Key West may be the perfect springtime destination for its fabulous weather, beaches, great food and watersports. However, despite being a small 2-by-4-mile island, it’s also a cultural powerhouse with a vibrant and flourishing arts community. And although notable cultural happening take place almost every week of the year, we’ve set the bar even higher in 2019 with an enticing lineup of springtime events.
This spring Key West will be bustling with new public art displays, gallery shows, literary celebrations and our incredible museum exhibits and performing arts community (of course).
So what can you experience when you pay a springtime visit to the island city?
The art exhibit titled “Visions of Cuba” can be viewed at the historic Gato Building, located at 1100 Simonton St., through early May. Over 50 Cuban artists display their contemporary paintings and sculptures, providing a visual awakening of the deep cultural connection between Key West and the island nation of Cuba, located just 90 miles across the water.
The Conch Shell Blowing Contest (March 2) is the place where you can toot your own horn (or conch shell, that is!) and celebrate a time-honored Key West tradition. Taking place at the Oldest House Museum at 322 Duval St., the offbeat competition features contestants of all ages attempting to turn a fluted conch shell into a musical instrument — while reveling in their very own “American Idol” moment.
The Key West Artisan Market (March 10 and 24, and April 7) is an outdoor extravaganza that has a little bit of something for everyone, with offerings sure to please foodies, arts and crafts fans, and music lovers alike. My personal favorite is the farmers market that offers locally grown produce, cheese, salt and honey. The event takes place at Higgs Beach, along Atlantic Boulevard near White Street, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Tennessee Williams Birthday Celebration presents special events throughout March to commemorate the life of internationally renowned playwright and longtime Key West resident Tennessee Williams. Highlights of the annual festivities include film screenings and play performances, contests for writers and artists, a guided tasting of Williams-connected cocktails and special tours of the Tennessee Williams Museum at 513 Truman Ave. Also, a March 27 reception will celebrate the 108th anniversary of the late playwright’s March 26 birth.
Impromptu Classical Concerts take center stage at 4 p.m. March 3, 17 and 31 at the historic St. Paul’s Episcopal Church located at 401 Duval St. This stellar chamber music series features internationally renowned musicians performing a variety of classical music styles. The 2019 roster includes performances by the Goldstein-Peled-Fiterstein Trio, Amernet String Quartet and the Lomazov Rackers Piano Duo. Advance tickets can be obtained online.
The Key West Home Tours (March 15-16) provide a rare chance to peek inside some truly lovely private homes. The tours spotlight unique historic architecture and modern island-style design, and are hosted by the Old Island Restoration Foundation. Created in 1960, the foundation is dedicated to promoting the restoration and preservation of the island city’s historic gems. Tickets for each self-guided tour cost $35 per person in advance ($40 on the day of the tour) and include a list of houses and a map. During tour hours, tickets will be sold at the featured houses — but FYI, bring cash or a check since credit cards can’t be accepted.
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