Last updated on January 15th, 2021 at 08:27 am

Manatee

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.

The Orange City Blue Spring Manatee Festival has been rescheduled for Jan 22-23, 2022.

Each of these manatee festivals draws thousands of people.

 

Three Sisters Spring (Photo courtesy US Fish and Wildlife Service)
Three Sisters Spring filled with manatees (Photo courtesy US Fish and Wildlife Service)

Crystal River 2021 Florida Manatee Festival: 

  • When: March 27-28, 2021 (rescheduled from January)
  • 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.

Details of the event must be confirmed because of the last-minute change of date. In past years, these were the features of the festival:

  • 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. The last bus departs for Three Sisters Springs at ​3:30 p.m. on Saturday and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.
  • 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 half-hour tours will take you out into Kings Bay and other favorite hangouts of the manatees. There is a separate ticket: Adults $10. ages 6 to 12 $5; 5 and under free.
  • Festival’s official site
  • Find a Hotel in Crystal River
  • Find a campsite near Crystal River on ReserveAmerica
Manatees at Manatee Lagoon in West Palm Beach.
Manatees at Manatee Lagoon in West Palm Beach.

The 2022 Orange City Blue Spring Manatee Festival 

  • When: Jan. 22-23, 2022, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • 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, where you can print a $2 off coupon for one child’s admission.
  • Find a Hotel in Orange City
  • Find a Campsite near Orange City on ReserveAmerica

Family ManateeFest in West Palm Beach

When: 2021 date not yet posted. The facility including observation decks at Manatee Lagoon are closed due to the pandemic as of December 2020.

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.

Admission: Free.

ManateeFest is a free, family-friendly event with 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.

Details at Manatee Lagoon website

 More about Florida manatees

3 Comments

  1. Are dogs allowed on the shuttle buses?

  2. Do you rent out tables for crafts?