Florida loves a good festival.
When you start with reliably sunny weather and you add in local communities determined to entertain visitors, you have the recipe for a state where every weekend from fall to spring is festival weekend somewhere.
But those left out some of our favorite festivals that celebrate Florida’s culture, like Hemingway Days in Key West, or our love of the arts, like Cedar Key’s Old Florida Celebration of the Arts, or our love of the water, like the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show.
So here’s our new 2018 Florida festival calendar, which includes all sorts of festivals, from a funky LaBelle Swamp Cabbage Festival to the spectacular Pensacola Beach Air Show. It’s not comprehensive – I don’t think it’s actually possible to list every last festival, and if you did, the list would be too long to be useful. So we’ve selected 50 festivals known for their popularity and unique qualities.
June 2018 festivals in Florida
Billy Bowlegs Festival, June 1 ,2 and 4, 2018, Fort Walton Beach
It started out as a water skiing festival in 1953, and has turned into one of the nation’s longest-running and most popular pirate festivals. The Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival always takes place on the first full weekend in June.
Drake’s Raid, June 2, 2018, St. Augustine
This is one of the few pirate festivals that is basd on history. The Spanish settlement of St. Augustine was captured in small fight and burned by an English expedition fleet led by Sir Francis Drake, a privateer commissioned by England’s Queen Elizabeth I. Living history encampment on Friday is at the Fountain of Youth, 11 Magnolia Avenue, St. Augustine. The re-enactment on Saturday begins at the City Gate at the north end of St. George Street, and will proceed to the Plaza de la Constitucion.
Hukilau, June 6-10, 2018, Fort Lauderdale
Hukilau brings its blend of nostalgia and hipness to Fort Lauderdale every year. They chose this place because Fort Lauderdale is home to one of the best preserved examples of the original tiki bars, the Mai-Kai restaurant. This four-day festival celebrates mid-century modern culture, especially Polynesian tiki bars.
Waterlily Celebration, June.16, 2018, Vero Beach
In June, the waterliilies are in full bloom and McKee Botanical Gardens, an unusual historic garden in Vero Beach that was once a popular roadside attraction, opens early for a celebration. The gardens are a little-known gem worth discovering.
July 2018 festivals in Florida
International Mango Festival, July 14-15, 2018, Coral Gables
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens offers cooking demos, tastings, lectures, plant sale plus music and educational programs. Festival goers must pay to enter botanic garden.
Pensacola Beach Air Show, July 11-14, 2018, Pensacola Beach
The stars of the show are the locally-based Blue Angels aerobatic team, who perform with other military and civilian aeronautic teams before thousands of spectators on Pensacola Beach in a free show.
Hemingway Days, July 17-22, 2018, Key West
The festival, celebrating one of Key West’s favorite former residents, includes a look-alike contest, a fanciful “running of the bulls,” exhibits and literary events.
Lake Placid Caladium Festival, July 27-29, 2018, Lake Placid
A rare small-town festival in the summer, offering arts and crafts, wine tasting, beer garden, food booths, entertainment, car show plus a bus tour of the colorful caladium farms in the area. Florida Rambler story: Lake Placid Caladium Festival
September festivals in Florida
Sing Out Loud Music Festival, Weekends, 2018 St. Augustine. Three weekends of free concerts in locations around St. Augustine. Details.
Pensacola Seafood Festival, Sept. 28- 30, 2018, Pensacola
October 2018 festivals in Florida
Oktoberfest, Oct. 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 2018, Lantana
There are Oktoberfest celebrations all around Florida, but this one is celebrating its 45th year and draws more than 35,000 visitors for live music, dancers, food, beer and entertainment.
Cedar Key Seafood Festival, Oct. 20-21, 2018, Cedar Key
Key West Fantasy Fest, Oct. 19-27, 2018, Key West
Events culminate in the annual elaborate costume parade at 7 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018.
Micanopy Fall Festival, Oct. 27-28, 2018, Micanopy
Charming Old Florida town near Gainesville attracts 200 arts and crafts vendors with music under a canopy of live oak trees on a historic main street. Florida Rambler story on Micanopy.
November 2018 festivals in Florida
Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, Oct. 31- Nov. 4., Fort Lauderdale
From super-yachts to inflatables to exotic cars. Show is in six locations over 3 million square feet of space with shuttles, water taxis, and riverboats connecting it all. Tickets start at $29.
