Celebrate nationally-recognized annual festivals at The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel

In addition to great weather, shell-drenched shores and the sparkling Gulf of Mexico, The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel in Southwest Florida is the setting for award-winning, nationally-recognized festivals and special events each year.


Celebrate nationally-recognized annual festivals at The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel

 LEE COUNTY, FL – In addition to great weather, shell-drenched shores and the sparkling Gulf of Mexico, The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel in Southwest Florida is the setting for award-winning, nationally-recognized festivals and special events each year. Visit                    www.FortMyers-Sanibel.com for more information.

Save the dates and plan ahead!

Shelling is such a popular pastime at The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel that it has its own special day. The third annual National Seashell Day takes place on June 21, 2018 and shelling enthusiasts now have a reason to shellebrate the joy of shelling and pair it with the perfect summer getaway. For details visit www.nationalseashellday.com

The fifth annual Island Hopper Songwriter Fest returns Sept. 21-30, 2018. The popular event brings music back to the beach with new artists and new events.  The free festival will take place over 10 days on Southwest Florida’s most beautiful barrier islands and offers a range of star-studded performances.

The award-winning festival includes more than 100 live performances, more than 70 songwriters. Southeast Tourism Society has also taken notice. They named the festival one of their “Top 20 Events” for 2017.

The fifth annual event will continue to give fans the opportunity to meet the talented artists who write songs for country superstars including Tim McGraw, Miranda Lambert, Jason Aldean and Tricia Yearwood.

Island Hopper is presented by Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau, iHeartMedia, Cat Country 107.1 and BMI, the largest music rights organization in the U.S.  For more information visit www.islandhopperfest.com. Follow the festival hashtag #islandhopper on Twitter and other social channels. 

Upcoming events

“Ding” Darling & Doc Ford’s Tarpon Tourney, Sanibel Island
May 11, 2018
239-472-1000, ext. 4
To celebrate the history of the first documented tarpon caught on a rod-and-reel in “Ding” Darling’s Tarpon Bay in 1885, Doc Ford’s and the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge have partnered to host this 7th annual “catch, care, and release” tournament on   Registration is $500 per team of four, 100 percent of which goes back to the anglers in cash awards. Proceeds support the wildlife and conservation efforts at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Check out all of the details on the website.

3rd National Seashell Day
June 21, 2018
Shelling is such a popular pastime at The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel that it has its own special day. The third annual National Seashell Day takes place on June 21, 2018 and shelling enthusiasts now have a reason to shellebrate the joy of shelling and pair it with the perfect summer getaway. For details visit www.nationalseashellday.com

22nd Annual MangoMania Tropical Fruit Festival, Pine Island
July 14-15, 2018

The mango is the star attraction for two days each summer on Pine Island. Go wild for fruit as you sample locally-grown delicacies at this annual affair, an unusual celebration of all the tropical fruit grown on the island, which includes lychee, carambola, longan, papaya, and “chocolate pudding fruit.” Fruit, exotic fruit trees, and fruit-related products are available for purchase. This fun, family event celebrates Pine Island's mangoes and other tropical fruits. In addition to mango food and beverages, the event features live music, art and craft vendors, food and recipe contests, and activities area for kids and a chance to meet the Mango Queen. 

32nd Annual Oktoberfest, Cape Coral
October 19-21 and 26-28, 2018
German-American Club
Hosted by the German-American Club, this huge celebration brings organizes Munich to Cape Coral. The Cape Coral Oktoberfest is the largest party of the year in the community and is THE event for fun, good food, freshly poured domestic and German beer, live music on several stages, laughter, dancing. Call or check website for schedule and ticket information.

30th Annual J.N. "Ding" Darling Days, Sanibel Island
October 12-14, 2018

A week of eco-activities with all-free refuge tram tours, live wildlife presentations, hot dogs, kid’s crafts, and other family activities. Birding, boating, tram, paddleboarding, and kayaking activities fill the week. Check website for schedule.

36th Annual Taste of the Town, Fort Myers
November 2018
Join the Junior League of Fort Myers for a great day of food, music and kids entertainment for the 34th Annual Taste of the Town.  All proceeds from this event go to support the projects of the Junior League.

