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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 a subtropical climate.

From Key Largo to Key West, the calendar is packed with events designed to celebrate the holiday spirit — including lighted boat parades featuring vessels whose decorations range from traditional greenery to offbeat salutes to the season.

Listed here are some holiday highlights, all spiced with a characteristically Florida Keys flair.

Now Through Dec. 19: Holiday Photos with a dolphin at Dolphin Research Center.Marathon. At Dolphin Research Center, mile marker (MM) 59 bayside on Grassy Key, visitors who participate in the Meet the Dolphin program also can pose with the dolphins for a holiday photo. Visitors can bring holiday-themed props to pose with and DRC's experienced photographers will capture the images using high-resolution digital cameras. The program is offered several times each day on a walk-in basis and costs $25 per person in addition to general admission prices. The photos are supplied on a flash drive for $20 for one person or $35 for multiple people in the same shot. Group size is limited to four people. Call 305-289-1121.

Nov. 13 - Dec. 6: Marathon Community Theater Presents "A Tuna Christmas." Marathon. This hilarious theatrical portrayal of Americana follows local radio hosts in a Texas town during the holiday season. Call 305-743-0994.

Nov. 29: 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, MM 31 oceanside. Call 305-872-2411.

Nov. 29: 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. 4: Lighting of the Harbor Walk of Lights. Key West. The harbor walk along the Historic Seaport at the Key West Bight, stretching from Greene Street to Grinnell Street, is to be festively lit from rooftops to the sea for the holiday season. Celebrate with holiday events, browse at local shops and galleries and relax at waterfront restaurants and watering holes. This and other seaport festivities are part of the Key West Holiday Fest, and the illumination is to continue through New Year's Eve.

Dec. 4-21: Key West Holiday Fest. Key West. Visitors can enjoy more than three weeks of festivities in the southernmost city and its Historic Seaport. Highlights include pet photo ops with Santa, a free "Violins in Motion" outdoor holiday concert, seasonal performances, snorkeling with Santa and other watersports experiences.

Dec. 4-7: 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 "flash mob shopping sprees" for gifts galore, holiday lights tours, a hometown holiday parade experience and Christmas caroling.

Dec. 5: Florida Keys Holiday Festival. Islamorada. This extravaganza begins with a tree-lighting ceremony at Founders Park, MM 87. Subsequent attractions include food, kids activity booths and live "on stage" performances. A mountain of snow is the favorite of mitten-clad munchkins. The big event features the Holiday Fest Parade with Santa and the Coral Shores Hurricanes Marching Band. Visit or call 305-664-4503.

Dec. 6: 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. Visit or call 305-809-3881.

Dec. 12 and 19: Holiday Historic Inn Tours. Key West. Discover the holiday spirit and Key West's architecture and history by touring beautifully decorated island inns. Hosted by the Lodging Association of the Florida Keys & Key West, the tours include mouthwatering cuisine from local restaurants and other holiday refreshments.

Dec. 13-21: Nutcracker Key West. Key West. Produced biannually, this Christmas classic is the largest community production staged in Key West. The holiday ballet is recast to showcase Key West's tropical atmosphere, coral reef environment and seafaring heritage, transforming the story of a girl's visit to the land of the Sugarplum Fairy into an island and underwater fantasy. Shows take place at the Tennessee Williams Theater. Call 305-295-7676.

Dec. 13 & 14: Lighted Boat Parades. Key Largo, Middle Keys, Lower Keys and Key West. Decorated and lighted boats are to cruise through Keys waters Dec. 13 at Key Largo's Blackwater Sound and in Key West Harbor, the Lower Keys' Pine Channel Causeway and Marathon's Boot Key Harbor; and Dec. 14 at Key Colony Beach. 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. 14: 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 situated at the county's detention center just outside Key West at 5501 College Road. This event is free and open to the public. The Sheriff's Animal Farm is open the second and fourth Sundays of the month. Call 305-293-7300.

