web: visitpanamacitybeach.tunestub.com

    – Leave the young ones at home and head for Key West for this Fantasy Fest, a non-stop, adult-themed mega-party, featuring lavish floats, parades, costume competitions, street fairs and island bands.

    – Leave the young ones at home and head for Key West for this Fantasy Fest, a non-stop, adult-themed mega-party, featuring lavish floats, parades, costume competitions, street fairs and island bands.

    - Rob O'Neal/Florida Keys News Bureau

     

    OCTOBER
     

    SOUTH FLORIDA

    MIAMI BROWARD CARNIVAL – Two great counties join forces to throw an amazing party that showcases steel bands, parades, concerts, beauty pageants, colorful and elaborate costumes, yummy food and arts and crafts. The biggie events are: Carnival Parade and Concert, Junior Carnival, Steel Band competition and the King/Queen competition.
    Where:  Miami-Dade County Fairgrounds in Miami and Central Broward Regional Park & Stadium in Lauderhill
    Web: miamibrowardcarnival.com

    ARTS & CRAFTS BONANZA – The season kicks into high gear in October with -- count ’em -- five major fests and fairs in SoFla. You’ll get to see work by some of the finest artists, crafters and photographers in the country – all in beautiful downtown settings with superb shopping, eateries and watering holes. Here’s the lineup: Annual Downtown Delray Beach Craft Festival, Downtown Boca Raton Art & Craft Festival, Annual Downtown Stuart Craft Festival, Annual Las Olas Art Fair in Fort Lauderdale and the Annual Downtown Sarasota Art & Craft Festival.
    Web: artfestival.com

    ANNUAL FANTASY FEST – Leave the young’uns at home and head for this non-stop, adult-themed mega-party, featuring lavish floats, parades, costume and masking competitions (one for pets, too!), street fairs, island bands and great food. Book your table early for the extravagant and outrageous ANNUAL HEADDRESS BALL, Fantasy Fest’s premier gay and lesbian event.
    Where: Where else but Key West (various locations)
    Web: fantasyfest.com and headdressballkeywest.com

    MIAMI ATTRACTIONS MONTH – It’s the ultimate BOGO: Enjoy an amazing array of Miami’s best attractions on a buy-one, get-one-free basis or some other form of serious discount. Attractions include, among others: Zoo Miami, Monkey Jungle, Miami Seaquarium, the Biltmore Hotel, Everglades National Park, Biscayne National Park, Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, Miccosukee Indian Village and Jungle Island.
    Where: Throughout Miami
    Web: MiamiAttractionsMonth.com

    FAIRCHILD’S ANNUAL BIRD FESTIVAL – Birders of all ages will be all a-peep over this event. The festival kicks off with two days of tours at the best SoFla bird habitats. Then it’s back to Fairchild for bird walks, an amateur bird photo contest and exhibit, and a sale of bird-attracting plants.
    Where: Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Miami
    Web: fairchildgarden.org

    CARIBE ARTS FEST – This one has it all – art, film, yummy food, music (two stages featuring salsa, reggae, Afro funk, soca and jazz), poetry readings, workshops and a kids’ zone. It showcases multi-media creations representing and encompassing the culture, essence and creativity of the Caribbean and the Americas.
    Where: Little Haiti Cultural Complex, Miami
    Web: CaribeArtsFest.com

    PALM BEACH HOME SHOW – Thinking of remodeling? Hundreds of experts will be on hand under one roof to give you great ideas. This one has it all: windows, flooring, cabinets, patios, spas, landscaping, home entertainment and much more.
    Where: Palm Beach County Convention Center, West Palm Beach
    Web: palmbeachhomeshow.com

    SOUTH BEACH SEAFOOD FESTIVAL – Help kick off the annual Stone Crab season and enjoy a myriad of other seafood celebrations prepared by Miami’s top chefs and restaurants. Also: live bands, culinary and mixology demonstrations, a kids’ zone, health village and VIP hospitality benefits. An added bonus: a sports bar on the sand showing the best college football matchups.
    Where: Between 7th and 9th Streets on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach
    Web: sobeseafoodfest.com

    ANNUAL DING DARLING DAYS – Enjoy a week of fun eco-activities in this great national wildlife refuge. Features free tours (via tram, foot, kayak and paddle boards), birding and kids crafting.  Don’t miss the Endangered Species & Wildlife life-size puppets presentation, featuring Heather Henson, daughter of Muppets creator Jim Henson.
    Where: J. N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel Island
    Web: dingdarlingsociety.org

    FESTIVAL MIAMI – Hosted by the University Of Miami Frost School Of Music, one of Florida’s premiere live music festivals will present a series of eclectic concerts featuring international guest artists, master faculty artists and award-winning student ensembles.
    Where: Various venues at the University of Miami
    Web: festivalmiami.com

    SALTY SAM’S 10TH ANNUAL PIRATE FESTIVAL – Come one, come all, you mateys! Don’t miss the annual two-day, all-things pirate party. Enjoy live concerts or watch a pirate ship canon battle. Wear your best pirate garb and you could win some serious booty. Also features the Pub & Grub Crawl.
    Where: Fort Myers Beach Seaport
    Web: fortmyersbeach.org/piratefest

    HUMPHREY BOGART FILM FESTIVAL – This annual gathering always a different theme and includes the very best of Bogie films. Besides the flicks, other activities are: cocktail receptions, round table discussions and tours on the original African Queen.
    Where: Various locations in Key Largo
    Web: bogartfilmfestival.com

    BRAZILIAN FESTIVAL OF POMPANO BEACH – Get your Brazilian boogie on at this annual fest. Two stages will feature internationally-known Brazilian bands and solo performers and also the best of the local bands.  Much more, too: a kids’ zone, skate board competition, more than 100 vendors and exhibitors and mouth-watering Brazilian food.
    Where: Pompano Beach Community Park in Pompano Beach
    Web: brazilianfestpompano.org

    CINEMA ITALY MIAMI --  In addition to ten full-length features competing for the Best Film award, this six-day film festival is chock full of activities, including opening and closing night parties, after-show parties every night, dinners, cocktail parties, documentaries, tributes, free screenings and short films.
    Where: Regal Cinema and various other locations in Miami Beach
    Web: cinemaitaly.com

    SARASOTA PUMPKIN FESTIVAL – Orange is the new Sarasota, as the city hosts its all-things pumpkin weekend. Features include: pumpkin patch, pumpkin maze, carnival rides, pie-eating contests, hay rides, 100 live shows, kids’ zone, Live Ninja Turtle show, pony rides, petting zoo, circus and a tricky-dog show.
    Where: Payne Park, downtown Sarasota
    Web: sarasotapumpkinfestival.com