Cape Coral CoCoNut Festival, Cape Coral
November 2018
Sun Splash Family Water Park
Cape Coral CoCoNut Festival celebrates Cape Coral's reputation for coconuts, multi-cultural food, boating, fishing and wildlife. The festival will feature a national musical act, gymnastic entertainment, carnival rides, water-ski shows, tropical food, contests, coconut crafts and fireworks.

13th Annual Sanibel Island Writers Conference
November 2018
BIG Arts and the Sanibel Island Public Library
This intimate writers’ conference draws acclaimed authors and songwriters, award-winning poets and screenplay writers. The talented group holds small workshops for all levels of aspiring writers who want to follow in their creative footsteps. Participants also enjoy nightly readings and concerts, which are open to the public. The conference welcomes any writer who wants to create new work or refine a project in progress. For details and reservations, visit website or contact Tom DeMarchi at tdemarch@fgcu.edu, 239-590-7421.

32nd Annual American Sand Sculpting Championship, Fort Myers Beach 
November 16-25, 2018

Come and join the fun on Fort Myers Beach for the 31st Annual American Sand Sculpting Championship and Beach Festival. Sponsored by the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce, this fun-filled event will include world-class master sand sculptors, a state championship contest, an amateur contest, sand sculpting demonstrations and lessons, and much more. With more than 1,000 tons of sand, master sand sculptors are returning to Fort Myers Beach forming the largest sand sculpting event in the state, plying their craft and showcasing their artistry in what USA Today and CNN Travel have named a “must-see” and one of the 10 best sand sculpting competitions in the world.

43rd Annual Holiday Nights at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates, Fort Myers
December 2018 (Event closed Dec. 25)
Edison Ford Holiday Nights reflect the many contributions of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and their families to the local community.  It was chosen by the editors of USA Today as one of the 10Best Historic Homes for the Holidays, which also included The White House, Mount Vernon, Monticello and the Biltmore in North Carolina. To view the article visit: www.10best.com/interests/trip-pics/historic-homes-for-the-holidays/.

In addition, The American Bus Association (ABA) designated the event as one of the Top 100 Events in North America for 2016. Edison Ford Holiday Nights has also been featured in Destinations magazine noting that Edison Ford Holiday Nights offers excellent entertainment value to both tour groups and individual travelers from around the world.
A not-to-be-missed holiday tradition, the historic buildings and acres of gardens are decorated with lights and traditional decorations. The holiday estates offer a behind the scenes tour, Children's Holiday Tree Trail, Santa visits on select nights, refreshments and shopping in the Holiday Cottage Shoppe, Museum Store and Garden Shoppe.  For admission and details: www.edisonfordwinterestates.org/events/annual-events/holiday-nights/

34th Annual Christmas Luminary Trail and Open House, Sanibel and Captiva islands
December on Sanibel Island and Captiva Island 2018.
This event draws visitors from all over the world as they join local residents to celebrate the season with three miles of luminary candles and events.

River District Holidays, downtown Fort Myers
Dec 1, 2018-Jan. 2, 2019
The calendar is packed with holiday events to get you in the spirit of the season. Festival of Trees, Holiday Stroll and Tree Lighting, Burroughs’s Home & Gardens Holiday House, Music Walk, holiday concert and a New Year’s Eve celebration to welcome 2018. Check the website for a complete calendar.

Barrier Island Parks Society annual Lighthouse Lighting, Boca Grande
December 2018
Celebrate the annual lighting of the Gasparilla Lighthouse at 6 p.m. with music and refreshments. Gates open at 5:30 p.m.

Cape Coral Festival of the Arts, Cape Coral
Jan. 12-13, 2019
This annual event in its 33rd year draws hundreds of artists and more than 100,000 visitors.

Twisted Strings, Fort Myers
Top Rocker Field at Six Bends Harley Davidson
January 2019
The annual, outdoor festival brings together classically trained musicians who fuse their years of musical training on stringed (and other) instruments with the sounds of jazz, blues, soul, rock, hip hop and world music. Visit site for lineup and ticket information.

ArtFest Fort Myers, downtown historic district
Feb. 1-3, 2019
On the waterfront in downtown Fort Myers, visitors enjoy made-in-USA original art by more than 200 artists. Enjoy food, music and fun for the whole family.

