FLEET WEEK – This annual Fort Lauderdale event allows visitors to tour active Navy and Coast Guard ships for free. But don’t wait – reservations are necessary and there are only 12,000 slots open. Even if you don’t get to see the ships, who doesn’t like to see a man or a woman in a uniform? They will be all around town during the week.
Where: Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale
MOTHERS DAY DOLPHIN TOURNAMENT – Fish for a cause in this one-day Dolphin shootout that benefits Habitat for Humanity of the Middle Keys. It features fab fishing, prize money and trophies for the winners, and an awards banquet complete with door prizes and an auction.
Where: Marathon, Florida Keys
MIAMI INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL – The best South Florida has to offer in Latin jazz, fusion and “Cubop” (short for Cuban bop) will be presented. This festival always gets a great lineup.
Where: Different locations in Little Havana, Miami
ARTSNAPLES WORLD FESTIVAL – Each year a different country is honored gets the royal treatment with concerts, piano recitals, jazz, chamber music, opera, cinema and, of course, great food and wine.
Where: Various locations in Naples
STUART SAILFISH REGATTA – It’s an exciting weekend of speed and excitement with hydroplanes, race boats and powerboats competing for prize money and bragging rights. There’s a lot more, including live music, food and a swimsuit contest.
Where: North side of the Stuart Causeway bridge, Stuart
A DOUBLE DIP FOR FLOWER LOVERS – What’s your pleasure: orchids or hibiscuses? At the Annual Punta Gorda Hibiscus Festival, specialty hibiscus and other exotic plants, trees and organics will be displayed and up for sale. Lots of other fun stuff, too: Restored antique cars, Li’l Miss Hibiscus Pageant, a farmers’ market, live music and a secret garden tour. The Redland International Orchid Show is one of the largest in the country, featuring more than 50 booths of orchid vendors and educational events and material. You’ll find all kinds of gorgeous orchids and more: lectures by experts, raffles and international food.
Where: Respectively, Gilchrist Park in Punta Gorda and Fruit and Spice Park in Miami
Web: Respectively: thehibiscusfestival.com and fruitandspicepark.com
A DOUBLE DIP FOR SINGER/SONGWRITER LOVERS: – The Key West Songwriters Festival features some of America’s foremost songwriters performing in intimate, audience-friendly settings. At the Key Largo Original Music Festival, hit songwriters from Nashville and around the country perform on multiple stages and a variety of on-the-water venues.
Web: Respectively, keywestsongwritersfestival.com and keylargooriginalmusicfest.com
WATERMELON FESTIVAL – Come celebrate the harvest season at this annual tribute to the watermelon. Highlights include: Speed eating and seed spitting competitions, community showcase exhibition area, live entertainment on two stages, stilt walkers, skill games, balloon animals and, of course, mouth-watering watermelon.
Where: Fleamasters Flea Market, Fort Myers
KEY WEST PADDLEBOARD CLASSIC – Participants will enjoy a challenging course over crystal blue waters, circling the city through scenic mangroves, passing by the historic Seaport District and more. Open to paddlers on standup paddleboards, prone boards, outrigger canoes, dory boats, surf skis and kayaks.
HAITI HOME – This exhibit celebrates Haitian Heritage month and features the unique art and craft of Haitian artisans placed within the context of home and hearth. Work featured will highlight the connections of tradition and innovation as they meld with utility and comfort.
Where: Little Haiti Cultural Complex, Miami
ANNUAL TASTE OF THE BEACH – More than 20 restaurants will offer samples of their signature dishes and compete for prizes in Best Entrée, Best Appetizer and Best Desert. Live concerts are also featured.
Where: Old San Carlos Boulevard, Fort Myers Beach
SOUTHEAST BUNFEST – Florida’s only festival devoted to rabbit and guinea pigs owners or owners-to-be. Learn Bunny Basics 101 while treating your pet to a snack, “critter spa” treatment or photo shoot, and shop for rabbit-specific products and toys.