ART DECO WEEKEND – What started out as a small grassroots festival 39 years ago has turned into one of the largest celebrations of Art Deco architecture and culture in the country. Highlights: art exhibits, concerts, lectures, films, street theater, vendors, parades, antique autos, a variety of culinary offerings and Arf Deco (doggie activities).
Where: Along Ocean Drive in Miami Beach
SOUTH FLORIDA FAIR – This 17-day extravaganza features first class stage shows, national concert acts, midway rides, livestock shows, auctions, competitions, tons of kids activities and of course, lots of corn dogs and cotton candy and other tasty fair food.
Where: South Florida Fairgrounds in West Palm Beach
QUANTUM KEY WEST SAILING REGATTA – This annual international regatta features world-class competition and yachting teams from 12 countries and 24 states. More than 100 yachts (large and small – 23 to 72 feet) compete for class championships.
Where: Key West
UNCORKED: THE KEY LARGO AND ISLAMORADA FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL – Enjoy 10 glorious days of wine tasting events, cooking demonstrations, food and wine pairing classes, progressive wine dinners and the Grand Tasting on the last day.
Where: Various locations in Key Largo and Islamorada
(EDITOR’S NOTE: They might as well designate January as Food & Spirits month in the Keys. There are a ton of other events, too, such as: the Florida Keys Seafood Festival, Key West Food and Wine Festival, Brew on the Bay and the Key Largo Stone Crab and Seafood Festival. Use Google or go to fla-keys.com/calendarofevents for more information.)
SOUTHWEST FLORIDA NATURE FESTIVAL – Explore the local environment through 40 guided field trips to 20 wildlife hot spots, including the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and the Big Cypress National Preserve. The field trips include birding walks, buggy rides and boat tours.
Where: Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center, Naples
MIAMI JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL – Expect the unexpected with internationally acclaimed dramas, documentaries and shorts live musical performances, social events, panel discussions and seminars.
Where: Various theaters throughout Miami and Miami Beach
HOMESTEAD CHAMPIONSHIP RODEO – All the rodeo staples are included -- bull riding, saddle-bronc riding, bareback-bronc riding, calf roping, steer wrestling and women’s barrel racing, along with cowboy poetry readings, a grand downtown rodeo parade and western-style dancing.
Where: Doc DeMilly Arena at Harris Field, Homestead
DELRAY BEACH FASHION WEEK – This unique event features in-store designer trunk shows, makeovers, art expositions and the grand finale: The Fabulous Fashion Show showcasing more than 150 looks from 50 different stores.
Where: Delray Beach
ARTS & CRAFTS GALORE – You’ll be able to see (and of course, purchase) great works of art in a variety of media: painting, photography, sculpture, ceramics, clay, glass, wood, jewelry and so much more. Here is the info on 15 outstanding arts & crafts events:
ArtPalmBeach (Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach; artpalmbeach.com)
Art Under the Oaks (Plantation Key in Tavernier; artundertheoaks.com)
Beaux Arts Festival (University of Miami campus in Coral Gables; beauxartsmiami.org)
Boca Fest (Town Center Mall in Boca Raton; artfestival.com)
Cape Coral Festival of the Arts (along Cape Coral Parkway in downtown Cape Coral; capecoralfestival.com)
Coconut Point New Year’s Weekend Art Festival (Coconut Point Shopping Center in Estero; artfestival.com)
Coral Gables Festival of the Arts (downtown Coral Gables; coralgablesartfestival.com)
Delray Beach Festival of the Arts (downtown Delray Beach; artfestival.com)
Estero Fine Art Show (Miromar Design Center in Estero; hotworks.org)
Key West Craft Show (Key West’s historic Old Town; keywestartcenter.com)
Las Olas Art Fair, Part 1 (Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale; artfestival.com)
Naples New Year’s Art Fair (downtown Naples; naplesart.org)
Punta Gorda Craft Festival (along Sullivan Street in Punta Gorda; artfestival.com)
St. Armands Circle Art Festival (downtown Sarasota; artfestival.com)
Venice Craft Festival (downtown Venice; artfestival.com)
YUM, YUM AND YUM – That’s one yum each for three niche foodie events: the Big Swamp Bar-B-Que Smoke-Off, the South Florida Garlic Fest (known as the Best Stinkin’ Party in Town) and the Kiss Country Chili Cook-Off. Each one offers mighty fine live musical fare, too.
Where: Respectively, the Collier County Fairgrounds in Naples; John Prince Park in Lake Worth; and CB Smith Park in Pembroke Pines
Web: Respectively, bigswampsmokeoff.com, garlicfestfl.com and wkis.com
BROWARD SHELL SHOW – Thousands of beautiful and unusual shells from around the world will be on display and for sale. Other highlights: competitive displays by dozens of collectors, shell artists showcasing their designs, a shell ID station and shell arts and crafts and jewelry.
Where: Emma Lou Olson Civic Center, Pompano Beach
SWAMP BUGGY WINTER CLASSIC – Get down and dirty at the world’s muddiest swamp buggy races on a figure-eight track known as the “Mile O’ Mud.” The buggies range from standard jeeps with snorkels to giant monsters with NASCAR racing engines.
Where: Florida Sports Park, Naples
CLAMJAM OF SOUTHWEST FLORIDA – Seminars, entertainment, arts & crafts, contests and, of course, fresh
clams -- top neck, middle neck, little neck, steamers and venus, if you know your clams -- and seafood, right off the boats of local fishermen.
Where: German-American Social Club, Cape Coral
THUNDER BY THE BAY MOTORCYCLE FESTIVAL – Were you born to be not quite as wild as the folks who attend the annual Daytona Beach bike bash? If so, this gathering is for you. You’ll see all the great new and vintage bikes, sample great food and see/hear outstanding live music – but, according to event organizers, it’s a tamer and more refined atmosphere than the Daytona version.
Where: Various locations in Sarasota
INTERNATIONAL CHOCOLATE FESTIVAL – It’s a celebration of the obroma cacao, the source of chocolate. Featured are chocolate treats, cooking demonstrations and sculpture competitions.
Where: Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Coral Gables
THE CELTS ARE COMING! THE CELTS ARE COMING! – At the Florida Keys Celtic Festival and the Caloosahatchee Celtic Festival, you’ll see Celtic bands, bagpipes and drums and a children’s glen and Celtic and local food fare and beverages.
Where: Respectively, Marathon Community Park in Marathon (mile marker 49) and Centennial Park in Fort Myers
Web: celticheritageproductions.com for both events