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 hoots and howls 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: Sun – Weds at 9pm; Thu at 7 & 9 pm; Fri & Sat at 7, 9 & 11pm. Reservations recommended. See them at Aqua Nightclub, 711 Duval St., Key West. Info: 305-294-0555; aquakeywest.com.
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 impressionists, both visually and vocally. His hit show, EYECONS, is one of the hottest tickets in town and you’ll be 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.
Randy Roberts Live!
Key West: Spotlighted on television’s hit series “America’s Got Talent,” 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 Mae West are spot-on. And he’ll have you rolling in the aisles when he performs a titillating striptease as the bawdy Gypsy Rose Lee. But nothing compares to “Consuela,” Roberts’ self-created character who 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.
Key West 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 Margaritaville Resort & Marina. They 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; mallorysquare.com/sunset-celebration
Jazz at Tavern N’ Town
Key West: Some of Key West’s top talent including “Island Diva,” Carmen Rodriquez, and Michael Thomas perform nightly from 5-7 pm during Key West’s best Happy Hour. Takes place at Marriott Beachside Resort, 3841 N. Roosevelt Blvd. Info: 305-296-8100
Wednesday – Saturday
Cabaret in The Gardens
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 – 7 pm, 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
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, champagne, and fabulous wines. Takes place from 5:30 – 8 pm at the Gardens Hotel, 526 Angela St, Key West. Info: 305-294-2661; gardenshotel.com
First Friday MM 104 Block Party
Key Largo: Stroll among artists, shop for gifts, enjoy street bites from local eateries and more during this fun monthly Block Party. Takes place on the First Friday of every month from 6 – 10 pm, rain or shine, along the Overseas Highway at mile marker 104 in Key Largo. FYI: You can park at any of the MM104 businesses and walk along the bayside bike pathway. Info: keylargofirstfriday.com
Snook’s Luau & Pig Roast
Key Largo: Swivel your hips and feast like a king during this monthly tropical extravaganza that boasts fire dancers, hula dancers, great live music and continuous live entertainment that will keep you jumpin’ all night long. The party kicks off at 6:30 pm on Sat, May 26. Sells out fast so be sure to make reservations. Takes place on the waterfront at Snook’s Bayside & Grand Tiki, MM 99.9, Bayside, Key Largo. Info: 305-453-5004; snooks.com
May 14 – June 1
Key West: This Off-Broadway hit is a razor-sharp story about whether doping is acceptable in the pursuit of the elusive Olympic Medal. Takes to the stage at the Waterfront Playhouse, 310 Wall St, Key West. Tickets and info: 305-294-5015; waterfrontplayhouse.org.
May 16 – 19
Key Largo Original Music Fest
Key Largo: Four days of multiple musical happenings set the stage, during this eclectic music festival which showcases hit songwriters from Nashville and beyond, as well as an elite group of local and national singers and bands who perform everything from Rock to Country to Blues, and more. The festival kicks off on Thurs, May 18 at Sundowners Waterfront Restaurant, MM 104, Bayside and continues all weekend long with multiple stages at neighboring Cactus Jacks and Señor Frijoles. For a full schedule of events call 305-394-3736; keylargooriginalmusicfest.com.
May 22 – 26 & May 28 – June 1
Key West: Blake Hunter’s new musical follows a female TV Executive in the 1970s who fights to keep her variety show afloat, her star husband in check, and temptation at bay. Show time: 8 pm. Takes place at The Studios of Key West, 533 Eaton St. Info and tickets: 305-296-0458; tskw.org.
David Crosby & Friends
Key West: Two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and co-founder of The Byrds as well as Crosby, Stills & Nash, David Crosby brings his legendary music to Key West for a one night jam. Joining him will be five musical friends, collectively and affectionately known as the “Skytrails Band.” Takes place at the Key West Theater, 512 Eaton St, Key West. Info and tickets: 305-985-0433; thekeywesttheater.com.
28th Annual Schooner Wharf Bar Minimal Regatta
Key West: Known as “the only boat race you can view from start to finish from shore,” this wacky regatta is also a race to stay afloat. Savvy sailors use only minimal materials including plywood and duct tape to build their tiny vessels. Races begin at noon at Schooner Wharf Bar in Key West’s Historic Seaport. Info: 305-292-3302; schoonerwharf.com.
