Special Events in Key West

Key West Literary Seminar
In January, the Key West Literary Seminar celebrates both readers and writers. Event highlights include writers' workshops for wordsmiths of all levels, panel discussions that unite celebrated authors from a range of disciplines and readings performed by contemporary writers, poets, novelists and biographers. Notable participants in years past include Paul Hendrickson, Kate Moses, Alexandra Styron, Geoff Dyer, Jay Parini and more.

Conch Republic
Each April, the citizens of Key West celebrate the independence of the Conch Republic, a self-proclaimed fifth-world state that is built on humor, community and respect. The celebration begins with the raising of the Conch flag, and then continues for three days of non-stop parties. Drag races, block parties, dances, car shows, gospel music performances, and foot races are all part of the fun.

Memorial Day
Memorial Day is a cause for special celebration in Key West. The weekend's Survivor's Party has been raising money for local charities for over 35 years and is anticipated by both tourists and locals. Live music and local food are served up all weekend to raise money for various worthy causes.

Cuban American Heritage Festival
The end of May also brings the annual Cuban American Heritage Festival to Key West. The festival celebrates the rich history of the area's Cuban population and culture and features Cuban food, Latino music, dances, parades and more, including the one of the world's longest conga lines.

Hemingway Days
Key West is known around the world for its beaches, laid-back lifestyle and for being the home of beloved author Ernest Hemingway. The writer's life is celebrated each July during the annual Hemingway Days, a five-day festival of museum exhibitions, marlin tournaments, readings and presentations by novelists and other writers, guided tours of Hemingway's home and Caribbean-inspired street fairs. One of the festival's highlights is the Papa look-alike contest, which draws bearded entries from around the Keys.

Fantasy Fest
The best-known Key West event is perhaps the Fantasy Fest, a weeklong celebration of marked by parades, balls, costume contests, fundraisers, body painting and more. The highlight of the event is the main parade, which features giant floats with extravagant decorations. Two residents of Key West are elected the Conch King and Queen each year and ride in the parade's biggest float. Other popular Fantasy Fest events are Goombay in the Bahama Village neighborhood, where goatskin drums beat tropical rhythms into the night, the Royal Coronation Ball that peaks with the crowning of the King and Queen and the Pet Masquerade, where pets from around Key West parade the streets in their most elaborate costumes.