Please check individual websites for complete details; be aware that dates can change and cancellations may occur.

The Offshore Powerboat Racing Association series returns to Fort Myers Beach Oct. 7-9
 

- Roar Offshore

 

Florida Events for September and October 2021

Whatever your passion, Florida has something for you. Here are just some of the major events scheduled in the Sunshine State.  Please check individual websites for more details.
 

South Florida

Central Florida

North Florida

Miami Carnival, Oct 8-10, is a multi-event party with steel bands, parades, concerts, beauty pageants, colorful and elaborate costumes, scrumptious food and arts and crafts. The biggie events are: Carnival Sunday Parade and Concert, Panorama and J’ouvert.
 

- Miami Carnival

 

SOUTH FLORIDA

NIGHT MARKET AT DANIA POINTE – When the sun goes down, farmers will have already laid out their produce, craft makers will already have set out their handmade, homemade and remade merchandise and a local musician begins to set the scene for the night. It’s all part of a street bazaar fashioned after the famous Temple Street in Hong Kong.
When: The second and fourth Friday night of every month for the rest of the year
Where: Dania Beach
Web: nightmarketatdaniapointe.com

J.N. “DING” DARLING WILDLIFE REFUGE – You can still drive, hike or bike through the four-mile wildlife drive every day. (Except Friday, to give wildlife a day off!) The Indigo Trail and the Bailey Tract are the trails still open. Sightings can include a large variety of wading birds and shorebirds, raccoons, marsh rabbits, alligators and occasionally otters and bobcats.
When: Any time
Where: J. N. “Ding Darling Wild Life Refuge, Captiva Island
Web: fws.gov/refuge/JN_Ding_Darling/visit/visitor_activities 

FORT MYERS SCAVENGER HUNTS – Let’s Roam has some good ones for Fort Myers and all the stops are outdoors. You’ll walk from landmark to landmark to discover art, culture and history. Search plaques, statues and art to solve riddles that can only be found on location. Work with a team to answer trivia questions and complete photo challenges. Earn extra points for each hidden treasure and photo your team takes.
When: Any day you want, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Where: Fort Myers
Web: letsroam.com/scavenger_hunt/Fort_Myers_Scavenger_Hunt

FORT LAUDERDALE SCAVENGER HUNT: BY THE NEW RIVER – Download an app and take this self-guided scavenger hunt. It will be easy to social distance and there are no inside locations. Walk from landmark to landmark to discover art, culture and history. Search plaques, statues and art to solve riddles that can only be found on location.
When: Any day you want, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Where: Along the New River in Fort Lauderdale
Web: letsroam.com

UNDERWATER BURLESQUE SHOWS – You’ll be able to enjoy living mermaids from MeduSirena and her pod of Aquaticats performing from a porthole view while enjoying a tropical cocktail and dining on fresh seafood. Recently added is a show with The Aquamen. Admission to the show is $60 per person, with a credit of $45 toward food and beverages during the show. Patrons are required to wear masks except while eating and drinking. There will be no bar seating and no dancing. Tables will be spaced out and capacity has been cut by 50 per cent.
When: Ongoing. The ladies perform every Friday and Saturday night and the men are on Thursday night.
Where: Wreck Bar at B Ocean Hotel in Fort Lauderdale
Web: bhotelsandresorts.com/b-ocean-resort/eat-drink/mermaids-at-the-wreck-bar/

SOUTH FLORIDA ADVENTURE PASS – This will enable you to have unlimited admissions to three popular attractions in Broward County – Butterfly World, Flamingo Gardens and Sawgrass Recreation Park. Check out the appropriate website below for Covid-19 information for each attraction.
When: Now through Sept. 30
Where: The three attractions mentioned above.
Web: southfloridaadventurepass.com for details on the Adventure Pass. Also ButterFlyWorld.comFlamingoGardens.org and EvergladesTours.com for information on what each attraction offers and Covid-19 measures that may be in place.

AVRON B. FOGELMAN SPORTS HISTORY MUSEUM – After being closed more than a year due to Covid-19, it is open again. The 3,500 square-foot exhibit holds 1,200 pieces of sports memorabilia valued at about $10,000,000. It is widely recognized as one of the largest private sports collections owned by a private individual. Highlights include: The 13 original rules of basketball by James Naismith, Babe Ruth’s uniform pants worn on his first day as a New York Yankee in 1921, Joe DiMaggio’s 1936 uniform, Roger Maris’s uniform worn in 1961 when he broke the single-season home run record, Hank Aaron’s uniform from 1974 when he broke the career home run record, the final cleats worn by football legend Jim Thorpe, a football signed by the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins, the 1969 Ryder Cup Trophy and the 1985 Kansas City Royals World Series Trophy (Fogelman once owned the Royals).
When: Now and ongoing
Where: Florida Atlantic University campus, Boca Raton
Web: fau.edu/artsandletters/fogelman-sports-museum/

FOR THE RECORD: CELEBRATING ART BY WOMEN – This exhibit at the Norton Museum of Art looks at the contributions by women to the visual arts through the lens of the museum’s collections. It explores themes such as labor, activism, race, identity and gender in a variety of media, including paintings, sculptures, works on paper, photography and video. Some of the highlighted artists include Teresita Fernandez, Viola Frey, Ellen Gallagher, Nikki S. Lee, Mariko Mori, Alison Saar, Mary Sibande, Kate Shepherd and Jennifer Steinkamp. The museum is offering free admission on Saturdays through Labor Day to Palm Beach County residents (valid ID must be shown).
When: now through October 31
Where: Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach
Web: norton.org

HOORAY FOR HOLLYWOOD – That’s Hollywood, Florida, not Tinsel Town. This friendly city nestled about halfway between Fort Lauderdale and Miami has two monthly events that are worthy of your attention: the Downtown Artwalk and the Dream Car Classic. The former presents a mural tour and the Hollywood Artisan Market, which features pop-up shops, artist showcases and vintage shopping. The latter features dozens – up to 85 – of hot rods, custom cars and trucks, modern beauties and classics.
When: Respectively, third Saturday and first Sunday of each month.
Where: downtown Hollywood
Web: hollywoodfl.org

