Gasparilla Pirate Fest

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. 
 

January | February | March | April | May | June | July | August | September | October | November | December 

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 EVENTS


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

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

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 South Florida Garlic Fest (known as the Best Stinkin’ Party in Town) and the Kiss Country Chili Cook-Off. Each one offers mighty fine live musical fare, too.
Where: Respectively, the Collier County Fairgrounds in Naples; John Prince Park in Lake Worth; and CB Smith Park in Pembroke Pines
Web: Respectively, bigswampsmokeoff.comgarlicfestfl.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

CLAMJAM OF SOUTHWEST FLORIDA – Seminars, entertainment, arts & crafts, contests and, of course, fresh
clams -- top neck, middle neck, little neck, steamers and venus, if you know your clams -- and seafood, right off the boats of local fishermen.
Where: German-American Social Club, Cape Coral
Webclamjamswfl.com

THUNDER BY THE BAY MOTORCYCLE FESTIVAL – At this gathering, you’ll see all the great new and vintage bikes, sample great food and see/hear outstanding live music.
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
 

"CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR!" HOLIDAY HOME TOUR - Elaborate, elegant, over-the-top designer Christmas decorations in one of Florida's most historic mansions. The 1886 "Gilded Age" Victorian Stetson Mansion has been recently been listed as one of the "Top 10 Things to do in Florida" by Tripadvisor. Reservations required.
Where: Stetson Mansion, 1031 Camphor Ln, DeLand, FL 32720
Web: stetsonmansion.com/

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

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

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

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

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/

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

 

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

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.org

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

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

New Daytona

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 EVENTS

 

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

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:  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

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

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

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

DELAND CRAFT BEER FESTIVAL – Get to know some of Central Florida’s finest and most unique craft beers by attending the annual DeLand Craft Beer Festival. Taking place in the heart of Downtown DeLand, on Georgia Avenue, admission to the event includes access to the rare and vintage tasting tent, live music and unlimited samples from over 100 breweries.
Where: DeLand
Web: delandcraftbeer.com.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 EVENTS

 

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's one on the left coast: the Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Parade. On the right coast, there is the Original Marathon Seafood Festival. Both 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: fortmyersbeachshrimpfestival.com and marathonseafoodfestival.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

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.

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

 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: miamifilmfestival.com

 

CENTRAL FLORIDA
 

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

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

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

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: www.cubansandwichfestival.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

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

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

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

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

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 annual Sugar Sand Festival, which also also features demonstrations and fireworks.

- Nick Collura for VSPC

 

APRIL EVENTS

 

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 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

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: sarasotafilmfestival.com, fmbfilmfest.com and mglff.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

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

FLORIDA STORYTELLING FESTIVAL Florida Story Association celebrates all things story in Mt. Dora. Highlights: Evening concerts under the Big Top Tent, workshops, Story Swaps, Story Slams, Fringe Stories and Front Porch Stories at the historic Lakeside Inn. There’s even a Story Cruise on Lake Dora. Tellers have been bringing their best stories from all over the world for more than 30 years.
Where: Lakeside Inn in Mt. Dora
Web: flstory.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

PIER 60 SUGAR SAND FESTIVAL – This beach-wide celebration pays tribute to Tampa Bay’s two most valuable assets: sugar sands and sunsets. The showcase is a 21,000-square-foot structure that transforms into an art gallery of sand sculptures created by master sculptors from around the world.
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: ocalamarion.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.mil

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

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

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

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

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 EVENTS

 

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

MOTHERS DAY DOLPHIN TOURNAMENT – Fish for a cause in this one-day Dolphin shootout that benefits Habitat for Humanity of the Middle Keys. It features fab fishing, prize money and trophies for the winners, and an awards banquet complete with door prizes and an auction.
Where: Marathon, Florida Keys
Web: habitatmiddlekeys.org/dolphin-tournament.php

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: stayinmay.com

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.com

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

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

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

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.org

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

 

NORTH FLORIDA
 

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, fiestapensacola.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, jacksonvillejazzfest.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 
 

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

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, 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

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 
 

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: carnivaltampa.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

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

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

NORTH FLORIDA
 

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/about/drakes-raid/

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

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

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

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

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

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 EVENTS

 

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

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

 

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: visitcentralflorida.org

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

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

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

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 SUGAR 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

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

 

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

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  

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

SAN AUGUSTINE’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: www.visitpensacolabeach.com/events/pensacola-beach-air-show.php

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

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 EVENTS

 

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

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

TROPICAL HEAT – More than a dozen intriguingly decadent all-male events, ranging from 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

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

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

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: ZooTampa at Lowry Park

 

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

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

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 EVENTS

 

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

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

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

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 pageant.
Where: Various locations in Key West
Web: womenfest.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

