Upcoming Key West Events, Tourist Attractions, and Festivals
See the Best of Key West, Florida!
The moment we find out about exciting events in Key West, we post them here! With our vast knowledge of the Conch Republic and our keen eye for happenings around town, our Key West events calendar is sure to have something fun for everyone you’re traveling with.
All year long, our island guests can enjoy a variety of Key West events and festivals that will leave you with memories for a lifetime. The most anticipated event in Key West is our annual Fantasy Fest. Fantasy Fest occurs every year during the last week of October, and can be described as a more laid-back Mardi Gras celebration! Visitors can also take advantage of Key West’s idyllic location in the Florida Keys. From our Key West Sailfish Tournament in April to the Yamaha Dolphin Masters Invitational in May, our island is a fisherman’s paradise for its crystal blue waters.
For more active guests, Key West hosts several athletic events, including the Key West Half Marathon in January, the Swim Around Key West in June, and the Hemingway 5K Sunset Run and Paddleboard Race in July. So whether you’re looking for a lively party or an exhilarating athletic challenge, our Key West events calendar has the perfect event for you!
Let us help you plan fun days and unforgettable nights during your next trip to Key West! Browse through our exciting Key West events, tourist attractions, and festivals, and then book your stay at The Inn at Key West!
Upcoming Special Events in Key West:
All Day Key West
New Year's Eve 2015 in Key West, Florida
Enjoy Fireworks, a Famous Shoe Drop, and Plenty of Parties to Ring in the New Year in True Key West Style!
Key West embraces a tropical climate all the year round, making it the perfect destination for holidays, especially New Year's Eve! Experience our spectacular firework display, as well as the iconic "Shoe Drop" events that mark the countdown to NYE 2015.
Our island brings a rather unique interpretation to New York's ball drop on NYE. In true Key West fashion, our island features the "Shoe Drop" - a 6-foot tall red high heel, carrying a drag queen that descends from the roof of the Bourbon Street Pub. Female impersonator, Sushi, headlines the annual "shoe drop" celebration, wearing a dazzling gown while perched in this super-sized high-heel.
Another "drop" occurs at the famous Sloppy Joe's Bar on Duval Street, where their symbol of choice is a conch shell. The arrival of 2015 is celebrated with the drop of this huge manmade shell to the flat roof of Sloppy Joe's Bar. Thousands of spectators gather on Duval Street for this annual party, that starts at 10 pm with dancing in the street. At midnight, the conch shell descends and cheers erupt from the crowd!
In true Key West fashion, New Year's Eve also offers a wide range of parties, from the beaches to restaurants, where crowds will be out in the thousands! Enjoy sparkling fireworks too, which are launched from the end of the White Street Pier over Key West Harbor.
Join us for New Year's Eve in Key West!
Don't miss New Year's Eve in Key West, Florida! Book your stay at the Inn at Key West today! We are just minutes from all the action on Duval Street, and we offer the largest freshwater pool in Key West, FL!
January 12-19, 2015
24th Annual Kelly McGillis Classic International Women's & Girls Flag Football Championship. Teams of women and girls from the U.S. and around the world are to compete in hard-fought championship play, which typically includes several dozen games and a variety of social events.
For more information regarding the Florida Keys Seafood Festival, call Vicki Gale, Event Coordinator, at (305) 872-9026, Fax (305) 292-4415, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or send correspondence via U.S. mail to:
Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen's Association
PO Box 501404
Marathon, FL 33050-1404
16th Annual Key West Half Marathon & 5K Run
Sunday, January 18, 2015
Recognized by Runners World magazine as one of the 10 great half-marathons of the winter season, this competitive race has attracted more than 1,000 annual participants and follows a 13.1-mile course through Old Town Key West past historic landmarks and the island's scenic waterfront. Marathon runners flock to Key West each year, which takes runners on a course to see the wildly colorful sights and sounds of this island at the end of the Florida Keys.
About the Key West Half Marathon Course
Fast, flat, and scenic throughout, the course takes participants mostly around the edge of Key West, and includes a bridge crossing over Key West's Cow Key Channel to Stock Island and back, for a run around the Key West Golf Course and Country Club. There's also a stretch of the race that unfolds through CB Harvey Rest Beach Park near the White Pier, where you can get spectacular views of the sunset later in the day.
