FLORIDA KEYS — The fall season in the Florida Keys & Key West will host warm weather, sunny skies and an array of events to entertain. From pillaging pirates to high-speed powerboats to eco-conscious happenings, the Florida Keys & Key West has an event to serve everyone’s interests.
While this piece lists selected fall 2011 highlights, a comprehensive schedule of events throughout the Keys can be found at www.fla-keys.com/calendarofevents/.
Sept. 1-5: Second Annual Key West Brewfest. Key West. More than 50 kinds of beers and micro-brews are on tap at this second annual “tasty” event that benefits Key West Sunrise Rotary Club of the Conch Republic. Beer tastings, food and musical rhythms round out the weekend activities. Visit keywestbrewfest.com or call 800-354-4455.
Sept. 15-18: Phil Peterson’s Key West Poker Run. Florida Keys. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the U.S. are to travel the Keys’ scenic Overseas Highway from mainland Florida to Key West to raise money for charity. Stops are arranged throughout the Keys with a final celebration in Key West. Visit www.petersonsharley.com or call 800-545-2561.
Sept. 21-25: Florida Keys Birding & Wildlife Festival. Marathon and Lower Keys. A celebration of the natural wonders of Florida wildlife takes place at the peak of the fall birding season. The event includes presentations and field trips focusing on education and conservation related to Keys birds and wildlife, and an environmental fair. Visit www.keysbirdingfest.org or call 305-872-0774.
Sept. 30 – Oct. 2: Second Annual Conchtoberfest. Marathon. This Middle Keys event is chock-full of food, beverages, vendors, music and entertainment for the entire family. “Conchtoberfest Nights” at local venues throughout Marathon lead up to main weekend events at Hawks Cay Resort. All events are open to the public. Visit http://experience.hawkscay.com/conchtoberfest/ or call 305-289-4901.
Oct. 15: Underwater Pumpkin Carving. Key Largo. Divers become underwater artists as they turn pumpkins into Halloween masterpieces beneath the sea in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Visit www.amoray.com or call 305-451-3595.
Oct. 20-23: Key Largo Pirates Festival. Key Largo. Buccaneers and wenches can enjoy three days of piratical fun including a costume contest, walk-the-plank event, rum tasting, booty hunt, pirate show, thieves market, underwater poker and more. Visit www.keylargopiratesfest.com or call 305-394-3736.
Oct. 21-22: Goombay Festival. Key West. Held in Key West’s historic Bahama Village neighborhood, the lively Goombay is known for its island-style food, arts and crafts, nonstop live entertainment and dancing in the streets. Visit www.goombay-keywest.org for more information.
Oct. 21–30: 32nd Annual Fantasy Fest. Key West. This outrageous 10-day costuming and masking celebration features flamboyant costume competitions — including one for pets — promenades, street fairs and a grand parade that stars marching groups, island bands and lavish floats. Visit www.fantasyfest.net or call 305-296-1817.
Oct. 31 – Nov. 6: EcoWeek 2011. Florida Keys. This second annual Keyswide event is geared toward celebrating healthy living, a healthy planet and peaceable and sustainable communities. Visit www.ecoweekfloridakeys.com for more information.
Nov. 6-13: Key West World Championship Powerboat Races. Key West. High-speed powerboats continue Key West’s longstanding tradition in a challenge described as the Indianapolis 500 of powerboat racing. Visit www.superboat.com or call 305-296-6166.
Nov. 11-12: Key Largo Bridge Run. Key Largo. Enjoy the sunrise where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Gulf of Mexico during the morning race over part of the historic 18-Mile Stretch and the Jewfish Creek Bridge at Key Largo, gateway to the Keys. Visit www.jewfishcreekbridgerun.com for more information.
Nov. 23 – Jan. 1: Key West “Bight Before Christmas” Holiday Celebration. Key West. Experience six weeks of holiday fun around Key West’s Historic Seaport, also called the Key West Bight. The Harbor Walk of Lights brings the natural beauty of the Key West waterfront alive with the sparkle of holiday lights on the water. It stretches for four blocks and features real southernmost Christmas trees. The holiday gala is created as a gift to the community and produced by the Key West Bight Preservation Association and tenants of the Key West Bight. Visit www.keywestchristmas.org or call 305-304-2633.
Nov. 25 – Dec. 4: Pirates in Paradise 2011. Key West. Historic Key West, the Truman Waterfront and Fort Taylor are transformed into pirate strongholds with more than 150 pirate entertainers. Tall ships, sea battles, arts and crafts, pirate sails, a living history encampment and nonstop entertainment celebrate Key West’s maritime history. Visit www.piratesinparadise.com or call 305-296-9694.
Florida Keys visitor information: www.fla-keys.com or 1-800-FLA-KEYS