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2016 Destin Festival of the Arts

The beauty of Florida’s Emerald Coast inspires many to create. The vibrant colors, textures, landscapes, wildlife, all work in tandem to create aw-inspiring moments that often translate to works of art. Our thriving arts community enjoys sharing their passion for the coast and art by welcoming art lovers and artists alike. Thanks to the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation (MKAF) artists from around the country are united within our beautiful beachside setting for the annual Festival of the Arts, Oct. 29–30. The two-day signature event features exhibits of more than 100 artists from 10 states, showcasing a diverse palette of artistic styles in 15 different art mediums. Here’s 6 things you won’t want to miss at the 21st Annual Festival of the Arts:

Florida Highwayman

Meet Guest Artist: AJ Brown.

A.J. Brown is a second generation Florida Highwayman from Fort Pierce, Florida. The original Highwaymen were 26 self-taught African American painters, who in the 1950s realized that they couldn’t sell their work in white-owned galleries, so they took to the road selling their scenes of beaches, sea and wildlife for $25 from their car trunks on area roadways. Today, the Highwaymen are still on the road selling their works, which are now highly valued.

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Get the T-Shirt (or Festival Poster).

This year's official Festival guide, poster and t-shirt feature the coastal-inspired artwork of Destin, Florida, folk artist Kathleen Broaderick, who will be exhibiting at the Festival. Signed and numbered poster prints and souvenir t-shirts will be available for sale in the Souvenir Tent.

Florida Plein air

Watch Live Painting.

Plein air is a French expression made popular in the late 1800s meaning “in the open air” used to describe the act of painting out of doors. Several local plein air painters will add to the Festival atmosphere by taking advantage of each day’s natural light to capture the scenic views surrounding the Cultural Arts Village and still life vignettes on canvas.


Kids ArtStop.

The festival is family friendly and provides opportunities for all ages to interact and immerse themselves in the vibrant art scene. A team of volunteers in the Kid’s ArtStop Tent will work with young aspiring artists to create hands-on interactive art activities, pumpkin paintings, face painting, mask painting and other fun fall crafts, not-to-mention adding their individual flair to a large group mural on canvas.


Enjoy Live Music.

Six local and regional musicians and bands will perform live throughout the weekend on stage at The Dugas Pavilion. Saturday singer/songwriter Drew Tillman (9:30-11:30 a.m.) serves up a taste of bluesy rock and roll followed by Roman Street (noon to 2 p.m.) — an internationally trained instrumental band specializing in improvisational fusion of Classical, Gypsy and Contemporary Jazz, Latin and Nuevo Flamenco performed by brothers Noah and Josh Thompson, then traditional jazz and modern soulful blues by Cartoon (2:30-4:30 p.m.) On Sunday, Noodle Soup (10-11 a.m.) opens the Festival with an eclectic blend of light jazz and folk with a Celtic vibe, followed by Jeff Glickman and the Panhandle All Stars (11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.) a six-member ensemble with a lyrical, slice-of-life bluesy-rock sound. Singer/songwriter Dino Lourdi, blues/smooth & classic jazz/fusion/funk/pop/rock (2-3:30 p.m.) closes out the Festival treating Festivalgoers to a performance infused with the Delta blues.

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Enter to Win Art.

Be sure to also visit the Art Drawing Tent and enter the charity benefit drawing for chances to win a range of original artwork generously donated by the 2016 Festival artists, including an oil painting (valued at $2,275) by guest artist and Florida Highwayman A.J. Brown. The drawing will take place on Sunday, Oct. 30 at 3 p.m. (Do not need to be present to win.)


Book in Advance.

The Festival is open to the public and runs Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Daily admission is $5. Proceeds from the event benefit MKAF and its arts education outreach programs for all. The event is free to children 12 and under and MKAF members. For more information, visit or call (850) 650-2226.    

Looking for a Destin vacation rental near the festival? View our premier Destin vacation rentals online, including colorful, comfortable rooms at Beachside Inn or call one of our friendly vacation specialists at 1-800-225-7652.

See you @ the beach!