THE ART OF TIM FORMAN: THE EVERGLADES – Tim Forman is the third generation of Formans to be born and raised in South Florida. He is primarily a self-taught artist and by age of 17 he was already receiving commissions. He uses field sketches, plein air paintings and photographs to compose his pieces that are painted in layers with knife and brush.
When: Now through Sept. 26
Where: History Fort Lauderdale Museum, Fort Lauderdale
Web: historyfortlauderdale.org/museum/events

KAPOW! KAPOW! – That’s one big “Kapow!” for each of two SoFla events catering to fans of comic books, anime, animation, video games, fantasy sci-fi and pop culture. The two geek-a-thons are Ultracon and Florida Supercon. A variety of fan favorites will be featured, including celebrity guests, comic book creators, voice actors, cosplayers, writers, panels, films & shorts, costume & cosplay contests, vendors, parties, workshops, Q & A sessions and gaming events.

YUM! YUM! YUM! – That’s one big “Yum!” for each of three dine-on-the-relatively-cheap options:

·        Miami Spice -- In the Miami area, some 250 restaurants and bistros will be offering three-course menus for lunch and brunch ($28) and dinner ($42) in August and September. iLoveMiamiSpice.com

·        Flavor Palm Beach -- More than 50 eateries from throughout Palm Beach County will offer three-course menus for lunch ($20 to $25) and dinner ($30 to $55 in September. flavorpb.com

·        Sizzle Dining Restaurant Week – Actually, it is three weeks long (Sept. 9-29) and you’ll be able to enjoy meals at 65 of the best restaurants in Lee and Collier Counties, from Cape Coral down to Marco Island and everywhere in between. Three-course dinners will cost either $26 or $36, depending on the location, with some restaurants offering special upgrades for lobster tail and/or wine. Some of the restaurants may offer a two-course lunch for $16 or $21 and/or a brunch for $21 or $26. sizzlerestaurantweek.com

FORWARD MOTION PHYSICALLY INTEGRATED DANCE FESTIVAL – Full companies, dancers and choreographers with and without disabilities will be featured at this four-day event. The headliners are the Dancing Wheels Company, REVolution Dance and Karen Peterson and Dancers (the producers of the festival). There is also a free workshop component to the festival, with presentations on each of the four days.
When: Sept. 22-25
Where: Miami-Dade County Auditorium, Miami
Web: miamiandbeaches.com/event/forward-motion-festival/19386?date=2021-09-22&category=5

MIAMI BEACH PRIDE – The last time this was held, in 2019, about 140,000 people attended and organizers are expecting another huge crowd for this year’s 10-day gathering. Events include pool parties, a VIP Gala, Miss Miami Beach Pride Pageant, the Queer Art Show, Sweet Spot party, with guest DJ Ultra Nate and the main events -- the big parade and festival -- on the final weekend.
When: Sept. 10-19
Where: Various locations in Miami Beach
Web: miamibeachpride.com

ISLAND HOPPER SONGWRITER FEST – Behind every great country music hit, there is usually another outstanding singer/songwriter who wrote the tune.  Get to know the back stories behind country’s biggest hits and see them performed by the writers. This year’s headliners are Jimmie Allen and Michael Ray.
When & Where: Sept. 17-19 on Captiva Island, Sept. 20-23 in downtown Fort Myers and Sept. 24-26 on Fort Myers Beach
Web: fortmyers-sanibel.com/island-hopper

TAPA HOP – This pub crawl features trolley transportation to six restaurants that will provide appetizer items, a.k.a. tapas. Also included will be raffle prizes and a poker run.
When: Sept. 16
Where: Fort Myers Beach
Web: fortmyersbeach.org/events/tapa-hop/

ANNUAL UNDERWATER MUSIC FESTIVAL – It was originally scheduled for July but was postponed because bad weather muddied the waters, literally and figuratively. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate this time around and you’ll be able to join hundreds of divers and snorkelers who go deep each year at this quirky concert that emphasizes reef preservation and also 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. Contact any of the local dive shops to reserve a spot on their vessels and enjoy their costume parties.
When: Sept. 18
Where: Looe Key Reef (about six miles south of Big Pine Key)
Web: fla-keys.com/calendar/all/florida-keys/202109/

FORT LAUDERDALE INTERNATIONAL BOAT SHOW – More than $4 billion worth of merchandise will be on display, including extraordinary super yachts, runabouts, sport fishers, high performance boats, center consoles, cabin cruisers, skiffs, express cruisers, sailing yachts, motor yachts, bowriders, catamarans, ski boats, trawlers, inflatables, canoes, kayaks and an amazing array of marine accessories. Don’t miss the Bluewild Ocean Adventure Expo, which includes seminars and art exhibits. Pamper yourself and book space in the air-conditioned Windward VIP lounge in the heart of the super yacht section. Also included: kids’ fishing clinics, fishing and diving seminars, live water sports demonstrations, floating cocktail lounges and really good food. For Covid-19 safety protocols, click on “Attend” in the top left corner of the website below.
When: Oct. 27-31
Where: Various locations in Fort Lauderdale
Web: flibs.com

THE ROAR OFFSHORE – The Offshore Powerboat Racing Association series returns to Fort Myers Beach and this is not just another race. It’s the finals of the American Power Boat Association and champions will be crowned in 14 classes. There are lots of close-up viewing opportunities, so you will be able to feel the roar of these powerful machines as they whizz by at speeds up to 180 miles per hour. Organizers say that all CDC Covid-19 safety recommendations will be followed.
When: Oct. 7-9
Where: Fort Myers Beach
Web: roaroffshore.com

