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KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Key West may be Florida's subtropical southernmost island, but revelers can enjoy events as seasonal as Santa's North Pole celebrations during the 2015 Key West Holiday Fest that runs through Dec. 20.

The festivities begin with the illumination of the Key West Harbor Walk of Lights in the city's Historic Seaport. The harbor walk area from Greene to Grinnell streets is to glimmer with nautical holiday displays, featuring traditional and island-style decorations, throughout the season.

Holiday Fest highlights include tours of historic lighted inns on two consecutive Fridays, Dec. 11 and 18. Visitors can discover the holiday spirit — and Key West's unique architecture and heritage — by exploring several festively decorated bed-and-breakfast properties each Friday. The Dec. 18 tour includes a rare nighttime viewing of the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory, 1316 Duval St., as well as featured inns. Tickets for the inn tours are available at

On-the-water enthusiasts can show their holiday spirit at the Schooner Wharf Bar Lighted Boat Parade set for 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12. Dozens of decorated kayaks, fishing craft and schooners are to light up the Historic Seaport and harbor areas, while spectators can view the procession from resorts, bars and restaurants in and around the seaport.

As well as these signature celebrations, the Key West Holiday Fest calendar is to be updated as the island's seasonal festivities are announced. Featured events include the annual hometown holiday parade, a "Sail with Santa" on Fury Water Adventures' catamaran, a musical showcase by the young talents of "Violins in Motion," pet photos with Santa, a holiday classic car show and outdoor jazz performances at the Gardens Hotel, 526 Angela St.

Festival information and schedule: or 305-296-4959

Key West visitor information:
or 1-800-LAST-KEY

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KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Florida Keys commercial fishermen and fans of fresh fish and seafood are to gather Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 16-17, to celebrate the island chain's bountiful ocean harvest during the 11th annual Florida Keys Seafood Festival.

Presented by the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen's Association, the family-friendly feast is set for 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at Key West's Bayview Park, located at Truman Avenue and Jose Marti Drive.

The savory seafood menu features fresh grilled Florida spiny lobster, "pick and peel" Key West pink shrimp, stone crab claws, fried local fish, smoked fish dip with crackers, lobster bisque and more. All seafood is to be prepared and served by local fishermen and their families.

Traditional regional favorites such as savory conch chowder and conch fritters also await attendees, as do hotdogs and hamburgers, while desserts include sweet flan and Key lime pie. Beverages ranging from soft drinks to beer and wine to island-style cocktails are to be available for purchase.

Plans also call for nonstop entertainment by local musicians including Paul Cotton, who was the longtime lead vocalist and lead guitarist for the acclaimed country-rock band Poco.

Vendor booths are to offer arts and crafts depicting aspects of the fishing community and marine life, as well as other items handcrafted by local artisans. Additional attractions include marine life exhibits, raffles and a "fun zone" with energetic activities for kids.

Admission is $5 per adult, including entry into a raffle for $250 worth of seafood, and free for children under age 12. Proceeds from the festival benefit the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen's Association and scholarships for college-bound students from Key Largo to Key West.

Event information:,, or 305-872-9026

Key West visitor information: or 1-800-LAST-KEY

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KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Women and girls from around the world are to meet on the playing field for hard-fought sporting action Friday through Sunday, Jan. 29-31, during the 25th annual Kelly McGillis Classic International Women's & Girls' Flag Football Championship.

Diane Beruldsen, president and founder of the International Women's Flag Football Association, said more than 26 teams from across the United States, Mexico, Central America, Sweden and India are expected to participate.

Competitors are invited to pretournament activities in the island city starting Monday, Jan. 25, and opening ceremonies are scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28, at the Rum Barrel at 528 Front St.

Tournament namesake McGillis, a former Key West resident who was nominated for a Golden Globe for her role in "Witness" and starred in "Top Gun," "The Accused" and other films, is scheduled to appear during the opening ceremonies.

Following the ceremonies, the Players Parade is to leave the Rum Barrel at 5 p.m. and head up Duval Street.

