Amelia Island’s Signature Events:
Amelia Island Restaurant Week (Jan. 17 – 26, 2020) — Amelia Island presents its annual culinary celebration. This year in 2020, it’s a 10-day, island-wide event. A special highlight leading up to Restaurant Week is a pre-opening tasting event at the Ritz-Carlton to introduce “Coquina,” a brand new restaurant scheduled to open in March 2020 at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. See article with list of participating restaurants “Amelia Island Restaurant Week 2020.”
Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival — One need not travel to New York or Europe to hear some of the world’s most accomplished musicians. An extraordinary experience presents itself on Amelia Island for music lovers. Concert dates vary from January 2020 through April 2020. See concert schedule and more information at Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival website.
Amelia Island Book Festival (February 13-15, 2020) –Wordsmiths gather on Amelia Island each year for the Book Festival, featuring author talks, writer’s workshops, luncheons, a gala dinner and free EXPO book marketplace. The Book Festival features best-selling authors. This year in 2020, the Honorary Chair of the Festival is the New York Times best-seller author, David Baldacci. Also appearing are: Sandra Brown (NYT best-seller and author of 75 novels); Kathy Reichs (best-seller author and forensic anthropologist); Sharon Robinson (acclaimed author and daughter of Jackie Robinson); Margot Lee Shetterley (author of the best-selling book “Hidden Figures”). The Amelia Island Book Festival is a non-profit organization, proceeds benefit the “Nassau County Authors in Schools Literacy Program.” Read more about 2020 Amelia Island Book Festival.
Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance (March 5-8, 2020) –Want to experience one of the top collector automobile events in the world? Always held in March, it’s a time when the 10th and 18th fairways at The Golf Club of Amelia are lined with millions of dollars worth of gleaming, glitzy collector automobiles, dubbed the “Field of Dreams.” There are also several auto auctions and other events held at different venues around the island. See collection of articles about the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.
Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival — Coronavirus concerns have prompted the cancellation of the 2020 Shrimp Festival (that had been scheduled for May 1-3, 2020). The decision to cancel Amelia Island’s biggest attendance event of the year was announced on March 16, 2020. (Shrimp Festival parade is also canceled). Fernandina’s annual Shrimp Festival will return next year in 2021.
Wild Amelia Nature Festival (May 15-17, 2020) — UPDATE: This event has been postponed (no future date announced). Held in May each year, Wild Amelia celebrates the local bio region and includes a sea turtle release at the beach, nature tours led by area naturalists, nature photography field trips and workshops, an Eco-Expo, Kids Niche, plus live music and critters.
Amelia Island Jazz Festival (October 4 – 11, 2020) — This music festival always kicks off with a free concert for the community. UPDATE — Because of the pandemic, the Labor Day Big Band Bash scheduled for September 5, 2020 has been postponed to Saturday, February 13, 2021. “We are also working on developing new concepts for this year’s Amelia Island Jazz Festival to involve some virtual on-line shows,” states the Festival’s website. Check for news updates at Amelia Island Jazz Festival.
8 Flags Car Show by Amelia Cruizers (October 17, 2020) — UPDATE: October’s classic car show has been canceled. Features around 250 collector vehicles parked along historic corridor of Centre Street in downtown Fernandina during one-day event (free admission). Read previous article, watch video about terrific car show.
Right Whale Festival (Nov. 7-8, 2020) — UPDATE: November’s whale festival has been canceled. The outdoor Festival features bands, food trucks, exhibits, kids activities, presentations and more. Located at the oceanfront setting of Fernandina’s Main Beach Park on Amelia Island, the Festival kicks off the beginning of whale calving season. Read related article about last year’s Festival, news about critically endangered North Atlantic right whales.
History of the American Solider at Fort Clinch — Due to the pandemic, the Florida State Park system has canceled special events at many parks, including Fort Clinch. Call the Fort in early November 2020 at 904-277-7274 to get updated status of this annual event. While Fort Clinch hosts special re-enactments the first weekend of each month throughout the year, this once-a-year event held in November in honor of Veterans Day, is the most comprehensive annual production. Living historians represent soldiers from every major US military conflict in American history from Revolutionary War to contemporary times.
Petanque America Open USA (November 13-15, 2020) — UPDATE: November’s annual tournament has been canceled. Held on the riverfront downtown in historic Fernandina Beach, hundreds of Petanque players enjoy international tournament on Amelia Island as they compete in this outdoor bowling game. Play or watch it, enjoy food, wine, music. Learn more, read past article, see video “Playing Petanque Along the River.”
UPDATE: Amelia Island’s holiday season 2020 events have not been officially canceled (status as of early August 2020). However, whether the following holiday events will be held is subject to change, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Amelia Island’s top annual holiday events in November and December 2020 are listed below:
Ritz-Carlton Christmas Tree Lighting — (Nov. 25, 2020). Always held Wednesday evening, Thanksgiving “Eve.” A signature event ushering in the holidays on Amelia Island. Enjoy complimentary holiday refreshments, live entertainment, the lighting of towering Christmas tree, arrival of Santa Claus and fireworks at the oceanfront. Also see the traditional gingerbread pirate’s ship in the lobby. Park at Peters Point Beach, free shuttle to Ritz. 904-277-1100.
Omni Holiday Lights Celebration (Nov. 27, 2020) — Friday after Thanksgiving. Festive culinary creations, holiday crafts, elf training, inflatable fun, stilt walkers, train rides, s’mores. Free admission, however, some games and activities, food & beverages require purchase. Silent auction proceeds support Omni’s “Say Goodnight To Hunger” initiative to benefit the Barnabas Center. Park at Omni Racquet Park (First Coast Highway), take shuttle. 904-277-5992.
City of Fernandina Christmas Tree Lighting (Nov. 28, 2020) — Saturday after Thanksgiving. Head downtown to the historic district near the riverfront for the annual festivities leading up to the Christmas tree lighting. Pirates and activities for kids (including bounce house and Santa photos). Vendors offer items for purchase. Live music performed by the Nassau Community Band.
Amelia Island Holiday Home Tour (Dec. 4-5, 2020) — See inside some of the island’s lovely, private homes, professionally decorated for Christmas (a fundraiser to benefit the museum). Call the Amelia Island Museum of History for more info at 904-261-7378.
Dickens on Centre (Dec. 10-13, 2020) — Victorian-themed street festival. Experience the downtown Fernandina Beach streetscape twinkling with holiday lights (free admission). Features live stage performances (bands, choirs, dancers, holiday movies), vendor booths for gift shopping, roaming characters and carolers, visits with St. Nick and photo ops. No vehicular traffic on Centre Street within the Festival zone.
New Year’s Eve Annual Shrimp Drop & Fireworks (Dec. 31, 2020) — Family-friendly community event in downtown Fernandina Beach with activities (kids’ zone, live music, laser show, food and vendors). Lighted shrimp is dropped at 7 PM, followed by fireworks over the Amelia river.
Monthly Recurring Events
The first weekend of every month features living history reenactments at Fort Clinch State Park. UPDATE: Due to the pandemic, the Florida State Park system has cancelled special events at many parks, including Fort Clinch. Call Fort Clinch for status updates at 904-277-7274. 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 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 island art galleries, self-paced, free admission and mingle with local artists.
Fernandina’s “Sounds on Centre” — UPDATE — The concert series has been canceled in 2020. FREE Friday evening outdoor music concert series in Fernandina’s historic district is held from April through October (except May) on the first Friday night of the month from 6 to 8 pm on historic Centre Street (closed to traffic from 2nd Street to riverfront). This music event features live bands and dancing in the street. Feel free to bring a beach chair, sit and relax downtown.