In April 1982, the Florida Keys symbolically “seceded” from the United States and were reborn as the independent Conch Republic. Today the republic is internationally acclaimed as the Keys’ irreverent alter ego — and this month, the 40th annual Conch Republic Independence Celebration commemorates the historic action with a roster of rollicking events.
Key West’s 40th annual Conch Republic Blue Ribbon Bed Race is scheduled to “blanket” the island’s famed Duval Street April 23. The zany event, billed as “the most fun you can have in bed with your clothes on,” features decorated beds on wheels that are propelled along Duval by teams of costumed runners.
Each spring, the Tennessee Williams Birthday Celebration honors the openly gay playwright who lived and wrote in Key West from 1949 to 1983. The 2022 commemoration includes showings of films adapted from Williams’ plays, curator-led tours of Key West's Tennessee Williams Museum, writing competitions, theatrical presentations and a birthday reception (complete with cake).
Attendees at the Key West Food and Wine Festival can enjoy gourmet galas and tastings, art and wine experiences, wine dinners, seminars and activities that spotlight the Florida Keys’ culinary scene and talented chefs. Equally appealing are the glimpses the festival offers into the island chain’s unique heritage, culture and warmly welcoming vibe.
Great news — Fantasy Fest is a go for 2021! Revelers can enjoy over 50 costume contests, masquerades, parties and performances during the high-energy annual event, though traditional large-crowd highlights aren’t taking place to protect against potential coronavirus spread. This year's popular masking and costuming festival entertains partygoers from Oct. 22 through Oct. 31.
The bearded brotherhood of Hemingway Look-Alike Contest winners gained a new member July 25 in Key West, home of legendary author Ernest Hemingway for most of the 1930s. Zach Taylor, a 63-year-old white-bearded Georgia man, triumphed over 136 other entrants to win the contest that highlights the island city’s annual Hemingway Days celebration.
For scores of women, early September in Key West means enjoying adventures in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico waters, plus entertainment, parties with like-minded people, and relaxation on an accepting subtropical island — all during Womenfest. Highlights include entertainment by Sister Funk and a sunset sail on a 75-foot luxury catamaran.
Ernest Hemingway lived and wrote in Key West for most of the 1930s, and the annual Hemingway Days celebrates his talent and exuberant lifestyle. Events include poetry readings, a walking tour of Hemingway sites, a museum exhibit, a scholar’s presentation and the first reading of the Lorian Hemingway Short Story competition’s winning entry.
June has arrived in Key West, and the island is abuzz with anticipation for the 2021 Pride festivities. However, for Florida Keys & Key West residents, pride in the compassionate LGBTQ community and its allies isn’t only apparent during a single event held each June. Instead, it’s a year-round state of mind.
As Key West prepares to celebrate its June 2-6 Pride festivities, what does Pride — or the concept of pride — mean to island residents? An acknowledgement of life's beautiful diversity, a reminder to use the past to build a better future, and joy for the Key West community’s caring nature are among the answers provided.