Battle In The Bay Dragon Boat Festival
Marathon: The waters off Sombrero Beach transform into a swift race course for a fleet
of 40′ Dragon race boats, each armed with 20 paddlers who put their strength and team-work to the test. Food, beverages, merchandise and a variety of entertainment round out the shoreside festivities. Takes place at Sombrero Beach on Sombrero Beach Rd, MM 50, Oceanside, Marathon. Info: 813-426-3544; highfivedragonboat.com.
Key West: Key West’s original variety show, produced by the Key West Business Guild, kicks off PRIDE WEEK with the best (and sometimes the worst!) of local Key West Talent. Doors open at 7 pm; Showtime 8 pm. FYI: This show always sells out so get your tickets early. Takes place at the Key West Theater, 512 Eaton St, Key West. Info and tickets: 305-985-0433; keystix.com.
June 2 – 7
Key West: “Pride” explores sexuality, social mores, and personal identity in this moving play that juxtaposes storylines from the 1950s and the present. On stage at The Studios of Key West, 533 Eaton St. in Key West. Tickets and info: 305-731-0581; fringetheater.org.
June 5 – 9
Key West Pride
Key West: Key West shows its Pride every day, and this is your chance to be a part of the celebration! The five-day schedule includes daytime pool and beach parties; late-night drag shows; on-the-water adventures ranging from snorkeling and kayaking to glass-bottom boat tours; a street fair; a 10k relay for tutu-wearing runners and walkers; and pageants to select Mr, Miss, and Ms. Key West Pride. Info at 305-294-4603; keywestpride.org.
Twice Told Tales
Key West: The hit of Summer Stage returns for a third round of dueling monologues! Can the same words mean more than one thing? Twice Told Tales provides a fresh twist on a theatrical staple. One director presents each monologue, and two actors, giving two wildly different takes on the material. Showtime: 8 pm at The Studios Of Key West, 533 Eaton St. in Key West. Info: 305-296-0458; tskw.org.
June 21 – 23
Key West International Guitar Festival
Keys-Wide: Three virtuoso Florida Keys guitar masters – Dave Feder, Mateo Jampol and Rolando Rojas – showcase their diverse Keys-influenced styles and play together to create a unique musical synthesis. Schedule, venues, and more info: floridakeysguitarfestival.com.
June 23 – 24
Classics Of Comedy
Key West: Nichols and May; Abbott and Costello; Brooks and Reiner; Bob Newhart; Monty Python; Burnett, Korman, and Conway, along with many more legends of comedy are on the menu for two nights of non-stop ”Laughstock.” Theatre XP’s Summer Stage celebrates the giants of classic comedy by faithfully recreating their most famous bits and sketches. A night of belly laughs, punctuated by a few awkward chuckles. Showtime 8 pm at The Studios Of Key West, 533 Eaton St. in Key West. Info: 305-296-0458; tskw.org.
June 28 – 30
Mystery Fest Key West
Key West: This fun weekend event is open to published authors, aspiring authors and non-writing mystery buffs alike. Meet leading authors, collect signed books and participate in workshops, panels, and presentations as the “who’s-who” of award-winning, bestselling mystery/suspense authors, and true crime experts explain why-and-how they do it. Takes place at the Doubletree Grand Key Resort. Info: 305-587-9392; mysterywriterskeywest-fest.com.
July 4 – 7
7th Annual Key Lime Festival
Key West: A crazy “Mile High”pie-eating contest, Key Lime Pie Hop, Key Lime Rum Sampling, Cooking Lessons and other tasty temptations are all on the menu for this wacky, 4th of July weekend event that kicks off with a Key Lime Sip & Stroll. Complete event schedule at keylimefestival.com
35th Annual Hospice & VNA July 4th Picnic
Key West: This annual family-friendly, beachside picnic is also a fundraiser for Monroe County’s Hospice with an endless supply of hot dogs and hamburgers, top entertainment, silent auction, children’s activities, and a giant fireworks display off the White Street Pier by Higgs Beach. VIP seating on the beach available. Takes place on the lawn and beach of the historic Casa Marina Resort, 1500 Reynolds St. Info: 305-294-8812.