    ANNUAL KITEOBER FEST – Hey, 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, wind socks and wind spinners of all sizes. Don’t miss the 100-foot flying squid! Also included: Live music, paper-kite building classes, demonstrations, and competitions for kids and adults.
    Where: Haulover Park, Miami Beach
    Web: skywardkites.com

    STONE CRAB FESTIVAL – After kicking off with the cracking of the stone crab at pincher’s crab shack, the weekend unfolds with block parties, live music, crafts, kids’ activities and plenty of succulent stone crab.
    Where: Naples
    Web: stonecrabfestival.org

    OKTOBERFEST I – Beer! Bratwurst! Butt-kicking live music! Kids activities! Bavarian beauties! More beer! Two big weekends of fun!
    Where: American German Club of the Palm Beaches, Lake Worth
    Web: americangermanclub.org/oktoberfest

    OKTOBERFEST II -- Beer! Bratwurst! Butt-kicking live music! Kids activities! Bavarian beauties! More beer! Two big weekends of fun!
    Where: German-American Social Club, Cape Coral
    Web: capecoraloktoberfest.com

     

    CENTRAL FLORIDA 

    THE NEON VIBE 5K – The perfect pre-Halloween race event is eerily lit with glow-in-the-dark beads, glow sticks and bodies splashed with neon colors. While a DJ pumps techno and dance music, runners and walkers will pass through “glow zones” and cool down at the “aftervibe celebration” at the end.
    Where: Premier Sports Campus, Lakewood Ranch
    Web: theneonvibe.com/sarasota

    15 MINUTES OF FAME FILM FESTIVAL – This free, no-frills film festival is for those who truly love movies -- especially very short movies. Get the chance to screen a colorful variety of documentaries, music videos, animation, narratives and other creative forms of film, each running no longer than 15 minutes.
    Where: International Palms Resort and Conference Center, Orlando
    Web: 15minutefilmfest.com

    CENTRAL FLORIDA VEG FEST – This vegetarian festival touts itself as one of the biggest and best in the country, drawing hundreds of food and product vendors and presenters from around the world. Bring your dog, pet a pig, take a yoga class and sample creative and delicious vegetarian and vegan dishes. 
    Where: Orlando Festival Park, Orlando
    Web: cfvegfest.org

    ZOOBOO KIDS – For the little trick-or-treaters too young to enjoy gory zombies and haunted mansions, Lowry Park created a new “fright-free” Halloween event for kids ages 3-11. Think adorable costumes, critters, corn mazes and characters that will make for great photo ops and create nice memories rather than nightmares.
    Where: Lowry Park Zoo, Tampa
    Web: lowryparkzoo.org/ZooBooKIDS

    GREAT AMERICAN COOTER FEST– Inverness’ most famous – or at least famously named – festival returns with music, dancing, food trucks, boat races and more. Check out the impressive costume contest and sample a treat from a cupcake bake-off, all in the name of a mythical turtle named Cooter.
    Where: Liberty Park, Inverness
    Web: www.cooterfestival.com

    OKTOBERFEST TAMPA – Get into the spirit with this Deutsch-themed, three-day party, complete with frothy beer, lederhosen, accordion music and other shenanigans. Vendors will be serving up currywurst, warm pretzels and German baked goods. Guests can participate in the stein hoisting, keg stack, “carry the wench” and other games.
    Where: Curtis Hixon Park, downtown Tampa
    Web: oktoberfesttampa.com

    THE FESTIVAL – Also known as the Shelton Brothers Festival, this roving event will visit St. Petersburg and its thriving craft beer scene, introducing around 90 local, national and international artisanal beer, cider, and mead makers through tastings and workshops.
    Web: sheltonbrothers.com

    DAYTONA BLUES FESTIVAL – Held near the beach during one of the nicest times of the year, thousands flock to the Daytona Blues Festival to enjoy music by both nationally known and emerging blues artists from the U.S., Canada and Europe. Head over earlier in the week for the welcome party and blues workshops.
    Where: Jackie Robinson Ballpark, Daytona Beach
    Web: daytonabluesfestival.com

    WINGS AND WILDFLOWERS FESTIVAL – Located in one of the best birding areas in Florida, this tribute to native birds and plants is fascinating for both curious beginners and veteran experts. A series of workshops, field trips and hands-on experiences introduce guests to red cockaded woodpeckers, scrub jays, star blooms, carnivorous plants and other Florida wonders.
    Where: Venetian Gardens, Leesburg
    Web: wingsandwildflowers.co/

    ART & ALGORITHMS – Science nerds and visual artists join forces in this free, walkable festival that piques the senses with interactive artwork, an iPad lab, international short film screenings, digital gaming, virtual reality exhibits and other cool and entertaining displays.
    Where: Downtown Titusville
    Web: artandalgorithms.com

    MOUNT DORA BICYCLE FESTIVAL– Cyclists from all over the world love this three-day weekend of multiple routes along gorgeous Mount Dora, ranging from a friendly ghost ride to crushing hill climbs, as well as pre-ride breakfasts, a beer garden and other activities.
    Where: Mount Dora
    Web: mountdorabicyclefestival.com

    LAKELAND ZOMBIE FEST – Experience the closest thing to a zombie apocalypse you can imagine as tens of thousands of bloody, ashen-faced, hollow-eyed zombie wannabes slither through the streets of Lakeland. Kids can hit the “safe zone” if they’re not fans of walking dead people, and food vendors and dance and costume competitions lighten the mood.
    Where: Sun n Fun Convention Campus, Lakeland
    Web: lakelandzombiefest.com

    BRICK-OR-TREAT – LEGOLAND has expanded its annual celebration so that more can enjoy the building activities, scavenger hunts, the world’s largest LEGO jack-o-lantern and a nightly Halloween-themed fireworks show.
    Where: LEGOLAND, Winter Haven
    Web: legoland.com/brick-or-treat

    OCALA ARTS FESTIVAL – Art lovers and collectors fill the streets of historic downtown Ocala for this juried fine arts show with 155 artists and craftsmen from all over the country. Kids can also enjoy activity stations and entertainment and holiday shoppers can get an early start at the crafts and gifts tents.
    Where: Downtown Ocala
    Web: fafo.org

    CLEARWATER JAZZ HOLIDAY – This international music fest has drawn acts such as Dizzy Gillespie, Tony Bennett and Branford Marsalis.
    Where: Coachman Park, Clearwater
    Webclearwaterjazz.com

     

    NORTH FLORIDA

    ANNUAL NORTHWEST FLORIDA CHAMPIONSHIP RODEO — Florida also has a booming cattle industry, which means it embraces bull-riding, cattle-roping, barrel-racing fun. The tiny Northwest Florida town of Bonifay has hosted the event 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. 
    Where: Memorial Field, Bonifay
    Web: bonifaykiwanisrodeo.com