Florida Seafood Festival , Nov. 2-3, 2018, (First Saturday in November) Apalachicola
Great Gulfcoast Art Festival, Nov. 2-4, 2018, Pensacola
Top artists, music and arts from Florida’s heritage have won this festival many awards over the years and thousands of visitors each year.ggaf.org
Halifax Art Festival, Nov. 3-4, 2018, downtown Daytona Beach
At 55 this year, this is the second oldest art festival in Florida and attracts hundreds of top artists and thousands of visitors. Florida Rambler story on Seven things to do near Daytona Beach
Yankeetown Arts and Crafts and Seafood Festival, (Weekend before Thanksgiving), Yankeetown
28th Annual Old Florida Festival, Collier County Museum, Naples. This year’s event includes a Spanish fort and garrison, complete with mounted Conquistadors, cannons, a missionary, displays and a Spanish colonial cooking demonstration.
December 2018 festivals in Florida
34th Annual Downtown Gainesville Festival & Art Show, Dec. 1-2, 2018, Gainesville
The historic downtown streets are filled with live music, performing arts, the works of 240 artists and an array of food, attracting 100,000 attendees.
Miami Art Week and Art Basel Miami Beach, Dec. 5-9, 2018. Art Basel, an international art fair, draws top tier galleries from around the world plus the rich and glamorous to South Florida. A far cry from the street art festivals that dot Florida, this is an event that is not cheap. (Tickets start at $50.) Over the years, however, a variety of satellite events have developed, creating art-related events for regular folks, including Miami Art Week. Learn more about Art Basel and Miami Art Week.
Winterfest Boat Parade, Dec. 15, 2018, Fort Lauderdale
Many cities have lighted boat parades, but Fort Lauderdale’s is the biggest and, at 46, the oldest. The 12-mile route down the New River and Intracoastal Waterway is lined with people and parties and the parade is said to draw a crowd of a million spectators.
Anna Maria Island Winterfest, Anna Maria Island
The Anna Maria Island Art League brings 100+ artists together around the Holmes Beach City Hall Field for a festival with local musicians, free admission and free parking.
Best holiday light displays in Old Florida, throughout December, Mount Dora, St. Augustine, Stephen Foster Cultural Center State Park
January festivals in Florida
Art Deco Weekend Festival, Miami Beach
The 40-year-old festival offers guided tours, a street fair, performances, lectures, food and, among many other events, a dog parade.
Crystal River Manatee Festival, Ja Crystal River
Orange City Blue Spring Manatee Festival, Orange City
These manatee festivals are each located near a site where hundreds of manatees gather each winter. Both locations offer a variety of activities, including opportunities to view manatees. Florida Rambler story on two January manatee festivals
Fellsmere Frog Leg Festival, Fellsmere
This funky festival has been happening for 20 years. Food choices start with one frog leg (a frog “pop” on a stick for $3) up to a gator-tail and frog leg dinner for $14. Music, games, down-home goods.
Children’s Gasparilla Extravaganza, Tampa
Kickoff of Gasparilla Days, featuring a children’s parade along Bayshore Boulevard and “piratechnic” sea battle commemorating the imaginary invasion of Tampa, which is re-enacted next weekend. Family-friendly and alcohol-free.
Images – A Festival of the Arts, New Smyrna Beach
Some 200 exhibitors in a waterfront setting at a free festival that attracts 45,000.
Gasparilla Pirate Fest, Tampa
Colorful, fully-rigged pirate ship Jose Gasparilla magically appears at the south end of Hillsborough Bay, where the invading Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla are met by a flotilla of pleasure craft. The mock sea battle is followed by a Mardi Gra-like parade.
Kumquat Festival, Dade City
The historic downtown in Dade City fills with as many as 40,000 people for this free event celebrating the tangy little fruit grown locally. Along with dozens of booths and live entertainment, a highlight is tasting kumquat treats, from kumquat pie to kumquat cookies to kumquat salsa. Free shuttles run from two satellite parking areas –the Pasco County Fairgrounds on State Road 52 and next to Jarrett Ford on US Hwy 301 Truck Route. On the preceding Thursday and Friday, the kumquat growers open their groves and packing houses for tours.
February festivals in Florida
Artfest Fort Myers, Fort Myers
The free festival takes place on the waterfront in historic downtown Fort Myers and features more than 200 artists.
Mount Dora Arts Festival, Mount Dora
Charming Mount Dora is a city of festivals, and this free fest attracts 250,000 for top art, food and entertainment. Florida Rambler story on things to do in Mount Dora
Florida State Fair , Tampa
It boasts “the largest midway in the USA,” but its core purpose, celebrated for more than 110 years, is to showcase Florida’s agriculture and its history. Florida Rambler story on Florida State Fair
South Florida Garlic Fest, Lake Worth
A big event with food and top musical performers, it started as a fundraiser for several non-profits. The festival outgrew Delray Beach and moved to John Prince Park in Lake Worth.