Dec. 20: Pops in the Park Winter Wonders 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. 20: Marathon Community Theater Presents a Holiday Concert. Two 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. 27-28: 55th 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. 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. 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 Show at Cheeca Lodge & Spa. Islamorada. Cheeca Lodge & Spa, MM 82 oceanside, is staging a New Year's Eve celebration and midnight fireworks display. Attractions include live music, dancing on the beach and a gourmet dinner. Call 305-517-4580.

Dec. 31: Key West New Year's Eve Celebrations. 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 the "splashdown" of a Key lime wedge into a giant margarita glass at Ocean Key Resort and Spa, 0 Duval St.

Florida Keys events calendar: fla-keys.com/calendarofevents/

Florida Keys visitor information: fla-keys.com or 1-800-FLA-KEYS (1-800-352-5397)

Social: FacebookTwitterKeysVoices.comYouTube

FLORIDA KEYS — In the coming year nine new Florida Keys properties, accounting for more than 1,000 new rooms, and a number of renovated lodgings are to welcome visitors. Like current accommodations options, each will showcase aspects of the island chain's attractions and appeal.

They begin at the head of the Keys in Key Largo with the elegant Playa Largo Resort, the newest hotel to join Marriott's Autograph Collection, set to open in summer 2015. The 14-acre waterfront resort features 144 luxury rooms and suites.

Amenities include a private marina, multiple bars and restaurants, full-service spa and fitness offerings, a beach house for private or corporate functions, wedding and conference facilities including a ballroom, a secluded white sand beach and much more.

In Islamorada, four leading lodgings — Postcard Inn Beach Resort at Holiday Isle, La Siesta Resort, Pelican Cove Resort & Marina and the Islamorada Resort — now compose the Islamorada Hotel Company and are to see significant enhancements.

Particularly notable is the late 2014 relaunch of the Islamorada Resort as Amara Cay Resort , an upscale boutique hotel. Property renovations include increasing the number of rooms and suites to 105, updating outdoor amenities and creating an Italian-style eatery. Guests can anticipate daily food and beverage experiences and a Mercedes shuttle to Islamorada's most popular locales.

Also in Islamorada, after a yearlong multimillion-dollar renovation, the Islander Resort has joined the expanding collection of Guy Harvey Outpost Resorts. Renovations include upgrades throughout both the main 114-unit oceanside property and the 25-unit bayside marina townhouse compound. The small collection of Guy Harvey Outpost resorts and lodges showcases Harvey's marine wildlife art, scientific research and conservation advocacy.

Vacationers should be able to spot one of Marathon's new properties with ease: its focal point has been a Middle Keys landmark since the 1950s. Earlier this year construction began on the Faro Blanco Resort & Yacht Club, which incorporates the famed Faro Blanco lighthouse and is set to open in December 2014.

With the original lighthouse as its "beacon" the new property features an upscale 125-room Hyatt Place hotel with two pools, a fitness center, meeting space and a waterfront restaurant and outdoor bar called Lighthouse Grill. Boaters can anticipate a 74-slip state-of-the art marina capable of handling vessels up to 100 feet long.

At the southernmost tip of the Keys island chain lies eclectic, artistic Key West — and travelers soon will be welcomed at the island's entrance by the Gates Hotel Key West . Projected to open Feb. 1, 2015, the new 100-room boutique hotel blends refined luxury, minimalist design, artwork, food and music into a chic and comfortable lodging experience. Guest rooms feature whitewashed beams, custom cypress platform beds and photography from an exclusive local gallery.

Other highlights include the Rum Row bar and small-plates café, a large swimming pool with cabanas and daybeds, and a distinctive atmosphere reminiscent of "old Key West."

The southernmost city's Historic Seaport, one of the most popular gathering places for visitors and residents alike, houses a lively diversity of restaurants, shops and attractions. The district's newest gem is The Marker Waterfront Resort, a two-acre luxury property debuting in late 2014.

The 96-room resort combines a modern and timeless aesthetic with the free spirit and tropical nature of the Key West community. Four room categories are available, offering marina, pool, garden and Old Town views.

