The top two events each year bringing the most visitors to Amelia Island, Florida are the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance at Golf Club of Amelia and Ritz-Carlton (held second weekend in March), and the Isle of 8 Flags Shrimp Festival in downtown Fernandina Beach (always held the first weekend in May).
Special Monthly Recurring Events
The first weekend of every month, all year long, are living history reenactments at Fort Clinch State Park. Experience Civil War-era soldier life in the year 1864. Plus, monthly Artrageous Art Gallery Walks happen the second Saturday evening, every month, in Fernandina’s historic district. Browse over 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 on the first Friday night of the month from 6 to 8 pm on Centre Street. Features live bands by the riverfront and dancing in the street. “3rd on 3rd” at the Amelia Island Museum of History – on the third Friday of each month, the museum offers a special presentation related to the history of the island.
Highlights of Special Annual Events
February — 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.March — 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 lush green 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.” Whether you like speed, flash or elegance, around 250 vehicles are showcased on Amelia Island. There are dinners, road tours, seminars, workshops, two auto auctions, a silent auction for charity, and more. Purchase tickets for the main Sunday show in advance online, visit the Amelia Island Concours website for full schedule of events. Call 904-636-0027 for more information.
April — Amelia Island Garden Show. Annual garden show at Central Park on Atlantic Avenue in Fernandina Beach, Florida. More than 50 vendors (growers and nurseries from around the state) offer a large selection including: flowers, plants, fruit trees, palms, orchids, herbs, container gardens, native plants, butterfly-friendly plants, shrubs, garden accessories and more. Experts will provide info on “greening” your home, yard, and garden. “The Raptor Experience,” with live birds of prey will also be featured. See more at Amelia Island Garden Show website.
April — Katie Ride For Life – Annual Katie Ride for Life, a cycling event starts and finishes on beautiful Amelia Island, Florida. Hit the streets to help save lives. Wonderful event to help raise awareness and funds for organ donation, cycling through Northeast Florida. Biking distances of 7, 18, 36, 62 or 100 miles to choose from, a fully-supported cycling event for riders of all levels. Course is flat and scenic, taking riders along the many islands and waterways. There’s also a 5K or 10K walk for non-cyclists wishing to participate.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 into June –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.
June — Rendezvous Festival debuts in June 2015. American Beach’s music and entertainment legacy takes the stage as part of new annual Amelia Island “International Film, Music and Gaming Festival” to debut in June 2015. 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 will be ten days long (June 5-14, 2015) with events held at various venues around Amelia Island including American Beach, the Ritz-Carlton, Fernandina’s Main Beach and historic downtown Fernandina. (Note: The Rendezvous Festival incorporates the former “Amelia Island Film Festival,” see the new Rendezvous Festival website.)
August — The Great Southern Tailgate Cookoff at Main Beach Park, Fernandina. Barbecue cooking teams from across the country will compete for cash and prizes. Imagine the mouth-watering aroma of BBQ that will be wafting on the sea breeze from 50 or so professional cooking teams, as grills sizzle at the seashore on Amelia Island, Florida. This event also features live bands and beer on the oceanfront lawns at Main Beach, see more at Great Southern Tailgate Cookoff website.
September — Amelia Island Blues Festival. Music, food, wine, beer and more with the Atlantic Ocean as the backdrop. Enjoy blues music at the beach in Fernandina featuring great blues artists. Visit the Amelia Island Blues Festival website for more information. (904)277-0717.
October — 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. The Annual Amelia Cruizers Car Show. Special collector vehicles are showcased along the main historic corridor of Centre Street in downtown Fernandina during the Amelia Island Cruizers 8 Flags Car Show, a one-day event. The Amelia Cruizers event will surely delight car enthusiasts. But the kids may be amazed to see what cool cars people used to drive throughout various periods of history.
October — Amelia Island Wine Festival. Wine tasting and gourmet food at Omni Amelia Island Plantation, see website.
November — 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 Holiday Cookie Tour of Bed & Breakfast Inns, enjoy each inn’s signature cookie and recipe (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. Hear each inn’s history, sample freshly baked Christmas cookies, and take home cookie recipes. Call the Amelia Island Tourist Council at 904-277-0717 for more info about tickets.
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 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.
December– Amelia Island Holiday Historic Home Tour (http://www.ameliaislandmuseum.org). Tour some of Amelia Island’s loveliest, private homes in Fernandina Beach’s historic district 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 on this wonderful self-guided tour. Each home features museum docents who share the history of each spectacular residence. Call the Amelia Island Museum of History for more info and tickets. 904-261-7378.
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