BOYNTON BEACH HAUNTED PIRATE FEST & MERMAID SPLASH – Event highlights include a pirate invasion, the Wheel of Death, live pirate reenactments, authentic pirate encampments, cannon shootings, continuous live music, adult and children costume contests, mermaid and pirate encounters, a mermaid pageant, Seven Seas Restaurant Row (featuring yummy food from local restaurants), comedy acts, crafts, games and a treasure hunt. Masks are not required, but they are recommended when social distancing is not possible.
When: Oct. 30-31
Where: downtown Boynton Beach
Web: bbpiratefest.com  

MIAMI CARNIVAL – It is scaling down just a bit this year, but there is still so much happening that you will have a great time if you go to this multi-event party. Included are steel bands, parades, concerts, beauty pageants, colorful and elaborate costumes, scrumptious food and arts and crafts. The biggie events are: Carnival Sunday Parade and Concert, Panorama and J’ouvert. Attendees must wear masks at all events and bring proof of a negative Covid test.
When: Oct. 8-10
Where:  Miami-Dade Fair & Expo, Miami
Web: miamicarnival.org

MIAMI HOME DESIGN & REMODELING SHOW – The latest trends will be on display for home improvements, décor, kitchen and bath renovations, flooring, closets, furniture, garden and patio, hurricane protection, home automation and security. Meet TV celebrity designer Alena Capra and featured interior designers Ann Ueno, Francy C. Arria and Roberta Marcelino. Also included: lifestyle seminars, family day art activities and food and wine pairing demonstrations. Face masks are required and organizers urge all attendees to respect social distancing.
When: Oct. 1-3
Where: Miami Dade-County Fair & Expo Center, Miami
Web: homeshows.net

FANTASY FEST – Leave the young’uns at home and head for this non-stop, adult-themed mega-party. Some of the more high profile events (the Headress Ball, the street fair and parade) have been cancelled this year, but there will still be plenty of fun to be had, including costume competitions (one for pets, too!), island bands, pool parties, a scavenger hunt, a living art expo and great food. The theme for this year’s 41st celebration is: “All A Daze for a Holiday.” Click on the orange bar at the top of the website below for Covid safety information and protocols.
When: Oct. 22-31
Where: Various locations in Key West
Web: fantasyfest.com

MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AUTO SHOW – Several hundred new cars, crossovers and SUVs will be showcased. Attendees will be able to test drive new cars and trucks from Toyota, Chevrolet and Nissan. The Antique Automobile Club of America’s South Florida Region will present a lineup of classics. Vehicles expected to be on display include a 1959 Ford Skyliner, a 1956 Chevy Nomad wagon, a 1967 Corvette Stingray Coupe, a 1968 Mercedes Benz 280SE coupe, a 1969 Camaro Indy Pace car, and a 1974 Detomaso Pantera.  At the end of the show one lucky visitor will win a new Hyundai Sonata. Masks are required.
When: Oct. 16-24
Where: Miami Beach Convention Center
Web: miamiandbeaches.com/event/miami-international-auto-show/121?category=12

BEER! BRATWURST! LIVE MUSIC! MORE BEER! -- It being October, we could only be talking about Oktoberfest. Here are some of the celebrations:

ORCHID SYMPOSIUM – In addition to presentations and classes by the Southwest Florida Orchid Society, vendors will be selling orchids outdoors near the Garden Shoppe. Pollinator plants, herbs, fruit trees and more orchids will be sold inside. There will also be lots of good live music, food and beverages. The plant sale is free, but the presentations and classes are $10 for members and $15 for non- members. Staff will be wearing masks and organizers strongly encourage attendees to wear a mask in places where they are not able to properly social distance.
When: Oct. 9-10
Where: Edison and Ford Winter Estates, Fort Myers
Web: edisonfordwinterestates.org/events/orchid-sale-and-symposium/

SOUTH BEACH SEAFOOD WEEK & FESTIVAL – Attendees will help kick off the annual Stone Crab season and enjoy a myriad of other seafood yummies prepared by Miami’s top chefs and restaurants. Also: live bands, culinary and mixology demonstrations, a kids zone, health village and VIP hospitality benefits.  All events are outdoors with ample room for social distancing. Masks are not required for guests, but they are invited to bring them if they want to do so. All staff will be in compliance with CDC guidelines.
When: Oct. 20-23
Where: Various locations in Miami Beach
Web: sobefoodfest.com

NAPLES INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL – The highlight this year will be a presentation of Back to the Future, with the film’s music score performed live by the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra. More than 50 films will be presented, including narrative features, documentary features, short films and student films. In 2019 MovieMaker Magazine named it among one of the top 25 coolest film festivals in the world. Organizers strongly recommend masks be worn and they are required if you are not vaccinated.
When: Oct. 21-24
Where: Various locations in Naples
Web: naplesfilmfest.com

REEF FEST – Activities include seminars, evening social gatherings, silent and live auctions and, of course, diving events along some of the best coral reef sites in the country. For non-Scuba folks, there will be snorkeling, kayaking and paddle boarding. All seminars are free, but pre-registration is recommended. Click on “FAQs” at the web site below for information on health and safety information.      
When: Oct. 14-17
Where: Various locations in and near Key Largo
Web: reef.org/REEFFest

CELEBRATE ORGULLO – This 15-day multi-genre extravaganza showcases Hispanic LGBTQ Pride (Orgullo means Pride in Spanish) during Hispanic Heritage & LGBTQ Pride Month. Highlights include fashion art work displays, art diva bus tours an Art Deco walking tour, an Art Diva bus tour, a concert and drive-in move night (this year’s flick is The Birdcage), writer workshops and a roller derby night. All CDC guidelines will be followed and wearing of masks in encouraged.
When: Oct. 1-15
Where: Various locations in Miami Beach and Miami.
Web: celebrateorgullo.com

DING DARLING DAY – This year’s family-centric will be making what organizers are calling the “great migration” across the causeway to Fort Myers, instead of being held at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island. Activities include: a ranger-led birding walk, bring-your-own-bike tour, a mindfulness walk, Southern SnoBalls (while supplies last), nature journaling with Artist-in-Residence Rachel Pierce, the Wildlife on Wheels mobile interactive experience, a dunk tank, plein-air art demonstrations, conservation carnival games, amateur nature photo contest, nature crafts, a selfie station and some cool prizes. Masks are not required, but they are recommended if you can’t properly social distance in crowds.
When: Oct. 10
Where: Lakes Park, Fort Myers
Web: dingdarlingsociety.org/articles/ding-darling-days

ZOO BOO – Kids under the age of 12 can trick-or-treat in costumes, participate in costume contests, meet special characters, make Halloween crafts and see the animals get their Halloween goodies. Zoo Boo is included with general admission to the zoo. Masks are recommended but required only when feeding an animal.
When: Oct. 30-31
Where: Zoo Miami
Web: zoomiami.org/zoo-events/event/zoo-boo-2021

SCARECROWS GALORE – These scarecrows aren’t meant to scare anybody! Instead they will show how creative residents of these communities are.

