Billed as the southernmost city in the continental USA, the Florida Keys and Key West invite you to “come as you are” when trying to describe the relaxed feel and atmosphere you can experience there.
Amidst the streets lined with pine trees and the impossibly attractive gingerbread mansions, this is a city where its origins date back to when kings of Spain first registered real estate in the area and is now the host of a seemingly endless array of street festivals and attractions.
USA travel specialists like My America Holiday report that Florida Keys is often a popular destination if you are planning a twin-centre holiday in the states, so here is a look at some of the festivals and events that you might want to time your visit to coincide with.
All-year round entertainment
Florida Keys is a place where fun and entertainment are on the agenda whatever time of the year you come to visit.
When the sun goes down, the streets fill up with an array of musicians, mime artists, jugglers and street artists. There is also a lively atmosphere with sidewalk cafes and open-air bars and the official philosophy of the island community is one human family.
This simple motto encapsulates the attitude to daily life that you will encounter here and the philosophy that the residents are keen to share with their global neighbours.
A perfect example of this attitude to life and a desire to enjoy their time on the planet, is seen when you attend Fantasy Fest.
This is an adult-themed party that is staged in October for a mad 10 days, where participants leave their children and their inhibitions behind, and set about creating a party atmosphere that rivals the carnival scene in Rio.
Fantasy Fest is an annual event has been going for over 30 years and attracts people from all around the world to come and join the party and feel the excitement that this much-anticipated event always manages to deliver.
Art & Music
If a 10 day long party without the kids is not what you want from Florida Keys, you have no need to worry, as there are plenty of art and musical festivals taking place throughout the year, if that is more your thing.
The emphasis is still very much on having fun and a good time, with the 12-Step Music Festival being a prime example. This is a mass gathering of all 12 fellowships held in November each year at Sugarloaf Key and is neatly described as a mini-Woodstock but without the drugs and the alcohol.
Music and the Arts go hand in hand when you attend the Bay Jam Music & Arts Festival, which takes place at Founders Park in April. The Big Pine & Lower Keys Island Art Festival is another popular annual event. Held in December each year, the holiday season puts everyone in a good frame of mind for this festival that is destined to celebrate the best of local arts and crafts as well as providing live music entertainment.
The month of May is when the Key Largo Singers & Songwriters Festival comes to town. This 10-day event features many of the hottest and talented singers around and with a choice of 15 different stages, you should be able to find an act that you like.
If you are a diver or a snorkeler and want to experience an event that is truly offbeat, then the Underwater Music Festival is probably one of the more surreal experiences that you are likely to have. Held at the Looe Key Reef in July, last year’s theme was a salute to the Rolling Stone Crabs and featured Keith Pilchard amongst the artists impersonating their land-based originators.
Something for everyone
You are more than likely to find some event going on whenever you pay a visit to Florida Keys and all tastes and interests are catered for with festivals such as the Key Largo Pirates Fest in October and the annual Goombay Festival which is rich in Caribbean tradition.
If you are interested in history, you might like to join one of the Civil War Days at Fort Taylor, which features a re-enactment, or you may be interested in going to the Island Roots Heritage Festival which aims to celebrate the collaboration between Key West and Green Turtle Key, its sister island in the Abacos.
This is just a sample of the truly eclectic mix of street festivals to enjoy when you visit Florida Keys, so plan your trip and enjoy a memorable cultural experience whatever time of year it is.