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Destin-Fort Walton Beach Summer Events

For three magical months ― from Memorial Day to Labor Day― salty air and sandy hair are the hallmarks of a summer well spent. Concerts in the park, a pirate festival, BBQ, fireworks over the harbor, and a charity poker run are the essence of the perfect beach vacation. Come out to play at these summer events and discover why Destin-Fort Walton Beach, FL is paradise.


Concerts in the Village - Summer

Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation hosts one of the most popular summer events in Destin for over 20 years. Set aside Thursday nights for their annual outdoor concert series at the Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village.

Kids have plenty of room to run on the expansive green and village playground at this family-friendly event. Bring a lawn chair and picnic to enjoy music under the night sky ― or opt for fresh food-truck fare prepared on-site by local restaurants.

Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival

Avast! Set sail for the Fort Walton Beach Landing to pillage and plunder. Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival celebrated for over 60 years, always starts with a skirmish and ends with a torchlight parade.

Wander the Pirates Village, enjoying all sorts of grub and grog. Food vendors are on deck with everything from ice cream to seafood. Vendors showcase glass art, clothing, jewelry, trinkets, and the like. The festival has plenty for the little scallywags to get up to. With carnival-style games and the Kid’s Discovery Zone featuring rock climbing walls and bouncy houses, Billy Bowlegs is a blast for the whole family.

The festivities take to the high seas with hundreds of boats lining the mile-long sandbar next to the Okaloosa Island bridge, where a melting pot of people have made their way to the Emerald Coast on a mission: pillage, plunder, and drink rum.

Smoke on the Coast BBQ and Fireworks Festival

Kick off the Fourth of July holiday at the Smoke on the Coast BBQ and Fireworks Festival at Destin Commons. Local restaurants and BBQ enthusiasts will light up their grills to prepare their best dishes all for a great cause.

Sample mouth-watering BBQ dishes hot off the grill. Kids' activities, street performers, and live music keep the party going. End the night with a patriotic firework display. Each year, Smoke on the Coast raises tens of thousands of dollars to benefit local charities.

Emerald Coast Poker Run

The Original. The Big One. The Emerald Coast Poker Run is the crown jewel of Boat Week on the Emerald Coast.

Powerboats, fishing boats, and pleasure boats fill the waterways each August for one of the largest charity poker runs in the country. This summer event in Destin has been held along our beautiful waters for over 25 years.

All proceeds from Emerald Coast Boat Week and Poker Run go directly to the Emerald Coast Foundation, benefiting local children’s charities. Learn more and sign up on the website.

Paddle at the Park

Typically held the third Saturday in August, Paddle at the Park showcases the beautiful emerald green water and white sandy shores of Destin’s Henderson Beach State Park. The event features a Kids' Fun Paddle, 1-Mile Beginner Ride, 3-Mile Recreational Race, and 6-Mile Elite Race. New categories this year include kayaks and inflatables. Races will be followed by awards. Visit for details.

Endless summer on the Emerald Coast means plenty of time for pirate skirmishes and poker runs. Browse our events below to plan your ideal summer vacation.