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

LEE COUNTY, Fla. – 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 FortMyers-Sanibel.com for more information.

Plan ahead

The sixth annual Island Hopper Songwriter Fest returns Sept. 20-29, 2019. The popular event returns with new artists and new events over 10 days and offers a range of star-studded performances. It kicks off on Captiva Island Sept. 20-22; moves to downtown Fort Myers Sept. 23-26; and ends at Fort Myers Beach Sept. 27-29.

Kristian Bush, a Grammy-winning singer-songwriter and half of the multi-platinum selling country duo Sugarland, will perform Sept. 22 with the Gulf Coast Symphony on stage at Florida Repertory Theatre in downtown Fort Myers. The release of ticket prices for this show, along with other festival details, are available on the new version of the Island Hopper mobile app.

Notable new acts include Sam Williams, the 21-year-old grandson of legendary Hank Williams, and Sawyer Fredericks, the season 8 winner of NBC’s “The Voice,” will both perform on Captiva.

The festival is presented by The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel, iHeartRadio, Cat Country 107.1 and BMI. It was named one of the top events for summer by the Southeast Tourism Society. For more information visit islandhopperfest.com. Follow the festival hashtag #islandhopperfest on Twitter and other social channels. 


Hobie 16 World Championships is returning to the USA, after 35 years of events being held in other beautiful locations worldwide. And it is coming to the Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel Nov. 1-16, 2019. 

Sailors from around the world will compete in three world championship disciplines: Women’s, Youth and Open, and three additional disciplines; Masters Cup, Grand Masters Cup and Great Grand Masters Cup.

South Seas Island Resort will host more than 1,000 athletes and 336 teams on 60 new Hobie Cat racing catamaran sailboats for 16 sailing days. Sailors from 30 countries are expected to attend. In past world events, as many as 7,000 people have attended the championships.

The public will be able to view the event from the beach at South Seas Island Resort. Parking is $5 per car.

The Hobie 16 World Championships is the only sailboat class in the world to supply 60 brand-new identical Hobie Cats, 16-foot catamaran sailboats, for all competitors to race. Hobie Cat Company will provide the boats that will be used exclusively on the racecourse located just off Sunset Beach at the north end of Captiva Island. hobieworlds.com.


Upcoming events

23rd Annual MangoMania Tropical Fruit Festival, Cape Coral
July 13-14, 2019

German-American Club
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. 


Roar Offshore, Fort Myers Beach

Oct. 10-12, 2019


Get ready to celebrate the return of Offshore Powerboat Racing to Fort Myers Beach with this National Championship Race. The entire race will be visible anywhere on the beach from the pier to mid-island and on the water in the spectator anchoring area. Check website for schedule and details.

33rd Annual Oktoberfest, Cape Coral

Oct. 18-20 and 25-27, 2019

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.

31st Annual “Ding” Darling Days, Sanibel Island
Oct. 20, 2019


Check website for a list of free events throughout the day.


37th Annual Taste of the Town, Fort Myers

Nov. 3, 2019


Alliance for the Arts

Join the Junior League of Fort Myers for a great day of food, music and kids entertainment for the 37th 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
Nov. 7-10, 2019

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.



Annual Sand Sculpting Championship, Fort Myers Beach 
Nov. 22-Dec. 1, 2019

In front of Wyndham Garden Hotel
Join the fun on Fort Myers Beach for the Annual American Sand Sculpting Championship. Sponsored by the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce, USA Today and CNN Travel have named a “must-see” and one of the 10 best sand-sculpting competitions in the world.


44th Annual Holiday Nights at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates, Fort Myers

Nov. 29 through Dec. 28, 2019

Event closed Dec. 24-25, 2019

A not-to-be-missed holiday tradition, the historic buildings and more than 20 acres of gardens are decorated with lights and traditional decorations. The event offers a special holiday tour, Children’s Tree Trail, Santa visits on select nights, refreshments and shopping in the Ford Cottage Shoppe, museum store and garden shoppe. For admission and details: edisonfordwinterestates.org/calendar                           

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 10 Best 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.

