A hearty appetite and a fondness for lobsters are mandatory during the 18th annual Key West Lobsterfest, a celebration of Florida lobster set for Thursday through Sunday, Aug. 7-10. The events salute the tasty seafood sensation following the Aug. 6 start of the Florida Keys lobster season.
Known as spiny lobsters, the Keys' clawless crustaceans offer sweet and tender meat. Many people prefer them steamed with melted butter, while others enjoy their lobster baked and stuffed, blended into a creamy bisque or chilled in crisp salads.
The festival's undisputed highlight is the tastebud-tempting Key West Lobsterfest Street Fair, continuing from noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9, in the 100 through 500 blocks of Duval.
Lobster lovers can sample offerings ranging from tantalizing appetizers to traditional dinners with all the trimmings.
All lobster served will be caught by Keys lobster fishermen, ensuring fresh-off-the-boat flavor, and dishes will be prepared by chefs from leading local restaurants.
Click here for the full "menu" of mouthwatering events.
Watery Key Largo Race Takes Any Boats That Float
Trashy items like PVC pipe, buckets, pool noodles, plastic wrap, lawn furniture or cardboard can be bound together to create "vessels" to compete in Key Largo's Anything That Floats regatta race set for Aug. 16. Set sail for the wacky event here.
Mel Fisher Days to Honor Famed Key West Shipwreck Salvager
The late Mel Fisher, who sought and salvaged the shipwrecked 1622 Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha, is to be remembered July 10-13 during Mel Fisher Days — with events including a dockside meet-the-crew party, behind-the-scenes artifact lab tours, a street fair and a team treasure hunt. Begin the adventure by clicking here.
Florida Keys Lure Sports Enthusiasts All Year
As well as unparalleled diving and fishing, the Florida Keys offer an energetic calendar of organized sporting challenges including marathons for runners, swim competitions, triathlons and paddleboard races. Explore the athletic action here.
Author readings and presentations, a look at Hemingway's little-known poetry and the announcement of the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition winners await readers and writers at Key West's annual Hemingway Days. Open the book on the details by clicking here.
In shallow water adjacent to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, a 4,000-pound bronze statue called "Christ of the Abyss" rests at a depth of approximately 25 feet at the Key Largo Dry Rocks in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Discover the underwater icon's story here.
Legendary author Ernest Hemingway fished for "big game" in Key West waters throughout the 1930s, and contemporary anglers can follow his lead during the July 16-19 Drambuie Key West Marlin Tournament. Target the tournament and its $50,000 cash purse here.
"PROFILES IN PARADISE"
Captain Randy and first mate Dana Williamson have been passionate about boating for their entire lives, and now operate a hydrofoil-design glass-bottom boat
in Key Largo. Click here for a "look" at the couple behind the Largo Looker.
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From an insider's perspective, this blog uncovers the hidden Keys.
Blue Star Museum Program — Free Admission for Military
More than 2,000 museums across the United States offer free admission to the nation's active duty military personnel and their immediate families through Labor Day (Sept. 1). Museums in the Keys include Islamorada's History of Diving Museum, the Mel Fisher Maritime, Custom House, Fort East Martello and Key West Lighthouse & Keeper's Quarters museums in Key West as well as the Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden. Click here.
throughout the Florida Keys
Independence Day Celebrations
Florida Keys boaters, beach-goers, barbecue lovers and parade fans can find celebrations around the Keys, as families and friends gather for picnics, on-the-water fun and spectacular fireworks shows. Click here to find a nearby July 4 event.
in Key Largo
Fish & Friends Monthly Seminar Series
Co-sponsored by the Reef Environmental Education Foundation and the Sanctuary Friends Foundation, this monthly series revolves around marine life and "diving that counts," reinforcing active dive volunteer participation. Snorkelers, divers and natural history buffs are invited to attend entertaining presentations by guest speakers, join informal discussions and enjoy laid-back, Keys-style fun with friends who share a passion for the oceans. July's special guest is famed underwater naturalist and videographer Ned DeLoach. Click here.
Islamorada Dolphin Tournament
This fun and flexible boat tournament allows an unlimited number of anglers per boat, and not all anglers are required to fish on the same day. A guaranteed minimum of $10,000 in prize money is to be divided between the top boat team with the largest three dolphin fish weighed. Click here.
in Big Pine & the Lower Keys
30th Annual Underwater Music Festival
For three decades, divers, snorkelers and the occasional mermaid have celebrated this quirky sub-sea concert at Looe Key Reef, an area of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary south of Big Pine Key. Music is broadcast beneath the waves along with messages emphasizing the importance of coral reef preservation, and costumed divers "play" unique underwater instruments created by a local artist. Contact any Lower Keys dive operator to join the fun. Click here.
July 17; Aug. 21
Third Thursday Art Walk
A free monthly showcase of fine art, live music and culinary nuances spotlights several art galleries and eateries between mile markers (MM) 81 and 82. The creative festivities are presented each month by the Morada Way Arts & Cultural District. Summertime themes spotlight young emerging artists with July's "The Next Generation" and August's "Youth Art Expo." Click here.
in Key West
Hemingway Days Caribbean Street Fair
Presented by Helpline of the Florida Keys, the Caribbean Street Fair transforms much of Key West's famed Duval Street into an open-air pedestrian marketplace with arts, crafts, jewelry, tropical clothing and food. A highlight of Key West's Hemingway Days festivities, the street fair runs from noon to 9 p.m. Seafood fans can enjoy the inaugural Bubba Cuzzy Shrimp-Off Competition from noon to 3 p.m. Click here.
Aug. 28 - Sept. 1
in Key West
Fifth Annual Key West Brewfest
More than 150 beers and micro-brews are on to be tap at this "tasty" annual event that benefits the charitable efforts of the Key West Sunrise Rotary Club of the Conch Republic. Attractions include beer dinners, beer brunches, happy hour gatherings, pool parties, late-night parties, seminars and the Signature Tasting Festival Event. Click here.
Heroes Welcome Tribute Weekend
Each fall, Hawks Cay Resort on Duck Key hosts an annual Heroes Welcome program to honor military, fire and rescue, law enforcement and medical personnel. A special Labor Day Weekend event is planned to include an All-American barbecue, heroes tribute, country music concert and fireworks show. Click here.
in Key Largo
Lionfish Derby: More Than $3,500 in Cash and Prizes
Teams of up to four divers can compete to remove invasive lionfish from Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary waters. Prizes are awarded to divers collecting the most, largest and smallest lionfish. Presented by REEF, the event is to be held at Key Largo's John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, MM 102.5. Click here.