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

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

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

ART, 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

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

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

PENSACOLA DRAGON BOAT FESTIVAL — 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 Pensacola.
Where: Bayview Park in Pensacola
Web: pensacoladragonboatfestival.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: Nocatee Event Field, Ponte Vedra
Web: pvautoshow.com

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

JACKSONVILLE QUILT FEST — 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. Each year has a new fun, theme and benefits charity.
Where: Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center, Jacksonville
Web: quiltfestjax.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 EVENTS

 

SOUTH FLORIDA
 

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

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

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

CLEARWATER MARINE AQUARIUM’S BIRTHDAY BUBBLE BASH – Join CMA in celebrating inspirational dolphins Winter and Hope during their Birthday Bubble Bash. Kids 12 and under receive 25% off online admission using promo code Birthday.
Where: 249 Windward Passage Clearwater, FL 33767
Web: seewinter.com

CLEARWATER MARINE AQUARIUM’S TRICK OR TWEET – Join Clearwater Marine Aquarium for Winter the Dolphin’s Trick or Tweet Halloween celebration. Enjoy spooktacular activities and see rescued bats and creepy crawlies on select days. Kids 12 and under receive 25% off online admission using promo code Boo.
Where: 249 Windward Passage Clearwater, FL 33767
Web: seewinter.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 
 

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

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

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

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
Weblegoland.com

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

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

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: stampedfilmfest.com

OCTOBERFEST — You don’t need dirndls and lederhosen to enjoy an ice-cold beer stein filled with the best Oktoberfest brews. Instead, prepare yourself for a weekend of German food, music, themed contests like stein holding and pumpkin bowling, and, of course, beer to welcome fall. Beaches Oktoberfest kicks off their festivities with a Craft-Toberfest party featuring 40 craft breweries and 10 food trucks.
Where:Jacksonville and Jacksonville Beach
Web:   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

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 EVENTS

 

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: flibs.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

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

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

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

 

CENTRAL FLORIDA
 

"CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR!" HOLIDAY HOME TOUR - Elaborate, elegant, over-the-top designer Christmas decorations in one of Florida's most historic mansions. The 1886 "Gilded Age" Victorian Stetson Mansion has been recently been listed as one of the "Top 10 Things to do in Florida" by Tripadvisor. Reservations required.
Where: Stetson Mansion, 1031 Camphor Ln, DeLand, FL 32720
Web: stetsonmansion.com/

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

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

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

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

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

GREEK FESTIVAL - Fully immerse yourself in Greek culture. For more thatn 40 years, this multi-day annual festival has featured authentic traditional Greek food, music, dancing and libations. Held every November on the Halifax River, the event is free and open to the public, which includes parking and shuttle service.
Where: St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, Daytona Beach
Web: hdaytonabeach.com/events/greek-festival

HALIFAX ART FESTIVAL – From ceramics and basket weaving to watercolors and oil paintings, the Halifax Art Festival, held each fall in early November, celebrates seasoned as well as emerging artists and craftspeople. Featuring 250 juried artisans from all over the country, it is the second oldest continual art festival in the state of Florida.
Where: Historic Beach Street, downtown Daytona Beach
Web: daytonabeach.com/events/halifax-art-festival

NORTH FLORIDA
 

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

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

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
Webwww.cattyshack.org

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 EVENTS

 

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. You can see some of the best and the brightest at Santa’s Enchanted Forest at Tropical Park in Miami.
Web: santasenchantedforest.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

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 COOL – This excellent craft show in SoFla in December features exceptional works in ceramics, decorative fiber, glass, jewelry, leather, metal, mixed media, paper wearable art, wood, painting, photography and sculpture: the Downtown Delray Beach New Year’s Weekend Craft Festival.
Web: 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

WINTER’S WONDERLAND – Visit Clearwater Marine Aquarium and experience Winter’s Wonderland! Embrace the holiday spirit with festive lights, kid friendly activities and Sea of Light boat cruises during extended evening hours. 
Where: 249 Windward Passage Clearwater, FL 33767 
Webseewinter.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
 

ENTRE NOUS HOLIDAY TOUR OF HOMES— Each year on the first weekend of December, this self-driven tour offers views of four festively decorated homes, each uniquely styled, ranging from historic Victorian waterfront properties to ultra-sleek modern ones. Local vendors, wine and quilt raffles, and tasty treats round out the offerings. 100% of the profits are given back to Manatee County residents and non-profit organizations.
Where: Manatee County
Web: www.entrenousmanatee.org

"CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR!" HOLIDAY HOME TOUR - Elaborate, elegant, over-the-top designer Christmas decorations in one of Florida's most historic mansions. The 1886 "Gilded Age" Victorian Stetson Mansion has been recently been listed as one of the "Top 10 Things to do in Florida" by Tripadvisor. Reservations required.
Where: Stetson Mansion, 1031 Camphor Ln, DeLand, FL 32720
Web: stetsonmansion.com/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  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

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

PLACES TO REMEMBER