ISLAMORADA, Florida Keys — Visitors to the Florida Keys in January can delight in the warmer climes, and music lovers can revel in Islamorada’s Baygrass Bluegrass Music Festival set for Friday through Sunday, Jan. 12-14.
In its sixth year, the three-day jam features traditional bluegrass, old-time and Americana singing bands at small local “joints,” culminating in an all-day main event in a waterfront setting.
The weekend kicks off at 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 12, with a “Square Dancing in the Streets” party in the Morada Way Arts & Cultural District between mile markers (MM) 81 and 82. A South Florida Craft Beer Garden featuring several Florida craft breweries, as well as impromptu musical jam sessions, are to round out the free-admission evening.
Saturday, Jan. 13, a Pickin’ Party with performing musicians, barbecue and a craft beer tap takeover is scheduled at 5 p.m. at the same location. Amateur and professional pickers are encouraged to bring instruments and jam together at each of the two satellite events.
The festival’s main musical event is to be staged Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Founders Park, MM 87 bayside on Plantation Key. Doors open at 10 a.m. All seating is outdoors at ICE Amphitheater’s stage backed by Florida Bay’s turquoise waters.
Coolers are not permitted, although attendees can bring lawn chairs and blankets.
Sunday’s impressive lineup includes a robust mix of festival staples and newcomers. Crowd favorites include Mike Compton, Silas Powell, Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers and a fourth consecutive stage-shaking performance from the full-throttle “outlaw bluegrass” of Grandpa’s Cough Medicine.
Making his debut at the festival is Billy Strings from Nashville, Tennessee, one of the country’s most beloved young bluegrass guitarists. Other anticipated acts include Mountain Ride and South Florida’s The Copper Tones, who term their musical flavor as “soulgrass.”
Sunday’s festivities also include a craft beer garden with tastings and special releases, artisan booths, food trucks and cool drinks, kids’ activities and festival souvenir merchandise. A Sustainability Village sponsored by Audubon Florida’s Everglades Science Center is to invite festivalgoers to explore how to live a more naturally balanced lifestyle.
Advance general and VIP admission tickets to Sunday’s all-day main event can be purchased online at baygrassbluegrass.com. Admission is $20 per adult age 18 and over and free for children age 17 and under. Price at the gate is $25 per person. Ticket holders have access to all musical performances that day.
Parking is available on-site for a $5 donation that benefits Keys charities. Festival proceeds help to fund high school art, music and dance programs and scholarships, as well as Audubon Florida’s Everglades Science Center’s research efforts in Florida Bay and the Everglades.
Event information: baygrassbluegrass.com/