    GREEK FESTIVALS — Opa! Despite our love for German things like beer and brats, we also go gaga for Greek eats like pierogis and gyros stuffed with shaved lamb and feta. Tallahassee gets the party started with its Greek Festival -- make sure you budget enough time to take a tour of the church sanctuary and try out a folk dancing lesson. Meanwhile both Pensacola and St. Augustine are hosting their own dueling festivals the next weekend.
    Where: Greek Orthodox Church Holy Mother of God, Tallahassee; Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, Pensacola; Francis Field, St. Augustine
    Web: hmog.org/festival, pensacolagreekfestival.com, stauggreekfest.com

    FLORIDA SCALLOP & MUSIC FESTIVAL — Northeast Florida has its shrimpers, Clearwater Beach is home to stone crab claws and grouper and the state’s “Forgotten Coast” from Steinhatchee to St. Joseph Bay is scallop country. This annual food fest honors the tasty bivalves. Also includes live music and a kids’ zone.
    Where: George Core Park, Port. St. Joe
    Web: scallopfestfl.org

    CORN MAZE — Sykes and Cooper call their fall spectacular agritainment — it’s nine-acres of “cornfusing” turns in this huge maze. Other entertainment includes a donkey named Jack; a “Jack and the Cornstalk” kiddie maze; corn cannons, duck races and fall-themed family fun.
    Where: Sykes and Cooper Farms, Elkton
    Web: sycofarms.com

    SOUTH WALTON FASHION WEEK — If you eagerly await the arrival of Vogue’s September issue and haven’t missed an episode of Project Runway, then reserve your VIP tickets now for SWFW, which features cutting edge Florida and national designers. Also includes trunk shows and champagne shopping.
    Where: Sandestin and various venues throughout South Walton
    Web: swfw.org

    LGBT FILM FESTIVAL — This four-day fest highlight feature and short films that celebrate the lesbian, gay, bi and transgender artistic contributions. Festival goers should expect family-friendly films that transcend stereotypes and begins a dialogue about the LGBT experience.
    Where: various venues, Pensacola
    Web: facebook.com/pcolaLGBTfilmfest

    OCTOBERFESTS — You don’t need dirndls and lederhosen to enjoy an ice-cold beer stein filled with the best Oktoberfest brews. Instead, prepare yourself for two weekends of German food, music, themed contests like stein holding and pumpkin bowling, and, of course, beer to welcome fall. During Jaxtoberfest there will be a daily keg tapping and family-friendly Kinderfest area. Beaches Oktoberfest kicks off their festivities with a Craft-Toberfest party featuring 40 craft breweries and 10 food trucks.
    Where: St. Johns Town Center, Jacksonville and Jacksonville Beach, respectively
    Web:  jaxtoberfest.com, beachesoktoberfest.com

    TALK LIKE A PIRATE — Floridians love their swashbuckling marauders and use it as an excuse to host festivals. Go to either the Fernandina Pirate Festival or the Pirates of the High Seas Fest to immerse yourself in all things ahoy-matey.
    Where: Fernandina and Panama City Beach
    Web: fernandinapirates.com, visitpanamacitybeach.com

    TAKING THE PLUNGE: ENLISTMENT IN THE SPANISH GARRISON — Follow in the footsteps of a young Spanish boy who chooses to enlist in the Spanish Garrison to defend St. Augustine. This special event honors Hispanic Heritage Month as guests learn what it meant to defend home, family and country centuries ago at Castillo de San Marcos.
    Where: Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine
    Web: nps.gov/casa

    MAGNOLIA FESTIVAL — Enjoy four days of live music in the middle of 800 acres of Spanish moss-draped forest. More than 40 Americana-style musical acts – from national starts to locals -- play on four stages. VIP packages available.
    Where: Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park & Campground, Live Oak
    Web: magnoliafest.com

    ANNUAL BIG SHOALS PUMPKIN FEST — Give your kids a pre-Halloween treat that includes a Pumpkin Chunkin’ (Ummm, what’s not to like about shooting pumpkins from a catapult and slingshot!), pumpkin bowling and decorating, a haunted hayride and costume parade.
    Where: Big Shoals State Park, White Springs
    Web: floridastateparks.org/big-shoals

    PADDLE FLORIDA: SUWANNEE RIVER WILDERNESS FESTIVAL — Schedule your fall vacation for five days of paddling along the Suwannee River from Madison Blue Spring State Park. Bring your own gear or rent the basic from local outfitters then get ready for the adventure of a lifetime as you paddle and camp along the shoreline to truly experience the state’s natural beauty.
    Where: Suwannee River
    Web: paddleflorida.org

    CREATURES OF THE NIGHT AT THE ALLIGATOR FARM — Many zoos offer family-friendly trick-or-treating but this one has a 15-foot, 1,250-pound crocodile named Maximo and a python large enough to digest small mammals during dinner. Then there are the alligators, which will have special feeding at 7:20 p.m. each night.
    Where: St Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park
    Web: alligatorfarm.com

    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.
    Where: McIntosh
    Web: friendsofmcintosh.org

    JACKSONVILLE SEA & SKY SPECTACULAR — Jacksonville’s premier air show switches locales every other year. Grab your beach chair, fill the cooler and slather on sunscreen for your chance to enjoy a day of sand and surf while the Blue Angels perform their daring tricks along the coast. The planes will be based at Naval Station Mayport and the festival includes other civilian and military flyers, simulators, a street festival, kids’ area and recruitment booth.
    Where: Jacksonville Beach
    Web: makeascenedowntown.com

    ANNUAL MONARCH BUTTERFLY FESTIVAL – Learn about the miraculous migration of the monarch butterfly with tours, butterfly tagging demonstrations, a butterfly plant sale, crafts, exhibits, hikes and more.
    Where: St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge near Tallahassee.
    Web: fws.gov/refuge/st_marks

     

    The Southeastern Circuit Rodeo Finals in Davie features some of the top rodeo performers in exciting events that include bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, barrel racing and bull riding.

    The Southeastern Circuit Rodeo Finals in Davie features some of the top rodeo performers in exciting events that include bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, barrel racing and bull riding.