  • Scarecrows in the Park – Ordinary folks of all ages will make their own scarecrows based on this year’s theme of book characters. They will be on display for two weeks. If you want to have a scarecrow shown, you need to register by Sept. 24. Scarecrows in the Park is part of a larger event called Fall Festival, which also includes a train ride, hay rides, bounce houses and yummy fare food. Masks are not required, but they are recommended if you can’t properly social distance in crowds.
    When: Oct. 15-31 
    Where:
    Lakes Park, Fort Myers
    Web: lakespark.org/scarecrows/
  • Scarecrows in the Forest Art Exhibit and Contest – These scarecrows are made from natural and recycled materials. There are cash prizes will be awarded in each of three categories: school-age individuals or groups, not-for-profit groups and businesses, amateur individuals and creative professionals. Masks are required.
    When: Now through November 30
    Where: Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden
    Web: keywest.garden

SWAMP CELEBRATION – For two days each year, visitors to the Big Cypress National Preserve can explore through guided swamp walks the private property surrounding noted photographer Clyde Butcher’s Big Cypress Gallery. Tours are 45 minutes and are limited to 10 people adults and five children. Reservations are required, as are masks. Make sure to check out the gallery to see Butcher’s amazing nature photographs. Masks are also required inside the gallery.
When: Oct. 23-24
Where: Big Cypress National Preserve, Ochopee
Web: swampcelebration2021.eventbrite.com/?aff=EventListing

CARIBBEAN CULTURE FEST – Hungering for some live music in the soca, reggae, dance hall, zouk, salsa and kompa genres? If so, this event is for you. It has always been a fusion of art, food and music connecting the Caribbean countries.
When: Oct. 16-17
Where: Miramar Regional Park Amphitheater, Miramar
Web: caribbeanculturefest.eventbrite.com

 

Learn more about Florida’s rich and fascinating wildlife and come away with a new appreciation for reptiles, birds and wetlands at the Florida Birding & Nature Festival, a three-day fest of walking, driving and boating tours and expert seminars, Oct. 15-17.
 

- Florida Birding and Nature Festival

 

 

CENTRAL FLORIDA

DRIVE-IN MOVIES – Drive-in movie theaters are enjoying a renaissance, catering to those who like to enjoy the group film-watching experience while also keeping a car’s length distance. The Central Florida region has a number of old fashioned drive-ins showing movies old and new, and patrons wearing masks can buy popcorn, soda and Twizzlers at the snack bars. Load up the family – some venues even allow pets – and check out some of the classics under the stars.
When: Five days a week to daily; check hours online
Where: Dade City, Ruskin, Lakeland, Ocala
Web: silvermoondrivein.com and ocaladrivein.info and joylandrivein.com and ruskinfamilydrivein.com

LAKE APOPKA WILDLIFE DRIVE AUDIO TOUR – Go on your own mini-safari through the restored former farm fields of Lake Apopka North Shore, where you’ll find lots of native birds, turtles, alligators, bobcats, snakes and other wildlife, as well as spotting rare Florida plant species. The St. Johns River Water Management District created a cool audio tour, which you can access with your mobile device, as you drive along the 11-mile stretch and soak in the scenery and solitude.
When: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from sunrise to sunset
Where: Lake Apopka North Shore farmlands, Orange County
Web: sjrwmd.com/lands/recreation/lake-apopka/wildlife-drive

LUKAS NURSERY BUTTERFLY ENCOUNTER – This year-round butterfly and bird conservatory is a fun and memorable experience for kids and adults alike, offering up-close encounters with stunningly graceful butterflies, chirping finches, Chinese button quail and lots and lots of beautiful plants and flowers. Learn about butterfly gardening and life cycles from the on-site experts and feed these fluttering friends right from your fingertips before peak season ends in late September. Can’t make the trip? The nursery offers virtual tours via its YouTube channel: youtube.com/lukasnurserybutterflyencounter.  
When: Daily 
Where: Lukas Nursery, Oviedo
Web: lukasnursery.com/butterfly-encounter

NEW SMYRNA BEACH JAZZ FESTIVAL – After taking a hiatus in 2020, this 20-year-old free jazz fest is returning with a new lineup of acclaimed musicians and bands entertaining music fans throughout New Smyrna’s historic district. Designed to draw visitors during one of the slower travel months of the year, guests can leisurely wine and dine while enjoying the sounds of bands and artists from around the country. Among some of this year’s acts: The US Navy Band Southeast, Danielle Eva Quartet, Sybil Gage, Amy Alysia Jazz Quartet along with newcomers Ella and The Bossa Beat and Tony Wynn and The Groove Factor.
When: Sept. 24-26
Where: Flagler Avenue Historic District, New Smyrna Beach
Web: http://nsbjazzfest.com/

HOOTERS CLEARWATER OFFSHORE NATIONALS – Now partnering with Key West’s Race World Offshore sanctioning body, this offshore power boat event is expected to be even bigger, faster and more exciting than ever. The three-day showcase and competition is set along the white, sandy shores of beautiful Clearwater Beach and promises some thrilling sights, good music and memorable interactions with boat lovers of all ages. Meet the race teams and drivers, enjoy regional cuisine, hit the dance party and watch the sunset at Pier 60.
When: Sept. 24-26
Where: Clearwater Beach
Web: https://clearwaternationals.com/

