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: Prepare yourself for some amazing costumes, great music and lots of laughs when 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; Th at 7 & 9pm; F & Sa at 7, 9, 11pm. Reservations recommended. See them at Aqua Nightclub, 711 Duval St., Key West. 305-294-0555; aquakeywest.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 like Key West’s Neat Stuff (Booths A-15, 17, 19). Open from 8am — 2pm every Sat. and Sun. through July. 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.
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.
Florida Keys History & Discovery Center
Islamorada: Every Thursday starting at 2pm, you can immerse yourself in classic flicks like PT 109, The Rose Tattoo, Key Largo, True Lies and other cool movies and documentaries that have been filmed in/or about the Keys at the Keys History & Discovery Center. In addition to many fascinating exhibits, the Center also boasts a state-of-the-art, 35-seat movie theater with “4-K Technology” which displays four times the detail of typical high definition devices. You can find the Florida Keys History right on the property of the Islander Resort, MM 82, Oceanside. Info: 305-922-2237; keysdiscovery.com.
Thursday – 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 Thursday through Sunday from 10am – 5pm Located on the property of the Islander Resort, MM 82, Oceanside. Info: 305-922-2237; keysdiscovery.com.
Christopher Peterson Master of Illusion
Madonna, Lucille Ball, Tina Turner, Katherine Hepburn – you never know who will show up when master female illusionist, Christopher Peterson takes to the stage. His hit show, EYECONS, is one of the hottest tickets in Key West and his miraculous transformation from one character to another right on stage is absolutely fascinating. With impeccable comic timing and impressive singing, Peterson’s one man, many women extravaganza landed him a leading role as Bette Davis in Bitchslap at Key West’s Waterfront Playhouse and as Lucille Ball in the movie “Rat Race” with Cuba Gooding, Jr. Never static, Peterson is constantly introducing new characters to his outstanding EYECONS show which returns this season to La Te Da Cabaret, 1125 Duval Street in Key West. You can also catch him at this year’s 35th Annual Headdress Ball which takes place on Thursday, October 26 at Key West’s new Amphitheater at Truman Waterfront Park. Tickets at keystix.com.
Now – July
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 – July
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 Lee Rose. 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.
January 4 – 14
Uncorked: The Key Largo and Islamorada Food & Wine Festival
Key Largo/Islamorada: Culinary experts step up to the palate for ten glorious days of food, wine and spirited events where you can enjoy wine tastings and dinners, cooking demos, food and wine pairing classes, art and wine shows, a Gospel Brunch and the Florida Keys’ famous “Chopped” Charity Event. Info: 305-394-3736; floridakeysuncorked.com.
January 5 – 7
5th Annual Florida Keys Celtic Festival
Marathon: Break out your kilts and dancing shoes because this festive Gaelic celebration will have you kicking up your heels. Enjoy top acts by international Celtic bands, Celtic vendors, Celtic food and beer, highland athletics, and a children’s glen. “Kilts Of The Keys” Kick Off Party takes place from 5-7pm on Fri., Jan. 5 at Marathon Grill & Ale. Festival begins on Sat., Jan 6 from, 4 – 10pm and on Sun., Jan. 7 from 8am – 6pm at Marathon Community Park, MM 49. Tickets and info: 941-625-8544; keystix.com.
Key West: Impromptu Concerts’ 2018 season celebrates the Leonard Bernstein Centennial with Sybarite 5, classical music’s most dynamic new music group that has taken audiences by storm all across the US. The 4pm Sunday afternoon concert takes place at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 401 Duval St., Key West. Tickets available at the door or at keystix.com. Info: keywestimpromptu.org.
January 12 – 13
58th Annual House & Garden Tours
Key West: Festively dressed Key West homes and gardens take center stage during this much anticipated self-guided tour that showcases exquisite restorations, creative renovations and delightful interiors and exteriors. The tours take place from 4 – 7pm and proceeds benefit the Old Island Restoration Foundation’s museums, collection and education, grant and scholarship programs. Tickets and schedule available online at OIRF.org.Info: 305-294-9501.