    - Davie Rodeo

     
    NOVEMBER
     

    SOUTH FLORIDA

    MIAMI BOOK FAIR INTERNATIONAL – Come see and listen to great authors and high-profile celebrities and, of course, have them sign their books for you. Book early for the “Evening With” sessions because they tend to fill up quickly. And, don’t miss the ginormous street fair.
    Where: Miami Dade College, Miami
    Web: MiamiBookFair.com

    FORT LAUDERDALE INTERNATIONAL BOAT SHOW – You’ll see more than 1,000 vessels of all sizes: Catamarans, motor yachts, super yachts, center consoles, cabin cruisers, sportfishers, runabouts, bow riders, skiffs, trawlers and inflatables. Don’t miss AquaZone, featuring live paddleboard, kayak, hovercraft and free-dive demos in a 15,000-gallon pool.
    Where: Various locations in Fort Lauderdale
    Web: showmanagement.com

    SAND ART TRIO – Not one, not two, but count ’em, three this year! You can’t go wrong with any of them: the Annual American Sand Sculpting Championship and Beach Festival on Fort Myers Beach, the International Sand Art Competition in Key West and the Annual Siesta Key Crystal Classic International Sand Sculpting Festival on Siesta Key near Sarasota. No matter which one you attend, you will be awed by the amazing out-of-sand creations.
    Web: Respectively, fmbsandsculpting.com, sandisle.com and SiestaKeyCrystalClassic.com

     SARASOTA CHALK FESTIVAL – Hundreds of artists use the pavement as their canvas and pastel chalk as their medium to create breathtaking oversized traditional 3D illusionistic paintings. You’re invited to participate in, attend and interact with the artists as they go about their work. There’s a different theme each year.
    Where: Downtown Venice and the Venice Airport Fairgrounds
    Web: chalkfestival.org

    FORT LAUDERDALE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL – Even though it’s now over 30, you can trust this gathering to give you a break from ordinary film and see entertaining feature-length movies, documentaries and shorts. Special guests and celebrities always abound.
    Where: Mostly at Cinema Paradiso in Fort Lauderdale, but also at other venues.
    Web: FLIFF.com

    MORE FILM FESTIVALS! – Fort Lauderdale isn’t the only SoFla film festival game in town in November. There are five more: the Annual Naples International Film Festival, the Annual Key West Film Festival and three in Miami: France Cinema Floride, the Annual Miami Short Film Festival, Nov. 2-7, and the Annual Recent Cinema from Spain Festival.
    Web: Respectively, naplesfilmfest.com, kwfilmfest.com, francecinemafloride.com, miamishortfilmfestival.com and recentcinemafromspain.com

    ANNUAL KEY WEST WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP RACERS – If ever there was an Indy 500 of powerboat racing, this is it. It’s the finals of the eight-month long Super Boat International series. High-speed offshore powerboats race for 6.5 miles in Key West Harbor and surrounding waters and reach speeds of 140 miles per hour.
    Where: Key West
    Web: superboat.com

    MEDIEVAL MANIA – It’s east coast versus west coast, with Camelot Days Medieval Festival on the former and the Sarasota Medieval Fair on the latter.  Either one will take you back to days of yore, with living chess games, jousting competitions, battling knights, jesters, jugglers, birds of prey and lots of good grub and grog.
    Where: Respectively, T. Y. Park in Hollywood and Ringling Woods behind the Sarasota Fairgrounds.
    Web: Respectively, camelotdays.com and sarasotamedievalfair.com

    SOUTHEASTERN CIRCUIT RODEO FINALS – If you haven’t been to the friendly town of Davie, this would the perfect time to go. Some of the top rodeo performers in the country take part in all the exciting events: bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, barrel racing and bull riding. The big prize: Top all-around cowboy. Winners will advance to the Nationals in Las Vegas later in the year.
    Where: Bergeron Rodeo Grounds in Davie
    Web: davieprorodeo.com

    NASCAR’S FORD CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND – This is it, racing fans – there’s no more wiggle vroooooom, as all three of NASCAR’s premier racing series crowns (Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Trucks) will be decided in one weekend. You’ll see the best drivers in the world compete for the titles. Upgrade your experience with the Pre-Race Pit Pass.
    Where: Homestead Miami Speedway, Homestead
    Web: homesteadmiamispeedway.com

    MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AUTO SHOW – Don’t just be a spectator – test drive all the latest models, all in one place. But don’t be afraid to gawk, too. Check out Million Dollar Alley and see (sorry, you can’t test-drive these!) the newest from Lamborghini, Rolls-Royce, Porsche, Ferrari Lotus and Bentley, just to mention a few. Don’t miss the Memory Lane exhibit, which features 20 classic cars from yesteryear, and the Havana Classics, a trip back to Cuba’s 1950s cars and style.
    Where: Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami Beach
    Web: sfliautoshow.com

    ANNUAL DELRAY BEACH WINE & SEAFOOD FESTIVAL – Sure, you’ll sample wonderful wines and tasty treats from the sea, but there’s so much more. An array of crafters and artists, a food and wine pairing seminar and great live music are also on the menu. Experts from Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley and Italy will be on hand to make you get the most out of the event.
    Where: Along Atlantic Avenue in downtown Delray Beach
    Web: dbwineandseafood.com

    WHITE PARTY WEEK – More than 15,000 partygoers will enjoy six days and nights of nonstop entertainment and help fight against HIV/AIDS at the same time.
    Where: Various locations throughout Miami-Dade County
    Web: whiteparty.org

    THE GREAT GROVE BED RACE – Are you ready for some mattress mayhem or perhaps a bed-on collision? You may see both at this annual tongue-in-cheek race as costumed five-member teams barrel their homemade beds on wheels through the streets. Awards will be given for the fastest, best-décor, engineering, crowd favorite and funniest contraption.
    Where: The streets of Coconut Grove
    Web: thegreatgrovebedrace.com

    FAIRCHILD FALL GARDEN FESTIVAL & RAMBLE – It’s South Florida’s most beloved garden party.  Included will be seasonal cooking classes, home gardening demonstrations, and a beer garden – all mixed in with the usual Ramble traditions, such as art, antiques, rare books, gourmet food and more than 15,000 plants for sale.
    Where: Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Coral Gables
    Web: fairchildgarden.org

    ART! KEY WEST! – This annual event features events rotating among the island’s multiple cultural districts. Highlights include live mural painting, gallery openings and showcases, performance art, theater and musical performances.
    Where: Various locations in Key West
    Web: artskeywest.com

    CAPTIVA HOLIDAY VILLAGE – Joyful sights and sounds will fill the beaches, bays and lanes of this cozy village for five straight nights starting in late November. Packed with holiday activities for the entire family, this event includes nightly entertainment, tree lightings, Junkanoo Parade, Santa visits, a decorated golf cart parade, musical performances, fireworks and much more.
    Where: Various locations on Captiva Island
    Web: captivaholidayvillage.com

     

    CENTRAL FLORIDA

    THE FANCY FLEA – Rather than the usual hodgepodge of items found at traditional markets, this is a different kind of flea market, targeted toward the Southern belles with upscale tastes. The outdoor vintage show offers shabby chic décor, furniture, antiques, garden and patio accessories and artwork.
    Where: Strawberry Festival Fairgrounds, Plant City
    Web: fancyflea.net