Everglades Seafood Festival, Everglades City
The Battle of Olustee Civil War Re-Enactment,
Florida’s largest Civil War battle is re-enacted, with gun smoke, booming cannons and cavalry.
Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival, Cortez.
Cortez started as a fishing village, and it still has a working waterfront and fishing boats. The festival offers music, nautical arts and crafts, children’s activities, environmental exhibits and lots of fresh seafood.
Coconut Grove Arts Festival, Coconut Grove, Miami
A huge fair (covering many blocks with 350+ exhibitors) and a beautiful waterfront setting make this one of the most popular art festivals in Florida. As a result, it attracts top entertainers, food vendors and artists.
ArtiGras Fine Arts Festival, Jupiter
A top juried festival with 300 artists, Artigras is celebrating 32 years of family fun this year.
Naples National Art Festival, Naples
Ranked among the top art festivals in the state, the event takes place in scenic Cambier Park and along 8th Street South in downtown Naples.
Swamp Cabbage Festival, La Belle
For 52 years, this authentic Florida town east of Fort Myers has been celebrating swamp cabbage in a down-home festival and parade. A unique highlight: Armadillo races. Florida Rambler story on the Swamp Cabbage Festival
March festivals in Florida
Strawberry Festival, Plant City
Like a state fair, the Strawberry Festival has agricultural displays, livestock shows, arts and crafts, local food and a huge carnival midway. But its entertainment line-up, which leans toward country music, is what’s extraordinary year after year. Florida Rambler story on Strawberry Festival
Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival, Okeechobee.
Top names from the music world perform at this huge four-day festival. Tickets start at $269.
Gasparilla Festival of the Arts, Tampa
This large festival located in a waterfront park offers top prize money and attracts 320+ top fine artists.
Azalea Festival, Palatka.
The festival celebrates the spring blossoms in the historic Ravine Gardens State Park, where 100,000 flowering trees and shrubs bloom. Florida Rambler story on park and festival.
Grant Seafood Festival, Grant-Sebastian
The Grant Seafood Festival is put on by volunteers and has been held every year since 1966 in this sprawling riverside community between Melbourne and Sebastian.
Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Festival,
There are still working fishing boats in this town pulling in shrimp from the Gulf and that’s the reason Fort Myers Beach has held its shrimp festival for 50 years.
Bike Week, Daytona Beach.
For 77 years, motorcyclists have gathered in Daytona Beach for a spring fling and this year, they’re expecting a half million.
Marathon Seafood Festival, Marathon
The Key’s most popular seafood fest is the “original” in Marathon.
Calle Ocho Festival, Miami
This street festival is enormous: It attracts a million people to the largest Hispanic festival in the United States. The event stretches for 19 blocks and it has everything: food, music, art and a giant conga line. Calle Ocho is part of the larger Carnaval Miami.
Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival, Winter Park
This large show annually earns top ranking among art festivals nationwide. In addition to the draw of high-quality art, it is located in a beautiful and historic community with big shade trees and activities to entertain various ages and interests.
Old Florida Celebration of the Arts, Cedar Key
Cedar Key is an artsy Old Florida town that attracts top talent with its beautiful historic downtown setting and $18,000 in prize money. While it draws crowds, the event has a small-town feel because of all the community involvement in tiny Cedar Key.
April festivals in Florida
Delray Affair Delray Beach
The Delray Affair fills 12 palm-tree-lined downtown city blocks with art, crafts, music and family fun. This event is celebrating 55 years and boasts that it is the largest arts and craft festival in the Southeast United States. Florida Rambler story on things to do in Delray Beach
Venice Shark Tooth Festival, Venice
This multifaceted festival celebrates Venice as the “Shark’s Tooth Capital of the World” because of the millions of shark teeth that wash up on its beaches. There’s art, music, kids activities and prehistoric fossils on display and for sale. Florida Rambler story on Venice Shark’s Tooth Festival
Pompano Beach Seafood Festival, Pompano Beach
This city has completed a beautiful makeover of its beachfront area, including the addition of a stunning parking garage. It creates a perfect beach setting for a festival with three stages of music
May 2018 festivals in Florida
Sunfest, West Palm Beach, Florida
With a stunning waterfront view along Flagler Drive, this major music festival offers three stages, 50 bands and lots of activities beyond musical performances.
Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival, Fernandina Beach
This will be the 55th annual shrimp festival in one of Florida’s most productive shrimp regions. Pirate Parade, exhibits, arts and crafts, antiques, games, contests, seafood and live music along the Amelia River in downtown Fernandina Beach.
Fort Lauderdale Air Show, Fort Lauderdale.
