Florida Keys events occur all year long because the Florida Keys have beautiful weather all year long! Visitors come year-round for the weather, the water sports, the resorts, the restaurants and bars, the coral reef, and much more. They also come for the annual events, which occur throughout the Florida Keys, in all shapes and sizes, for everyone. Some of the events in the Keys are famous, such as Fantasy Fest, and others are more local affairs, and less known, such as the annual Chili Cookoff in Key Largo. Some people plan their vacations around Florida Keys events, such as the Annual Poker Run, which is popular with motorcyclists. Other events center on fishing, so avid anglers will visit the keys during tournaments like the Don Hawley Invitational Tarpon Tournament or dozens and dozens of other fishing tournaments throughout the year in the Keys. Here’s a smattering of Florida Keys events, both large and small.
Events in the Florida Keys
Upper Keys Events
Island Sun Splash is held every June, and features a week of outdoor fun in the sun and on the water. It’s sponsored by local merchants who offer discounts at their businesses for participants who buy a wristband. Activities include daily dives including night dives, to all the major wrecks around Key Largo; fishing clinics for adults and kids, scuba clinics and talks, museum open houses, sailing workshops, fish ID workshops, and all sorts of other dive and snorkel activities. Look for discounts on everything from dining to lodging to parasailing in Key Largo. Lots of the activities center around the Holiday Inn Key Largo, which is usually the host resort for Island Sun Splash.
Around the end of June, look for Key Largo’s Ladies Dolphin Tournament, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Key Largo.
In Islamorada, look for the Gold Cup Tarpon Tournament, where the proceeds go to children’s’ charities. Also look for the Women’s World Invitational Fly Championship Tarpon Series in Islamorada. Despite the name, it’s also open to men.
July brings all sorts of festive activities, beginning with the Fourth of July Fireworks celebration. Fourth of July is one of the most popular Florida Keys events, and people come from Miami and other parts of Southern Florida to celebrate with us. It’s sponsored by the Upper Keys Merchants Association. There’s also a parade in Key Largo on Fourth of July, sponsored by The Reporter.
In November Key Largo hosts the Humphrey Bogart Festival. You can visit the African Queen any time of the year at the Holiday Inn Key Largo. It’s on display there, and a sign says you can also take it out for a charter ride. November also brings the annual Conch Regatta Cardboard Boat Races, as part of the Island Jubilee. The festival features a BBQ Championship Cookoff, the boat races, and vendors and live music. The BBQ contest draws cooks from all over the country. The whole weekend is a family affair, held at Harry Harris Park in Tavernier (the next town after Key Largo).
December in Key Largo brings the Christmas Boat Parade, as well as lots of other holiday-oriented activities and events.
Middle Keys Events
June means the Father’s Day Dolphin Derby in Marathon, a favorite event each year for anglers and their families. If you like Dolphin fishing, June also welcomes the Burdines Waterfront Dolphin and Blackfin Tuna Tournament. As far as fishing tournaments go, Marathon has lots of the them. In August, there’s the Marathon Silver Salute Corporate Challenge Tournament Series. In September, there’s the Marathon International Bonefish Tournament. Check out Marathon in December for the annual Boot Key Harbor Boat Parade.
Lower Keys Events
Start out the annual calendar in July for the Fourth of July Celebration then come back a few weeks later for the Annual Hemingway Days celebration featuring the famous look-alike contest.
June is the month for the Swordfish Event of the Key West Fishing Tournament Series, then more fishing fun with the Conch Republic Ladies Dolphin Tournament, the Mercury/IGFA Junior Angler World Championship Tournament, and finally the Key West Gator Club Dolphin Derby. Lower Keys also has the Big Pine & Lower Keys Dolphin Tournament. All this in June, plus the Tropical Fruit Fiesta! The biggest Florida Keys event, by far, is definitely Fantasy Fest, which is a week-long celebration leading up to Halloween, full of parties, parades, costumes, body painting, and freaky fun. Book hotels early, since rooms all over the island fill up fast.