Independence Day Fireworks
Keys-Wide: Lots are going on all over the Keys so here’s a quick view of what’s happening:
Key Largo: Celebrate Independence Day with an annual 4th of July Parade which rolls out at 10 am from MM 98 – 100 and enjoy a huge fireworks display at 10 pm on Blackwater Sound, MM 104, Bayside.
Islamorada: An old fashioned family fun celebration starts at 6 pm at Founders Park, MM 87, Bayside with fireworks at 9:30 pm.
Marathon: The holiday parade begins at 10:30 am on Sombrero Blvd. (MM 50, Oceanside), followed by free day-long festivities at Sombrero Beach culminating with a huge fireworks display at 9 pm.
Big Pine & The Lower Keys: The celebration starts at 5 pm at Big Pine Community Park with music, food, and fun followed by a fireworks extravaganza after sunset.
Key West: Fireworks light up the Atlantic, starting at 9 pm off the White St. Pier.
July 5 – 7
Key West Mermaid Festival
Key West: This “fin-tastic” three-day weekend event may be designed to educate and raise awareness of the beautiful oceans, but it’s also packed with a slew of fun and “mervelous” events. Enjoy everything from “Mermaid Meet & Greets”, an “Under the Sea” themed art show, Salty Saturday Celebrations, and a “Sunday Funday with Mermaids”, with so much more! Info: 305-304-1988; keywestmermaidfestival.com.
35th Annual Underwater Music Festival
Big Pine & The Lower Keys: A quirky concert broadcast underwater for divers, snorkelers
and the occasional mermaid emphasizes reef preservation. The submerged songfest is held at Looe Key Reef in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, approximately 5 miles south of Big Pine Key. Transportation is available from local dive shops. Info: 305-872-2411; lowerkeyschamber.com.
Mel Fisher Days
Key West: Headquartered at the Schooner Wharf Bar in Key West’s Historic Seaport, this annual festival brings together fans of the renowned treasure hunter Mel Fisher, as well as treasure-hunting enthusiasts from around the world, to celebrate the anniversary of Fisher’s amazing discovery of the shipwrecked Spanish Galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha. Participate in conservation lab tours and treasure hunting boat tours. Huge dock party & silent auction on Sat, July 14th. 100% of net proceeds go to Wesley House Family Services Info: 305-296-6533; melfisherdays.com.
Key West: Ben Wahlund performs 15 short musical memories ranging from jazz, funk, and rock to classical and more. Takes place at The Studios Of Key West, 533 Eaton St, Key West. Info: 305-296-0458; tskw.org.
July 16 – 21
39th Annual Hemingway Days
Key West: This lively annual celebration of the legendary author’s literary prowess and colorful lifestyle features literary readings, a short story competition, fishing tournament, Papa Look-Alike Contest, a street fair, and the world famous “Running Of The Bulls.” Look-Alike Contest info: 305-292-8445; Literary info: 305-294-0320.
5K Sunset Run/Walk & Paddleboard Race
Key West: Fitness walkers and paddle board enthusiasts can test their skills and celebrate Hemingway’s sporting lifestyle in Key West’s hottest race (literally). The 3-mile ocean course Paddle Board Race kicks off at 5:30pm at the Southernmost Beach followed by the 5K Run/Walk at 7:30pm at Key West’s Southernmost Point. Cool off after the race with an ocean dip and cold libations. Register between 3 – 7pm on the beach outside the Southernmost Cafe, 1405 Duval St. Info: 305-240-0727; keywestspecialevents.com.
6th Annual 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. The mayhem takes place from 12:30 – 6:30 pm at the Schooner Wharf Bar in Key West’s Historic Seaport. Info: 305-292-3302; schoonerwharfbar.com.
August 14 -1 8
Key West: This All-Male-All-Adult fever-pitched festival includes more than a dozen intriguing-ly decadent events ranging from drag shows to themed pool parties and gatherings at the island clubs. Not for the faint-hearted! Info: 305-294-4603; Tropicalheatkw.com
August 29 – September 2
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 on Sat, August 31. Info: 800-354-4455; keywestbrewfest.com.