This 13.1-mile course for the race starts and finishes at Dante's Restaurant on Caroline Street, on Key West's western end. From there, the course winds its way along several twists and turns through the city streets, turning on Duval Street, Eaton Street, and Whitehead Street before hitting longer straightaways along Atlantic Boulevard and South Roosevelt Boulevard, which is also part of Florida Highway A1A.
Through out the race, runners enjoy views of the ocean waters for virtually the entire course, and pass by local landmarks like the Key West lighthouse, famed author Ernest Hemingway's house, downtown Key West's "old town" area, and the southernmost point in the United States. The biggest elevation change (and the most challenging point in this flat, beginner-friendly race) is the bridge crossing over to Stock Island, over the Overseas Highway. Runners cross the bridge twice - once going over and once coming back - and then head along Key West's northern edge for the second half of the race heading back toward the finish line.
Even though the race takes place in January, it still typically offers relatively warm weather, so runners from cold climates are encouraged to stay well hydrated throughout the race, as aid stations will be available every couple of miles with water and Powerade.
Contact Barbara Wright for more info at 305.240.0727.
04:00 PM - 07:00 PM
Sunday, January 25, 2015 from 4 pm - 7 pm
The 21st Annual Master Chefs Classic®, held at the Westin Key West Resort & Marina Pier, 245 Front St, is a culinary competition and tasting that benefits the Monroe Association for ReMARCable Citizens (MARC provides life services for developmentally and intellectually disabled adults in the Florida Keys). This 21st anniversary of one of Key West's most spectacular food events and promises to be amazing!
This is a premier food event of the Key West season. Restaurants compete in appetizer, entrée, and dessert categories providing an amazing array of incredible food for the lucky 450 people attending. Awards are given in each category by judges and people’s choice ballots.
Held on the beautiful Key West Westin Resort and Marina pier overlooking the Key West Harbor, this stunning venue is highlighted by a large tent covering the Master Chefs Classic event in comfort and style for the lucky attendees. Please join us!
*This event sells out early and it is a FUNDRAISER for MARC Inc. It is NOT INCLUDED in the Key West Food and Wine Festival's VIP pass. Tickets are NOT refundable. Please read your options carefully before you purchase your tickets at the www.keystix.com website.
Master Chefs Classic Event Information:
Who: Benefits the Monroe Association for ReMARCable Citizens (MARC).
What: A Culinary Competition and Tasting featuring some of the finest Chefs and Restaurants in the Lower Keys.
When: Sunday, January 25, 2015 from 4 pm to 7 pm.
Where: The Westin Key West Resort & Marina, 245 Front St, Key West, FL. 33040.
Why: This event raises funds for the Monroe Association for ReMARCable Citizens (MARC, Inc.) program. MARC provides life services for Adult Developmentally Disabled residents of the Florida Keys.
Contact: Gordon Ross – 305-294-9526 ext. 25
January 30-31, 2015
5th Annual Cuda Bowl Shallow water flats anglers and guides are invited to hook-up and fight their barracuda rivals. Event is to be headquartered at Hurricane Hole Marina, Stock Island. Prizes and trophies are to be awarded for top angler and guide in light tackle spin and fly divisions. Contact: Justin or Loren Rea 305-744-0903 Email: email@example.com
10:00 AM - 05:00 PM Whitehead and Caroline Streets Old Town Key West
This nationally recognized event attracts fine artists from across the country. Exhibitors include painters, sculptors, photographers, collage artists and other non-functional fine art. Visitors can leisurely browse the beautiful displays of paintings from watercolor to oil and acrylic, decorative sculpture, photography and other fine arts from the selected artists. Tropical themes are abundant here, but contemporary and traditional styles make something for everyone!
For more info please see Artist Info or contact:
Ripley's Believe It or Not! 108 Duval Street Key West, FL 33040
Sword Swallower's Day at Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
Dangerous, exciting and alluring, Sword Swallowers Day showcases the art of sword swallowing. Do we even need to tell you not try this at home?
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Key West Odditorium celebrates World Sword Swallower’s Day with free sword swallowing demonstrations - held on the last Saturday of February in conjunction with National Swallowing Disorders Month. Sword swallowers will be making appearances, signing autographs, performing their individual signature acts, or unveiling new stunts, some of which have never been witnessed before in public! More than 20 sword swallowers will risk their lives when they “drop swords” at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! In all, more than 125 feet of solid steel will go down the hatch – hopefully without a scratch!
Ripley's Believe It Or Not
Key West, FL 33040
Founded in 2001 to preserve the art of sword swallowing, SSAI is comprised of sword swallowers from around the world and maintains a website with general information on sword swallowing for the general public at www.swordswallow.com.