Games are scheduled to start at 9 a.m. Jan. 29 and 8 a.m. Jan. 30 and 31 at Wicker Field Sports Complex on Kennedy Drive.

Spectators can compete in half-time activities, with prizes awaiting those who can throw and kick the football the farthest as well as the winners of bicycle and wheelbarrow races. All games and activities are open to the public free of charge.

Tournament awards are to be presented following the World Challenge Game Jan. 31 at the Turtle Kraals Restaurant & Bar, 231 Margaret St.

Post-tournament activities are scheduled Feb. 1 in Key West.

The public is invited to participate in all activities, as well as register for clinics on how to play and officiate flag football.

Event information:, call 888-464-9332 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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FLORIDA KEYS — New Year's Eve revelers can combine bubbly toasts with tangy twists as they flee colder climes to count down to the New Year in the Florida Keys. Celebrations from Key Largo to Key West are designed to ring in 2016 with island style.

At the head of the Florida Keys in Key Largo a fireworks extravaganza is to illuminate the sky above Blackwater Sound. The sparkling display is hosted by bayside restaurants Sundowners, Jimmy Johnson's Big Chill, Señor Frijoles, Cactus Jack's, Gus's Grille at the Marriott Key Largo Bay Resort and the Caribbean Club — all located near mile markers (MM) 103-104. Tables fill quickly, so partiers are advised to arrive early.

Revelers in Islamorada can find appealing activities as well. Every full moon the Morada Bay Beach Café at MM 81.6 bayside hosts a large beach party with multiple bonfires in the sand, live music and a Bahamian junkanoo parade. New Year's Eve is to be no exception, with a specially planned beach barbecue, signature cocktails, performers and fireworks. VIP tables and couches include a bottle of champagne and a private server for the evening. Call 305-664-3225 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Cheeca Lodge & Spa, MM 82 oceanside, is staging a New Year's Eve celebration that includes three gourmet dinner seatings to choose from, live music from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., dancing on the beach and a midnight fireworks display. For more information, costs and reservations, call 305-517-4580.

Four southernmost spinoffs on the New Year's Eve "drop" tradition are planned in Key West as midnight approaches Thursday, Dec. 31, and thousands of spectators are expected to gather on world-famous Duval Street for the arrival of 2016.

The "drop" of a gigantic manmade conch shell, the symbol of the Florida Keys, is to be staged on the roof of Sloppy Joe's Bar, 201 Duval St. Emceed by a rooftop host starting at 10 p.m., the frivolity features dancing in the street and the countdown to midnight is displayed on a huge clock. At midnight the shell descends to the roof as confetti, streamers and cheers erupt. Entertainers are to perform on Sloppy Joe's indoor stage at planned intervals between noon and 2 a.m. No reservations or tickets are taken, but a door charge is required to party inside the bar.

For 17 years, Key West revelers have welcomed the new year with the annual "red shoe drop" starring a sensational diva called Sushi. Dressed in a dazzling gown and perched in a supersized red high-heel shoe suspended above the crowd, Sushi presides over the festivities at the Bourbon St. Pub/New Orleans House complex at 724 Duval St. After performances by talented female impersonators and other entertainers, Sushi is to be lowered in her high-heel "chariot" from the balcony of the complex as 2016 arrives. VIP balcony tickets are available, but space is limited. Tickets go on sale online Dec. 1, 2015. For details, call 305-293-9800.

At the Ocean Key Resort & Spa, 0 Duval St. on Key West Harbor, plans call for a huge replica of a Key lime wedge to splash down into a larger-than-life margarita glass as crowds welcome the new year on the property's Sunset Pier. This is a free event featuring live local entertainment by Patrick and the Swayzees. For more information, call 305-295-7005.

Salute Key West's rowdy seafaring roots in the island's Historic Seaport, when a pirate wench descends 75 feet from the top of the mast of the tall ship America 2.0 at midnight, "rigging in" the new year. Cannon blasts are to welcome 2016 in original maritime tradition. Scallywags in attendance also can expect live music throughout the day, and dancing and festivities without a cover charge at the Schooner Wharf Bar, 202 William St.