Surrounded by lush landscaping, guests can relax and swim at multiple swimming pools, complete with poolside cocktail service, savor Cali-Mex-inspired cuisine at the on-site Cero Bodega or enjoy the ocean view.

On legendary Duval Street, the classic 160-unit Crowne Plaza Key West La Concha has recently undergone significant renovations. The hotel lobby has been upgraded with stylish parquet flooring and shades of ivory, white and mahogany adorn all interiors from the seating area to the bar lounge.

La Concha guests can sample enticing restaurant offerings at the new 430 Duval and a vast selection of fine wines from around the world at the Wine-O wine bar. Improvements are continuing with the transformation of the former rooftop bar into a spa and outdoor pool.

Appealing as they are, these are only a handful of the Keys properties debuting enhancements or scheduled to open in the coming months. Others include Marathon's new Courtyard by Marriott, the renovated Tranquility Bay Beach House Resort and Captain Pip's Marina & Hideaway, and the recently purchased Banana Bay Resort & Marina. Key West is set to see several other new properties including the Fairfield Inn & Suites, Hilton Garden Inn and Hampton Inn ? debuting in 2015 ? as well as renovations to the recently purchased Doubletree Grand Key Resort, Spindrift Hotel, Southwinds Motel, Ocean Breeze Inn, Olivia by Duval, La Te Da Hotel and Southern Cross Hotel ? the latter to become the Saint Hotel Key West. Also notable are the recent creation of innovative NYAH or Not Your Average Hotel in the former Coconut Grove and Oasis guesthouses, and the purchase and renaming of Pearl's and Big Ruby's, now called the Southernmost Inn and Cabana Inn respectively.

The 125-mile Florida Keys island chain is characterized by a rich natural environment, flourishing creative community, balmy subtropical climate, and a friendly laidback vibe that seems worlds away from everyday cares. These new and revitalized properties — with their diverse designs, amenities, prices and location — will add their own unique flavors to the intriguing mix as they welcome visitors eager to experience and explore the Keys.

Florida Keys visitor information: fla-keys.com or 1-800-FLA-KEYS (1-800-352-5397)

Social: FacebookTwitterKeysVoices.comYouTube

KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Galleries, arts organizations, musicians, poets, artists, restaurants, performers and more are to present an islandwide celebration of creativity Friday through Sunday, Nov. 28-30.

Art! Key West! showcases three days of artistry throughout historic Old Town Key West. Attendees can enjoy gallery openings, street mural painting, theatrical performances, a culinary demonstration, studio and cultural tours, a unique sand art competition, pop-up appearances around town by the massive inflatable sculptures known as "Giants in the City" and much more.

The festival begins the day after Thanksgiving with a "Black Friday" Fine Art Fair featuring creations by more than 15 galleries and artists on the pier at the Westin Key West Resort, 245 Front St. Among the all-day event's other attractions, some held on the Westin Pier and some on the adjoining Custom House Museum property, are a private VIP brunch, canine couture fashion show, art bike cruise-in and nonstop musical performances.

Saturday's schedule features multiple gallery openings and VIP events. Standouts include street mural painting for kids and adults with acclaimed local artist Rick Worth and his creative cohorts from The Studios of Key West, to take place on the harbor walk of the Ocean Key Resort, 0 Duval St. Also planned are performances by Key West's eclectic Fringe Theatre and Waterfront Playhouse actors and a culinary demonstration at the Casa Marina, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, located at 1500 Reynolds St.

The Casa Marina is the setting for the intriguing International Sand Art Competition as well. Staged by Key West's Sand-Isle, the challenge brings together six renowned sand sculptors from around the world, who will compete throughout the weekend to craft the best and most crowd-pleasing creations.

Among Sunday's planned highlights are behind-the-scenes tours of Key West artists' studios, cultural tours of museums and historic attractions and an outdoor artisan market at The Restaurant Store, 1111 Eaton St. A favorite event for its creativity and lively atmosphere, the artisan market features colorful displays of local art, crafts and specialty products.