    VOLUSIA COUNTY FAIR & YOUTH SHOW – Local kids showcase their livestock and talents in art, photography, music and craft projects while families enjoy fair rides, food, live music and interesting exhibits for all ages.
    Where: Volusia County Fair & Expo Center, Deland
    Web: volusiacountyfair.com

    ZOOFARI – More than 50 local restaurants serve up their best dishes and recipes at this popular zoo fundraiser, where participants enjoy an open bar, live music and dancing.
    Where: Lowry Park Zoo, Tampa
    Web: lowryparkzoo.org/zoofari

    STONE CRAB JAM – Shrimp, fish, and, of course, stone crab, are the cornerstone of the feast served at this rotary club festival and fundraiser, which also features vendors selling handmade wood furniture, embroidered clothing and other crafts and gifts.
    Where: Crystal River
    Web: kingsbayrotary.org/stone_crab_jam

    MOUNT DORA PLANT & GARDEN FAIR – Experienced gardeners love finding obscure and unique plants and flower; beginning gardeners learn heaps of great info at this colorful fall fair. Shop for anything, including water lilies, olive trees, raw honey and hand-painted pots.
    Where: Downtown Mount Dora
    Web: mountdoraplantandgardenfair.org

    RIBFEST – For more than 26 years, people have been flocking to the smoky aroma of this yummy fest, where various “ribbers” from around the U.S. compete for top prize.  Plus, hot dogs, funnel cakes, Texas fries and other fun foods. The event also draws big musical names.
    Where: Vinoy Park, St. Petersburg
    Web: ribfest.org

    WHEN PIGS FLY SOUTH BBQ CHALLENGE – Billed as the “largest fly-in BBQ in the South,” this fair combines aviation with smoked meats, beer and bands for a fun combination that’s family friendly and free. Stick around for the impressive Warbird fly-in.
    Where: SUN ‘n FUN Convention Campus, Lakeland
    Web: sun-n-fun.org/PigsFlySouth

    HOMOSASSA ARTS, CRAFTS AND SEAFOOD FESTIVAL – Set in one of Florida’s best fishing towns, this fest draws artists from all over the country, including painters, sculptors, photographers and jewelers. Sample some Sunshine State specialties such as gator tail and conch fritters.
    Where: Historic Old Homosassa
    Web: homosassaseafoodfestival.org

    ART CRAWL – Thrifty art collectors and shoppers looking for holiday gifts will love this juried art show, which features emerging and established artists selling affordable artwork, much of which will be offered for $500 or less. Those just looking can enjoy the live music and demonstrations.
    Where: Polk Museum of Art, Lakeland
    Web: downtownlakelandfl.comart-crawl

    MIXON FRUIT FARMS HARVEST FESTIVAL – Mixon Fruit Farms, one of the state’s most well-known citrus farms and country stores, holds this fall weekend of circus acts, antique cars, kid-friendly games, bungee jumping, rock wall climbing and food.
    Where: Bradenton
    Web: mixon.com/harvestfestival

    DAYTONA TURKEY RUN – See more than 6,000 vintage, classic, muscle and race cars and trucks for show and for sale, held every Thanksgiving weekend for more than 40 years. Even those less enthused by cars will have a blast dancing along with an Elvis-themed rockabilly band or hitting the “Artisan Alley” arts and fashion bazaar.
    Where: Daytona International Speedway
    Web: turkeyrun.com

    CONGA CALIENTE – Tampa celebrates Hispanic culture and heritage with live national acts that have included Tito Nieves and Viva Mas in the past. Taste traditional Latin dishes, smoke a Cuba cigar and visit the beer garden or one of the many educational or health displays or the arts and crafts tents.
    Where: Al Lopez Park, Tampa
    Web: congacaliente.com

     

    NORTH FLORIDA

    GREAT CHOWDER DEBATE — Most associate chowder with the Northeast, but it’s November and there’s a slight chance there might be a chill in the air up there. So why not hold a chowder cook off in Florida? More than 30 St. Augustine restaurants will try to take the top prize in the New England, Minorcan or conch/seafood categories. Tastes are only a buck.
    Where: Conch House Marina, St. Augustine
    Web: conch-house.com

    SEEING RED WINE FESTIVAL — Be charmed by the Panhandle beach town of Seaside as you sip, sample and spit (that’s how the pros do it!) your way through Saturday’s Grand Tasting. The four-day event, which Fodor’s named a Top 10 Can’t-Miss Fall Wine Festival, closes with the Celebration of Bubbles.
    Where: Seaside
    Web: seeingredwinefestival.com

    ANNUAL FRANK BROWN INTERNATIONAL SONGWRITERS FESTIVAL — The granddaddy of Gulf Coast songwriters festivals features more than 200 Grammy award-winning songwriters and up-and-coming stars performing original songs and telling the stories behind the lyrics. Enjoy miles of powder-sand beaches, fantastic seafood and, 11 days of unforgettable music.
    Where: various venues, Perdido Key to Gulf Shores, Ala.
    Web: frankbrownsongwriters.com

    NORTH FLORIDA FAIR — Ditch the diet and give in to the glory of all things breaded, fried and full of sugar at this 10-day affair. Other than the typical fair standards such as rides and skill games, stick around for the live performances. Catch the swine races each night, feed an animated 16-foot dino and be amazed by the death-defying feats of a hybrid motorcycle/acrobatic show.
    Where: North Florida Fairgrounds, Tallahassee
    Web: northfloridafair.com

    FOO FOO FESTIVAL —  This 12-day celebration of arts and culture includes an eclectic lineup of more than 30 culturally creative events and happenings, including Science on the Street, Pop-Up Hot Shop: Glass Blowing on the Move, the Great Gulf Coast Arts Festival and the Clean Energy Fest.
    Where: various venues, Pensacola
    Web: foofoofest.com

    DOWNTOWN OYSTER ROAST — Dine under the stars while listening to the blues along the Apalachicola River. The menu features all things oysters; thankfully, no shucking required for attendees. Try them raw on the half shell, roasted or served in a creamy artichoke and thyme soup.
    Where: downtown Apalachicola
    Web: apalachicolabay.org

    JAX BEER WEEK —  This weeklong salute to craft beer, with an emphasis on Florida-based breweries, always includes the newest and the best beer makers. Includes a Funky Buddha and dessert pairing and a cheese and Cigar City pairing. 
    Where: various venues, Jacksonville
    Web: jaxbeersociety.com/jax-beer-week

    EMERALD COAST CRUIZIN — Spit-and-polished chrome, bright rainbow-hued paint jobs and the steady roar of lovingly remade engines will take over Panama City Beach. Enjoy the nostalgic blast from the past while checking out hot rods, cruisers and other classic cars. Check out more than 125 auto vendors, the swap meet and the car corral. Friday’s concert features the Bellamy Brothers.
    Where: Aaron Bessant Park, Panama City Beach
    Web: emeraldcoastcruizin.com

