The cuisine of the Florida Keys incorporates diverse and delicious influences, with a reliance on the abundant fish and seafood harvested from surrounding waters. In January 2014, food and wine enthusiasts can sample the island chain’s culinary delights at four appetizing celebrations.
Blending sunshine, flavorful offerings and superior vintages, events display local chefs’ creativity, indigenous ingredients and premium wines. In addition, they offer insights into the region’s rich heritage and culture, while also providing only-in-the-Keys experiences for foodies and families.
The mouthwatering calendar includes Uncorked: the Key Largo and Islamorada Food and Wine Festival, the ninth annual Florida Keys Seafood Festival in Key West, the Key West Food and Wine Festival and the Key Largo Stone Crab & Seafood Festival.
Key West Pooch Parade to Kick Off New Year's Eve
About 200 short-legged, long-bodied pooches and their people are to stroll through the southernmost city’s picturesque downtown during the ninth annual Key West Dachshund Walk, set for noon on New Year’s Eve. Get details to bark about here.
Brew on the Bay Craft Beer Festival to Return Jan. 10-11
Fans of craft beer can sample unique offerings when Brew on the Bay returns to the waterside Rowell’s Marina property in Key Largo — with a highlight tasting that features more than 100 regional and worldwide craft and specialty beers. Click here for a VIP preview.
Leading contemporary writers will offer insights into “The Dark Side: Mystery, Crime & the Literary Thriller” Jan. 9-12 and 16-19, during two “chapters” of the 32nd annual Key West Literary Seminar. For clues to the intriguing event, click here.
Certified divers now can register to work alongside professional treasure salvage experts on the wrecksite of the Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha during weeklong adventures set for summer 2014. Chart a course for the shipwreck experience here.
The second leg of the three-event Florida Keys Gold Cup Championship series, the 24th annual Cheeca Lodge Presidential Sailfish Tournament, offers competitive light-tackle angling Jan. 16-18. For the sailfishing specifics, click here.
"PROFILES IN PARADISE"
David Sloan, prolific author and founder of attractions including Ghost Tours of Key West and the Key Lime Festival, attributes his success to his love for Key West and the never-ending support of the close-knit island community. “Meet” the high-spirited Sloan here.
Discover an historically significant attraction, event, person or place in the Florida Keys.
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This extravaganza begins with a tree-lighting ceremony at Founders Park, mile marker (MM) 87 bayside. A holiday parade follows featuring Santa, and other attractions include food, kids activity booths, live "on stage" performances and a mountain of snow to delight mitten-clad munchkins. The event is set for 4-10 p.m. with the parade at 7 p.m. Click here.
in Big Pine & the Lower Keys
Big Pine & the Lower Keys Island Art Festival
Art lovers and holiday shoppers can celebrate the season, enjoy live music and choose unique creative offerings at this lively event on the wooded grounds of the Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce, MM 31 oceanside. Island Art Festival attractions include booths offering original gifts and craft items ranging from handmade jewelry to pottery and more. Click here.
in Key Largo
Key Largo Holiday Lighted Boat Parade
Blackwater Sound is to shimmer as decorated boats parade along the shoreline in celebration of the season. Vessels from 55-foot yachts to single-person kayaks are to deck their hulls and set sail at 7:30 p.m. The best viewing and libations are to be found at Sundowners, Senor Frijoles, the Marriott Key Largo Bay Resort and the Caribbean Club, all around MM 103-104. Click here.
Through Dec. 22
Holiday Photos with a Dolphin at Dolphin Research Center
Visitors who participate in DRC's Meet the Dolphin program can bring their own Santa hats or reindeer antlers and pose for pictures on a floating dock with a dolphin after sharing a "flippershake." The program is offered several times daily on a walk-in basis. Cost is $25 per person in addition to general admission prices. Click here.
in Key West
54th Annual Key West House & Garden Tours
Presented by the Old Island Restoration Foundation, the annual self-guided tours showcase festively dressed Key West homes and gardens. December tours run from 4-7 p.m. both evenings. Tickets are $30 and proceeds benefit the Old Island Restoration Foundation’s museums, collection and education, grant and scholarship programs. Click here.
throughout the Florida Keys
New Year’s Eve Celebrations
The Southernmost City celebrates with a "giant conch shell drop," a descending supersized red high-heel shoe carrying drag queen Sushi, a pirate wench "dropping" from a tall ship mast in the Historic Seaport, and a huge replica of a Key lime wedge splashing down into a margarita glass. Revelers in the Upper Keys can greet the new year with fireworks galore. Click here.
in Key Largo and Islamorada
Uncorked: The Key Largo and Islamorada Food & Wine Festival
“Uncork” and unwind in the Upper Keys as Key Largo and Islamorada culinary experts step up to the "palate" to present nearly 30 tasty food, wine and spirits events. Enjoy 10 days of wine tastings, cooking demonstrations, wine dinners, food and wine pairing classes, progressive wine dinners, art and wine shows capped by the festival’s Grand Tasting Finale Jan. 18. Click here.
Florida Keys Celtic Festival
Marathon Community Park, MM 49, is home to the family-friendly festival's six outstanding Celtic bands, including pioneers Clan na Gael. Other highlights include bagpipes and drum sounds, athletics and sheep herding demonstrations, children's activities, Celtic merchandise vendors, food fare and beverages. Click here.
in Big Pine & the Lower Keys
No Name Race
Join a 5k walk/run that benefits a worthy cause in the Florida Keys: the Monroe County Domestic Abuse Shelter. The ninth annual race begins at 8 a.m., covers 3.1 miles and is based at the Old Wooden Bridge Guest Cottages & Marina on Big Pine Key. Advance registration is $20 for adults and $25 the day of the event. Children under 15 can enter for $10. To register, call 305-743-5452.
in Key West
Quantum Key West 2014 Race Week
American and international teams vie for victory during five days of competitive racing. To view the action, fans can book seats on spectator boats ranging from excursion catamarans to historic tall ships, or watch from land at Key West's Atlantic-front restaurants, resorts and beaches. Click here.