With summer fast approaching, the Florida Keys are gearing up for a busy summer of entertaining and offbeat annual events that celebrate the sub-tropical island chain’s culinary, literary and underwater heritage.
Key Lime Festival: 30 June – 4 July
Returning to Key West for its sixth year, the foodie festival takes place over five days culminating on Independence Day. Celebrating the island chain’s signature dessert and the tiny fruit that inspired it, event highlights include the Mile High Key Lime Pie Eatin’ Contest on 4 July at Ocean Key Resort, a cocktail ‘sip & stroll,’ and the Key Lime Pie Hop, which takes lime lovers on a stroll through Key West to sample five variations of the popular dessert. www.keylimefestival.com
Lower Keys Underwater Music Festival: 7 July
Divers and snorkellers can explore a portion of the world’s third-largest coral barrier reef while enjoying a unique sub-sea concert in the Lower Florida Keys. Now in its 34th year, the festival offers a melodic experience that spotlights coral reef protection and environmentally responsible diving. Running from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Looe Key Reef, an area of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary around six miles south of Big Pine Key, the festival is open to both local and visiting divers. Participants can reserve space on boats run by Lower Keys dive operators and then swim among Looe Key’s vivid marine life and coral formations while listening to music broadcast by local radio station US1 104.1 FM. Tunes typically ranging from haunting humpback whale songs to Jimmy Buffett’s ‘Fins’ and the Beatles’ ‘Octopus’s Garden’ are piped underwater via Lubell Laboratory speakers suspended beneath boats above the reef. www.lowerkeyschamber.com/festival.php
Hemingway Days Celebration: 17-22 July
The life and work of legendary author Ernest Hemingway, who lived and wrote in Key West during the 1930s, will once again be recognised during the annual Hemingway Days celebration. In mid-July, Hemingway look-alikes, writers, anglers and fans of the late author’s work will gather for events including the 38th Hemingway® Look-Alike Contest at Key West’s iconic Sloppy Joe’s Bar, which was a popular hangout for the writer during his years on the island. Other festival highlights include prose and poetry readings, the wacky ‘Running of the Bulls’ event, presentations on Ernest’s influence, a deep-sea fishing tournament and a museum exhibit of rare Hemingway memorabilia. www.hemingwaydays.net
For more information on the Florida Keys: www.fla-keys.co.uk