    BACKWOODS COUNTRY JAM — Jacksonville goes country for a daylong music extravaganza that features top  acts.
    Where: Jacksonville Equestrian Center
    Web: BackwoodsJam.com

    PETANQUE AMERICA OPEN —  Petanque (pronounced pay-tonk), a cousin of horseshoes and bocce that originated in Southern France, pits players from opposing teams trying to throw steel balls as close as possible to a small wooden target ball. It’s the largest petanque tournament in the U.S. and is open to beginners, amateurs and champions who all play together in hopes of claiming a piece of the $10,000 total prize purse.
    Where: Fernandina Beach
    Web: petanque-america-open.net

    DOWNTOWN FESTIVAL & ART SHOW — Stroll the streets of historic Gainesville’s city center where more than 250 award-winning artists and craftsmen display their original works. The show, which features show-stopping jewelry, ceramics and painting, has been named one of the top 30 fairs and festivals for the past three years from Sunshine Artist magazine.
    Where: downtown Gainesville
    Web: visitgainesville.com

    TOUR DE FARM — Get an onsite glimpse into the farm-to-fork movement and a first glance at the fall harvest bounty heading to markets. Meet and talk with the farmers and get culinary ideas for your own kitchen from local chefs who will be at each farm demonstrating cooking techniques using the harvested produce.
    Where: various farms in St. Augustine, Hastings, Elkton, Ponte Vedra and Jacksonville
    Web: slowfoodfirstcoast.org

    ROAR N’ SNORE CAMP-OUT — Lions and tigers and camping, oh my! Yes, you can pitch your tent near the enclosures of Catty Shack Ranch’s fur-covered residents. The event, held only twice a year, includes dinner, the heralded night-feeding of the tigers, a bonfire complete with s’mores and breakfast.
    Where: Catty Shack Ranch, Jacksonville
    Web: cattyshack.org/roar-n-snore-camp-out

    NIGHT OF LIGHTS — Chosen as one of the 10 best holiday lighting displays in the world by National Geographic, historic St. Augustine gets the star treatment with millions of twinkling lights for almost two months. Wander the brick streets of the old city center and the tree-lined sidewalks of the neighborhoods to take in the magical atmosphere.  
    Where: St. Augustine
    Web: floridashistoriccoast.com/nights

    BEACH HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS — Start the Christmas season with a good dose of pre-holiday cheer. Includes two concerts music, s’mores and hot chocolate, Christmas tree lighting and fireworks.
    Where: Aaron Bessant Park, Panama City Beach
    Web: visitpanamacitybeach.com/holidays

    BLUE ANGELS HOMECOMING SHOW – The world-famous pilots of the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron speed by overhead while defying physics with their dazzling aerial feats. The Homecoming Show is traditionally the last performance of the year before the Blue Angels return to their winter training facility in California.
    Where: Naval Air Station Pensacola
    Webblueangels.navy.mil

    There are many Florida holiday boat parades, but the Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade, held in Fort Lauderdale and Pompano Beach, is heralded as the “12 miles of the greatest show on h20.”

    There are many Florida holiday boat parades, but the Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade, held in Fort Lauderdale and Pompano Beach, is heralded as the “12 miles of the greatest show on h20.”

    - Visit Fort Lauderdale

     
    DECEMBER
     

    SOUTH FLORIDA 

    MIAMI ART WEEK – Sure, Art Basel is the centerpiece for what has to be the most amazing, eclectic week for great art anywhere. Leading galleries from all over the world will show historical work from masters of modern and contemporary art. Painting, sculptures, drawings, photographs and films also will be on display. But, don’t miss the ever-growing and eclectic satellite art fairs that take place before, during and after Art Basel.
    Where: Various locations in Miami Beach and Miami
    Web: artbasel.com and miamiandbeaches.com/art-basel

    LET THERE BE LIGHTS! – Millions and millions of them will light up the South Florida holiday skies and here’s where to see some of the best and the brightest: Santa’s Enchanted Forest at Tropical Park in Miami; Holiday Nights at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers; Festival of Lights at Fisherman’s Village in Punta Gorda, and Symphony of Lights at the Village of Gulfstream Park in Hallandale.
    Web: santasenchantedforest.com, .edisonfordwinterestates.org, fishville.com and thevillageatgulfstreampark.com

    HOLIDAY CHEER, FORT LAUDERDALE STYLE – Two of the city’s biggest attractions are its waterways and Las Olas Boulevard. Both are used to full advantage during the holidays. Christmas on Las Olas is a great, all-ages kick-off to the holiday season, featuring more than 60 food and beverage booths, sledding down the two-story ice-covered Snow Mountain, ice skating, street performers, strolling carolers and multiple stages with choirs and other performances. And, of course, there’s the annual Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade. It’s the gold standard of holiday boat parades with the well-deserved nickname of “The Greatest Show on H20.”
    Web: lasolasboulevard.com/events, www.sunny.org, and winterfestparade.com

    AND SPEAKING OF BOAT PARADES --You can’t swing a string of holiday lights in SoFla without hitting a boat parade in December. Some of the other cities to have one are, just to name a few: Fort Myers, Key West, Naples, West Palm Beach, Pompano Beach, Punta Gorda and Boca Raton. Use Google for dates and times. 

    KEY WEST NEW YEAR’S EVE – Ball drop, schmall drop. Anybody can drop a glitter ball and call it a year. Not Key West – no way, no how. Nobody does New Year’s Eve like Key West.  This year’s highlights: Pirate Wench Drop, Giant Shoe Drop and the Conch Shell Drop. It’s all topped with a giant fireworks display.
    Where: Key West
    Web: fla-keys.com

    HOLLYWOOD BEACH CANDY CANE PARADE -- Join the fun on the famous Hollywood Broadwalk. The annual event that is some 60 years old features marching bands, floats and much more.
    Where: Hollywood Beach, Hollywood
    Web: visithollywoodfl.org

    ISLAMORADA HOLIDAY FESTIVAL – The centerpiece is a 35-foot Christmas tree with “magical snow” blowing from its branches. Also: a 20-ton snow mountain, Santa Paws Pet Parade (prizes for best costume and best trick) and contests to choose the Best Baked Goodie, Little Miss Sugar Plum Fairy and Mr. Gingerbread Man.
    Where: Founders Park in Islamorada, Mile Marker 87
    Web: islamoradachamber.com

    SWAY: A DANCE TRILOGY – Audiences will be whisked through the timeless elegance of ballroom’s golden era to the modern dance fusion of today’s urban youth, climaxing with the heart-pounding rhythms of the Latin night club scene.
    Where: The Olympia Theater at Gusman Center, Miami
    Web: dancewithmeusa.com/sway

