FLORIDA KEYS — There’s always something happening in the Florida Keys & Key West, from festivals focusing on the area’s literary history and indigenous seafood to events that celebrate the Keys’ underwater paradise.
While this piece lists selected summer highlights for 2011, a comprehensive schedule of events throughout the Keys can be found at www.fla-keys.com/calendarofevents/.
June 9-12: Second Annual Key West Bacchanalia. Key West. At this food and wine event with a twist, join Keys celebrity chefs and Bravo TV’s Top Chefs as they face off in culinary competition for a great cause. The event benefits breast cancer research. Visit www.keywestbacchanalia.com or call 305-766-3356.
June 18: The Original FKCC Swim Around Key West and Swim Meet. Key West. Sponsored by the Bone Island Masters Club, this United States Masters Swimming–sanctioned event is a 12.5-mile swim clockwise around the island of Key West. Swimmers ages 18 through 65 and older can register. Visit www.fkccswimaroundkeywest.com or call 305-809-3562.
July 9 : 27th Annual Underwater Music Festival. Big Pine & the Lower Keys. A quirky concert broadcast underwater for divers, snorkelers and the occasional mermaid emphasizes reef preservation. The submerged songfest is held at Looe Key Reef in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Visit www.lowerkeyschamber.com or call 305-872-2411.
July 14-17: Mel Fisher Days. Key West. This annual celebration brings together history buffs, divers and treasure hunting enthusiasts to celebrate the anniversary of Mel Fisher’s discovery of the shipwrecked Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha. Visit www.melfisher.com or call 305-296-6534.
July 19-24: Hemingway Days. Key West. The 31st annual celebration of the legendary author’s work and lifestyle features literary readings, a short story competition, fishing tournament, Sloppy Joe’s Look-Alike Contest and more. A celebration will be held July 21 honoring the 112th anniversary of Hemingway’s birth. Visit www.sloppyjoes.com for look-alike events or www.hemingwaydays.net for all other events.
July 29 – Aug. 7: Key Largo Food & Wine Festival. Key Largo. Set on an island known for its bountiful tropical fruit, fresh snapper, tuna, mahi-mahi, shrimp and lobster, the nine-day festival incorporates gourmet wine dinners with cultural specialties, feasts and fiestas, palate-pleasing adventures and wines from around the world. Visit www.KeyLargoFoodandWineFestival.com or call 305-394-3736.
Aug. 12-14: Key West Lobsterfest. Key West. The festival commemorates the start of the Florida Keys lobster season with an open-air lobster feast and street fair on Key West’s famed Duval Street. Other events include Friday’s Lobsterfest Duval Crawl, a free concert Saturday and a Sunday lobster brunch. Visit www.keywestlobsterfest.com or call 305-294-2000.
Sept. 15-18: Phil Peterson’s Key West Poker Run. Florida Keys. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the U.S. are to travel the Keys’ scenic Overseas Highway from mainland Florida to Key West to raise money for charity. Stops are arranged throughout the Keys with a final celebration in Key West. Visit www.petersonskeywestpokerrun.com or call 800-545-2561.
Sept. 21-25: Florida Keys Birding & Wildlife Festival. Marathon and Lower Keys. A celebration of the natural wonders of Florida wildlife takes place at the peak of the fall birding season. The event includes presentations and field trips focusing on education and conservation as they relate to Keys birds and wildlife, and an environmental fair. Visit www.keysbirdingfest.org or call 305-872-0774.
Sept. 30 – Oct. 2: Second Annual Conchtoberfest. Marathon. This Middle Keys event is chock-full of food, beverages, vendors, music and entertainment for the entire family. “Conchtoberfest Nights” at local venues throughout Marathon lead up to main weekend events at Hawks Cay Resort. All events are open to the public. Visit http://experience.hawkscay.com/conchtoberfest/ or call 305-289-4901.
Florida Keys visitor information: www.fla-keys.com or 1-800-FLA-KEYS