Miami's Best Seafood Festivals

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By: Shayne Benowitz

If you love seafood, Miami is home to festivals celebrating all the delicious bounty that comes from the sea. “When I think of Miami, I think of seafood,” says Tod Roy, founder of South Beach Seafood Week, which takes over South Beach every October culminating in a huge four-block, outdoor seafood spectacular on the beach between Ocean Drive and the Atlantic Ocean. “You’re outdoors on the sand, eating amazing seafood prepared by chefs who are inventive and make it exciting for everyone. What could be better?”

Frankly, we couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Miami’s access to the Atlantic Ocean, as well as Biscayne Bay and nearby Gulf of Mexico, make it a prime location for some of the country’s finest and freshest seafood. In addition to South Beach Seafood Week, Miami also hosts the Deering Seafood Festival and the South Florida Seafood Festival.

Pescatarians will rejoice while feasting on Florida lobster, stone crabs, mahi mahi and snapper, just to name a few favorite local catches. Whether your preference is steamed, grilled, fried, ceviche, crudo or blackened, locals and visitors alike can’t go wrong devouring Miami’s endless seafood during these annual seafood festivals.

Enjoy fresh seafood on the grounds of Deering Estate

Deering Seafood Festival - October

The Deering Seafood Festival is a one-day, family-friendly event, typically celebrated at the end of March, rescheduled this year to October 18, 2020. It offers delicious catches from the sea, celebrity chef cooking demos, adventures for kids, Virgin Island stilt walkers, a Bahamian Junkanoo musical parade and live entertainment. Celebrate the ocean’s bounty on the lush lawn of the biggest backyard on the bay at the Deering Estate’s 444-acre natural and archaeological preserve, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The main attraction is known as Seafood Alley, where local chefs and restaurants showcase the freshest seafood and their very finest recipes. Key West pink shrimp, crawdaddies, oysters, stone crab, grouper, mahi-mahi and snapper are all presented by Golden Rule Seafood. You’ll also find vendors selling everything from wine to frozen drinks. The Lil Shrimp Kid Zone offers kid-friendly options for the seafood averse, from hot dogs to hamburgers. Kids can also burn off energy here on inflatable toys, a rock-climbing wall and pontoon rides out to Chicken Key.

The Celebrity Chef Demos are a huge draw and chefs from years past have included Giorgio Rapicavoli of Chopped fame, who is also executive chef of Eating House in Coral Gables and Glass & Vine in Coconut Grove. You’ll take home new recipes and cooking tips and tricks from some of the most talented and creative chefs in Miami. Not to mention, the demos are truly entertaining!

And speaking of entertainment, enjoy live music on the main stage, including Caribbean reggae melodies. Don’t forget to cruise Artist’s Lane, where you’ll find paintings, photography, jewelry and all kinds of crafts by local artisans. At the Deering Discovery Cove, children can learn about the wonders of the world’s five oceans through hands-on activities and experiments, including bioluminescence, dissection, coral reef art and creating your own aquatic biome.

Stone crab
Kick off Florida's stone crab season

South Florida Seafood Festival - October

The annual South Florida Seafood Festival will take place October 17 and 18, 2020 at the Miami Marine Stadium on Virginia Key near beautiful Key Biscayne, kicking off the Florida stone crab season. From 11 a.m. to sundown, this family-friendly weekend festival features an international flavor fest with local seafood staples like Bahamian cracked conch, Jamaican jerk grilled fish, paella, ceviche, lobster rolls and more. Be prepared to taste dishes only found in Miami.

Live calypso, steel drum beats and reggae play all day while you stroll through the festival’s Shipwreck Bar & Lounge and nautical-themed vendor area showcasing art, jewelry and decor that you can purchase for the seafarer in your life. It’s not just about the food and drink, but also family, so let your little pirates out for a day of fun at the festival’s Family Fun Zone, where you’ll find hands-on games, educational exhibits, surf simulations, stage performers and other fun activities.

The Kitchen Lab showcases cooking demonstrations by popular Miami restaurants and chefs. Once you know how to create your own go-to seafood dish, you can dash over to the pop-up seafood market, where experts can help you select the perfect catch to take home and surprise family and friends with a fresh-cooked meal.

Stage at the South Beach Seafood Festival
Miami's best chefs come together for South Beach Seafood Week

South Beach Seafood Week - October

The extravaganza continues when Miami's best chefs set up shop in South Beach’s Lummus Park to cook signature seafood dishes on the beach from some of the destination's top restaurants at South Beach Seafood Week from October 21 to 24, 2020, continuing stone crab season kickoff festivities.

Leading up to Saturday’s festivities at Lummus Park, a series of upscale events are held at restaurants across South Beach from Wednesday through Friday evening with ticket prices starting at $55. On Wednesday night, the famed Joe’s Stone Crab hosts An Evening at Joe’s for 50 VIPs to dine in a private dining room that once played host to Frank Sinatra and Al Capone. Thursday, the Shore Club hosts the Crabs, Slabs and Cabs cocktail party, showcasing unique takes on the traditional surf n’ turf dish by local chefs for those who love to mix and mingle. Friday evening’s Chef Showdown pits 14 chefs in seven battles for an epic beach bash where one chef will emerge as the winner. Those in attendance will sample the chefs’ creations and vote for the winner, while enjoying the sounds of Yissel for live entertainment.

On Saturday, the main event is an all-day mega-seafood festival spanning the four-block festival grounds of Lummus Park. The price of admission (starting at $55) provides access to an open bar, beer garden and an incredible sampling of food and desserts from Miami’s finest seafood restaurants all day long. Participating restaurants include  Bodega Taqueria y TequilaPubbelly Sushi, Stiltsville Fish Bar, Rusty Pelican, the Lobster Shack and many more. Additionally, premier food options will be available for purchase (from $5 to $10). There will be plenty of seafood to taste, with live music and an after-hours party to follow.

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