    PALM BEACH FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL – This gastronomic gala offers an unprecedented collection of talent for this four-day foodie fest, including specialty Chef Talk panels, volleyball games where losers wash the dishes, gourmet five-course dinners with premium wine pairings, and evening karaoke cocktail gatherings.
    Where: Four Seasons Resort and other locations on the island city of Palm Beach.
    Web: pbfoodwinefest.com

    SNOW FEST SARASOTA – Daily “snowfall” covers the park in soft, white snow while families play on giant slides, build snowmen and take photos on Santa’s lap. The three-day event also offers pony rides, hula hoopers, jugglers, DJs and other holiday entertainment.
    Where: Payne Park, downtown Sarasota
    Web: snowfestsarasota.com

    KING MANGO STRUT – The Strut parade always brings offbeat, off-the-wall mango mania to a new generation of Mango Heads. Warning: No one and nothing is safe from parody and satire. Nutty characters welcome! After the parade, the King Mango Music Massacre begins with many top local bands participating.
    Where: Downtown Coconut Grove
    Web: kingmangostrut.org

    CRAFTY DOUBLE DIP – There are two excellent craft shows in SoFla in December, both featuring exceptional works in ceramics, decorative fiber, glass, jewelry, leather, metal, mixed media, paper wearable art, wood, painting, photography and sculpture. First up is the Sarasota Craft Show early in the month, followed by the Downtown Delray Beach New Year’s Weekend Craft Festival.
    Web: Respectively – sarasotacraftshow.com and artfestival.com

    MICCOSUKEE INDIAN ARTS FESTIVAL – Experience the color and pageantry of costumed Native Americans from all over the country. Featured: nonstop entertainment, arts, crafts, music, native goods and more.
    Where: Miccosukee Indian Village, Miami
    Web: miccosukee.com

    BONNET HOUSE ORCHID, GARDEN & GOURMET FOOD FESTIVAL – If you haven’t been to this beautiful historic house, this is the time. In addition to the unique collection of exotic orchids and plants sold by more than 40 local vendors, also featured will be gourmet food trucks, libations, orchard care lectures, live music and cooking and gardening demonstrations.
    Where: Bonnet House in Fort Lauderdale
    Web: bonnethouse.org

    ATOMIC HOLIDAY BAZAAR – Continuing its decade-long tradition of bringing weird, wild and uniquely local goods and gifts together in one place, this bazaar market returns with an array of jangly handmade jewelry, unconventionally shaped cookie cutters, cheeky postcards and paper goods, pop art handbags and T-shirts, one-of-a-kind stuffed animals, skull-themed scarves and more.
    Where: Municipal Auditorium, Sarasota
    Web: atomicholidaybazaar.com

     

    CENTRAL FLORIDA

    GLITTER GLISTEN AND SNOW – Take part in the novelty of Haines City’s annual break from the warm and sunny holiday season by enjoying roasted chestnuts, hot cider and cocoa, Santa Claus appearances and luminary lightings. Bring your earmuffs and mittens to play in the falling snow.
    Where: Lake Eva Park, Haines City
    Web: visitcentralflorida.org

    BUSCH GARDENS CHRISTMAS TOWN – Tampa’s safari-themed park transforms into a winter wonderland of Christmas shows, music, a Jingle Bell Express train ride for kids, Santa’s workshop and more than a million twinkling lights.
    Where: Busch Gardens, Tampa
    Web: seaworldparks.com/christmastown

    PINELLAS PIONEER SETTLEMENT CHRISTMAS JAMBOREE – Experience old-fashioned Victorian holiday festivities at this historic settlement near Boyd Hill Nature Preserve.  Take a tour of the living museum and late 1800s buildings, homes and shops, then enjoy the music, craft shows, hay rides with Santa and shopping.
    Where: St. Petersburg
    Web: pinellaspioneersettlement.org

    CHRISTMAS BRICKTACULAR – Think you’re a LEGO builder extraordinaire? Check out this impressive display that includes a 30-foot Christmas tree made of 270,000 tiny plastic bricks, a life-size Santa and reindeer sleigh. Kids can make their own structures in an activity area and can participate in a LEGO scavenger hunt.
    Where: LEGOLAND Florida, Winter Haven
    Web: legoland.com/bricktacular

    WINE & CHOCOLATE FESTIVAL – Pair robust reds and creamy whites with fine chocolate at this annual Lakeridge Winery tasting. Artists and crafters display their wares, local bands entertain and vendors serve wine, beer, soft drinks and food.
    Where: Lakeridge Winery, Clermont
    Web: lakeridgewinery.com

    BRADENTON BLUES FESTIVAL – Local and national blues acts entertain along Bradenton’s waterfront all day, filling the streets with music while thousands of visitors peruse the food trucks, local vendors and nearby bars.
    Where: Riverwalk, downtown Bradenton
    Web: bradentonbluesfestival.org

    97X NEXT BIG THING – This popular alternative rock concert returns year after year with some of the hottest acts on the scene. Concertgoers can play games, enter contests and visit food and drink tents in between acts.
    Where: MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre, Tampa
    Web: 97xonline.com

    WINTERFEST FESTIVAL OF FINE ARTS & CRAFTS – Beautiful Anna Maria Island hosts a juried arts and crafts show filled with original paintings, glass, jewelry, pottery, sculpture, fiber arts, photography, wood and other works. Patrons can spend all day walking the fest while sampling seafood dishes, BBQ, ice cream and other treats. 
    Where: City Hall Field, Holmes Beach
    Web: islandartleague.org

    MAIN STREET HOLIDAYS – New Port Richey counts down to Christmas, kicking off the first couple weekends of December with a holiday lights celebration, followed by a river boat parade, a kids’ holiday production and movie, breakfast with Santa and Mrs. Claus and a nighttime street parade.
    Where: Downtown New Port Richey
    Web: nprmainstreet.com

    HOLIDAY HOOPLA – Gulfport brings back its annual street event of holiday creativity, hosting arts, crafts and boutique vendors selling original gifts, a Christmas costume contest with prizes for best family, adult, kid and pet costumes and a lighted boat parade to end the evening.
    Where: Gulfport
    Web: gulfportma.com/holiday-hoopla

    SNOW ON 7TH HOLIDAY PARADE – Ybor City’s famous 7th Avenue turns into a winter wonderland of parading characters, colorful floats, marching bands and a Santa Claus appearance, all under a veil of falling snow. Take photos with a large and festive Christmas tree in the center square and greet Tampa’s mayor and his family.
    Where: Historic Ybor City
    Web: snowon7th.com

    PLANT CITY BIKE FEST – Vintage cruisers and souped-up Harleys descend on quaint downtown Plant City for a day while kids and adults revel in the spectacle of a bearded lady contest, a hula hoop competition, a caricature artist, live bands and a Santa appearance.
    Where: McCall Park, downtown Plant City
    Web: facebook.com/PlantCityBikeFest

