Local Key West inns are almost fully booked, but a select few have reserved rooms for last minute Hemingway walk-ins. Key West’s annual Hemingway Days is slated for July 20 to 25 this year, and the schedule of events is packed with all kinds of quirky things to do and see.

Key West’s most beloved author left an enduring legacy which is celebrated each July.  In what’s come to be known as Hemingway Days, locals and visitors from around the world celebrate together for an entire week.  Activities range from the serious to the downright kooky.  That’s because the event is partly organized by some actual serious folk who love Ernest Hemingway year round… as well as locals, who love any excuse for a celebration!  Local innkeepers help out by reserving rooms for walk ins only, a goodwill gesture to help out Hemingway fans who arrive at the last moment without checking www.key-west-inn.com .

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author is loved by generations of readers of American literature, for his books written in the 1930s.  He spent time throughout the 1930s living and writing in Key West, mostly at Sloppy Joe’s bar.  At the time, Sloppy Joe’s was located at the present location of Captain Tony’s Saloon.  Sloppy Joe’s moved to its present location on Duval Street after Hemingway’s drinking days.  Both bars are hugely popular and famous, and visitors flock to both locations partly to say they had a drink where Ernest Hemingway hung out.  In fact, most Key West vacations include at least one stop at each bar according to www.key-west-vacations.net !

The week-long roster of activities includes a Running of the Bulls, Key West style.  The Hemingway Lookalike Contest draws bearded and tanned contestants from all corners of the country, and probably the weirdest event is when they all mount wooden bulls and “ride” them around the block from Sloppy Joe’s and up Duval Street.  Hemingway loved the real running of the bulls, which takes place in Pamplona, Spain.

One of the more serious events is the announcement of the winner of the Lorian Short Story Competition.  The gala event takes place at a local Key West Inn called Casa Antigua.  First prize is $2000.  Also drawing serious competitors is the Key West Marlin Tournament, which awards $50,000 to winners of this four day spearfishing tournament.  Anglers fish for tuna, marlin, dolphin (mahi-mahi) and wahoo in celebration of Ernest Hemingway’s love of big game salt water fishing.

And that’s not all…Hemingway Days brings a local pig roast, fish fry, and a Hemingway Days Caribbean Street Fair on Duval Street.  There’s also a Sunset 5K Run which is also held on Duval Street.  Both events take place on Saturday, July 24.  On Sunday, visitors can stroll over to one of Key West’s most popular bars, the Green Parrot.  There, they can browse the art during the sidewalk art show.  After that and perhaps a few beers at the bar, they can head to Sloppy Joe’s once again and watch the Arm Wrestling contest, another activity favored by the famous author.

And of course there are the permanent establishments celebrating Ernest Hemingway’s life in Key West.  These would include his former home, which is now open for tours, and also the collection of Hemingway memorabilia at the Key West Museum of Art & History on Front Street.  “Hotels are booked, but innkeepers know there are always Hemingway fans who arrive at the last minute, and they reserve rooms for these folks.” says Randy Murphy, local Hemingway fan who attends the festival each year.   He almost always has out of town guests, and appreciates the gesture made by local inkeepers at www.key-west-fl-hotels.com .

If you’re planning on visiting Key West for the annual Hemingway Days celebration, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that most Key West hotels offer discounts in the hotter months of July and August.  For more information and photos of past  Hemingway Days, visit www.keywestvacationguide.com/hemingway-days.php where you’ll find facts, info on available rooms for the event and more detail on this most unusual celebration in Key West.

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Local Key West inns are almost fully booked, but a select few have reserved rooms for last minute Hemingway walk-ins. Key West's annual Hemingway Days is slated for July 20 to 25 this year, and the schedule of events is packed with all kinds of quirky things to do...