57th Annual 2020 Event
Fernandina’s Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival is Amelia Island’s top event weekend of the year. The Festival attracts more visitors to this barrier island at the Florida-Georgia border than any other time. Always held during the first weekend in May, the 57th Annual Shrimp Festival will be held May 1-3, 2020.
There’s a festive atmosphere as reliable as the tides during this massive event. Well over 100,000 come to this outdoor Festival held in Fernandina’s downtown historic district, a tradition enjoyed by generations.
Shrimp Festival Hours
- Friday — 6 pm to 10 pm — (Food vendors and KIDS FUN ZONE opening early at 5 pm). Festival’s opening ceremony is 6 pm. “Miss Shrimp Festival Pageant” at 6:30 pm. Pirates invade Fernandina Harbor at 9 pm, followed by FIREWORKS at 9:15 pm. Live musical entertainment on riverfront stage.
- Saturday — 9 am to 6 pm — Around 400 art, crafts and antiques booths cover eight downtown blocks, plus food vendors and live musical entertainment at riverfront stage.
- Sunday — 10 am to 5 pm — Art, crafts and antiques booths, food vendors, live musical entertainment at riverfront.
There’s no admission fee to enter and roam the Shrimp Festival grounds and to enjoy the free concerts at the riverfront stage. There are fees for rides and activities in KIDS FUN ZONE.
Parade Thursday, April 30, 2020
The Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival kicks off each year with the Pirate Parade, held on Thursday evening leading up to May’s first weekend. The parade is held rain or shine, and starts at 6 pm in downtown Fernandina’s historic district (route is Ash St., then Centre).
Parade Highlight, The Pirates
Fernandina’s pirates sail along the parade route aboard their ship with intermittent firing of the cannon. This is a big parade that lasts 1.5 to 2 hours, with the pirate ship appearing at end.
The traditional parade route heads west along Ash Street (from 8th Street) toward riverfront, then turns and heads east along historic Centre Street (back to Central Park). Beaded pirate necklaces and candy are traditionally handed out to kids along the parade route. Right after the parade ends, a free “Sounds on Centre” outdoor concert is held. So hang around to enjoy the music and dancing in the street.
Huge Art Show
Known as one of the top fine art shows in the southeast, art lovers come to browse the works. According to the Amelia Island Art Association, the Shrimp Festival’s fully juried arts and crafts exhibit “has been consistently recognized as one of the best art events in North America by Sunshine Artist Magazine. For those attending for the art show only, usually first thing Sunday morning is the least crowded time for browsing the fine arts booths.
Celebrating Fernandina’s Shrimping History
Shrimp Boat Festival
A longtime tradition for more than half a century, Fernandina Beach is the birthplace of the modern shrimping industry in America. First held in 1963 (originally called the “Shrimp Boat” Festival), the inaugural event began with shrimp boat races and a blessing of the shrimp fleet.
About Wild-Caught Shrimp
Watch wonderful video below, a nice tribute to local Fernandina Beach shrimping history. The documentary-style production from the Amelia Island CVB features aerial views, interesting interviews, plus an historic overview (including vintage images and old film footage). Well worth watching, learn why “wild-caught” is superior-tasting shrimp.
Eat for a good cause! All food booths are run by a local, Nassau County, Florida non-profit. This is a fundraising event for many local organizations. The festival’s food booths offer a wide selection including fried seafood plates, low country boil, shrimp gumbo, shrimp pie, grilled shrimp, Cajun shrimp, popcorn shrimp, and shrimp salad. Look for signs at food booths to learn whether “wild-caught” shrimp is being served (or ask).
Festival Parking & Shuttle
Out-of-towners can follow the posted signs, when arriving on Amelia Island, to be directed to the main festival parking lots. A park-and-ride shuttle lot is located at the Fernandina Beach High School (located at 435 Citrona Avenue). Parking fee of $10 (fundraising for the school). Then hop aboard a free shuttle bus from the high school to the downtown festival area.
There are also a few “park and walk” lots ($15 parking fee). These lots are located closer to the Festival area. Park & walk from Central Park (South 11th & Beech Street Ball Fields and South 11th & Atlantic Ave.), city lots C & D at the riverfront, and city lot N at North 2nd Street & Broome.
For further Festival info, visit the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival website.