Florida Keys event calendar:

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KEY WEST, Florida Keys — The historic Old Town and waterfront districts are to become a scenic racecourse for several thousand runners Sunday, Jan. 17, during the annual Key West Half Marathon.

Now in its 18th year, the race typically attracts American and international runners to compete in Key West's balmy January climate. Acclaimed as one of the United States' leading winter half-marathons, it recently was ranked among 13 must-do U.S. half-marathons by

The sporting challenge is to begin at 7 a.m., with participants proceeding along a flat, fast 13.1-mile half-marathon course amid the island city's Victorian architecture, historic landmarks and harborfront businesses. A 5k is scheduled for those who prefer a shorter course.

A registration booth is to be set up from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16, outside the Half Shell Raw Bar, 231 Margaret St. in Key West's Historic Seaport. Race packets can be picked up at that time.

Saturday's schedule also features the chance to experience a 9 a.m. training run with Keith Brantly, acclaimed as one of the most successful long-distance runners in American history. Other Saturday attractions include a fitness expo and a prerace pasta dinner.

On race day, the run is to begin and end near the intersection of Caroline and Margaret streets in the Historic Seaport. An awards ceremony and party hosted by Concrete Beach Brewery is to follow with entertainment by Howard Livingston & the Mile Marker 24 Band.

Awards await the first- through third-place male and female finishers in five-year age groups ranging from 9 and under to 75 and over, as well as the top overall competitors and those in the masters division. All finishers in the half-marathon and 5k are to receive finisher medals.

During race week, participating runners also can enjoy happy hour gatherings, bar strolls, parties and more.

The half-marathon entry fee is $120 per person and the 5k entry fee is $50 per person. Discounts are available to returning runners, local residents and members of the military until year end or the race sells out. Each entrant is to receive a gender-specific moisture-resistant race Tech-shirt.

Event information and registration: or 305-240-0727

Key West visitor information:
or 1-800-LAST-KEY

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KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Ever since John James Audubon visited Key West in 1832 to sketch indigenous birds, the island city has offered a haven and an inspiration for creative spirits. Visitors can celebrate that rich cultural heritage Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 30-31, when approximately 100 national, regional and Florida Keys craft artists display their wares at the 31st annual Key West Craft Show.

Scheduled 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days, the juried outdoor festival draws as many as 25,000 visitors each year to browse and buy. Artisans' colorful booths are to be set up on Whitehead and Caroline streets, in the shade of towering trees, adjacent to historic attractions and museums including one memorializing Audubon's Key West sojourn.

All offerings are original and handmade. The eclectic items generally include pottery, glass, jewelry, woodcrafts, fabric, wearable art and even handcrafted toys to entice young attendees.

Many exhibitors return year after year to display their offerings in Key West's typically sunny, balmy January setting. Some participants provide demonstrations of their craft for attendees at the open-air show.

Presented by the Key West Art Center, a cooperative organization for local artists established in 1960, the free-admission event has been recognized by Sunshine Artist magazine as one of the top 100 shows in the United States.

Proceeds help support the programs of the Key West Art Center and maintain the historic 301 Front St. building that houses its gallery.

Event information: or 305-294-1243

Key West visitor information:
or 1-800-LAST-KEY

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FLORIDA KEYS — The spirit of the holiday season comes alive in the Florida Keys & Key West with festive events and functions spreading cheer in the island chain's subtropical climate. From Key Largo to Key West, the calendar is packed with events designed to celebrate the holiday spirit.

Listed here are some highlights, all spiced with a traditional Keys flair.

Nov. 25 - Dec. 20: Key West Holiday Fest. Key West. A wide range of seasonal celebrations include the Nov. 25 lighting of the Harbor Walk of Lights along the Historic Seaport at the Key West Bight, tours of historic decorated inns, a lighted parade and more. Events are to be hosted by the Lodging Association of the Florida Keys & Key West.

Nov. 28: Big Pine & the Lower Keys Island Art Festival. Big Pine & the Lower Keys. Highlights of this holiday event include live music by local entertainers, food, exhibits and booths featuring locally produced arts and crafts. Festivities traditionally take place on the grounds of the Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce, mile marker (MM) 31 oceanside. Call 305-872-2411.