January 12 – 14
6th Annual Baygrass Bluegrass Festival
Islamorada: This weekend-long festival kicks off in “downtown” Islamorada on Fri., Jan. 12 with a celebration along the Morada Way Arts & Cultural District. On Sat., Jan. 13, a fun Pickin’ Party & BBQ starts at 5pm in Founders Park. The main concert, which happens on Sun., Jan 14 from 11am – 8pm, features a lively blend of great Bluegrass music from Oldgrass to Newgrass along with some cool variations of the genre. There will also be a Craft Beer Garden and arts & crafts vendors, as well. Takes place at Founders Park, MM 87 bayside in Islamorada. Info: baygrassbluegrass.com.
16th Annual Mayor’s Ball
Key West: This popular event, hosted by Key West Mayor Craig Cates and First Lady Cheryl Cates, is an outstanding evening of fun, dinner and dancing benefiting the Florida Keys Children’s Shelter. Space is limited. Takes place from 6 – 11pm at the Casa Marina Resort, 1500 Reynolds St. in Key West. Info: 305-731-4741; fkcs.org.
35th Annual Art Under The Oaks
Islamorada: Fine art & original crafts, specialty food booths and a great raffle make this a fun, family friendly event. Takes place from 9am – 4pm at San Pedro Church Gardens, MM 89.5, Islamorada. Info: 305-664-0888; sanpedroparish.org.
January 13 – 14
13th Annual Florida Seafood Festival
Key West: Lots going on for both adults and kids from feasting on fresh local seafood and shopping for marine-related crafts, to face painting, kids hands-on activities, raffles and live music. Takes place on Sat. from 11am – 8pm and on Sun from 11am – 5pm in Bay View Park at Truman Ave. and Jose Marti Dr. Info: 305-619-0039.
January 13 – 14
14th Annual Big Pine & Lower Keys Nautical Expo
Big Pine: Get great deals on all things nautical as well as on local arts and crafts, clothing and jewelry. Live music, food and beverages, too. Free admission and parking. Takes place from 8am – 2pm on the grounds of the Lower Keys Chamber, MM 31, Oceanside, Big Pine Key. Info: 305-872-2411; lowerkeyschamber.com.
January 19 – Jan 20
Conch Scramble Charity Golf Tournament
Upper Keys: Floating greens, golf boats and biodegradable fish food balls highlight the annual “par-tee” on the water during the popular Conch Scramble charity golf tourney. Fans of golf and boating can expect to have a “hole” lot of fun honing their swings and raising money for charity one shot at a time. Up to 50 teams can enter this one-of-a-kind golf experience. Info: 305-509-0315; conchscramble.com.
Key West: Impromptu Concerts’ 2018 season celebrates the Leonard Bernstein Centennial with acclaimed soloist and chamber musician, Jacob MacKay. The 4pm Sunday afternoon concert takes place at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 401 Duval St., Key West. Tickets available at the door or at keystix.com. Info: keywestimpromptu.org.
January 24 – 28
Key West Food & Wine Festival
Key West: Celebrate the local culinary arts community and enjoy lots of lively events all over the island including a Welcome Beach Party, Wine Dinners, Shrimp Boil, Wine and Food Seminars, Bad Ass Brunches, “Duval Uncorked,” Neighborhood Wine Strolls, Grand Tasting and much more. Info: 305-292-1622; keywestfoodandwinefestival.com.
33rd Annual Key West Craft Show
Key West: This juried, nationally recognized outdoor craft festival attracts over 100 fine and skilled artists who showcase their beautiful pottery, fabric, glass, wood, jewelry and other colorful handmade works. Takes place from 10am – 5pm along Whitehead St. from Greene St. to Eaton and on Caroline St. at Truman Annex in Key West. Info: 305-294-1243.
