So you’ve reached your final Florida destination, now what? Well, hold tight because this is one Florida destination where the fun never stops! In fact, there are probably more events and festivals going on in the Florida Keys & Key West than in any other Florida destination. Here’s a quick list of fun Keys’ happenings that you won’t want to miss!
The Aquanettes: Reality Is A Drag
Key West: repare yourself for some amazing costumes, great music and lots of laughs when the the world famous Aquanettes take to the stage. This outrageous troupe of lip-synching, wise-cracking drag queens prance, dance, shimmy and shake to the howls and hoots of a packed house. No two shows are ever the same so you never know what’s going to happen. FYI: Bring lots of dollar bills for tipping the performers — the more you tip, the more they play. Showtimes: Su – Weds at 9pm; Thurs at 7 & 9pm; Fri & Sat at 7, 9, 11pm. Reservations recommended. See them at Aqua Nightclub, 711 Duval St, Key West. 305-294-0555; aquakeywest.com.
Mallory Square & Margarittaville Resort Sunset Celebration
Key West: Each evening, about two hours before sunset, flocks of people gather at Key West’s Mallory Square and on the pier behind the Margarittaville Resort to watch the sun slowly sink into the Gulf of Mexico and to revel in the colorful street performers, local artists, psychics and food vendors who have made Key West’s Sunset Celebration a world-famous, multicultural happening. If you’re really lucky you may even witness the rare “Green Flash.” Experience it nightly at the end of upper Duval Street. Info: 305-294-2787.
Mario Sanchez Original Works & Lecture
Key West: Owner of Key West’s renowned Gallery On Greene, Nance Frank has curated multiple exhibits of famed Cuban artist, Mario Sanchez with catalogues for his exhibit presented by The American Folk Art Museum, The Museum of the City Of New York as well as Cuba’s National Museum. Her weekly presentation about Sanchez’s life and work is absolutely fascinating. Takes place at 2pm every Tuesday at Gallery On Greene, 606 Greene St, Key West. 305-304-2323; galleryongreene.com.
Wednesday – Saturday
The Gardens Hotel Concert Series
Key West: Key West’s Gardens Hotel is one of the most beautiful boutique hotels on the island and every Weds. through Sat. from 5 – 7pm, you can enjoy wonderful, live piano music in the Hotel’s intimate Cabaret. Full bar and stellar wines are the coup de gras. Find at 525 Angela St, Key West. Info: 305-294-2661; gardenshotel.com.
Wednesday – Sunday
Florida Keys History & Discovery Center
Islamorada: This engaging new attraction encapsulates what living in the “Old Keys” was really like through a series of fascinating exhibits that include the infamous Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, Henry Flagler’s Railroad, the Overseas Highway, legendary anglers and fishing guides and lots more. Open Weds – Sun from 10am – 5pm. Located on the property of the Islander Resort, MM 82, Oceanside. Info: 305-922-2237; keysdiscovery.com.
Every Saturday & Sunday
Big Pine Flea Market
Big Pine Key: Discover all kinds of great finds at unbeatable prices at this long-time Lower Keys Flea Market that showcases an eclectic mix of both used and new merchandise, as well as locally made soaps, tools and tarps, fishing supplies, watches and jewelry, fresh produce and special Pop-Up stores. Open from 8am – 2pm every Sat and Sun October through May. Free admission and parking. Find it at 30250 Overseas Hwy, Oceanside on Big Pine Key. Info: 305-872-4103.
Jazz In The Gardens
Key West: Enjoy some terrific jazz amidst lush flora and fauna during this free hang that draws Key West’s top jazz cognoscenti. Full bar and fabulous wines. Takes place from 5:30 – 8pm at the Gardens Hotel, 526 Angel St, Key West. Info: 305-294-2661; gardenshotel.com.
Third Thursday Art Walk
Islamorada: Fine arts, live music and “culinary art” are the hallmark of this festive monthly event which showcases both national and local artisans in galleries along the Morada Way Arts & Cultural District. Takes place from 6 – 9pm on Old Hwy, MM 81.5, Oceanside, Islamorada. Info: 305-393-6012.
Now – December
Christopher Peterson’s Eyecons
Key West: Often compared to the legendary Jim Baily, master of impersonations, Christopher Peterson is, without a doubt, one of North America’s foremost female impersonators – both visually and vocally. His hit show, EYECONS, is one of the hottest tickets in town and you’ll be totally amazed by the way he transforms himself into more than a dozen famous women right before your very eyes with the help of his “magic closet.” Catch him in the Crystal Room Cabaret at La Te Da, 1125 Duval St, Key West. Tickets and info: 305-296-6706; lateda.com.
Now – December
Randy Roberts Live!