MANATEE PRIDE FESTIVAL – Celebrating its 7th year, the Manatee Pride Festival aims to raise both awareness and funds to support the LQBTQ youth of Sarasota and Manatee counties while treating visitors to a good time along Bradenton’s vast and scenic Riverwalk. Along the route will be live bands and drag show entertainment, vendors serving food and cold drinks and artists and crafters selling their wares. The event is free and welcoming to all.
When: Sept. 18
Where: Bradenton Riverwalk, downtown Bradenton
Web: https://discoverbradenton.com/bradentonevents/7th-manatee-pride-festival/

BUSCH GARDENS HOWL-O-SCREAM – Busch Gardens’ famous nighttime Halloween party returns with its terrifying, gory and spectacular haunted houses, immersive scare zones and costumed performers throughout the park. Geared toward adults and teens, Howl-O-Scream is sure to give even the bravest thrill-seeker a fright, and this year features three all-new haunted house experiences as well as electrifying music and dance performances at Festival Field and Dragon Fire Grill. In between screams, guests can ride Busch Gardens’ famous coasters in the dark.
When: Sept. 10-Oct. 31
Where: Busch Gardens, Tampa
Web: https://buschgardens.com/tampa/events/howl-o-scream/

MOUNT DORA CRAFT FAIR – Now in its 37th year and ranked the #1 Contemporary / Craft Festival in America by Sunshine Artist magazine, the Mount Dora Craft Fair brings more than 400 exhibitors to the streets of historic downtown Mount Dora. Festival food, music, beer and a wine-tasting for adults round out the happenings.
When: Oct 23, 24
Where: downtown Mount Dora
Web: https://mtdoracraftfair.com/

LAKELAND PUNK ROCK FLEA – Like a mini-flea market for punk and rock music lovers and counterculture collectors, this funky event will showcase a few of Central Florida’s hottest local bands, including the hairy and fanged rockers Wolf-Face from Tampa and Lakeland’s Bully For You. Shop for old records and vintage clothing, or make your own buttons and patches. The market will also have vendors doing henna tattoos, creating live screen-printed shirts and selling vegan hot dogs and snow cones.
When: Sept. 26
Where: Swan Brewing, Lakeland
Web: www.facebook.com/events/s/lakeland-punk-rock-flea/1100039307404777/      

FLORIDA BIRDING & NATURE FESTIVAL – Learn more about Florida’s rich and fascinating wildlife and come away with a new appreciation for reptiles, birds and wetlands after this three-day fest of walking, driving and boating tours and expert seminars. There’s also a cool nature expo where guests can learn more about getting involved with nature preservation organizations, photography and bird-watching, and for those who want to tune in virtually, the fest offers a number of educational Zoom seminars. Participation in the field trips is limited so register early.
When: Oct. 15-17
Where: Manatee Viewing Center, Apollo Beach
Web: https://www.floridabirdingandnaturefestival.org/

BIKETOBERFEST – Daytona Beach once again rolls out the red carpet for motorcycle enthusiasts from all over the country visiting the beach town for this fun, four-day party that fills the streets with a thunderous roar. Enjoy daily and nightly live bands, check out the latest gear and custom creations at the swap meet and bike show, sample locally made craft beer and take part in countywide rides with fellow bikers.
When: Oct. 14-17
Where: Daytona Beach
Web: https://www.daytonabeach.com/biketoberfest/

OKTOBERFEST TAMPA – Hoist a stein at Tampa’s largest Oktoberfest and join in the celebration of (somewhat) cooler fall weather in downtown’s beautiful waterfront park. Enjoy cold beer, dancing, games, live music and bratwurst, or test your German mettle by entering the Keg Stacking, Carry the Wench, Chicken Dance, Tug-O-War or Grain Sack Toss competitions. Stick around for the Saturday crowning ceremony of Mr. and Mrs. Oktoberfest, as well as the popular Beard & Mustache Competition.
When: Oct. 8-10
Where: Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, downtown Tampa
Web: https://www.oktoberfesttampa.com/

HUNSADER FARMS PUMPKIN FESTIVAL – Visit a real Central Florida working farm which opens its grounds for three weekends in October for a peek at country life at its finest. This festival has it all, including live animals and a kids’ petting farm, pony rides, a corn maze, chainsaw sculpting demonstrations, country bands, hayrides, a children’s train, homemade ice cream, pumpkin pie, roasted sweet corn, games, face painting and a walk-in butterfly exhibit.
When: Oct. 16-17, 23-24, 30-31
Where: Hunsader Farms, Bradenton
Web: https://www.hunsaderfarms.com/pumpkin-festival

SCARECROW FESTIVAL – Explore this Dade City historic museum and village covering more than six wooded acres while building your own scarecrow and enjoying some old-fashioned autumn fun. Enter a costume contest, pick out a pumpkin to paint on-site or take home and check out a blacksmith demonstration for a little history lesson. This year’s food options include burgers, hot dogs, chicken and an assortment of food trucks and sweet treats, and for entertainment, a bubble magician will perform along with some soccer-playing pups.
Where: Pioneer Florida Museum & Village, Dade City
When: Saturday, Oct. 9
Web: https://www.pioneerfloridamuseum.org/

FOX SQUIRREL CORN MAZE – The Futch family brings back this fan-favorite corn maze and fall fest for its 10th year, showing off its vast acreage while offering horse and pony rides, duck races, a gigantic slingshot aimed at a scarecrow, a toddler-sized hay bale maze and other fun activities for all ages. Shop for pumpkins, moo at some cows and dance along to live bluegrass music while noshing on fair foods like kettle corn and boiled peanuts.
When: Weekends only, Oct. 9-24
Where: Single R Ranch, Plant City
Web: https://futchentertainment.com/the-fox-squirrel-corn-maze/