Nov. 28: Light Up Key Largo. Key Largo. Sponsored by the Key Largo Chamber of Commerce, holiday happenings with live music, decorations, food and drinks are to spark the seasonal spirit. The annual tree lighting is to be held at the Murray E. Nelson Government Center and Key Largo Cultural Center, MM 102. Eggnog, caroling and an appearance from Santa and Mrs. Claus are virtually guaranteed to put everyone in a festive mood. The event starts at 6 p.m. Call 305-451-1414.

Dec. 3-6: Hot Pink Holidays. Key West. Sponsored by the Key West Business Guild, this LGBT holiday event is full of festive activities as well as special retail opportunities on the island. Events include holiday lights tours, a hometown holiday parade experience and Christmas caroling. Call 305-294-4603.

Dec. 4: Florida Keys Holiday Festival. Islamorada. This extravaganza begins with a tree-lighting ceremony at Founders Park, MM 87. Attractions include food, live performances and kids activities including the crowd favorite 30-ton mountain of snow. Call 305-664-4503.

Dec. 5: Key West Holiday Parade. Key West. The island city shows its holiday spirit with this annual hometown parade. Featuring marching groups and floats, the festive procession traditionally draws entries from churches, civic organizations, businesses and neighborhood and school groups. Call 305-809-3881.

Dec. 12: Pops in the Park Jingle Bells Rock Concert. Islamorada. A special holiday concert is to be held at the ICE amphitheater at Founders Park, MM 87 bayside. The family-friendly concert features traditional music of the season. Presented by Keys Community Concert Band, the event starts at 4 p.m. and admission is free. All seats are outdoors and attendees are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets. Visit or call Donna Heiner at 305-853-7294.

Dec. 12, 13 & 19: Lighted Boat Parades. Throughout the Florida Keys. Decorated and lighted boats are to cruise through Keys waters Dec. 12 on Key Largo's Blackwater Sound and in Key West Harbor and Marathon's Boot Key Harbor; Dec. 13 at Key Colony Beach and Dec. 19 at the Lower Keys' Pine Channel Causeway. For the Key Largo Holiday Boat Parade, call 305-394-3736; for the Key West Lighted Boat Parade, call 305-292-3302; for the Key Colony Beach lighted Boat Parade, call 305-743-7214; for the Boot Key Harbor Lighted Boat Parade, call 305-849-0285; and for the Lower Keys Lighted Boat Parade, call 305-923-5370.

Dec. 13: Christmas on the Sheriff's Animal Farm. Stock Island. Kids and adults can visit the furry, fluffy and feathered residents of the animal farm and petting zoo and get a photo taken with Santa. The Monroe County Sheriff's Office Animal Farm is located at the county's detention center at 5501 College Road. Admission is free and the farm is open to the public the second and fourth Sundays of each month. Call 305-293-7300.

Dec. 19: A Holiday Concert at Marathon Community Theater. Marathon. Shows are slated to ring in the holiday cheer at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets are $5 for adults and $2 for children. Call 305-743-0994.

Dec. 20: Monthly Artisan Market, A Holiday "Shop Local" Edition. Key West. Browse the vibrant open-air bazaar filled with Keys artists, authors, chef-made cuisine, craftspeople and performers. Admission is free and the market is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the first Sunday of each month.

Dec. 26-27: 56th Annual Key West House & Garden Tours. Key West. Presented by the Old Island Restoration Foundation, the annual self-guided tours showcase festively dressed Key West homes and gardens. Advance tickets are $30 and proceeds benefit the Old Island Restoration Foundation's museums, collection and education, grant and scholarship programs. Call 305-294-9501.

Dec. 27: Florida Keys Craft Beer & Bubbly Fest. Marathon. From noon to 7 p.m., enjoy tastings of craft beers, wines and champagnes along with live entertainment and delicious food at Marathon Community Park, MM 49 oceanside. Admission is free.

