Two large manatee festivals celebrate Florida’s beloved manatee every January – one in Orange City and one in Crystal River. These two locations are probably the best places in the state to see manatees in clear water and in great numbers.
Each of these manatee festivals is expected to draw thousands of people:
The 2020 Orange City Blue Spring Manatee Festival
- When: Jan. 25-26, 2020.
- Where: Valentine Park, West French Avenue off of Highway 17-92.
- Admission: $8 for adults and $2 for children 4 to 10. Children 3 and under are free. (Dogs: $10)
- The main attraction at the Orange City Manatee Festival are shuttle buses to the Blue Spring State Park for manatee viewing.
- Other activities include arts and crafts booths, face-painting, dancing and rides. The event benefits the Friends of Blue Spring State Park, scholarships and other Orange City organizations.
- Festival’s official site
- Find a Hotel in Orange City
- Find a Campsite near Orange City on ReserveAmerica
Crystal River 2020 Florida Manatee Festival
- When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18 and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan 19, 2020
- Where: Downtown Crystal River, at the intersection of Citrus Avenue and U.S. 19, stretching up through the shops and restaurants of Heritage Village and surrounding areas, down to the waterside area along King’s Bay.
- Admission: Donations are $5 for adults; children 12 and under free.
- The key event is an open house at nearby Three Sisters Spring, where manatees are easy to see and watch in the clear spring water.
- To park for the festival, go to the southeast corner of the Kings Bay Shopping Plaza parking lot at US 19 and Kings Bay Drive. There are frequent shuttles to the festival grounds.
- Festival activities include music on three stages, a Kid Zone, free access and shuttle to Three Sisters Springs and a wine and beer garden.
- Manatee Boat Tours will be available from the City Pier at the end of Third Street. The tours will take you out into Kings Bay and other favorite hangouts of the manatees. Fee.
- Festival’s official site
- Find a Hotel in Crystal River
- Find a campsite near Crystal River on ReserveAmerica
Family manatee fest in West Palm Beach
When: February 2020, dates will be added when available.
Where: The FPL Eco-Discovery Center, 6000 N. Flagler Drive, West Palm Beach, an environmental education center located at a major gathering point for manatees, where warm water flows from an FPL power plant.
ManateeFest 2019 is a free, family-friendly event. It starts with a Moonlight Movies at Manatee Lagoon. Visitors are encouraged to bring blankets and lawn chairs. Food and beverage vendors will be on site. The large screen event is staged on the environmental education center’s front grassy lawn under the banyan tree. On Saturday, there will be hands-on educational activities including photo opportunities with Mia the Manatee, an interactive selfie station, marine life face painting, art stations, and local and state environmental exhibitors. The event will offer a variety of food trucks, arts and crafts vendors, environmental booths and live music.
More about Florida manatees
- Where to see manatees in Florida, a Florida Rambler guide.
- Watch live manatees in real time via the webcam at Blue Spring from Save the Manatee.
- Save the Manatee organization
- Manatee FAQ