DUNEDIN STONE CRAB FESTIVAL – Kick off delicious stone crab season at this annual low-key event held at a couple scenic waterside restaurants, where people can sit and enjoy some steamed claws, cold beer and live music. The fest has scaled down in recent years due to a tropical storm in 2019 and COVID-19 in 2020, but is still committed to serving up this sustainable seafood treat, either dine-in or to-go, and bringing out bands to entertain in a safe, outdoor setting.
When: Oct. 30
Where: Downtown Dunedin
Web: https://www.dunedinstonecrabfestival.com/

TOP DOG 2021 – Dog and human guests are invited to this memorable and hilarious Westminster-like dog show, held in two different locations to raise money for a Donte’s Den, a charitable long-term care facility for homeless dogs. Enter your pet into a variety of competitions, such as Best Kiss and Best Dressed, and enjoy an evening of dinner, cocktails and a special presentation by psychic and author Michael Bodine
When: Oct. 9 & 16
Where: Bradenton Yacht Club, Palmetto; Bird Key Yacht Club, Sarasota
Web: https://www.dontesden.org/top-dog-2021/

MOUNT DORA BICYCLE FESTIVAL – Cyclists of all skill levels can choose from 19 different road, mountain and – new this year – gravel routes through gorgeous Mount Dora and surrounding counties, with fun challenges ranging from social rides to crushing hill climbs, as well as pre-ride breakfasts and grab-and-go lunches, a beer garden and other activities. This year’s event also has some shorter rides for the little ones (or novices), complete with snacks and plenty of water refills.
When: Oct. 7-10
Where: Mount Dora & Lake County
Web: https://www.mountdorabicyclefestival.com/

THE HAUNTED ROAD –After a successful launch last year, Central Florida’s first contactless, drive-through Halloween experience is back, complete with bloody, creepy characters, spooky dark corners, sound effects and immersive storytelling. The 40-minute ride of terror builds on the “mysterious occurrences” and paranormal activity claims from last year, prompting some to wonder if Lake Pickett Road really is haunted. You decide, and if you make it to the end alive, there’s a special open-air add-on experience at the end that includes drinks, BBQ, a market and some bonus haunts.
When: Select dates throughout October
Where: Orlando
Web: https://www.thehauntedroad.com/

BUSCH GARDENS HOWL-O-SCREAM – Busch Gardens’ famous nighttime Halloween party returns with its terrifying, gory and spectacular haunted houses, immersive scare zones and costumed performers throughout the park. Geared toward adults and teens, Howl-O-Scream is sure to give even the bravest thrill-seeker a fright, and this year features three all-new haunted house experiences as well as electrifying music and dance performances at Festival Field and Dragon Fire Grill. In between screams, guests can ride Busch Gardens’ famous coasters in the dark.
When: Oct. 1-Oct. 31
Where: Busch Gardens, Tampa
Web: https://buschgardens.com/tampa/events/howl-o-scream/

RIVERWALK HALLOWEEN HUNT – This free, family-friendly, not-too-spooky virtual scavenger hunt can be played any time along the Tampa Riverwalk by downloading an app and scanning a QR code. Players of all ages can solve riddles and puzzles, carry out tasks and enjoy the beautiful waterside space while competing as teams or individuals to be the top HalloWinners. And yes, that means prizes!
When: Oct. 16-31
Where: Tampa Riverwalk, downtown Tampa
Web: https://thetampariverwalk.com/events-news/events/halloween-hunt.html

ST. PETERSBURG SCIENCE FESTIVAL –Geared toward kiddos from kindergarten through middle school, this beloved educational fest is going virtual again this year, bringing the wonders of science, technology, engineering, art and math to families’ homes and teachers’ classrooms. Check out dozens of online live demonstrations, unique behind-the-scenes tours, and videos that explore robotics, slime, animals, puzzles and other cool STEAM activities. The two-day event will again be held in conjunction with MarineQuest, Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute's annual marine discovery day, which will also be streamed virtually for convenience and safety.
When: Oct. 15 & 16
Where: Virtual
Web: https://stpetescifest.org/

  

                                                       

Amazing Grace Family Farm in Green Cove Springs is honoring hometown Olympian, swimmer Caeleb Dressel, in the design of its 2021 maze. (Seriously.) Other fall activities include visiting the pumpkin patch and sunflower field, hula hoop fun, a jump pad, and meeting the farm animals. (Oct. 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 29-30)
 

- Amazing Grace Family Farm

 

 

NORTH FLORIDA

GHOSTS, MURDERS AND MAYHEM SEGWAY TOUR  Learn a little more about Pensacola’s dark side and the ghosts who wander the city’s old Red Light District once the moon rises. Guests will zip along the city’s streets visiting the site of a street car bombing or the first drive-through funeral home. They’ll also learn about Seville Quarter’s bartending ghost. Tours must be booked in advance and are limited to only 6 guests. Stories told on the tour vary nightly.
When: Daily
Where: Pensacola
Web: emeraldcoasttours.net/segway-tours

KAYAK AMELIA  With Florida’s state parks now open, Kayak Amelia, which has its home base on the Big Talbot Island State Park, is back in business. The coastal barrier island, known for its boneyard beach, sits just south of Amelia Island and on Jacksonville’s far northeast corner. If you’re an experienced kayaker and want to set out on your own, they rent kayaks and paddleboards by the hour. But if you want to learn more about the coastal ecosystem join one of the guided kayak tours. Tour options include a Salt Marsh Eco Tour or an Eco Tour to Kingsley Plantation. For paddleboarders, Kayak Amelia offers an introductory class or SUP Yoga.
When: Dates vary
Where: Big Talbot Island
Web: kayakamelia.com

SCALLOP SEASON  So much you hear about fishing the Florida coast has to do with reeling in kingfish (see tournament below!), grouper, tarpon, sailfish and more. Most of those catches require a boat, lots of luck and some skill. But scalloping the Gulf Coast just requires a keen set of eyes, Florida saltwater fishing permit, dive flag and net. It’s like going on an underwater treasure hunt. Yes, there are harvesting regulations but it’s the kind of “fishing” that even the kids will enjoy. Harvesting dates and quantities vary by county.
When: through Sept. 24
Where: Gulf County (Aug. 16 - Sept. 24), Franklin through northwest Taylor County (July 1 - Sept. 24), Dixie County (June 15 - Sept. 6)
Web: https://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational/bay-scallops