Dec. 31: Annual Key West Dachshund Walk. Key West. Frost-free Key West becomes a "wiener wonderland" when about 200 dachshunds and their owners take a noontime New Year's Eve stroll through the island's picturesque downtown. Spectators can watch the fun and meet the canine participants on Fleming Street between Whitehead and Duval streets. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Dec. 31: New Year's Eve Fireworks on Blackwater Sound. Key Largo. The backcountry bay is the setting for the annual New Year's Eve fireworks extravaganza hosted by Sundowners, Jimmy Johnson's Big Chill, Señor Frijoles, Cactus Jack's, Gus's Grille at the Marriott Key Largo Beach Resort and the Caribbean Club, all located around MMs 103-104.

Dec 31: New Year's Eve Midnight Fireworks in Islamorada. Cheeca Lodge & Spa, MM 82 oceanside, is to offer a gourmet dinner, live music, dancing on the beach and a midnight fireworks display. Visit or call 305-517-4580. Morada Bay Beach Café at MM 81.6 bayside is to host a large beach party with live music, a specially planned beach barbecue, signature cocktails, performers and fireworks.

Dec. 31: New Year's Eve Celebrations in the Southernmost City. Key West. The Southernmost City typically celebrates with a "conch shell drop" at Sloppy Joe's Bar, 201 Duval St.; the descent of a super-sized red high-heel shoe carrying drag queen Sushi at the Bourbon St. Pub/New Orleans House complex, 724 Duval St.; the lowering of a pirate wench from atop a tall ship's mast at the Schooner Wharf Bar, 202 William St.; and at the Ocean Key Resort & Spa, at 0 Duval St., plans call for a huge replica of a Key lime wedge to splash down into a larger-than-life margarita glass on the property's Sunset Pier. For more information call Ocean Key Resort at 305-295-7005.

Florida Keys events calendar:

Florida Keys visitor information: or 1-800-FLA-KEYS (1-800-352-5397)

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FLORIDA KEYS — The Florida Keys & Key West offer a variety of new and enhanced attractions, tours, cultural offerings and accommodations to tempt visitors. Explore the winter highlights here.

Keys Accommodations

A cornerstone of the Islamorada community since 1946, Cheeca Lodge & Spa will mark its 70th anniversary in November 2016. Paying tribute to the hotel's spirited traditions, Cheeca is to stage a yearlong celebration titled "Authentically Cheeca" that will include unique Florida Keys experiences through promotions, partnerships and programming. With the support of local businesses such as Islamorada's Florida Keys Brewing Co., and the debut of a new Guest Adventures program among other property updates, guests can expect classic Cheeca services while enjoying the many activities Islamorada has to offer. Cheeca Lodge & Spa is a 27-acre property in the heart of Islamorada. The historic resort is also home to some of the United States' most highly acclaimed fishing tournaments. For more information, call 305-664-4651.

Set to open in January 2016, the Courtyard Marathon Florida Keys will feature panoramic bay views and a white sand beachfront. Located at 2146 Overseas Highway, the hotel will feature 83 contemporary guest rooms, some with balconies overlooking Florida Bay, and 12 deluxe suites. Hotel guests can enjoy an infinity pool, fitness center, pool bar and on-site casual dining. Other amenities include on-site parking, local restaurant dinner delivery and more than 14,000 square feet of total meeting space. For more information, call 305-289-2100.

Keys Arts and Culture

Tavernier Creek Marina in Islamorada now is home to sea life artist David Dunleavy's new outdoor mural, "Dolphin Rodeo." The large-scale creation, which features a bull and cow dolphin fish leaping to feed on flying fish, stretches 252 feet wide and 32 feet high. The artwork is the 62nd in a series of outdoor sea life murals Dunleavy has painted in the U.S., Bahamas and Australia. It is his fourth mural in the Keys and has become the largest outdoor artwork ever created in the island chain. The marina's location just off the Florida Keys Overseas Highway ensures the mural's high visibility for southbound motorists. The vibrant illustration covers two metal boat storage barns located at 90800 Overseas Highway, mile marker 90.8 bayside. For more information, call 305-852-5854.

