Highlights of Special Annual Events
Amelia Island list of top events summarizes those held every year with links to further information.
Amelia Island Book Festival. Wordsmiths gather on Amelia Island each year for the Book Festival, featuring author talks, workshops, readings, luncheons and celebrations of the love of books in historic Fernandina Beach. There is also a FEATURED FREE KID’s AREA: Activities for children, readings by authors, geared to kids aged 3-12. See full details of schedule at the Amelia Island Book Festival’s website.
Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. Want to experience one of the most amazing auto events in the world?
The posh event of the year on this northeast Florida resort barrier island is the Concours d’Elegance. The 10th and 18th golf fairways of Summer Beach are lined with millions of dollars worth of gleaming, glitzy collector automobiles, dubbed the “Field of Dreams.” There’s a week full of activities, (including a wonderful FREE event, Cars and Coffee showcasing hundreds of classics from area car clubs). Most other events require tickets, including dinners, seminars, workshops and five auto auctions at different venues. Purchase tickets for the main Sunday show, the Concours d’Elegance, in advance online, visit the Amelia Island Concours website for full schedule of events. Call 904-636-0027 for more information.
Annual Katie Ride for Life, a cycling event presented by the Mayo Clinic, starts and finishes on beautiful Amelia Island, Florida. Wonderful event to help raise awareness and funds for organ donation, cycling through Northeast Florida. Biking distances of 18, 36, 62 or 100 miles to choose from, a fully-supported cycling event for riders of all levels. Start/finish is at Fernandina’s Atlantic Avenue Rec Center. Course is flat and scenic, taking riders along northeast Florida islands and waterways. There’s also a WALK/FUN RUN through Fort Clinch State Park and northend beach for non-cyclists wishing to participate. Learn lots more, register online at the Katie Ride website.
First Weekend of May —
Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival. This annual event is always first weekend in May each year. The biggest tourism event of the year, the Isle of 8 Flags Shrimp Festival attracts over 100,000 visitors. This is a fantastic art event with over 300 juried art and craftsmen exhibiting (Saturday and Sunday), live bands at the riverfront, Shrimp Festival parade, Friday night fireworks and pirate invasion by sea into the Fernandina harbour, food (shrimp, shrimp, and more shrimp), kids/family fun zone and more. Learn lots more about the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival, read in-depth article.
May — Wild Amelia Nature Festival (904-251-0016). Held in May each year, Wild Amelia celebrates the local bioregion and includes nature tours led by area naturalists and Florida State Park Rangers, nature photography workshops, a green business Expo, a Kids Niche, plus live music and critters. If you appreciate nature and love the outdoors, plan to attend some of the educational and family-friendly activities. Every year the nature festival selects a different local critter to highlight. Previous honorees were “the Alligator, Painted Bunting, the Gopher Tortoise, Northern Right Whales and the Egret.” Visit the Wild Amelia Nature Festival’s website for full schedule of events, seminars and more at www.WildAmelia.com
May — Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival If you haven’t had the opportunity to attend some concerts of the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival in previous years, don’t miss your chance this year! You need not travel to New York or Europe to hear some of the world’s most accomplished musicians. An extraordinary experience presents itself right here in small-town Fernandina Beach to hear classical music at the very highest level. For those unfamiliar with the Chamber Music Festival, the concept is to bring chamber music into intimate and historic settings on Amelia Island, bringing the music to the people -– those who may normally not attend the symphony. For more information visit the Chamber Musical Festival’s website at www.aicmf.com , or call 904-261-1779.
Rendezvous Festival. American Beach’s music and entertainment legacy takes the stage as part of new annual Amelia Island “International Film, Music and Gaming Festival.” The new “Rendezvous Festival” was named after a music club that thrived during the 1930s to 1950s located in historic American Beach (read more about the new American Beach Museum). Famous musicians such as Ray Charles, Louie Armstrong, James Brown And Billie Daniels performed there during the period. The Rendezvous Festival holds events at various venues around Amelia Island. (Note: The Rendezvous Festival is moving to September in 2017 from June). The Rendezvous Festival incorporates the former “Amelia Island Film Festival,” see the new Amelia Island Rendezvous Festival website.)
Note that starting in the year 2017, the Rendezvous Festival will be held in September rather than June (the upcoming dates are 9/21/17 to 9/23/17).
Amelia Island Jazz Festival. The Amelia Island Jazz Festival always kicks off with a FREE concert for the community and visitors. During the week long festival, music fans enjoy a diversity of styles ranging from traditional New Orleans jazz and big band swing to bebop and contemporary. Presenting a full slate of established jazz recording artists, past festivals have featured Grammy Award-winning musicians like saxophonist, David Sanborn, pianist Ramsey Lewis, and Buckwheat Zydeco. Expect a full roster of talented musicians and venues at Amelia Island’s Jazz Festival each year. Check out the Amelia Island Jazz Festival website for all details or call 904-504-4772.