Beachfront air show, scaled down from its heyday. Best view is by ticket. If you live in the vicinity, we suggest you kayak the nearby waterways while the planes fly overhead. Here’s a Florida Rambler story on the Fort Lauderdale Air Show.
Tupelo Honey Festival, Wewahitchka
Where is Wewahitchka and what exactly is Tupelo honey (other than a Van Morrison song)? Wewahitchka is in the Big Bend region of Florida near Tallahassee. Tupelo honey is a seasonal delicacy because Tupelo trees only bloom from April to May and top-quality honey comes from only the trees in the Apalachicola River valley. It is so special that you won’t find it in stores. At this festival, farmers from the area offer honey in a variety of sizes and packages under the moss-draped oaks around Lake Alice. The small-town festival also offers food vendors, art and crafts, live music and, of course, there is a Miss Tupelo Honey queen.
Florida Folk Festival, Memorial Day Weekend, White Springs
In its 65th year in 2018, this is the oldest continuous folk festival in the United States. The festival showcases national and local talent on five stages plus folk-life demonstrations and activities. Florida Rambler story on Florida Folk Festival. Headliners for the 2018 festival include House of Cash: A historical and musical journey with John Carter Cash, Featuring Ana Cristina Cash and Special Guest Gailanne Amundsen (Saturday night) and John McEuen &The String Wizards present: Will The Circle Be Unbroken (Sunday night). Florida favorites, including legendary bluesman Willie “Real Deal” Green, Billy Dean and many others round out the lineup.
Every month: Art walks in Florida
Smaller, local art walks are held around Florida every month. Here’s a sampling of art walks with a regular schedule:
Fort Myers Art Walk, first Friday of each month, 6 to 9 p.m. Located in the historic River District, First and Hendry streets, in downtown Fort Myers. Art Walk Facebook page.
Fort Lauderdale FATVillage Artwalk, last Saturday of each month. 7-11 p.m. An evening of art, food and music. Free. 523 NW 1st. Ave. 954-540-9897. FatVillage website
Delray Beach First Friday Art Walk, 6-9 p.m. Historic downtown Delray. Galleries, working studios, great restaurants and shopping. Free. Brochure and map.
St. Augustine, First Friday Art Walk, 5-9 p.m. Exhibits, music, entertainment and refreshments at galleries. Trolleys operate on a loop every 20 to 30 minutes, offering complimentary shuttle services between galleries. Free. 832-779-2781. Artwalk website.
Fernandina Beach. Artrageous Artwalk. Second Saturdays, 5:30-8 p.m. In downtown Fernandina Beach and at the Plantation Artists’ Guild and Gallery located at Amelia Island Plantation. Free. 904-261-7020. Island Art Assn.
Sanford. Alive After 5, second Thursday of each month. 5-8 p.m. Street party with vendors and entertainment in Downtown Sanford, 230 East First Street, Sanford; free; 407-302-2586. www.sanfordwelcomecenter.com
Melbourne. Friday Fest, second Friday, 6-10 p.m. in historic downtown. Family-oriented event with live music, vendors, food, beer and wine and children’s activities. Free. New Haven Avenue. 321-724-1741. https://www.downtownmelbourne.com/main-street-events/friday-fest/
Cocoa Beach. Friday Fest. Third Friday. 6-10 p.m. Family-oriented with music, food and a kids’ activities. Downtown Cocoa Beach, A1A. Free. facebook.com/cocoabeachfridayfest
Sanford Art Walk, Third Saturday, 6-9 p.m. Monthly juried art show that includes a walking tour of the art venues in downtown Sanford. Exhibits and music. Free. 230 East First St. 407-302-2586. www.sanfordinfo.com
St. Petersburg ArtWalk, Second Saturday, 5 -9 p.m. More than 40 studios and galleries from five arts districts participate. Free transportation on ArtWalk trolleys between districts. Free. 727-518-5142. https://stpeteartsalliance.org/artwalk/
Punta Gorda Alive After Five, Third Thursday, 5-8 p.m. Art and crafts, wine tastings and more. Free. Downtown Punta Gorda. 941-505-0130. Event details.
Islamorada, Third Thursday Art Walk, 6-9 p.m. Fine arts, music and food. Free. Morada Way is between Mile Markers 81 and 82. 305-916-5521. www.moradaway.org
Hollywood Artwalk. Third Saturday, 5-10 p.m. Artist showcases, vintage shopping, live music. Free. 1945 Hollywood Blvd. 954-924-2980. floridashollywood.orghttp://floridashollywood.org
Corrections or additions to the 2016-2017 Florida festival calendar: Please email [email protected].