Annual Events on The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel
"Festivals, fairs and other events fill the calendar all year long on The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel. Here are just a few of the highlights. "
Bonita Springs National Art Festival– Two mid-month weekends in January and March fill Bonita Springs Promenade al fresco shopping center with fine art. More than 200 artists from around the world sell their paintings, glass, jewelry, clay works, photography, sculpture and more. 239-495-8989, www.artinusa.com/bonita
Edison Festival of Light – From January 30 to February 21, Fort Myers celebrates the birthday of its most illustrious historical figure, Thomas A. Edison. Edison, who spent winters in a home he built on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River, invented the light bulb, so it's fitting that the month culminates with a lighted night parade. Invention competitions, crafts shows and a 5K run are all part of the fun. 239-334-2999, www.edisonfestival.org
ArtFest Fort Myers– Each February, Fort Myers' free, two-day arts celebration fills downtown with the first-class artwork of more than 200 artists from across the country. Enjoy live entertainment, a high school art competition and children's art activities. 239-768-3602, www.artfestfortmyers.com
Southwest Florida and Lee County Fair – Come to a good old-fashioned county fair with midway rides and agricultural exhibits at North Fort Myers' Lee Civic Center grounds. It runs for 10 days starting at the end of February. 239-543-8368, www.leeciviccenter.com
Sanibel Shell Fair & Show – For 73 years, folks have gathered on Sanibel Island to celebrate its bounty of seashells. The Shell Fair features shell displays and crafts, food and entertainment for three days in early March. 239-472-2155, www.sanibelcommunityhouse.net
Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Festival & Parade – Four days of festivities in March pay homage to Fort Myers Beach's harvest of sweet, pink shrimp. It's an event that's been around for more than 50 years. The local Lions Club boils up 1,000 pounds of shrimp for the 40,000 people who attend. Other activities: a 5K run, parade and the crowning of the Shrimp Queen. 239-463-9738, www.fortmyersbeachshrimpfestival.com
MangoMania, Pine Island’s Tropical Fruit Fair– Mangos are the name of the game for two juicy days in mid-July as fans go crazy for mango preserves, smoothies, bread, cookies – you name it. Also includes live music, kids’ activities and rides. 239-283-0888, www.floridascreativecoast.com
""Ding"" Darling Days – Sanibel Island's J.N. ""Ding"" Darling National Wildlife Refuge hosts a week-long birding and eco-festival in October. On Sunday Family Fun Day, which kicks off the week, everything is free, including narrated tram refuge tours, hot dogs, beverages and wildlife presentations. 239-472-1100, www.dingdarlingdays.com
American Sandsculpting Championship Festival– Fort Myers Beach hosts this major competition during five days in November. Watch the Master Sculptors Competition, and take part in an amateurs’ contest. Music and beach barbecues keep the free, 24-year-old event lively. 866-916-SAND, www.sandfestival.com
CoCoNut Festival– In Cape Coral, November means ""party"" for one entire weekend at Sun Splash Festival Grounds. Lively up yourself in tropical mode with national musical acts, gymnastics entertainment, carnival rides, tropical food, contests, coconut crafts, fireworks and more. 239-573-3121, www.cocofest.com
Edison & Ford Winter Estates Holiday Nights – The famous estates get electrified with a million twinkling lights for much of December, and local musical groups perform nightly. More than 30,000 annual visitors enjoy this 30-plus-year-old Fort Myers tradition. 239-334-7419, www.efwefla.org/hh.asp"