11:00 AM - 08:00 PM Bayview Park Key West, FL 33040
February 28, 2015
The Rotary Club of Key West is extremely pleased to announce the Fifth Annual “ConchFest - A Celebration Of Conch Heritage”. There will be vendors selling arts and crafts of every imaginable kind, and other treasures. There will be a Queen Conch cook-off, lots of great food for sale including conch fritters, conch salad, pork, and other more traditional fare. There will be children’s activities, a co-ed softball tournament, live music, and much more.
Last year’s event drew thousands of locals and guests alike to Bayview Park. Rotary Club volunteers will be selling alcoholic beverages, food and soft drinks. Admission to the event is free with food and beverages for sale at very reasonable prices. ConchFest raises money for college scholarships for local children. The tournaments will have a small entry fee and benefit this scholarship program.
When: Saturday, February 28, 2015
Where: Bayview Park in Historic Old Town Key West
Time: 11:00 am - 10:00 pm
12:00 PM - 02:00 PM
The 53rd Conch Shell Blowing Contest
March 7, 2015
An Old Island Days tradition, this unique contest features novel sounds produced by contestants in several age categories as they attempt to make "music" on fluted conch shells. While most contestants only manage blasts or squawks, each year a few produce complex melodies that impress judges and audiences alike. Winners are chosen for the quality, duration, loudness and novelty of the sounds they make, with trophies awarded in multiple age categories. The festivities typically include performances by talented "pucker pros."
This Key West contest is located in the garden of the Oldest House, 322 Duval Street, free and open to all ages. Registration begins at 10:30 a.m. and contest begins at noon.
More about the History of the Conch Shell Blowing Contest
The contest was conceived 53 years ago by the Old Island Restoration Foundation, founded in 1960 to advocate preservation of Key West's culture and historic buildings. Conch shells have been used as signaling devices in the Florida Keys for more than 200 years. Native-born islanders are called Conchs and the Keys are nicknamed the Conch Republic. In the 1800s, when the local economy was largely based on salvaging cargoes from ships wrecked on the nearby reef, sailors attracted attention by blowing piercing blasts on the shell. However, the Keys' connection with conch goes far beyond instrumental and communications applications. The slightly tough meat of the hardy mollusk is the prime ingredient in conch chowder and conch fritters, two of the island chain's signature dishes. Keys natives proudly proclaim their own tough, hardy nature by calling themselves "conchs" and their home the Conch Republic.
The Marathon Seafood Festival is the oldest seafood festival in the Keys. It was founded 39 years ago by commercial fishermen and it’s the fishermen (members of the Organized Fishermen of Florida) who catch and cook all of the seafood. Their wives bake the key lime pies and desserts, according to event coordinator Leah Luckin.
The event, now the second most popular festival in the Keys after Key West Fantasy Fest, has grown to include music, a fine art show, a boat show, rides and games and booths selling products ranging seagrass hats to sculptures made from old lobster traps.
Admission is $5 and children under 10 are free. No pets are allowed.
Website for Marathon Seafood Festival.
Saturday, March 14, 2015
A Key West St. Patrick's Day tradition since 1979! Stay up-to-date on this years participating bars, how to get your official t-shirt, and more at www.stpatricksdaybarstroll.com
From Rick Dostal, Founder and Event Organizer:
I started the St. Patrick’s Day Bar None Suds Run in 1979 with the help of Curly McGinn. Curly owned the Sandcastle Bar (now Michael’s restaurant on Margaret St.). At his request the run ended at his bar and every year that it did, Curly, myself and the Strollers drank the place dry!
Key West artist and muralist Steve Heuel drew the shirt for me using the bar as his easel (see 1st annual t-shirt). For various and sundry reasons certain people were barred from one bar or the other so I got permission from the bar owners that a guy could "get a pass" for the run, hence the name.
It was an absolutely crazy race and everyone who actually ran in it blasted into a bar, chugged a beer, and then "purged" on the fly to the next joint. After a few years of guys and girls running and puking through an increasingly congested Old Town the event had to change to today's format, a "stroll".
The last time it was a race it was won by Key West's own Buco (Pantellis) who is the reigning champion. He still bugs me every year to bring back the run! Maybe next year, B!
The first year we started at the Full Moon Saloon, the legendary and definitive bar from the golden age of Key West. Gone now but it stood roughly where the Southernmost Hotel is (Tiki Bar!).
