Pin on the map of Florida showing the location of Destin

Annual Festival of the Arts in Destin, Oct 28-29

One of the things we love about Destin is the many traditions and annual events. We’ve been enjoying the daily weigh in’s as part of the Destin Fishing Rodeo, which has been taking place in October in Destin since 1948. Over the years local interests have evolved from fishing and agriculture to an appreciation for culture and the arts. In 1995 the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation was formed, and hosted the first Destin Arts Festival. The popularity of this event has grown over the last 22 years, and this year, the Festival of the Arts will welcome nearly 200 artists from 13 states.

The annual Festival of the Arts will be held Oct. 28-29 at the scenic MKAF Cultural Arts Village in the heart of Destin. As one of the Southeast's premier art festivals, the two-day signature event features art exhibits of nearly 200 total artists (including the juried and collaborative exhibit), showcasing a diverse palette of artistic styles in 22 different art mediums.

MKAF Andy SaczynskiDFA 20105

Diverse Art

After two decades, the Festival has become a popular showcase for some of the best artistic talent nationwide to compete for $10,000 in cash prizes.The judging panel includes Claudia O’Steen, Post Doctoral Fellow at the University of West Florida in Pensacola and Ann Kozeliski, Art Director of the Lemoyne Center for the Visual Arts in Tallahassee. They will award artist prizes in the juried and collaborative art categories. On Saturday, Festival goers are invited to vote for the “People’s Choice” Artist Award by casting a ballot located at the Main Festival Entrance.

One of the unique features of the Festival is the Collaborative Art Exhibit, which showcases the work of 26 seasoned and emerging adult artists and 60 local student artists competing for the $700 McIlroy Award given in honor of the late Patricia McIlroy, Destin’s first First Lady and an MKAF advocate and patron. 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. A team of volunteers in the Kid’s ArtStop Tent will work with young aspiring artists to create hands-on interactive art activities, fall-themed paintings, face painting, pumpkin painting and other fun crafts. 

MKAF Concerts in the Village

Live Music

Six local and regional musicians and bands will perform live throughout the weekend on stage at The Dugas Pavilion. On Saturday singer/songwriter Drew Tillman (9:30-11:30 a.m.) serves up a taste of bluesy rock and roll followed by Jeff Glickman and the Panhandle All Stars (noon-2 p.m.) a six-member ensemble with a lyrical, slice-of-life bluesy-rock sound, then traditional jazz and modern soulful blues by Caravan (2:30-4:30 p.m.). On Sunday, a band will open the Festival, followed by Roman Street (11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.) — an internationally trained instrumental band specializing in improvisational fusion of styles performed by brothers Noah and Josh Thompson. Singer/songwriter Melissa Joiner (2-3:30 p.m.) closes out the Festival treating Festival goers to a performance infused with a unique twist on the Delta blues.


Culinary Art

The Festival has expanded its culinary arts experience, too. Cuisine on the Green will serve up samplings of savory seafood from 790 On The Gulf, street tacos from The Big Red Truck, delicious barbecue from Jim N’ Nicks, sushi from Mas Wasabi along with sweet treats, snacks from Nuts for You, Blue Dot Gelato, Mark’s Hawaiian Shaved Ice & Funnel Cakes among others. Foodies can toast the arts with select domestic and imported wine and beer in the newly expanded Wine Bar & Beer Garden.  

MKAF Festival of the Arts 20141

Win Art

There are also chances to win art and benefit the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation. Attendees can enter to win a range of original artwork generously donated by the 2017 Festival artists. The drawing will take place on Sunday, Oct. 29 at 3 p.m., and you do not need to be present to win.   


Start Planning

The Festival is open Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Daily admission is $5 and free for children 12 and under and MKAF members. Free parking is available at Grace Lutheran Church located adjacent to the Cultural Arts Village or at Emerald Coast Centre, located on Highway 98 near Beall’s Department Store with free continuous shuttle to the main entrance. For more information, visit call (850) 650-2226

Newman-Dailey features a vast array of Destin vacation rentals near the festival as well as colorful, comfortable rooms at the Beachside Inn. View our availability online or call one of our friendly vacation specialists at 1-800-225-7652. 

See you @ the beach!