Friends of Lovers Key Annual Vow Renewal, Lovers Key State Park
Feb. 14, 2019
Love is always in the air at Lovers Key State Park, but even more so on Valentine's Day. Couples renew their vows near the gazebo on the beach, while the ocean and gulls provide background music.  The ceremonies at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. include a champagne toast, brunch or lunch, coffee and cake, socializing, photo, as well as door prizes and parting gifts. Reservations required. The non-refundable donation of $100 per couple adds to the Environmental Education Center Fund. This event has been a sell-out in the past, so reserve a spot early by contacting event chair Judy Greenwood at 708-359-0466 or fjgreenwood@gmail.com.

81st Annual Edison Festival of Light Grand Parade, Fort Myers
Feb. 16, 2019
Parade begins at 7 p.m. at Edison Stadium and continues to the Fort Myers downtown River District. During February, Fort Myers celebrates the birthday of its most illustrious historical resident, Thomas A. Edison, in befitting fashion. Edison, who built a home on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River and spent 46 winters there, invented the light bulb and held more than 1,200 patents. So it’s appropriate that the month of activities culminates with a lighted night parade. Invention competitions, parties, craft shows and a 5K run are all part of the festival.  Celebrating 79 years, the month of February is filled with special events. 

Spring Training 2019
The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel is the spring training home of the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins. Get up close and see your favorite baseball players. What could be better than a beautiful spring days and great baseball?  For a complete listing of packages, special rates and information on a spring training vacation, visit www.FortMyers-Sanibel.com.
Boston Red Sox spring training
JetBlue Park, Fort Myers

Minnesota Twins spring training
CenturyLink Sports Complex, Fort Myers

82nd Annual Sanibel Shell Fair & Show, Sanibel Island
March 7-9, 2018
Sanibel Community House
Sanibel Island, named the best shelling beach in the U.S. and one of the best in the world, hosts shelling enthusiasts who gather each year for the shell fair that draws visitors from around the globe.  One of the most unique events in the country, it began on a porch with just a few islanders and has evolved into today's fair that includes demonstrations, shell displays, crafts, prizes, food and entertainment. 

20th Annual Southwest Florida Reading Festival
Fort Myers Regional Library Campus
March 2019
Celebrate books and the written word at the Southwest Florida Reading Festival on March 3 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Fort Myers Regional Library campus at 1651 Lee St., Fort Myers (a new location this year).  The free, family-oriented festival is a chance to meet well-known authors and to focus on the importance of reading. There will also be books and authors for kids and teens. Check the schedule and list of authors at www.readfest.org

61st Annual Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Festival and Parade, Fort Myers Beach
March 10-11, 2019

Activities for the 61st annual Fort Myers Beach shrimp harvest event will include a parade, crowning of the Shrimp Queen, craft vendors, the boiled shrimp concession, and other seafood booths set up both days at Lynn Hall Memorial Park. 

9th Annual Fort Myers Film Festival
March 2019
Locations throughout Lee County
The Fort Myers Film Festival is an intelligent independent filmmaker's preferred event to create, unite and showcase the finest artistic cinematic works. Known for its support of local filmmakers, the event is a must-attend for cineastes who love indie film and film festivals. Check out all the details on the website.

13th Annual Fort Myers Beach Film Festival, Fort Myers Beach
April 2019

The Fort Myers Beach Film Festival invites independent film fans, filmmakers and distributors to spend four days to exchange ideas, make new contacts and enjoy some great films for all ages. Area accommodations offer special rates and packages to support this international celebration of independent filmmaking.  

Smoke on the Water Barbecue Competition & Music Festival, downtown Fort Myers                            April 27-29, 2018 
239-333-1933                                                                                                                                            www.sbdac.com/smoke-water-2017
The Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center will host barbecue cook teams from across the South to compete in the Smoke on the Water Barbecue Competition & Music Festival 2018. This free community event brings an authentic experience of craft barbecue, beer and bands.
For the latest information on the area’s many accommodation choices, events and activities, visit www.FortMyers-Sanibel.com.



Editor's note: The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel in Southwest Florida includes: Sanibel Island, Captiva Island, Fort Myers Beach, Fort Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Cape Coral, Pine Island, Boca Grande & Outer Islands, North Fort Myers, Lehigh Acres. For media assistance, visit www.fortmyers-sanibel.com/media-central/

Jackie Parker