After closing for six weeks for renovations, the Key West Lighthouse & Keeper's Quarters has reopened for tours. Renovations included upgrades to both the interior and exterior of the lighthouse from washing, cleaning and painting to other restoration work. The museum store also received upgrades, and renovations to the Keeper's Quarters are scheduled to be complete by spring 2016. Located at 938 Whitehead St., the 167-year-old structure serves as a beacon of Key West's maritime history. Visitors can walk up the 88 steps to the top of the light as well as explore the belongings, photographs and words of the lighthouse keepers and their families. For more information, call 305-294-0012.

The Gallery, a new Key Largo venue showcasing local art, has opened in Miller's Village at 102991 Overseas Highway. The shop features 10 artists who are local to South Florida and who specialize in a wide variety of handmade items. Some of the featured works include those of Keys residents Carl and Mary Siel, while other contributors including Diane Snider of Live Wylde Jewelry Designs, Emily McElfresh of the Crafty Pelican, Broward County resident Robert Stein, and Brian Schofield. In addition to the art gallery, the grounds are soon to feature a small coffee shop in the back of the building that will also sell homemade Key lime pies, as well as an outdoor reptile pen. For more information, call 305-916-5117

The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum, acclaimed as Key West's best-known visitor attraction, is debuting the Official App of the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum. The home, located at 907 Whitehead St. in the heart of Old Town Key West, was where author Ernest Hemingway lived and wrote in the 1930s. The new app, to be available for both iOS and Android phones, features a detailed map of the property and six separate tours. The tours include an overview of the house and museum, a garden tour, a comprehensive description of Hemingway's years in Key West, an overview and synopsis of Hemingway's writing, descriptions of films based on Hemingway novels and a "cat tour" introducing the famed felines — many of them six-toed — that inhabit the property today. App users can access extensive information and commentary as well as a rich photographic collection. The app also provides directions, general museum information and links to special services and events. The app is available for $9.99 in the iTunes App store. For more information, call 305-294-1136.

Keys Attractions

The Florida Keys Wild Bird Center in Tavernier has expanded its Mission Wild Bird building at 92080 Overseas Highway to include Wild Bird Explore. Wild Bird Explore features a series of interactive exhibits including streaming videos of bird releases and hospital activities, Cornell University's Lab of Ornithology eBird kiosk, a children's build-a-bird puzzle section, interactive bird migration maps, and a section on bird anatomy with X-rays, articulated skeletons and more. The Florida Keys Wild Bird Center is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of native and migratory wild birds that have been harmed or displaced; to providing or locating a humane shelter for those birds that cannot be released; and to educating the public about the importance of coexistence with all wild bird species. For more information, call 305-852-4486.

Key West author and ghost hunter David Sloan is bringing two new paranormal adventures to Haunted Key West this season. The Infamous Hauntings Ghost Tour is an intriguing walk that visits the island's most captivating hauntings and iconic locations. The tour explores Isleno's curse, a murdered Klansman's spirit, human and feline ghosts of the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum at 907 Whitehead St. and the historic lighthouse at 937 Whitehead St. The evening concludes inside the haunted "secret brothel room" at Viva Saloon, 903 Duval St. Also new for 2015 is the Haunted Happy Hour Saloon Stroll, where guests can raise a toast to ghosts before the sun goes down. The two-hour-plus saloon stroll includes drinks including rum from a still and features stories about botched hangings, in-bar burials, a haunted bar stool and a unique collection of haunted artifacts. For more information, call 305-395-1435.

Keys Travel

Starting in January, Raven Air is to offer nonstop flights between Florida's Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport and Key West International Airport. Raven is scheduled to fly on Mondays, Fridays and Sundays, carrying passengers in a five-passenger Aztec aircraft. Flights are scheduled to depart Key West at 9:50 a.m. and arrive at Sarasota-Bradenton at 11 a.m., then depart at 11:30 a.m. and land at Key West at 12:40 p.m. Fares start at $129 each way. For more information, call 239-777-4046.

