Annual Events in Destin, Florida: A Guide to Fun, Sun, and Festivities

Destin Fishing Rodeo

Held Entire Month of October

The Destin Fishing Rodeo is an iconic event that has been held annually since 1948. This month-long tournament celebrates Destin’s rich fishing heritage, attracting anglers from all over the world who compete for prizes in various categories. The rodeo is open to everyone, from professional anglers to novice fishermen and even children.

One of the most important aspects of the Destin Fishing Rodeo is its location at the bustling Destin Harbor. This picturesque setting allows visitors to enjoy the beautiful waterfront views and immerse themselves in the fishing village atmosphere.

The excitement of the event doesn’t end on the water. Every evening, spectators can gather at the harbor for free to watch anglers weigh their catches and potentially break records. The festive atmosphere, coupled with the anticipation of the daily weigh-ins, makes the Destin Fishing Rodeo a must-see event for all ages.

In addition to the competitive aspect of the rodeo, the event also offers a plethora of family-friendly activities. Educational programs, live music, and local seafood delicacies create a lively atmosphere that caters to visitors of all ages. Parents can rest assured that their children will be entertained throughout the event.

What makes the Destin Fishing Rodeo unique is the opportunity for visitors to charter a boat and participate in the competition. This immersive experience allows guests to enjoy the thrill of fishing alongside seasoned anglers while soaking in the breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico.

Learn more specifics about the Destin fishing rodeo here:

Destin Seafood Festival

Held First Week of October

The Destin Seafood Festival is a beloved annual event that coincides with the Destin Fishing Rodeo and in fact kicks off the rodeo. This three-day celebration of the city’s fresh, locally-sourced seafood offers a smorgasbord of mouth-watering dishes that showcase the culinary prowess of Destin’s top chefs and restaurants.

Held along the picturesque Destin Harbor, the festival attracts thousands of visitors each year who come to indulge in the diverse range of seafood delicacies, from Gulf shrimp and oysters to fresh-off-the-boat fish. The event provides an authentic taste of Destin’s fishing culture while promoting sustainable seafood practices.

Live music is a major highlight of the Destin Seafood Festival. Multiple stages are set up along the harbor, featuring local bands and musicians performing various genres, such as rock, country, and jazz. This energetic lineup ensures a lively atmosphere and entertainment for all ages throughout the event.

In addition to the delicious food and live music, the Destin Seafood Festival hosts an extensive arts and crafts marketplace. Here, visitors can browse and purchase unique, handmade items from local and regional artists, including paintings, pottery, jewelry, and woodwork. This showcase of creativity and craftsmanship adds another dimension to the festival experience.

A family-friendly event, the Destin Seafood Festival features a dedicated kid’s zone, complete with games, rides, and interactive activities. Children can enjoy face painting, inflatables, and a touch tank, making it an unforgettable experience for the little ones.

One of the unique features of the Destin Seafood Festival is the array of cooking demonstrations by renowned chefs, who share their culinary secrets and techniques with festival-goers. Visitors can learn new recipes and tricks to elevate their seafood dishes, taking a piece of the Destin culinary experience back home.

As the sun sets on the festival, a spectacular fireworks display lights up the night sky over the harbor, providing a fitting finale to this vibrant event. The combination of delicious seafood, lively music, arts and crafts, and family-friendly entertainment make the Destin Seafood Festival a must-visit annual event for food lovers and families alike.

Take a Kid Fishing Day

Held on First Sunday in November

Take a Kid Fishing Day is a cherished annual event in Destin that brings together the local community to introduce children aged 7 to 13 to the joys of fishing. Every year, on the first Sunday of November, around 300 children are treated to a memorable day of fishing on the Gulf of Mexico or Choctawhatchee Bay, completely free of charge.

The day begins with breakfast for each child and their chaperones, after which they board some of Destin’s finest charter boats for a morning of guided fishing. Experienced captains and crew members volunteer their time and expertise to teach the kids the basics of fishing, including techniques, tackle, and knowledge about local marine life.

Upon returning from their fishing adventure, the children and their chaperones are treated to a fish fry lunch to celebrate their successful day on the water. Each child also receives a t-shirt and their very own rod and reel to take home, ensuring they can continue their newfound passion for fishing.

Take a Kid Fishing Day has been a beloved tradition in Destin for 27 years, and over 9,000 kids have been sent fishing to date. This heartwarming event is made possible by funds raised through two annual fundraisers: the Harbor Docks Take a Kid Fishing Day Auction held every August and the Caddyshack Classic Golf Tournament in March. The generosity of local businesses, captains, crew members, and volunteers enables this incredible experience for the children of Destin.

Paddle at the Park

Held in early May (Event dates and times recently changed – be sure to double check!)

Note, this event was previously known as Paddle at the Porch.

Paddle at the Porch is a popular annual event in Destin that brings together paddleboard enthusiasts and spectators for a day of excitement and friendly competition. Previously held at the Back Porch Restaurant, the event has recently moved to The Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island, offering a fresh and scenic location for participants and attendees alike.

Taking place on Saturday, May 6, 2023, Paddle at the Porch showcases the beauty of Destin’s waters, with participants racing on paddleboards through the crystal-clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico or the serene Choctawhatchee Bay. The event attracts both professional and amateur paddlers, who compete in various categories and age groups, ensuring a fun and inclusive atmosphere.

In addition to the exhilarating races, Paddle at the Porch offers a variety of onshore activities for attendees. Spectators can enjoy live music, food vendors, and local artisans showcasing their crafts, creating a festive environment that caters to all ages. The picturesque setting of The Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island provides a stunning backdrop for this lively event, making it a must-attend occasion for paddleboarding aficionados and casual fans alike.

Paddle at the Porch is not just an opportunity to witness thrilling paddleboard races; it’s also a chance for visitors to learn about the sport and even give it a try themselves. Local paddleboard rental companies and instructors are often present at the event, providing equipment and guidance for those eager to test their skills on the water.

By combining the excitement of paddleboard racing with the natural beauty of Okaloosa Island, Paddle at the Porch has become a highly anticipated annual event in the Destin area, drawing competitors and spectators from near and far.

Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation Concerts in the Village

Held Thursdays from May to June, sometimes with a second batch of concerts in late summer.

The Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation Concerts in the Village is a beloved annual event series that brings together music lovers and families for a delightful outdoor live music experience. Taking place on Thursday evenings from May to June, the concerts are held at the picturesque Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village, a sprawling green space that provides the perfect setting for a relaxing evening.

The concert series showcases a diverse lineup of talented musicians and bands, covering various genres such as jazz, rock, blues, country, and pop. The eclectic selection ensures that there’s something for everyone, with attendees encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets to settle in and enjoy the performances under the stars.

In addition to the fantastic music, Concerts in the Village also offers a selection of food trucks and vendors, serving up delicious cuisine and beverages to satisfy every palate. Guests are also welcome to pack their own picnics and its BYOB, making it a versatile and budget-friendly outing for families and friends.

For added convenience, the Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village features ample parking, on-site restrooms, and plenty of space for children to play, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable experience for all attendees. The event’s family-friendly atmosphere and emphasis on community engagement make it a highly anticipated part of Destin’s annual calendar.

The Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation Concerts in the Village is more than just a concert series; it’s a celebration of music, community, and the arts, providing a unique and memorable experience for residents and visitors alike. By offering a platform for talented artists and fostering a love for music in a beautiful outdoor setting, this event series continues to enrich Destin’s vibrant cultural landscape.