Stop two was the Holt brothers' Simonton St. Station, now the Monkey Bar at Simonton and Olivia streets. Then the Blue Boar, which is now just a distant memory; the Lowell C, now Mango's. Then we were off to The Bull and Whistle, Maynard's (now Ricks Bar), Sloppy Joe's, Billy's Bar (now Red Fish Blue Fish), the Chart Room at the Pier House (later we used the Cistern Bar, a very cool little underground bar on their property right beside Duval St. built in - what else!?! - a cistern!), Dills Pickle (now a parking lot on the corner of Greene and Simonton streets). Then off to the Half Shell Raw Bar, and finally finishing up at the Sandcastle!
I remember Dave Dill served Becks Dark but he added green dye, and put a little gerkin in the glass. It was not really what a runner wanted just then.
The only bar that was in the first year and has been in every year since is The Bull and Whistle. Rick's came in as soon as they opened (2nd Annual) and have been a stop ever since. The Schooner Wharf Bar has also been in since they opened (as Cafe Diamant!), and is a fine place to unwind at the end of all that strollin'.
We all thank the great bars and their staff that welcome the strollers each year and we welcome some new bars, some brand new to the "Stroll".
11:00 AM - 06:00 PM Eco-Discovery Center 32 East Quay Road Key West, FL 33040
6th Annual Florida Keys Ocean Festival
Saturday, April 4, 2015
Annual Florida Keys Ocean Festival and Waterfront Craft Show is held every year in March to benefit Mote Marine Laboratory's Coral Reef Restoration Programs. Enjoy many activities for children, including a fishing seminar for kids, live entertainment all day, more than 70 arts, crafts, food vendors, and exhibitors, as well as a silent auction.
Presented by Florida-based Mote Marine Laboratory, the event is set for 11 am to 6 pm at the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center, located on Key West’s Truman Waterfront past the end of Southard Street. Admission and parking are free.
- Free Sky Rides on Keys Energy Bucket Trucks
- Nautical Themed Face Painting
- Rock Climbing, Bounce House, Bungee Game, Water Wheels
- Touch Tanks and Live Animals on display
- Kids Treasure Hunt
- Passport to the Ocean Game
Contact 305-393-6022 for more information.
May 6 – 10, 2015
This May, join the talent, music, and fun at the largest festival of its kind in the WORLD. Yes, we said world! Over 5 days and nights, guests can enjoy 30 shows and 150 performers during the 19th Annual Key West SongWriters Festival!
See more than 20 free shows, staged at a variety of Key West’s most popular drinking holes and hot spots, where live music flourishes among the crowds. These diverse line-ups feature more than 100 top songwriters, who offer one-of-a-kind moments to our island paradise.
Festival Guests: Find Comfort at The Inn!
The Inn at Key West is your perfect hotel for the 2015 SongWriters Festival! When you’re not enjoying the live music, find comfort in our Tommy Bahama-inspired guest rooms, enjoy complimentary Internet, and relax beside the island’s largest freshwater pool! Plus, The Inn is just a short taxi drive away from famous Duval Street, where you can enjoy all the nightlife, and then retreat back to our soothing Key West hotel.
The SongWriters Festival looks forward to seeing you this year!
Saturday, June 6, 2015
This 12.5-mile endurance swim competition begun in 1977 by Anna Fugina. Anna had suffered injuries from a car accident and she chose to begin swimming as therapy to assist in her recovery. As her health improved, so did her swimming ability and love for swimming.
Anna wondered if it was possible to swim the circumference of the Island of Key West. Though she inquired, she could find no evidence that anyone had even attempted the challenge, much less completed the swim. She concluded that someone had to be the first, so on July 4th she entered the water at Mallory Square at Key West Harbor. She completed the swim in 12:59:00. Later, she found that if she studied the tidal current, the swim would be an easier task. Anna swam again in 1978 and improved her time considerably, finishing at 8:00 hours.
This historic, round-the-island event is the longest-running sporting event in the Florida Keys. Since the swim is in June, the water temperatures will likely be between 84 and 86 degrees. Every entered swimmer will receive a technical T-shirt listing the overall first place swimmers and their finish times from 1977 to 2013.
June 10-14, 2015
Key West shows its Pride every day, and this is your chance to be a part of the celebration! This five day celebration includes a film festival, dance parties, drag shows, bike tours, clothing-optional pool parties, water excursions, a street fair, Pride Pageants, and a 'Pride in Our Community' Parade down Duval Street.