Key West: Highly acclaimed entertainer, Randy Roberts shines in this live, multi-media tribute to some of the world’s most beloved performers. His uncanny impersonations of Cher, Better Midler and Judy Garland are spot-on and he’ll have you rolling in the aisles when he performs a titillating strip tease as the bawdy Gypsy Rose Lee. But nothing compares to Roberts’ own self-created character which can only be described as Ann-Margaret, Liza Minnelli and Joan Rivers all rolled into one powerhouse performer. Catch this amazing show at La Te Da’s Crystal Room Cabaret, 1125 Duval St, Key West. Tickets and info: 305-296-6706; lateda.com.
WLRN’s The Florida Roundup
Life at the Edge in the Florida Keys: This live, hour-long radio broadcast of WLRN’s new weekly radio series, “The Florida Roundup,” is hosted by Tom Hudson, VP of News who will be joined by a panel of Keys journalists. You can be a part of the audience and participate in the conversation. A Q & A session follows that will launch WLRN’s Florida Keys Museum and Attractions Weekend. Takes place from Noon – 1:30pm at The Studios Of Key West, 533 Eaton St, Key West. 305-296-0458; tskw.org.
25th Annual Battle of the Bars
Key West: Unlikely warriors armed with margarita salt and keg taps, compete to conquer their foes with speed, skill and accuracy in this raucous annual contest that pits local bartenders and servers against one another as they drink, cajole and bribe their way to capture the coveted winning trophy. Takes place from 12:30 – 6:30pm at Schooner Wharf Bar in Key West’s Historic Seaport. Info: 305-292-3773; schoonerwharf.com.
August 9 – 12
22nd Annual Key West Lobsterfest
Key West: It’s a weekend of “Lobstermania” when approximately 10,000 pounds of succulent, locally caught lobster is grilled, sautéed, stuffed and deliciously prepared to celebrate the bounty of the Keys lobster season. Info: 305-294-2000; keywestlobsterfest.com.
August 15 – 19
Key West: This annual All-Male-All-Adult fever-pitched festival includes more than a dozen intriguingly decadent events ranging from drag shows to themed pool parties and gatherings at island clubs. Not for the faint-hearted! Info: 305-294-4603; tropicalheatkw.com.
August 30 – September 3
9th Annual Key West Brewfest
Key West: More than 150 beers and craft brews are on tap at this “tasty” annual event that includes beer dinners, beer brunches, happy hour parties, pool parties, late-night parties, seminars and the Signature Tasting Festival Event. Info: 800-354-4455; keywestbrewfest.com.
September 5 – 9
Key West: This blockbuster four day festival celebrates freedom and diversity and is a magnet for thousands of women from around the world who come to Key West for non-stop fun, parties, live performances and tons of activities. Info: 305-294-4603; womenfest.com.
September 14 – 16
46th Annual Phil Peterson’s Key West Poker Run
Florida Keys & Key West: Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the U.S. cruise down the Keys’ scenic Overseas Highway from mainland Florida to the Southernmost City to raise money for charity. Stops are arranged throughout the Keys with a final celebration in Key West. Info: 305-235-4023. petersonsharley.com.
September 28 – 29
Conch Scramble “On The Water” Golf Tournament
Islamorada: Join an on-the-water wacky weekend charity golf tournament that brings together four person teams to enjoy a game of nine holes by boat, to “drive” biodegradable golf balls toward floating greens — without any sand traps. Proceeds benefit local Keys charities. Info: 305-509-0315; conchscramble.com.
Coral Country Road Concert
Marathon: This full day concert event showcases top country artists from around the country, as well as over 50 vendors. Gates open at 11am at Marathon City Park Amphitheater, MM 48 oceanside. Tickets: keystix.com.
October 19 -20
Key West: Historic Bahama Village transforms itself into party central with non-stop, live entertainment, island-style food, arts and crafts and a “Junkanoo Rush” of costumed marchers through Key West’s downtown at 6pm on Fri and Sat. Takes place from noon until midnight on Petronia Street. Info: 305-619-8989.
October 19 – 28
39th Annual Fantasy Fest® Celebration: “Oh…The Games We Play”
Key West: This wildly outrageous, world renowned event celebrates 39 years of fun and debauchery starting with the crowning ceremony of the King and Queen of Fantasy Fest. This year’s theme is a sure to be a “cranium conundrum” for costume ideas. Become your favorite game show host, bring to life your childhood board games, or transport yourself into your most loved netherworld. See the 10 day event schedule on pages 22 – 23. More info: 305-295-9112; FantasyFest.com.
Andy Thurber Fine Art Exhibit & Key West Comparsa Dancers
Key West: Keys Folk artist, Andy Thurber draws his inspiration from where he has lived and worked and interprets Key West’s fast disappearing island culture through his watercolors and whimsical wood carvings. Takes place from 5 – 8pm with a special performance by the Key West Comparsa Dancers at 7pm. Gallery On Greene, 606 Greene St, Key West. 305-304-2323; galleryongreene.com.