Keys Food and Drink A 150-seat restaurant and bar dubbed Fish recently opened to provide casual fine dining in the Lower Keys. Located at mile marker 14.5 on the Overseas Highway, the waterfront restaurant and bar offers an upscale yet casual dining experience with fresh food and creative cocktails, beers and wines. Owners Matt McKnight, Matt Moline and Jason Gwynne have conceived a menu that specializes in fresh seafood from local Keys captains. It is designed to be versatile and "foodie friendly" with a mix of traditional Key West flair and creative twists on many popular dishes from around the globe. For more information, call 305-735-4201.

Florida Keys visitor information: or 1-800-FLA-KEYS

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KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Food and wine enthusiasts can enjoy stellar vintages and standout cuisine during the annual Key West Food and Wine Festival, set for Wednesday through Sunday, Jan. 27-31.

Nearly 40 events are planned for culinary explorers, including some staged on beaches and in outdoor locales suited to Key West's typically balmy January climate.

The festival spotlights local chefs' flair, indigenous Florida Keys ingredients, premium spirits and "foodie" fun that pairs adventures in flavor with adventures in the continental United States' southernmost city.

The enticing "first courses" set for Wednesday include an interactive cocktail-creation event at The Saint Hotel Key West, 417 Eaton St., and a "92 Points in the Shade" guided wine tasting at Grand Vin Wine Bar, 1107 Duval St.

Subsequent festival standouts include Henry Flagler's Welcome Party planned for 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28, on the Atlantic Ocean beach of Casa Marina, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, at 1500 Reynolds St. Featuring fine wines and hors d'oeuvres, the gala recalls the early 1900s when railroad tycoon Henry Flagler built the Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad and conceived the luxury hotel.

Friday's schedule stars the "Sunset on the Harbor" Grand Tasting dockside on the beach at the Hyatt Key West Resort & Spa, 601 Front St. Attendees can enjoy a Key West sunset while savoring unique wines and spirits paired with casually sophisticated fusion cuisine from the Hyatt's SHOR American Seafood Grill.

Key West's renowned Duval Street is to become an appealing avenue for wine lovers Saturday afternoon during "Duval Uncorked UnDone." The 3-6 p.m. event combines a tasting stroll featuring vintages from famous wine regions with food sampling and appetizing forays into enticing boutiques, shops and galleries.

Also to be staged Saturday is an off-the-beaten-path "Sip & Stroll," a free pop-up wine tasting at boutiques and galleries on Key West's Caroline, Greene and Simonton streets.

Other festival attractions include Whiskey Forums' intriguing "Whiskey Bazaar" events, the popular Key West Kitchen Tour, a tasting spiced with burlesque performances, specialty dinners and brunches, a traditional Key West shrimp boil and even a "haunted happy hour" saloon ramble.

Festival information and tickets: or

Key West visitor information:
or 1-800-LAST-KEY

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KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Female impersonators can compete for the titles of Miss Gay Southernmost USofA and Miss Gay Southernmost USofA Classic Saturday, Jan. 30, at Key West's historic San Carlos Institute, 516 Duval St.

The winners and runners-up are slated to head to Dallas, Texas, in May to compete in the 31st annual Miss Gay USofA Pageant — open to contestants 21 years old and older — and Miss Gay USofA Classic Pageant — open to contestants 40 years old and older.

Doors open at 6 p.m. at the San Carlos Institute for a cocktail party, red carpet photo shoot and meet-and-greet with former titleholders.

The pageant kicks off at 7 p.m. with local drag sensation Randy Roberts serving as master of ceremonies.

Competition categories include talent, evening gown and personal interview.

Roxie Hart, the reigning Miss Gay USofA Classic and Miss Gay Southernmost USofA Classic, is to perform with Miss Gay USofA Mokha Montrese, Miss Gay Southernmost USofA Mina DiAngelo and female impersonators Tommie Ross and Catia Lee Love.

Prize packages include one-of-a-kind crowns, cash, jewelry and entry into the national pageants.

Spectator tickets are $70 per person in advance and $75 per person at the door.

Pageant information, tickets and registration:

Key West visitor information: or

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