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What's New in The Florida Keys & Key West

The annual Fantasy Fest, the island's internationally renowned masking and costuming festival, is a 10-day party in paradise. The exotic extravaganza features masquerade balls, costume competitions, street fairs, performance art, glamorous galas, and an over-the-top grand parade. This year's theme is In Tune But ... Off Key: Celebrating 40 Years of Fantasy! and will run from Friday, Oct. 18, through Sunday, Oct. 27.

Posted on Mon, Aug 26th, 2019 10:27 am by joyoftravel.ca news services

(Photo: Fantasy Fest by Rob O'Neal/Florida Key News Bureau/HO)

The highly anticipated Bud Light Fantasy Fest Parade is expected to attract 70,000 revelers for a dazzling procession of large-scale floats, costumed marching groups and bands. For more information and the complete schedule, visit https://www.fantasyfest.com/

Those who revere beer or love their lager can indulge their cravings at the 10th annual Key West BrewFest, scheduled Aug. 29 through Sept. 2. Attendees can sample nearly 200 beers and ales (including some brewed in the Florida Keys) at the BrewFest Signature Tasting Festival and also enjoy beer-focused brunches, pool parties and meals paired with brews. For more information, visit https://www.keywestbrewfest.com/

Golf and boating fans are gathering in Islamorada on Saturday, Sept. 28, for the popular Conch Scramble charity golf tournament. This unique golf experience is anticipated every year – golf carts and sand traps are given up in favour of boats and biodegradable golf balls. Each player gets two shots at the floating targets from each tee venue. After playing nine holes, teams celebrate with an awards ceremony. For more information, visit http://www.conchscramble.com/

The annual REEF fest, taking place in Key Largo Oct. 17-20, invites ocean lovers to get out on the water and learn about the Florida Keys coral reefs. The four days will be filled with coral reef dives, snorkelling excursions, guided kayak tours, ocean-themed education sessions and evening social events. The festival is designed to celebrate the importance of marine conservation, positive impacts of citizen science and education initiatives in the Keys and around the world. For more information, visit https://www.reef.org/REEFFest

Keys Tours

Internationally acclaimed Road Scholar organization currently escorts 12 learning adventures to the Florida Keys. The group trips attract lifelong learners, typically older than 50 who have diverse cultural and professional backgrounds. The non-profit offers group trips for active seniors who want to explore the Florida Keys in-depth such as Keys, Everglades & Dry Tortugas: Human History & Outdoor Study and Florida's Fragile Coastal Treasure: Snorkel the Coral Reefs. For more information, visit https://www.roadscholar.org/

Keys Sustainability/ Attractions

Enjoy eco-friendly watersports on the calm summer seas in the Keys:
• Stand-up paddling or paddle boarding is growing in popularity and is a fun way to get out on the water. For more information, visit https://fla-keys.com/#keys-featured-video
• Hydrobiking is a popular activity offered by Islander Girl Snorkel and Tours and Key West Hydrobikes. The bikes are powered purely by human effort and are a unique way of exploring the waters. For more information, visit: https://islandergirltours.com/ and https://www.keywesthydrobikes.com/
• SQUID, an eco-friendly option for dolphin watching, is Key West's first electric powered charter boat. It runs on lithium ion batteries that can be recharged at shore through Sunflare solar panels. The tours can be booked through Honest Eco Tours. For more information, visit https://honesteco.org/

The Annual Coral Spawn is a fascinating natural phenomenon in the Keys. A few days after the late summer full moon phases, the coral "love affair" allows reproduction of the species. The timing depends on the lunar cycle and the corals are expected to spawn next following the Sept. 14 full moon. Divers and snorkelers interested in viewing this phenomenon can book an eco-excursion with one of Florida's professional diver operators. For more information, visit https://fla-keys.com/diving/

Keys Dining

Eat like a local in Key Largo. The ever-evolving island offers a variety of activities, attractions and dining options. Local favorites include Alabama Jack's (fondly described as "a waterfront dive"), DiGiorgio's Cafe Largo (mouth-watering Italian comfort classics) and Mrs. Mac's Kitchen (serving hearty breakfasts and an "American seafood" menu at two locations). For more information, visit http://media.fla-keys.com/press-releases/sailing-away-to-key-largo-eat-like-local.htm

Did you know? There are 42 bridges connecting the islands of the Florida Keys. The shortest is Harris Gap Bridge at 37 feet. The longest is the Seven Mile Bridge, originally built as part of the Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad. It is nearly 36,000 feet long, making it one of the longest segmental bridges in the world.