Overall, art-loving attendees can explore and enjoy more than 50 events during the three days of artistry in Old Town Key West. While most are free to the public, art lovers can purchase VIP tickets that allow admission to festival events with cover charges.

Event information and schedule: artskeywest.com

Key West visitor information: fla-keys.com/keywest
or 1-800-LAST-KEY

Social: FacebookTwitterKeysVoices.comYouTube

KEY WEST, Florida Keys — The lively creativity and sun-drenched oceanfront vibe that characterize Key West are to come together in the inaugural International Sand Art Competition, an intriguing event for Thanksgiving weekend visitors.

Six renowned U.S. and international sand sculptors are to participate in the artistic challenge set to begin Wednesday, Nov. 26, on the Atlantic Ocean beach at the Casa Marina, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, at 1500 Reynolds St.

Visitors can watch them create masterpieces out of sand and water — without the use of electric tools, molds or glue — from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. for the next three days. In addition, the sculptures will be illuminated until 9 p.m. Thursday through Sunday evenings for after-dark enjoyment. Day and evening viewing is free.

The competition was conceived and organized by Marianne van den Broek of Key West's Sand-Isle Professional Sand Sculpting, whose career began 15 years ago in the Netherlands. It is a featured event of Art! Key West!, an islandwide celebration of creativity set for Friday through Sunday, Nov. 28-30.

Competitors include Rusty Croft, host of the Travel Channel reality show "Sand Masters," veteran Key West sand artist and show participant Chris Guinto and decorated Singapore sculptor JooHeng Tan.

As well as watching the sculptures take shape, spectators can compete to search the sand for an authentic shipwreck treasure coin valued at $1,000. Mel Fisher's Treasure Dig, named for the late salvager who discovered the wreck of the 1622 Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha in Key West waters, is scheduled at 2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 28.

The beachside artistry is to continue through 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 29, when the sculptors put the final touches on their creations. Judging is set for 1-5 p.m. and the public can cast votes for the People's Choice Award.

All award winners are to be announced at a 7 p.m. ceremony, followed by a beach party with live music at the Casa Marina.

Event information: sandartkeywest.com

Key West visitor information: fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY

Social: FacebookTwitterKeysVoices.comYouTube

KEY WEST, Florida Keys - Two airlines are adding flights to Key West International Airport from Florida cities, Atlanta and New York.

Silver Airways is enhancing its flight schedule from five Florida cities.

Beginning Nov. 6, Silver is adding a weekday flight from Fort Lauderdale for a total of four daily flights. Other additions include a second flight from Fort Myers, more flights from Tampa for a total of four daily flights and increases from Orlando for a total of three nonstop and two one-stop daily flights.

Silver also is introducing a daily one-stop flight from Jacksonville.

Silver is a codeshare partner with United Airlines and has interline agreements with American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, US Airways, Alaska Airlines, Bahamasair, Hahn Air and All Nippon Airways.

In addition, according to Monroe County Airports Director Peter Horton, Delta Airlines is adding two daily flights between Key West and Atlanta beginning Dec. 20 for a total of five daily nonstop flights. Finally, on Dec. 27, Delta is to resume a seasonal Saturday-only nonstop route between the Southernmost City and New York City's LaGuardia Airport.

For more travel details on the Florida Keys, explore fla-keys.com.

Online:
silverairways.com
delta.com

KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Holiday-loving audiences can immerse themselves in the heritage and underwater beauty of the Florida Keys while viewing a classic seasonal ballet during "Nutcracker Key West," set to begin a seven-show run Saturday, Dec. 13, in the island city.

The unique production blends the traditional storyline of "The Nutcracker" with quintessential Florida Keys elements, transforming the tale of young Clara's dreamlike visit to the land of the Sugarplum Fairy into an island and undersea fantasy.

"Nutcracker Key West" stars a 15-member professional corps de ballet along with more than 50 Keys children and other local performers. Together, they bring the timeless story — spiced with a Keys flavor — to life onstage at the Tennessee Williams Theatre, 5901 College Road on the campus of Florida Keys Community College.