24th Annual Master Chefs Classic
Key West: Local chefs go head to head as they compete for best of the best in Appetizer, Entree and Dessert categories as they provide an amazing array of incredible food for those who are lucky enough to snag tickets. This event always sells out early and is a fundraiser for the MARC House. Takes place at 7pm at Margaritaville Key West Resort & Marina, 245 Front St. in Key West. Info: 305-294-9526; masterchefsclassic.com. Tickets: keystix.com.
Annual Schooner Wharf Wrecker’s Cup Race
Key West: This is the first leg of the spirited 7 mile race to Sand Key where bragging rights is top prize. Race kicks off at 1pm with an Awards Ceremony at 7pm. Takes place at Schooner Wharf Bar in Key West’s Historic Bight. Info: 305-292-3302; schoonerwharf.com.
February 2 – 3
24th Annual Pigeon Key Art Festival
Marathon: World-renowned marine life artist and conservationist, Wyland headlines this open-air, juried show which features original paintings, crafts, sculptures, pottery and other works by dozens of highly acclaimed artists from across the US. Takes place from 10am – 5pm at Marathon Community Park, MM 49, Oceanside. Free parking and shuttle service from 33rd St. Info: 440-477-7203; pigeonkeyartfestival.com.
February 2 – 4
Civil War Days Heritage Festival
Key West: Historic Fort Zachary Taylor transforms into a mid-1860’s encampment where re-enactors in period costume depict Union and Confederate military personnel, craftsmen, musicians, and civilians of the era. Re-creations of military maneuvers, period crafts and living history demos, a Soldiers March down Duval and an exciting sea battle between the Fort and blockade runners are all a part of this family-friendly event. Takes place from 8am – 5pm at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, 601 Howard England Way at the end of Southard St in Key West. Info: 05-292-6713.
March 10 – 11
42nd Annual Marathon Seafood Festival
Marathon: This signature culinary and family event celebrates the Keys bounty with all kinds of gourmet delicacies from the waters of the Florida Keys. Live music, an open-air art show and lots of vendor booths make for a delectable weekend. Open Sat. from 10am – 9pm and on Sun. from 11am – 5pm. Takes place at Marathon Community Park, MM 49, Oceanside. Info: 305-743-5417; floridakeysmarathon.com.
OTHER FLORIDA HAPPENINGS
“Climb to the Moon” at Ponce de Leon Lighthouse
Daytona: One day a month, visitors get to toast the setting sun and rising of the full moon with a sparkling beverage at the top of Florida’s tallest lighthouse. Climb 203 steps to the top of the 175’ tower and enjoy magnificent views of Daytona Beach, Ponce Inlet and surrounding inland waterways from the lighthouse gallery deck of this National Historic Landmark. FYI: Advance reservations a must! Find it at 4931 South Peninsula Dr., Ponce Inlet. For dates and times call 386-761-1821 ext. 10; ponceinlet.org.
January 27 – 28 & February 2 – 4
32nd Annual Hoggetowne Medieval Faire
Gainesville: For two consecutive weekends, the Alachua County Fairgrounds transforms into “Hoggetowne” – a medieval marketplace where you can immerse yourself in the rich culture of the Middle Ages. Open Sat. and Sun. from 10am – 6pm and from 9:30am – 3pm on “Discount Friday,” Feb. 2 when General Admission tickets are reduced. Find it at 3100 NE 39th Ave. in Gainesville. Info: HoggetowneFaire.com.
February 2 – 4
ArtFest Ft. Myers
Fort Myers: ArtFest kicks off with a Friday Night Opening Party on February 2 from 6 – 10pm featuring over 65 festival artists. On Saturday and Sunday, you can enjoy the works of 200 outstanding professional artists from across the country, as well as a high school art competition, art demos, kid’s craft area and a sidewalk chalk extravaganza.
Free admission and plenty of parking. Festival takes place from 10am – 5pm in the Downtown River District. Info: ArtFestFortMyers.com.