Zombie Bike Ride
Key West: This pre-Halloween ride typically draws several thousand men, women and children — and even a few pets. Garbed in ragged costumes and frightening face and body makeup, they pedal along the island city’s Atlantic Ocean shore in a deliciously scary spectacle. The wacky event starts at 2pm when “Zombieland” opens at Fort East Martello Museum, a reputedly haunted historic site overlooking the Atlantic Ocean at 3501 S. Roosevelt Blvd. Info: zombiebikeride.com.
36th Annual Headdress Ball
Key West: Get out your feathers, glue guns and ribbons for the Key West Business Guild’s annual fundraising extravaganza. Hosted by funny man, Tom Luna, this fantastical headdress competition includes a special performance by renowned female impressionists, Christopher Peterson and Randy Roberts, along with lots of other “over the top” entertainment. Showtime: 8pm. Held rain or shine. Takes place at the new Truman Waterfront Amphitheater. Always a sell-out so order tickets early Info: 305-294-4603; headdressballkeywest.com. Tickets: keystix.com.
Haunted 3rd Annual Fall Harvest
Marathon: Enjoy some old fashioned harvest time fun to celebrate the fall season! Hay rides, trail mazes, face painting, crafts for kids, burgers, chili dogs, apple cider, caramel apples, baked goods & live music. Takes place from 4 – 8pm at Crane Point Museum, 5550 Overseas Hwy, Marathon Info: 305-743-9100; cranepoint.net.
November 4 – 11
37th Annual Key West World Championship Races
Key West: High-speed offshore powerboats race in Key West Harbor and surrounding waters to continue Key West’s longstanding tradition in this annual challenge, known internationally as the Indianapolis 500 of powerboat racing. A portion of the 6.5-mile course runs through Key West Harbor, meaning smooth water where racers can achieve speeds above 140 mph and provide fans breathtaking displays of skill and power. Info: 305-296-6166.
Spay-ghetti & No Balls Holiday Gala
Key Largo: This fun annual dinner, auction and mega dance party benefits MarrVelous Pet Rescues which is dedicated to uniting pets with loving homes and families. Takes place at 6:30pm on the waterfront at the beautiful Snook’s Bayside Restaurant & Grand Tiki, MM 99.9 Bayside, Key Largo. Tickets are EXTREMELY limited and not sold at the door. Info and tickets: 305-453-1315; spayghetti.com.
A Night At The Museum
Islamorada: This signature fundraiser for the Keys History & Discovery Museum is one of the Upper Keys’ most fun annual events. The evening kicks off with a themed cocktail party and some great jazz music. Following the reception is a fabulous plated dinner by acclaimed chef, Andy Neidenthal, as well as a silent and live auction. Takes place from 6 – 10pm at the Keys History & Discovery Center, MM 82 on the property of the Islander Resort in Islamorada. Info and tickets: 305-922-2237; keysdiscovery.com.
OTHER FLORIDA HAPPENINGS
Ft. Myers Art Walk
Fort Meyers: The Historic River District in
downtown Fort Myers comes alive artistically on the 1st Friday of each month, when local art galleries, restaurants and boutiques join together for Art Walk from 6pm – 10pm with art shows, live artist demonstrations, shopping and dining. Info: FortMyersArtWalk.com.
“Climb to the Moon” at Ponce de Leon Lighthouse
Daytona: One day each month, visitors are allowed to toast the setting sun and rising of the full moon at the top of Florida’s tallest lighthouse. Visited by over 170,000 people each year, the Light Station was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1998. Climb 203 steps to the top of the 175’ tower and enjoy magnificent views of Daytona Beach – the “World’s Most Famous Beach,” Ponce Inlet and surrounding inland waterways from the lighthouse gallery deck. Find it at 4931 S Peninsula Dr, Ponce Inlet, FL. FYI: Advance reservations a MUST! Call Karen 386.761.1821, ext. 10. Info: ponceinlet.org.
Now – September 29
Daytona Beach Bandshell Summer Concert Series & Fireworks
Daytona: Every Fri and Sat night, you can enjoy a wide genre of music at this terrific oceanfront concert series which features Jazz, Dixieland, Big Band, Folk and R&B, as well as Tribute Bands and Contemporary sounds. Fri night general admission is just $3 and $10 for VIP tickets (includes chair) plus applicable fees. Sat night concert is FREE and includes a big fireworks show at 9:45pm. Season tickets available at Ticketmaster, the Peabody Box Office or at the Bandshell on show nights. Showtime at 7pm. Takes place in Oceanfront Park at the historic Daytona Beach Bandshell, 70 Boardwalk Ave, Daytona Beach. Info: 386.253.0254; Bandshell.info.
VIVA Tampa Bay Hispanic Heritage Festival
Tampa: Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month during this fun annual family art and cultural that includes Latin food, arts and craft vendors, local bands, cultural dance exhibitions and more. Takes place from at Centennial Park, 1800E 8th Ave, Tampa. Info: AllAmericanMusicEvents.com.