The cast is directed by classically trained dancer Joyce Stahl, a Key West resident who conceived and created the production after a 38-year association with New Jersey's American Repertory Ballet.

The Key West ballet features dance sequences including a dream battle where toy sailors protect Clara from the Rooster King, recalling the island's free-range chicken population. A scene set on the Keys' living coral reef features young children costumed as phosphorescent anemones and colorful fish.

"Nutcracker Key West" incorporates elaborate sets and costumes designed by Stahl that are valued at more than $500,000. Many of the costumes for the 2014 production are enhanced with revolutionary fiber-optic and LED lights, expertly crafted to be nearly weightless so dancers can wear them easily. According to show organizers, the "Nutcracker" troupe is one of the first classical ballet companies in the United States to use the new costume technology.

Audiences can choose from evening and matinee performances, and show dates continue through Dec. 21. Ticket prices begin at $20 per person. Tickets can be purchased online at keystix.com or by calling 305-295-7676.

Event information: nutcrackerkeywest.com or facebook.com/nutcracker.keywest

Key West visitor information: fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY

Social: FacebookTwitterKeysVoices.comYouTube

KEY WEST, Florida Keys -- Organizers of Key West's annual costuming and masking festival say Fantasy Fest is continuing despite a weather forecast that currently is projecting a 70 to 80 percent chance of rainfall through Friday.

Fantasy Fest Director Linda O'Brien said all Fantasy Fest events remain scheduled, adding that many are indoors and should not be impacted by precipitation.

Decisions regarding outdoor events will be made on a case-by-case basis and O'Brien suggested revelers monitor Fantasy Fest social media sites including facebook.com/FantasyFest and twitter.com/FantasyFestKW for any potential changes.

The Florida Keys tourism council's web page at fla-keys.com/calendarofevents also will note any changes to scheduled events.

The National Weather Service's Key West office currently is projecting the chances of rain will begin to diminish Friday..

The current precipitation forecast is 10 percent for Saturday evening's 3 Wishes.com Fantasy Fest Parade.

A tropical depression in the southwestern corner of the Gulf of Mexico in combination with a decaying warm front over the region, are primary factors for the wet weather during the next few days, according to Andy Devanas, the acting meteorologist in charge at the Key West National Weather Service Office. The depression, which may mature into a tropical storm later Wednesday, is not expected to directly threaten the Keys.

Event information: fantasyfest.com

Key West visitor information: fla-keys.com/keywest
or 1-800-LAST-KEY

Social: FacebookTwitterKeysVoices.comYouTube

KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Athletes seeking a warm-weather event to test their physical and mental stamina can compete in the fifth annual Key West Triathlon set for Saturday, Dec. 6, in the subtropical climate of the continental United States' southernmost island.

Presented by Key West's TRIKW LLC and Pat Croce's Charlie Mac's, the racing challenge includes swimming in Atlantic Ocean waters off Key West, biking a portion of the scenic Overseas Highway and running along Atlantic-side Smathers Beach.

Up to 1,000 athletes ranging from seasoned contenders to relative newcomers try their strength and endurance each year, whether competing in the event's Olympic-distance or shorter sprint-distance triathlon.

The Olympic-distance challenge features a 1.5k swim, 40k bicycle ride that includes a portion of the Overseas Highway and 10k run. Sprint-distance competitors are to complete a .75k swim, 20k bicycle ride and 5k run.

Three-person relay teams can compete as well, with each team member tasked with completing one leg of the challenge.

The weekend schedule kicks off Thursday, Dec. 4, with an early race-packet pickup set for 5-7 p.m. at Charlie Mac's, 404 Southard St.

Regular packet pickup is scheduled noon to 9 p.m. Friday at Higgs Beach on Atlantic Avenue, with a fitness expo slated for noon to 6 p.m. Packets will not be available on race day.

Saturday's sporting action is to begin at 7 a.m., with wave starts at preset intervals. After the triathlon, an awards block party is planned for 5-8 p.m. at Charlie Mac's.

Awards await the top three finishers in varying age groups for each competition, as well as the top three overall male and female finishers and top three male and female masters for racers age 40 and above.