October — 8 Flags Car Show, Amelia Cruizers (FREE). This wonderful classic car show features 200-plus collector vehicles parked along historic corridor of Centre Street in downtown Fernandina during Amelia Island Cruizers one-day event. The Amelia Cruizers show will delight car enthusiasts. A family-friendly event, it’s FREE TO THE PUBLIC. Bring the kids — they may be amazed to see what cool cars people used to drive throughout various periods of history.
History of the American Solider at Fort Clinch State Park. While Fort Clinch hosts special re-enactments the first weekend of each month throughout the year, this particular event is the most comprehensive production each year and is a wonderful day to be at Fort Clinch State Park. Browse military displays, watch firing demonstrations, and interact with living historians representing soldiers from every major US military conflict in American history from the Revolutionary War to contemporary times. (Active duty military and veterans are invited to dress in uniform.) Refreshments are available in the Fort Clinch Canteen. Park admission for is $6 per vehicle (up to 8 passengers), plus a donation of one can of food per person to enter the brick fortress for this event in honor of Veteran’s Day (canned food to be donated to the Barnabas Food Pantry). For more info call Fort Clinch at 904-277-7272. Fort Clinch State Park is located at 2601 Atlantic Avenue, Fernandina Beach, Florida 32034.
November — Petanque America Open USA. Held on the rvierfront downtown in historic Fernandina Beach, around 200 Petanque players enjoy this tournament on Amelia Island as they compete in this simplified version of outdoor bowling game. Play or watch it, Mediterranean food and wine served. The goal is to toss or roll a number of hollow steel balls as close as possible to a small wooden target ball. Training clinics before the tournament are offered. For more information, visit website www.petanque-america-open.com.
November — Amelia Island’s Ritz-Carlton Christmas Tree Lighting, Life-Sized Gingerbread Revelation, always held on Wednesday, Thanksgiving “Eve” at the seaside. (See related feature article, “Amelia Island Ritz-Carlton Casts Holiday Spell with Spice and Sparkle.”) A signature event ushering in the holidays on Amelia Island, Florida, guests enjoy holiday refreshments, live entertainment, and the lighting of a towering 50-foot tree in the courtyard of the Ritz-Carlton at the oceanfront, and the arrival of Santa Claus. The ceremony typically finishes with a holiday fireworks display. The public is welcomed to visit the Ritz-Carlton for this event and to view the huge gingerbread creation, made by Ritz chefs, featured each year in the Ritz-Carlton lobby for the holiday season. PARKING: The hotel typically offers a shuttle bus from the Peter’s Point parking lot for this event. Call the Ritz-Carlton for more information and hotel reservations at (904) 277-1100.
Dickens on Centre, Victorian-themed Christmas festivities in downtown Fernandina Beach, SEE DETAILS OF 2016 EVENT AND WATCH VIDEO. Call the Amelia Island Tourist Council at 904-277-0717 for more information.
December– Amelia Island Holiday Historic Home Tour (http://www.ameliaislandmuseum.org). Tour some of Amelia Island’s loveliest, private homes during the Amelia Island Museum of History’s annual celebration of the holiday season. Tour hours are offered on two days in December. Guests are shuttled around via trolley. Each home features museum docents who share the background of each residence. SEE DETAILS OF 2016 HOLIDAY HOME TOUR. Call the Amelia Island Museum of History for more info and tickets. 904-261-7378.
December — Amelia Island Holiday Cookie Tour of Bed & Breakfast Inns, enjoy browsing through six inns, each featuring a signature cookie and recipe to take home (http://www.ameliaislandinns.com) Go at your own pace during this self-guided tour of Fernandina’s gorgeous inns decked out for the holiday season, and hear about each inn’s history. Horse-drawn carriage rides also available (first come, first serve).
SEE DETAILS OF 2016 HOLIDAY COOKIE TOUR.
Special Monthly Recurring Events
The first weekend of every month features living history reenactments at Fort Clinch State Park. Experience Civil War-era soldier life in the year 1864. These monthly Union Garrisons are a more elaborate presentation, featuring parade ground drills and demonstrations, including firing the cannons. Read lots more about Fort Clinch State Park, see photo gallery and watch video.
Monthly Artrageous Art Gallery Walks happen the second Saturday evening every month from 5 to 8 pm in Fernandina’s historic district. Browse around a dozen art galleries, self-paced and mingle with the artists.
Sounds on Centre, the FREE Friday evening outdoor music concert series in Fernandina’s historic district is held from March through September (except May) on the first Friday night of the month from 6 to 8 pm on historic Centre Street which is closed to traffic from 2nd Street to riverfront. This music event features live bands and dancing in the street. Also feel free to being a beach chair, sit and relax downtown.