PENSACOLA SEAFOOD FESTIVAL — The Gulf to Table area of the fest features some of the city’s best chefs serving up their signature seafood dishes in tapas-sized portions with the seafood sourced directly from the Gulf. Also, learn how you can up your own game in the kitchen when some of these culinary masters work the Fiesta Seafood Grille, an outdoor demo kitchen. Also includes more than 150 arts and craft vendors, kids zone and live music.
When: Sept. 24-26
Where: Pensacola
Webhttps://www.fiestapensacola.org/seafood-festival

SING OUT LOUD MUSIC FESTIVAL  St. Augustine’s multi-act, multi-genre, multi-venue live music festival is back with a lineup that includes local, regional and national stars. The festival highlight includes an epic 90s tribute night featuring TLC and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Other festival headliners include KT Turnstall, Parquet Courts, up-and-coming soul/country/pop star Yola, Patty Griffin and Kevin Morby.
When: Sept. 10-26
Where: St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra Beach
Web: https://www.singoutloudfestival.com

ANCIENT CITY COMIC CON It’s more than just celebrity meet-and-greets and panels at Ancient City annual event, as gamers can also test their skills in the Tabletop Gaming Arena on board games, role playing games and in video game tournaments. But for those who just want to chat with their favorite sci-fi, anime or fantasy pop culture stars, the fest has a full lineup of celebrities including Mindy Sterling (Austin Powers), Tyler Johnston (Supernatural), Tony Daniels (X-Men) and Eddie Price (artist). 
When: Sept. 17-19
Where: St. Augustine
Web: http://www.ancientcitycon.com

FIRST COAST CRAFT BEER FESTS  As beer lovers prepare to lift their steins and don lederhosen to salute all things pertaining to Oktoberfest, Amelia Island has two beer-themed festivals that are coming to the party early. 

·  Island Hop Craft Beer Festival (Sept. 18-19, Amelia Island): With the Fernandina Beach community now home to three craft breweries, Mocama Beer Company, First Love Brewing and Amelia Island Brewing Company, the brewers decided to join forces to host an annual festival. Other Northeast Florida breweries like Dog Rose Brewing Company out of St. Augustine and Fishweir Brewing out of Jacksonville, will be joining the fun. Includes live entertainment by The Honey Badgers.  https://www.islandhopcraftbeerfest.com

·  AIBC Oktoberfest (Sept. 25, Amelia Island): Amelia Island Brewing Company’s annual Oktoberfest celebration includes seasonal beer releases, traditional German eats and games. https://www.ameliaisland.com/Calendar/AIBC-Oktoberfest

FLY INTO FALL KITE FESTIVAL  See a 50-foot gator, 100-foot octopus and a 80-foot panda take flight over The Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island during two days of high flying fun. The Emerald Coast Kite Flyers Club and Kitty Hawk Kites will present professional stunt kite demos, free kite flying lessons and more.
When: Sept. 18-19
Where: Fort Walton Beach
Web: https://www.kittyhawk.com/event/fly-fall-fort-walton-beach-fl

AKC PALS & PAWS AGILITY TRIALS  Watch man’s best friend show off its moves as it races through a preset obstacle course. Each dog must complete the course in a set amount of time and obstacles can include tunnels, tire jumps, seesaws and pause tables, in which a dog is required to stop for a predetermined length of time.
When: Sept. 25-26
Where: Jacksonville Equestrian Center
Web: https://www.palsandpawsagility.com/upcoming-trials

RESTLESS SLUMBER CEMETERY — Welcome, foolish mortals. Maybe a haunted house isn’t quite for you? What about a haunted cemetery? And you don’t have to leave your car! The inhabitants of the Restless Slumber Cemetery will spook and scare you and the occupants of your vehicle on a 30-minute drive thru journey amid lifelike creepy, crawly scenes.  
When: Sept. 24-25, Oct. 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 29-31 
Where: Lake City
Web: https://www.restlessslumber.com

FALL ON THE FARM — The weather might still be summer, but these northeast Florida farms bring a little taste of autumn to the Sunshine State with hayrides, corn mazes and pumpkin patches. 

  •  Sykes Family Farm Crop Maze (Oct. 2-30, Elkton): Sykes Family Farms’ 9-acre corn maze has four phases and provides guests with a passport with questions to help guide you through the maze. The first two phases cater to adults, the last two phases are for kids and feature large storyboards of Halloween-themed picture books throughout the journey. After reaching the finish line, kids can go on a hayride, meet the farm’s animals, watch duck races and check out the cow milking station. https://sycofarms.com
  • Amazing Grace Family Farm (Oct. 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 29-30, Green Cove Springs): Amazing Grace is honoring hometown Olympian, swimmer Caeleb Dressel, in the design of its 2021 maze. (Seriously, check it out on their Facebook page!) Other fall activities include visiting the pumpkin patch and sunflower field, hula hoop fun, a jump pad and meeting the farm animals. https://www.agcropmaze.com/fall

ART FESTS — It’s never too early to start checking items off your holiday shopping lists at one of these art festivals which each provide a one-of-a-kind shopping opportunity.  

