Want to get 2024 off to a memorable start? Then plan to savor sunshine and stellar talents at three Key West music festivals set for January and early February — featuring current and classic icons of the hard rock, Red Dirt/Americana and country/pop genres performing outdoors in the island’s typically balmy “winter” weather.
Incredible as it may seem, ’tis the season to be jolly — despite Christmas still being weeks away. But in the celebration-loving Florida Keys, mid-November brings the first stirrings of holiday spirit. So there are plenty of festivities coming up, ranging from traditional to offbeat (and all, of course, with a unique island twist).
Stone crab claws offer sweet and scrumptious meat that’s among the Florida Keys’ most popular delicacies. Once the stone crab harvest season begins each Oct. 15, the savory claws appear prominently on Keys restaurant menus — triggering a veritable stampede of eager seafood fans. There’s even an annual Stone Crab Eating Contest in November.
Fans of the Florida Keys’ quirky creativity and whimsical spirit can celebrate both —and the island chain’s 200th anniversary — during Key West’s eagerly anticipated Fantasy Fest. The fabulous costuming and masking festival is scheduled Oct. 20-29, with a jam-packed schedule that includes masquerade balls, costume competitions, glamorous galas and a spectacular grand parade.
On the offbeat island of Key West, even the zombies defy stereotypes. Instead of stumbling through dark wastelands in tattered clothes — as often portrayed in films and TV shows — Key West’s zombies are to hop on their bikes and pedal beside the Atlantic Ocean Sunday, Oct. 22, during the annual Zombie Bike Ride.
Visitors seeking cultural experiences to supplement the Florida Keys’ subtropical “fun and sun” lure will find arts offerings in virtually all genres. Enthusiasts can discover galleries from Key Largo to Key West, festivals that spotlight the island chain’s rich creative heritage, eclectic events that showcase the talents of local residents — and even gyotaku.
Meet the newest “Papa.” White-bearded Wisconsin man Gerrit Marshall has won the 2023 Hemingway Look-Alike Contest, a highlight of Key West's Hemingway Days festivities. The retired television broadcast engineer triumphed over nearly 140 other contest entrants on his 68th birthday — just a day after the July 21 birthday of the original "Papa" Hemingway.
There’s no better way to celebrate the Florida Keys’ 200th birthday than with Key lime pie, the island chain’s luscious signature dessert — particularly if that Key lime pie is the world’s biggest! And there’s no better PLACE to celebrate the auspicious anniversary than at Big Pine Community Park, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.
In the Florida Keys, it’s common for locals and savvy visitors to greet the news of some particularly offbeat happening by grinning and murmuring, “Only in the Keys.” The four-word phrase is a standard response by people hearing about everything from a costume contest for pets to mermaids attending a local music festival.
There’s a wonderfully meaningful celebration coming up in Key West, and everyone who values equality, openness and diversity is invited to participate. It’s the 20th “birthday” of the island’s famed 1.25-mile sea-to-sea rainbow flag, and it will be marked with a three-night laser light show during Key West Pride 2023 — scheduled June 7-11.