    SANTA FEST – Downtown Tampa’s prettiest park becomes a holiday playground for kids, featuring ice skating, make-and-take craft areas, free photos with Santa and the Rough Riders’ Holiday Parade with holiday characters, fire trucks and floats.
    Where: Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, Tampa
    Web: tampagov.net/santa-fest

     

    NORTH FLORIDA

    GILDED AGE FASHION SHOW — Imagine vacationing in Florida’s heat in 1888, when social standards required both men and women to wear layers upon layers of clothing. Get a glimpse into the past through pantaloons, corsets and bustles at this exhibit featuring how upper class men and women would have dressed when staying at the Hotel Ponce de Leon the year it opened its doors.
    Where: Flagler College’s Rotunda, St. Augustine
    Web: flagler.edu

    BAYTOWNE ON ICE — With no snow, the best way to enjoy a faux winter wonderland in the Sunshine State is by going ice skating on the temporary rink. You may not need the stocking hat and mittens as you would as at Rockefeller Center in New York, but here you can play at the beach during the day and go ice skating at night.
    Where: Village of Baytowne Wharf, Sandestin
    Web: baytownewharf.com

    ANNUAL SNOWBALL DERBY — Started in 1968, the Snowball Derby is the premier short track racing event. Top drivers will compete on the half-mile loop in hopes of completing the 300-lap event and taking the checkered flag.
    Where: Five Flags Speedway, Pensacola
    Web: 5flagsspeedway.com

    CHRISTMAS ON THE SQUARE — Historic Live Oak rings in “Christmas in the South” with live music, an antique car show and more than 250 arts and crafts vendors. The annual celebration kicks off this year with the Jingle Bell Fun Run/Walk through downtown Live Oak ending at the historic Train Depot. Enjoy live music, food and fireworks.  Don’t forget to visit with Santa and dress warmly enough for the Lighted Nighttime Parade.
    Where: Millenium Park, Live Oak
    Web: suwanneechamber.com/christmas-on-the-square

    ANNUAL PAL DAY IN ST. AUGUSTINE — America’s first city salutes the military by opening many of its attractions to active military personnel and their families with free admission. The Elks Lodge also serves free lunches to these families and the city offers free parking downtown. Some of the participating attractions include the Alligator Farm Zoological Park, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum and Fountain of Youth.
    Where: various venues, St. Augustine
    Web: augustine.com/pal-day

    SHELL POINT HOLIDAY CART PARADE — Residents of Shell Point go to great lengths to trick out their golf carts for this parade. Let your imagination run wild because the entrants sure do, like a golf cart disguised as a fishing boat.
    Where: Shell Point
    Web: visitwakulla.com

    ANNUAL MARKET DAYS — Pick up one-of-a-kind gifts for everyone on your holiday shopping list at this juried arts and crafts show, one of the largest in the Southeast. More than 300 artisans will be showcasing their work from collectible-worthy fine art to charming ornaments in six of the fairgrounds’ buildings and on the grounds.
    Where: North Florida Fairgrounds, Tallahassee
    Web: tallahasseemuseum.org/marketdays

    ZOOLIGHTS — Thousands of LED lights will transform the Jacksonville Zoo into a winter wonderland complete with moving sculptures, a fairy village, marshmallow roasting and warm weather “ice” skating. For once the usual stars of the show, the zoo’s animal inhabitants (alligators, tigers and jaguars), take a back seat to spectacular forest of multi-colored fairy lights.
    Where: Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
    Web: jacksonvillezoo.org/zoolights

    SOUTHERN PINES BLUES & BBQ FESTIVAL — Get slathered and sauced and enjoy a break from all thing merry and bright at this annual event which pairs downhome BBQ with soulful blues. Come hungry, the People’s Choice category features more than 35 different pulled pork recipes. Participants will be vying for bragging rights and $10,000 in prize money.
    Where: Forest Capital State Park, Perry
    Web: southernpinesblues.com

    SANTA DROP— Skydiving Santa trumps mall Santa any day. And it’s no surprise that the Flora-Bama, home to quirky events like the Mullet Toss, is the host of this annual event. Catch Santa landing on the sugar-white sand beaches while enjoying caroling and kids’ activities. There’s no age discrimination at this event; even adults can tell Santa the highlights of their wish list.Where: Flora-Bama Lounge & Oyster Bar, Pensacola
    Web: florabama.com/santa-drop

    B&B HOLIDAY TOURS — Walk the streets of historic districts of Fernandina and St. Augustine while enjoying the holiday decorations and treats in each city’s beloved inns and B&Bs. There’s Fernandina’s Holiday Cookie Tour of Inns that has six stops, each featuring a signature cookie and take-home recipe card. St. Augustine’s Annual Bed & Breakfast Tour pairs up each B&B with one of city’s local restaurants.
    Web: ameliaislandinns.com/cookie-tour, staugustinebandbtour.com

    HOLIDAY PARADES, BY SEA — The sparkling reflections of colorful lights dancing on the surface of the waves is just one of the reasons lighted holiday boat parades are de rigeur along the coast. Take in the sights at Carrabelle’s Holiday on the Harbor & Boat Parade of Lights and Destin’s Annual Holiday on the Harbor Destin Lighted Boat Parade & Fireworks on back-to-back days. Both events conclude with a fireworks extravaganza.
    Web: carrabelle.org, emeraldgrande.com

    NEW YEAR’S EVE CELEBRATION — It’s not a Waterford crystal apple, but Floridians do know how to ring in the new year. After all, Key West drops a drag queen in a shoe. Fernandina has a LED-lit shrimp -- totally appropriate for a city with shrimping as one of its top trades. But that’s not all -- get there early for live music, food and drink vendors and a kids’ zone.
    Where: Fernandina
    Web: ameliaisland.com/Shrimp-Drop

    NEW YEAR’S EVE BEACH BALL DROP – Watch an 800-pound led beach ball count down the New Year and 10,000 inflated beach balls drop from nets. The family-friendly event features face painting, fireworks and live music.
    Where: Pier Park, Panama City Beach
    Web: 
    visitpanamacitybeach.com

    CELEBRATE TWICE — Pop the bubbly, rev up the noisemakers and toast the end of the old year and the beginning of the new one, not once, but twice. The Northwest Florida beach towns of Port St. Joe and Mexico Beach (which is on Central Standard Time) put on one spectacular celebration. Fireworks will boom in the sky over Port St. Joe at 10 p.m. (EST). After the first show, jump on the free trolley for the midnight (CST) festivities in Mexico Beach. Families will enjoy the pre-celebration scavenger hunt.
    Where: Port St. Joe and Mexico Beach
    Web: celebratetwice.com

    Places to Remember

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