  • Artsquest Fine Arts Festival (Oct. 9-10, Miramar Beach): Now in it’s 33rd year, ArtsQuest is a juried show featuring the work of more than 150 artists in disciplines like glass, metal, mixed media, printmaking, photography and more. https://www.culturalartsalliance.com/arts-quest
  • Ocala Arts Festival (Oct. 23-24, Ocala): More than 150 artists will compete for $22,000 in prize money at the 56th annual fest. Includes live entertainment on two stages, food vendors, a student art showcase and kids activities. http://www.fafo.org/about-the-ocala-arts-festival
  • Festival of Arts (Oct. 30-31, Destin): Presented by the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation, the 26th annual festival features the work of 65 artists in various disciplines including ceramics, digital art, jewelry, fiber and wood. Includes live entertainment, local food trucks and a beer garden. https://mkaf.org/arts-festival

RHYTHM & RIBS — Kiss a pig, groove to three days of live music and fulfill all your BBQ cravings from regional and national barbecue champions at one of St. Augustine’s largest food fests. The annual festival, which was postponed in 2020 due to the pandemic, is back and although it’s moved from spring to fall, the two things remain constant: the BBQ’s award winning and the live music keeps toes tapping and hips swaying. The headliners include Jordan Fletcher (Friday), Travis Tritt (Saturday) and the Luke Langford Band (Sunday). Includes kids games, rides and arts and crafts vendors. 
When: Oct. 15-17
Where: St. Augustine
Web: https://rhythmandribs.net

THEY’RE PLAYING MY SONG — You sing these tunes in the shower, while you’re making dinner or in the car. Now, get a chance to meet the real faces (and voices) behind some of your favorite hit country songs at one of these music fests that feature intimate stages in small venues.

  • Blast on the Bay Songwriters Festival (Oct. 15-17, Port St. Joe): Celebrating 11 years, Blast on the Bay brings the best musicians and songwriters from Nashville to the Gulf Coast. This year’s group has penned songs for Faith Hill, George Strait, Jason Aldean and Garth Brooks. Features more than 25 artists and seven venues. https://blastonthebay.com
  • St. Augustine Songwriters Festival (Oct. 22-24, St. Augustine): Learn the stories behind top country hits like Some of It performed by Eric Church, Homemade performed by Jake Owen and Already Gone performed by Sugarland when the songwriters take their place in the spotlight. Features more than 25 songwriters performing on multiple stages around the historic downtown. http://staugustinesongwritersfestival.com/index.html

39TH ANNUAL FALL FESTIVAL Orange Park’s inaugural Fall Festival consisted of 12 vendor booths and a few guitar players. Now, it’s one of the largest fall festivals in the greater Jacksonville area. This year’s fest will include more than 200 artists, crafters and vendors, two stages for live entertainment, 25 food vendors and a large Kids Zone with face painting, pony rides and a bungee jump. The Atlantic City Boys will be the event’s headliner performing each day.
When: Oct. 16-17
Where: Orange Park
Web: https://opfallfestival.com

PENSACOLA INTERSTATE FAIR — Have you missed deep-fried Oreos? A stomach-turning spin on the Wheel or Gravitron? The opportunity to attend a live concert? The 87th annual fair has announced their live entertainment lineup and Rodney Atkins, one of the top selling country singer/songwriters will headline the event. Other acts include a comedic stunt dog routine, blues and soul singer Jordan Chase, Sea Lion Splash and Cirque Ma’Ceo by Cavallo Equestrian Arts.
When: Oct. 21-31
Where: Pensacola Interstate Fairgrounds
Web: http://www.pensacolafair.com

NATIONAL DOG SHOW — It’s four months until go time at Westminster for the nation’s floofiest, poofiest, well-bred hounds. While waiting to see which breed will take top billing, you can catch the top goldens in action at the Golden Retriever Club of America’s annual show. For more than a week, top dogs representing the breed will be judged in agility trials, field trials, tracking and obedience skills leading up to the main event, the Best of Breed show.
When: Oct. 22-30
Where: World Equestrian Center
Web: https://2021.grcanational.com/schedule

FLORIDA FOREST FESTIVAL — Help celebrate the “Tree Capital of the South,” aka Taylor County, with a day that promotes the benefits of the Sunshine State’s forest lands with cross cut saw and chainsaw competitions, the King Tree Parade and heavy equipment lumberjack shows. Guests can also partake in the free fish fry, a Strutt Your Mutt contest, kids parade and fireworks.
When: Oct. 23
Where: Perry
Web: http://www.floridaforestfestival.org

FLORIDA BAT FESTIVAL — Other than catching some of the largest bat species in action — be prepared to meet Calvin, a large flying fox, and his six-foot wingspan — what else can guests look forward to when attending the 17th annual fest? Baby bats! Bat-themed merch! You’re picking up on the theme, right? Bat education seminars! Plus, live music, food trucks and vendors, a kids zone with bounce houses and games and a beer garden. Festival goers ages 21 and up can purchase a ticket for the Beer Garden that includes a souvenir glass and unlimited pours from local craft brewers like Swamp Head Brewery, Azalea City Brewing Company and First Magnitude Brewing  Company. 
When: Oct. 23
Where: Lubee Bat Conservancy, Gainesville
Web: https://www.lubee.org/batfest

ORCHIDS IN THE GARDEN — Kanapaha combines its annual fall plant sale with the Gainesville Orchid Society’s annual juried show. Kanapaha welcomes all guests to explore their 68 acres of botanical gardens for free during the annual event. The plant sale includes more than 40 vendor booths selling a wide variety of plant species and garden accessories. The Orchid Society’s show will take place inside the main building and includes orchid suppliers and vendors.
When: Oct. 23-24
Where: Kanapaha Gardens, Gainesville
Web: https://kanapaha.org/fall-plant-%26-orchid-sale

FLORIDA GEORGIA PICKLEBALL CLASSIC — It may have been the fastest growing sport most people had never heard of until the pandemic left these same people searching for outdoor sports that promoted social distancing. Enter pickleball, which mashes up tennis, badminton and ping pong. Now players of all ages can relive their athletic glory days in weekend tournaments that feature singles or doubles competition with a net separating the playing surface. Psst ... in case you were wondering, this will not be the biggest Florida/Georgia competition of Halloween weekend. That’s actually happening in Jacksonville at TIAA Bank Field when the Gators and Bulldogs play their annual rivalry game on Saturday.
When: Oct. 29-31
Where: Treaty Park, St. Augustine
Web: https://www.pickleballtournaments.com/tournamentinfo.pl?tid=4991

 

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