13th Annual Festival of Trees presented by Goodwill Industries, downtown Fort Myers

Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center

Dec. 6-8, 2019


Get into the holiday spirit with a stroll through a showcase of festive trees in the historic Fort Myers River District.


35th Annual Christmas Luminary Trail and Open House, Sanibel and Captiva islands

Dec. 8 on Sanibel Island and Dec. 9 Captiva Island 2019


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, 2019-Jan. 2, 2020


The calendar is packed with holiday events to get you in the spirit of the season. Festival of Trees (Dec. 6-8), Holiday Stroll and Tree Lighting, Burroughs’s Home & Gardens Holiday House, Music Walk, holiday concert and a New Year’s Eve celebration to welcome 2020. Check the website for a complete calendar.


Annual Port Boca Grande Lighthouse and Museum Lighting, Boca Grande

December 2019


Celebrate the annual lighting of the Gasparilla Lighthouse at 6 p.m. with music and refreshments. Gates open at 5:30 p.m.


Fort Myers Seafood & Music Festival, Fort Myers River District

Jan. 3-5, 2020


Enjoy great food, live music and a marketplace. Check website for the entertainment lineup and details. 


Cape Coral Arts & Music Festival

Jan. 11-12, 2020



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 2020


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

Jan. 31- Feb 2, 2020



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. Opening night activities: Jan. 31, 2020.


Friends of Lovers Key Annual Vow Renewal, Lovers Key State Park

Feb. 14, 2020


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.


82nd Annual Edison Festival of Light Grand Parade, Fort Myers

Feb. 15, 2020



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. 


Spring Training 2020

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

beautiful spring days and great baseball?  For a complete listing of packages, special rates and information on a spring training vacation, visit FortMyersSanibel.com.


Boston Red Sox spring training

February/March 2020

JetBlue Park, Fort Myers



Minnesota Twins spring training

February /March 2020

CenturyLink Sports Complex, Fort Myers



83rd Annual Sanibel Shell Fair & Show, Sanibel Island
March 7-9, 2020

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. 


21st Annual Southwest Florida Reading Festival

Fort Myers Regional Library Campus

March 7, 2020

Celebrate the power of reading at the 21st annual Southwest Florida Reading Festival at the Fort Myers Regional Library campus at 2450 First St., Fort Myers. 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 readfest.org


62nd Annual Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Festival and Parade, Fort Myers Beach
March 7-8, 2020


The 62nd Annual Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Festival and Parade takes place at Lynn Hall Memorial Park on Fort Myers Beach. Both days are filled with fun, food and crafts as well as the world-famous Lions Club shrimp dinners. Shrimp are from our local fleets and are as fresh as you can get. Enjoy a 5K run, the Shrimp Festival Parade, crowning of the Shrimp Queen and a shrimp eating competition.


ECHO Global Food & Farm Festival, North Fort Myers

March 13-14, 2020


For 29 years, ECHO (Educational Concern for Hunger Organization) has been host to Southwest Florida’s premier festival focusing on sustainable living, agriculture, and food. Partnering with local organizations and businesses, ECHO’s Global Food and Farm Festival has provided thousands of attendees with the opportunity to taste exotic foods, experience life in a foreign country, and explore the Global Farm, learning about food and culture in a new way.

Visitors will tour a tropical rainforest demonstration, a 300+ variety seed bank, take an educational tour of the fruit tree arboretum, or learn about alternative energies as they are demonstrated in the appropriate technology area. Kids of all ages can taste, touch, and experience their way around the world as they learn about world hunger and ways they can make an impact.


10th Annual Fort Myers Film Festival

April 2020

Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center


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.


Fort Myers Beach International Film Festival, Fort Myers Beach

April 22-25, 2020
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 2020



The Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center will host barbecue cook teams from across the South to compete in the 7th annual Smoke on the Water Barbecue Competition & Music Festival 2020. This community event brings an authentic experience of craft barbecue, beer and bands.


“Ding” Darling & Doc Ford’s Tarpon Tourney, Sanibel Island

May 22, 2020



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 9th annual “catch, care, and release” tournament.  

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.



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 and Lehigh Acres. For media assistance, visit fortmyers-sanibel.com/media-central

Francesca Donlan