September 4 – 8
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
Fringe Theater of Key West
Key West: Key West’s “immersion theater” troupe literally “takes you places,” by performing in intimate venues that suit each play. “It’s About Time,” an original musical that travels through time, opens on Weds, April 24 and plays through Sat, April 27 at the Tennessee Williams Theater. “Gilda’s Balcony,” a riveting one- woman show that examines the life of Golda Meir, plays on Weds, May 1 – Thurs, May 2 at B’Nai Zion Congregation and again on Sat, May 4 at the Marathon Community Theater. On June 2 – June 7, “Pride” explores sexuality, social mores, and personal identity in this moving play that juxtaposes storylines from the 1950s and the present. On stage at The Studios of Key West. Tickets and more info:305-731-0581; fringetheater.org
Red Barn Theatre
Key West: “Meteor Shower,” an adult comedy by Steve Martin takes to the stage on Tues, March 26 and plays through Sat, April 20. Showtime: 8pm. Located at 319 Duval St, Key West. Info and tickets at 305-296-9911; redbarntheatre.com
The Studios of Key West
Key West: TSKW season has another extraordinary line-up of exhibitions, workshops, classes, open houses and more. Enjoy hand crafted Mojitos and hand-rolled cigars on Sat, April 20 when Cortadito celebrates the release of the band’s latest album bringing explosive Cuban energy to classic arrangements. On Fri, April 26, “Good Things Come to Those Who Wait” when songstress, Tara O’Grady channels the style of the 1920 and the energy of the 1950s in her foot-tapping live show. Be sure to check out TSKW website for more upcoming events. Located at 533 Eaton St, Key West. Info: 305-296-0458; tskw.org.
Key West: “Sex with Strangers,” a sexy, funny and timely play that explores whether technology is bringing us closer together or making us virtual strangers, opens on Tues, April 9 and plays through Sat, April 27. The Off-Broadway hit, “Red Speedo,” a razor-sharp play about whether doping is acceptable in the pursuit of the elusive Olympic Medal takes to the stage Tues, May 14 through Sat, June 1. Located at 310 Wall St, Key West. Tickets and info: 305-294-5015; waterfrontplayhouse.org
OTHER FLORIDA HAPPENINGS
Now – September
Daytona Beach Bandshell Summer Concert Series & Fireworks
Daytona: Every Friday and Saturday 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. General admission is just $3 and $10 for VIP tickets (includes a chair), plus applicable fees. Season tickets available in advance at Ticketmaster, the Peabody Box Office or the Bandshell on show nights. Showtime at 7 pm Saturday night concert includes a big fireworks show at 9:45 pm. Takes place in Oceanfront Park at the historic 1937 Coquina Amphitheater 70 Boardwalk Ave, Daytona Beach. Info: 386-253-0254
Downtown Car Cruise-In
Fort Myers: From classic to cool, the streets of the Historic River District in downtown Fort
Myers are lined with beautiful show cars in a festive event that also includes music, food and many other venues featuring additional specials. Takes place on the fourth Sunday of each month from 12 noon to 4 pm. Free admission. Info: FortMyers-RiverDistrictAlliance.com
July 4 – 7 61st
61st Annual Coke Zero Sugar 400
Daytona: One of NASCAR’s most anticipated events brings together NASCAR racing under the lights at the world’s only motorsports stadium, with pageantry and patriotism to make for an unforgettable July 4th weekend. This fan favorite event includes some of the most exciting racing of the season as drivers battle three-wide for a coveted DAYTONA victory. The race is followed by a spectacular fireworks display! Takes place at 7 pm at the Daytona International Speedway, 1801 W International Speedway Blvd, Daytona Beach. Info: 1-800-PIT-SHOP.
September 27 – 29
The Clearwater Super Boat Races
Clearwater: Not only one of Florida’s top boat races, but this highly anticipated annual event also features parades and a bespoke village with food vendors and live entertainment. The boats, equipped with F-16 jet canopies and 6,000-horsepower engines, race at speeds of up to 180 mph off Clearwater Beach in the Gulf of Mexico. Info: visitstpeteclearwater.com.