This spring, soak up some great local culture as well as the sun on a subtropical getaway to the Florida Keys.
On a road trip along the Overseas Highway, stop and enjoy a wide range of events including food and music festivals, and even an underwater Easter Egg hunt. Here are 10 events that make a spring trip to the Keys especially memorable this year.
1-31 March: Tennessee Williams Birthday Celebration. Key West. The month-long Tennessee Williams Birthday Celebration (twkw.org/events.html) is now running and pays tribute to the world-renowned playwright's life and work. Festivities include film screenings, poetry and short story competitions, plus 'Tennessee's Letters (Live).' The latter airs his correspondence with some of the most famous people of the day together with his more intimate letters, offering insight into the emotional and artistic pressures that drove Williams.
17-20 March: Outdoor Fest. Big Pine Key. Nature and wildlife enthusiasts, birders, photographers and adventure-oriented families can enjoy an up-close exploration of four Florida Keys national wildlife refuges during the inaugural Outdoor Fest (favorfloridakeys.org/outdoor-fest). The action-packed festival will spotlight the diversity of the Keys ecosystem from Key Largo to Key West. Through a series of mostly free outdoor events, visitors will be able to discover unique habitats, rare plants and wildlife species including the miniature Key deer found only in the Lower Florida Keys.
18-19 March: Keys Woofstock: Peace, Paws and Music. Islamorada. This far-out celebration of peace, paws and music is the perfect road-trip stop for dog lovers (keyswoofstock.com). Taking place to encourage local residents to adopt rescues to "fur-ever" homes, the festival will include a 'K9s Got Talent Contest' where four-legged favourites will strut their stuff for prizes. They'll also be a 'Rescue Me Mutt Strut' where dogs up for adoption show off their swag and wag in the hopes of landing in a 'permanent doghouse.' Event admission is free.
27 March: Annual Underwater Easter Egg Hunt. Islamorada. Captain Spencer Slate, clad in a giant Easter Bunny suit and dive gear, will be hiding brightly coloured Easter Eggs for enthusiastic bounty hunters amidst a shallow reef. Participants in the underwater game of hide and seek are awarded prizes, including a particularly valuable goodie basket for the fortunate finder of a "Golden Egg." Both divers and snorkellers can participate in the event (captainslate.com), but space is limited. Check in is at 8 a.m. with boats leaving the dock at 8.30 a.m.
2 April: Keystock Music Festival. Key West. The Grammy-winning 80s rock group Huey Lewis and the News is set to headline the annual Keystock Music Festival (facebook.com/KeystockConcertAtTrumanWaterfront2013) at the Truman Waterfront. An international favourite for over three decades, the band has sold more than 20 million albums and produced such hits as "Hip to Be Square," "Do You Believe in Love" and "The Heart of Rock & Roll." They also wrote and performed the worldwide smash "The Power of Love" for the classic film "Back to the Future." Ticket prices start at $40 (around £29) per person.
9 April: 35th Annual Seven Mile Bridge Run. Marathon. The Seven Mile Bridge is arguably the Florida Keys' most iconic landmark -- believed to be the longest segmental bridge in the world. Each April a field of 1,500 runners from around the globe participates in the annual foot race (7mbrun.com) across the longest of the 43 bridges that help comprise the Florida Keys Overseas Highway.
9-10 April: 25th Annual Florida Keys Island Fest. Islamorada. Music, art, food and fun complement this annual art show (islamoradachamber.com) with nearly 100 artists and crafters, live music and a 'Taste of the Islands' foodie competition. Entry to the event at Founder's Park on Plantation Key is free.
22 April - 1 May: 34th Annual Conch Republic Independence Celebration. Key West. The so-called World's Longest Parade, bed races, parties and a wacky 'drag race' commemorate the Florida Keys' symbolic secession from the U.S. and founding of the Conch Republic on 23 April, 1982, in response to a U.S. Border Patrol roadblock that halted traffic in and out of the Florida Keys. The 10-day birthday party (facebook.com/The-Conch-Republic-380342204001/events?key=events) is designed to showcase the independent and eccentric spirit that characterises the Florida Keys. Events will also include a lighthearted sea battle featuring tall ships.
11-15 May: Kamp Key West. Key West. This third annual event (kampkeywest.org) is designed for LGBTA outdoor enthusiasts and adventurists who fondly remember all the fun and games of summer camp, with on-the-water subtropical island activities and games for adults. Activities typically include sunset sailing excursions, a 'snorkel safari' backcountry tour and glass-bottom boat tours.
12-15 May: Key Largo's Original Music Festival. Key Largo. Enjoy the food, entertainment and ambiance of Key Largo during this singer and songwriter event (keylargooriginalmusicfest.com). Multiple 'on the water' venues feature songwriters and musicians from around America including hitmakers from Nashville together with unique local entertainers.
Rare miniature Key deer - try and spot them at Outdoor Fest
Captain Spencer Slate, clad in a giant Easter Bunny suit and dive gear, hides brightly coloured Easter Eggs
Conch Republic Flag
Tennessee Williams' former home in Key West
1,500 runners cross the iconic Seven Mile Bridge