Fernandina’s 2024 Shrimp Festival Highlights & Biggest Annual Parade

“The home of the pirates,” Fernandina Beach presents its biggest Festival and parade of the year in celebration of the city’s shrimping history. Free concerts, fireworks, huge fine arts & crafts show, Kids Zone fun and tons of shrimp to eat.

Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival (May 3 – 5, 2024)

The Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival has something fun for everyone. Always held the first weekend in May, this Victorian-era seaport is celebrating its 59th Festival. The dates in 2024 are Friday, May 3rd through Sunday, May 5th, 2024 with the Shrimp Fest Parade kicking off festivities on Thursday evening, May 2nd.

Fernandina’s festival experience wouldn’t be complete without attending the biggest parade of the year held on Amelia Island during the Shrimp Festival. It’s a lengthy, fun and quirky parade, so don’t miss it on Thursday evening starting at 6 p.m.

Shrimp Festival float along Ash Street parade route. (File photo by AmeliaIslandLiving.com)
Shrimp Festival float along Ash Street parade route. (File photo by AmeliaIslandLiving.com)

For newcomers to Nassau County, Florida who might be first time Festival goers, the parade is a really big deal in Fernandina. Thousands of spectators line the sidewalks and streets to watch. As usual, the procession will first head west along Ash Street before turning onto 2nd Street, then onto Centre Street heading east, to return to Central Park (the parade’s staging area).

The Shrimp Fest parade is held rain or shine. Do stick around after the parade if you’d like to listen to some live music. A free two-hour street concert is expected to start around 7:15 once the parade is over, (see more concert details further below).

Fernandina is famously known as “birthplace of the modern shrimping industry in America.” The Festival began back in 1964 to celebrate the blessing of the shrimp fleet and featured shrimp boat races. In fact, the event was initially called the “Shrimp Boat Festival”).

Peace, Love & Shrimping — The 1960s Era

Every year there’s a different parade theme. In 2024 the community will celebrate “Peace, Love and Shrimping,” a salute to shrimping in the 1960s era. You never know what creativity will be on display when it comes to parade floats and marchers. Guessing we’ll see some tie-die garb, head bands and fringes. And, of course, a parade tradition — beaded necklaces.

Fernandina Pirates Club ship in Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival Parade. (Photo by AmeliaIslandLiving.com)
Fernandina Pirates Club ship, Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival Parade.

A top highlight of the parade are members of the Fernandina Pirates Club sailing along the street aboard ship, intermittently firing a loud cannon.

After Parade — Sounds on Centre Concert — 7:15 – 9:15 PM, Thurs., May 2, 2024

Those who bring beach chairs to the parade can then bring them over to the last two blocks of Centre near the riverfront where a 2-hour “Sounds on Centre” concert will take place. Featuring “The Usual Suspects,” they’ll be playing classic rock. Sit back and relax or enjoy some dancing in the street.

Riverfront Stage Concerts Friday, Saturday & Sunday Near Fernandina’s Marina Boardwalk
Riverfront stage, downtown Fernandina where free concerts performed during Shrimp Festival (happening this year April 29th - May 1, 2022)..
Fernandina’s riverfront stage early in morning, before crowds arrive. Free concerts are performed all three days during Isle of 8 Flags Shrimp Festival.
Riverfront stage photo, Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival, downtown Fernandina. Image by Amelia Island Living eMagazine.
Afternoon crowds at riverfront stage along Fernandina’s city marina during Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival.

There’s a packed schedule of live entertainment and traditional ceremonies, including the “blessing of the fleet,” featured at Fernandina’s riverfront. Pictured above, people congregate along Fernandina Harbor Marina during one of the Shrimp Festival’s free concerts. See the Shrimp Festival 2024’s hours, featured bands and key activities below scheduled for Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday in downtown Fernandina:

2024 Shrimp Festival Hours May 3 – 5, 2024

FRIDAY, May 3, 2024 — Hours: 5:30 PM – 10 PM (Waterfront food booths open early at 3 p.m. Kids Fun Zone opens 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.) Opening ceremony at 5:30 p.m. Featured concert is “The Band Be Easy” at 7:45 p.m. “Pirate Invasion” at 9:15 p.m. Evening wraps up with FIREWORKS at 9:30 p.m.

SATURDAY, May 4, 2024 — Hours: 9 AM – 7 PM (Waterfront food booths open until 8 p.m.) Kids Fun Zone open 9 a.m. till 8 p.m. “Pirate Invasion” at noon. “Eden & Frankie” will take the riverfront stage to perform at 4 p.m.

SUNDAY, May 5, 2024 — Hours: 10 AM – 5 PM. The decorated Shrimp Boat Parade & contest is at 1:15, followed by the blessing of the fleet at 1:30 p.m. Riverfront stage concert by popular local favorite, “The Swingin’ Medallions” at 2:30 p.m.)

Over 300 Arts, Crafts, Antiques Booths
Fernandina's Shrimp Festival features over 300 booths offering fine arts & crafts plus vintage/antiques vendors.
Browse through 300+ booths — fine arts & crafts plus vintage/antiques vendors — during Fernandina’s Shrimp Festival.

This year at the 59th Annual Isle of 8 Flags Shrimp Festival in 2024, there are over 300 booths that will line Centre Street and side feeder streets for eight blocks.

Of the three days, Sunday is typically less crowded, even more so in the morning. For booth browsers, it’s often easier to access more of the arts, crafts and antiques booths if you go earlier in the day when the Festival first opens Sunday at 10 a.m..

Kids Zone Behind Library
Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival Kids Zone includes rock climbing, slides, rides and other activities (behind downtown library building).
Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival Kids Zone includes rock climbing, slides, rides and other activities and performances (behind downtown library building).

For those with kids, families usually spend some time in the Shrimp Festival’s Kids Zone behind Fernandina’s library. Besides rock climbing, slides and other concessions, there are various performances such as Kazoo shows, juggling, a Gatorland wildlife show and learning how to be like a pirate. However, it would not be the Shrimp Festival without a long-running tradition, the performance by students of the Bean School of Dance, this year scheduled on Saturday, May 4, 2024 at 11 a.m in the Kids Zone.

Non-Profit Food Booths

The Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival is an important fundraising event for local Nassau County, Florida non-profits. Festival attendees will find shrimp prepared different ways including very popular fried shrimp, shrimp boils, and shrimp pie. The non-profit food booths are run by area schools, churches, and organizations such as the Amelia Island Museum of History (the museum sells shrimp gumbo). Other festival favorites include funnel cakes and fresh squeezed lemonade.

Fernandina’s annual Shrimp Festival has grown in size from its early beginnings, becoming nationally-recognized over time. Today, the 3-day festival typically attracts at least 100,000 to Amelia Island, Florida the first weekend in May each year — some years visitors estimated at around 135,000. Mother Nature plays its role, so the better the weather, the bigger the crowds.

Economic Impact Of Fernandina’s Shrimp Festival

As far as economics, the Isle of 8 Flags Shrimp Festival reportedly “provides a financial impact in excess of $16 million dollars to our community, Greater Nassau County and the entire surrounding areas,” according to a proclamation read by Fernandina’s mayor, Bradley Bean, at an April 2024 city commission meeting. As the proclamation was read, members of the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival committee gathered around the podium. Mayor Bean expressed community thanks for their hard work and dedication, an all volunteer committee whose members work year round to plan such a huge, successful event.

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See more details about this Fernandina Beach event by visiting Amelia Island Living’s Shrimp Festival 2024 page.

See also the official Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival website for Festival area maps (printable PDF files), full entertainment schedule, and more.