The Key West Triathlon is sanctioned by USA Triathlon.

Entry fees for sprint-distance racers are $100 for an individual and $165 for a relay team. Olympic-distance entry fees are $150 for a single athlete and $235 for a relay team.

Event information, course map and registration: trikw.com

Key West visitor information: fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY

Social: FacebookTwitterKeysVoices.comYouTube

KEY WEST, Fla. -- Rain forced organizers of the Pet Masquerade and Parade to cancel their outside event late Wednesday afternoon, but organizers said they would examine options on Thursday to reschedule the fur and feather contest at the Casa Marina before Fantasy Fest ends Sunday.

Organizers of Key West's annual costuming and masking festival say Fantasy Fest is continuing despite a short-term weather forecast that currently projects high chances of rainfall through Friday morning.

Fantasy Fest Director Linda O'Brien said most other events remain scheduled, adding many are indoors and should not be impacted by precipitation.

And O'Brien pointed out the Key West National Weather Service office forecast for Saturday is for mostly sunny skies, with only a 10 percent chance of rain for the festival's highlight event, Saturday evening's 3Wishes.com Fantasy Fest Parade.

One of those indoor events, the Fantasy Fest Headdress Ball, was staged Tuesday evening. Entrants in masks, cowls and other headgear vied for cash prizes. Top winners included Key Wester Virginia Wark for "Animated Dream Catcher" and Tampa's Janet Sherfey for her "One Human Nation" costume.

Through Friday, decisions regarding other outdoor events are being made on a case-by-case basis and O'Brien suggested revelers monitor Fantasy Fest social media sites including facebook.com/FantasyFest and twitter.com/FantasyFestKW for potential changes.

Event information: fantasyfest.com

Key West visitor information: fla-keys.com/keywest
or 1-800-LAST-KEY

Social: FacebookTwitterKeysVoices.comYouTube

KEY WEST, Florida Keys — The South Florida Symphony, a unique gathering of professional symphonic musicians that began as the Key West Symphony, is to launch its 2014-15 Masterworks Concert Series with a performance featuring renowned cellist Zuill Bailey.

Titled "Expressive Virtuosity," the concert is set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 12, at the Tennessee Williams Theatre, 5901 College Road on the campus of Florida Keys Community College.

The program includes Sergei Prokofiev's "Sinfonia Concertante for Cello and Orchestra" featuring Bailey, as well as Giuseppe Verdi's "Nabucco" and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4.

Soloist Bailey is a chart-topping classical recording artist and an accomplished chamber music performer and recitalist. He has appeared with leading symphonies around the world including the Moscow Chamber Orchestra on its 50th anniversary tour of Russia.

The South Florida Symphony is guided by nationally recognized conductor and Key West native Sebrina Maria Alfonso. For each performance, she brings together preeminent classical musicians from around the United States and pairs them with selected American and international soloists.

The 2014-15 masterworks series also includes concerts titled "Continuous Crescendo," scheduled Jan. 17 with pianist Christopher Taylor, "Love, Loss, Redemption" Feb. 18 with violinist Chee-Yun Kim and "Fate of a Hero" March 26 with pianist Svetlana Smolina.

Before each concert, music lovers can attend a "symphony chat" with classical pianist and music historian Dr. Edward Pitts at the Tennessee Williams Theatre. Receptions are scheduled after the performances where attendees can meet Alfonso, orchestra members and soloists.

Concert tickets range from $25 to $75 per person depending on seat location. Music lovers also can purchase four-concert subscription packages at a 10 percent discount. Tickets are available at southfloridasymphony.org/

The symphony also offers "Tropical Beats" pairings of music with art and cuisine as well as two 2014-15 pops performances. The first pops concert, titled "Life Through Music," commemorates World AIDS Day and is set for Wednesday, Dec. 3, at the Key West High School auditorium.

Event information: southfloridasymphony.org/

Key West visitor information: fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY

Social: FacebookTwitterKeysVoices.comYouTube

Posted On: October 9, 2014