Fall Festivals Galore

Key West's Fantasy Fest is an outrageous celebration featuring flamboyant costume competitions, street fairs and more.


Summertime may be over but there’s still plenty of fun to be had in Florida this fall. From an ocean-inspired escapade in Key West, to a sleepless night in Miami, here are a few events that may get your party-loving clients ready to pack their bags.

Sea monsters, mermaids and creatures of the deep are set to surface in Key West Friday, Oct. 21, through Sunday, Oct. 30, during the city’s annual Fantasy Fest celebration. This year’s event—themed Aquatic Afrolic—will feature 10 days of masquerade balls, costume contests, parties and an ocean-inspired grand parade set for Saturday, Oct. 29.

The action—which is very adult-centric—will begin with a Royal Coronation Ball on Friday, followed by a 2-day street party in historic Bahama Village. Other festival highlights include a pirate’s bash, Monster’s Ball, burlesque extravaganza and plenty of elaborate costume competitions.

Key West’s renowned Duval Street becomes the stage Friday as vendors of costumes, arts and crafts, food and libations kick-off the mile-long Fantasy Fest Street Fair. The party wraps up on Saturday during the Captain Morgan Fantasy Fest Parade through Key West’s historic downtown where spectators can enjoy Caribbean bands, costumed characters and lavishly decorated motorized floats. For more information, visit fantasyfest.net.

Recommend your clients book a stay at the Sheraton Suites in Key West where they can take advantage of the hotel’s Buy 4 Nights, Get the 5th Free offer. Rates start at $149 per night. As part of its own Fantasy Fest celebration, Sheraton Suites will host its inaugural Blue Party benefiting Aids Help on Sunday, Oct. 23. The event will begin at 3 p.m. and continue through 6 p.m. and feature live music, free food and refreshments, a cash bar, raffles and giveaways. Tickets are $10 and include a $5 complimentary raffle ticket. For more information, visit sheratonkeywest.com.

Meanwhile, cultural enthusiasts are invited to Miami this November for the 2011 Sleepless Night Miami Beach event, set to take place Nov. 5-6. Now in its fourth year, this all-night festival showcases an eclectic mix of over 150 local and international artists, including theater and dance groups, musicians, museum exhibits, trapeze acts and more. The 13-hour marathon concludes with a grand finale concert and breakfast on the beach.

Sleepless Night events are free, and complimentary shuttle service is provided between venues for the entire duration of the festival. For more information, visit sleeplessnight.org.

The Catalina Hotel + Beach Club, which will serve as the host hotel for many of the event’s artists, is offering festival-goers a special Sleepless Night package available for stays during this year’s event. Priced from $179 dbl per night, the package includes energy drink welcome cocktails and nightly cocktail hour, caffeinated gift basket amenity, access to Oxygen Bar Lounge during the Sleepless Night, two complimentary breakfast platters served at the 24-hour Maxine’s Bistro, poolside reflexology foot massage with champagne, roundtrip airport shuttle and 1 p.m. late check-out. For more information, visit catalinahotel.com.

Over in Orlando, a major new music festival is set to launch this fall celebrating the rich and diverse music scene from across the U.S. Orlando Calling will be an action-packed weekend festival with headliners to include Bob Seger, Kid Rock and The Killers. The event will also showcase emerging talents from Central Florida and other parts of the country.

Festival fans will be able to experience multiple performance areas, including four stages and a “coffee house” venue that will spotlight traditional folk, bluegrass and jazz, as well as promote the work of local and regional artisans, visual artists, and craft vendors.

Book your clients the Hotel Weekend available at the Sheraton Downtown Hotel and they’ll receive 2-night accommodations, two weekend Stage 1 reserved tickets to Orlando Calling, scheduled shuttle service, two T-shirts, two posters and access to the general admission after party on Saturday and Sunday. For more information, including additional ticket information, visit orlandocalling.com.