Fringe Theater Of Key West
Key West’s “immersion theater” troupe literally “takes you places,” by performing in intimate settings that suit each play. The season opens with It’s Wonderful Life – A Radio Play on Sun. Dec.10 and again on Sun., Dec. 17 at the Bottlecap Lounge, 1128 Simonton St. Bring a new unwrapped toy or gift car for distribution through the Monroe County Holiday Helpers. Limited seating and FREE admission. An Evening with Lillian Baxter takes to the stage on Th., Dec. 21 – Sun., Dec. 24 and again on Tues., Dec. 26 – Sun., Dec. 31 at Little Room Jazz Club, 821 Duval St. The Regina Monologues – A Staged Reading opens on Thurs., Jan. 18 and plays through Sun., Jan. 21 at Parish Hall, St. Paul’s Church, 401 Duval St. Showtimes at 7pm. Tickets and more info: 305-707-4053; FringeTheater.org
Red Barn Theatre
The Red Barn Theatre kicks off its 38th season on Tues., Dec 19 with Dancing Lessons, a hilarious and heartwarming tale about a man with Asperger’s Syndrome who needs to learn just enough dancing to survive an awards dinner. Catch it through Sat., Jan. 13. 20th Century Blues, a play that follows four women who bonded as protesters one night in jail during their youth, opens on Tues., Jan. 23 and plays through Sat., Feb 17. Always…Patsy Cline, a down home musical about the iconic country singer told through the eyes of her pen pal, opens on Mon., Feb 26 and plays through Sat., March 10. Showtimes at 8 p.m. Located at 319 Duval St., Key West. Info and tickets at 305-296-9911; redbarntheatre.com.
The Studios of Key West
TSKW launches a brand new season with another extraordinary line-up of exhibitions, workshops, classes, open houses and more. #KeysStrong: Art After Irma, a thought-provoking exhibit that invites you to reflect on the things that bend but don’t break, the things that last, and the things that really matter, opens on Thurs., Dec. 7 and will be on view through Fri., Dec. 29. On Weds., Feb. 14, Undying Love, The Musical, opens on Weds. Feb. 14 and plays through Sat., March 3rd. Written by local performer, Ben Harrison, this true macabre love story is about “Count” Carl von Cosel who achieved international fame in1940 when authorities discovered the corpse of his true love in his secluded house on Flagler Ave. Located at 533 Eaton St., at corner of Simonton in Key West. Info: 305-296-0458; tskw.org.
Tennessee Williams Theater
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder, a Tony-Award for Best Musical, takes to the stage for one night only on Mon., Jan. 8 followed by Chicago, Broadway’s longest running musical on Tues., Jan 16 through Weds., Jan 17. Cabaret, the Tony-winning musical about following your heart while the world loses its way, plays on Mon., Feb 5. Showtimes 8pm. Located at 5901 College Rd., Stock Island/Key West. Info and tickets at 305-296-1520;
The Waterfront Playhouse kicks off its 78th year on Fri., Nov. 17 and Sat., Nov. 18 with Triple Threat: a special evening with a trio of musical theater forces: Vicki Roush, Laurie Breakwell and Danny Weathers. On Thurs., Nov. 30, from 6 – 9pm, the Waterfront celebrates the new season with a special “Welcome Back Party” at the home of Susan and Stuart Kaufman. Tickets just $100 pp and include full bar, amazing food by the Iron Chefs, terrific live entertainment and a season preview by Danny Weathers. Inspecting Carol, a delightful mix of a “Christmas Carol,” “Noises Off” and “Waiting for Guffman,” opens on Tues., Dec. 12 and plays through Sat., Jan. 6. The Wild, Wild, West Gala, a special night on Sat., Jan 6 from 6 – 9pm at the Key West Armory features another fabulous spread by the Key West Iron Chefs, open bar, great music and an amazing silent auction. Reserve early because tickets are limited for this sell-out event. Winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical, 1776, a dramatization of John Adams’ efforts to persuade his colleagues to vote for independence, opens on Tue., Jan. 23 and plays through Sun., Feb. 4. Located at 310 Wall St., Key West. Tickets and info: 305-294-5015; waterfrontplayhouse.org.