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Fall into Fun: 7 Great Fall Events in Destin and Beyond

Ever wonder why Destin is such a hot spot all year round? A big part of the magic comes from the awesome calendar of events, festivals, and live music that keeps this coastal town buzzing.

Each season brings its own unique vibe and events, but fall is extra special since the season brings mild weather and fewer crowds — the perfect conditions to enjoy the city’s outdoor events. Also, October is the month when the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” hosts its most popular events, the Destin Seafood Festival and Destin Fishing Rodeo.

To help you make the best of your fall trip, this blog highlights the top annual events in Destin, FL, during the season.


At RealJoy Vacations, we’ve been in the Destin hospitality game for years. Whether you’re looking for spacious beachfront houses or luxurious resorts, we’ve got a wide range of options along the Emerald Coast. All our properties come with top-notch amenities to make your stay unforgettable.

We’re local experts and know the scene inside out. For more tips, check out our destination blog for insights on all things Destin and the Emerald Coast. From the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants to nightlife guides and reasons to consider living in Destin year-round, we’ve got you covered.


Now, let’s dive into those exciting events!


  • Destin Seafood Festival, Early October: Kick off the Destin Fishing Rodeo with a three-day festival featuring delicious seafood, live music, and family activities along the beautiful Destin Harbor.

  • Destin Fishing Rodeo, October: A month-long fishing tournament held in October, celebrating Destin’s fishing culture with daily weigh-ins and a vibrant community atmosphere.

  • Baytowne Beer Festival, Mid-October: A two-day event at Baytowne Wharf in Sandestin, offering over 200 craft beers, live music, and educational beer seminars for adults to enjoy.

  • Harvest Wine & Food Festival, October: A four-day luxury experience in WaterColor, featuring wine dinners, a Grand Tasting, and a cocktail brunch for wine and food enthusiasts.

  • Barktoberfest, End of October: A doggie costume contest and social event at Grand Boulevard, featuring pet-friendly activities, Oktoberfest libations, and a superhero-themed Halloween contest.

  • Fall Destin Food Truck Fest, Beginning of November: A family-friendly festival at Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village with gourmet food trucks, live music, and vendors selling crafts and gifts.

  • Destin Boat Parade, December: The Holiday on the Harbor Boat Parade transforms Destin Harbor into a festive spectacle of lights and holiday cheer, with decorated boats and a fireworks display.


            1. Destin Seafood Festival, Early October (Food, Family-friendly, Cultural)

            The Destin Seafood Festival is an unmissable event that celebrates the city’s rich fishing heritage. Held at the beginning of October, this three-day extravaganza takes place along the scenic Destin Harbor. It’s a lively celebration that marks the start of the Destin Fishing Rodeo, drawing both locals and visitors for a weekend filled with delicious seafood, live music, and a wide array of arts and crafts.


            You’ll be able to sample the freshest catches prepared by local chefs, with plenty of options to satisfy any seafood lover’s cravings. Walking along the boardwalk, you can enjoy the beautiful views of the Gulf while sipping on local beers and trying dishes from over a hundred food vendors. It’s not just about food, though; there are also numerous art and craft booths where you can pick up unique souvenirs and handmade items.


            Live music is a big part of the festival, with different stages set up along the harbor hosting a diverse lineup of performers. From rock and reggae to country and tropical music, there’s something for everyone. Kids are also in for a treat with a special Kids’ Zone featuring rides and activities tailored for young visitors. The Destin Seafood Festival is truly a family-friendly event, offering something fun for all ages amidst a festive and welcoming atmosphere.


            Destin Fishing Rodeo, October (Family-friendly, Water activities, Cultural)

            The Destin Fishing Rodeo is a month-long fishing tournament held throughout October, making it one of the most beloved fishing events in the U.S. Established in 1948, this event has grown from a three-day competition to a 31-day celebration that attracts anglers from all over.

            The Fishing Rodeo is deeply rooted in Destin’s culture, enhancing the sense of community and shared love for fishing. Whether you’re a participant or just a spectator, the weigh-ins held daily at AJ’s Seafood & Oyster Bar are a must-see. It’s exciting to watch fishers of all ages and skill levels bring in their catches, often resulting in impressive and applaud-worthy results.

            If fishing isn’t your thing, you can still enjoy the lively atmosphere along the Destin Boardwalk. It’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon, sipping drinks and savoring local cuisine with a waterfront view. The entire town buzzes with energy during this time, making it an ideal period to visit and experience the best of Destin’s coastal charm and community spirit.


            3. Baytowne Beer Festival, Mid-October (Adult)

            The Annual Baytowne Beer Festival is a two-day celebration held at the Village of Baytowne Wharf in Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, just a short drive from Destin. Known as the “Best Beer Fest on the Coast,” this event is a haven for beer enthusiasts, featuring over 200 craft beers from more than 40 breweries.

            The festival offers a commemorative tasting glass for attendees to sample a diverse selection of beers. Live music performances add to the festive atmosphere, with local bands playing genres ranging from rock to country throughout the weekend. It’s not just about drinking beer; the festival also includes educational seminars hosted by beer experts and brewery representatives. These sessions cover a variety of topics, such as brewing techniques, the history of craft beer, and ideal food pairings.

            Special events like Friday Night Beer Bingo and the main Saturday Beer Tasting make this festival a must-visit for beer lovers. Walking through the festival area, you can stop at various booths to sample beers and chat with brewery reps. The relaxed, social environment makes it easy to meet fellow beer lovers and discover new favorites.

            The Baytowne Beer Festival is perfect for adults looking to enjoy great beer, good music, and a fun fall weekend away from the usual hustle and bustle.



            4. Harvest Wine & Food Festival, October (Food, Adult, Cultural)

            Hosted in WaterColor, a 30-minute drive from Destin, the Annual Harvest Wine & Food Festival spans four days in October, offering a luxurious experience for wine and food enthusiasts. This event is renowned as one of the premier wine and food festivals in the Southeast, featuring wine dinners, a Grand Tasting, and a cocktail brunch.

            Throughout the festival, you’ll have the chance to sip and savor some of the world’s finest wines paired with culinary masterpieces from renowned chefs. The Grand Tasting is a highlight, where you can wander through tasting stations, sampling exquisite wines and gourmet foods. Each day brings unique events, like intimate wine dinners that offer a more personal experience with winemakers and chefs, and a lively cocktail brunch to cap off the festivities.


            The scenic WaterColor setting adds to the ambiance, making it an ideal event for those who appreciate the finer things in life. Whether you’re a seasoned wine connoisseur or simply enjoy good food and drink, the Harvest Wine & Food Festival is a must-attend event that promises a memorable and indulgent experience.


            5. Barktoberfest, End of October (Family-friendly, Cultural, Pet-Friendly)


            Barktoberfest is the Emerald Coast’s favorite doggie costume contest and social event, held at Grand Boulevard at Sandestin. This canine-only trick-or-treating event, organized by Dog-Harmony, is a delightful experience for both pets and their owners.


            The event features Oktoberfest libations, light bites from JC’s Gourmet, live music, a spooky silent auction, and incredible raffle prizes. The highlight is the superhero-themed canine Halloween costume contest, where pets and their owners, dressed as dynamic duos, can win prizes. For a small donation, participants can enter the contest and receive professional photographs sponsored by Mills Photo Design.



            6. Fall Destin Food Truck Fest, Beginning of November (Food, Family-friendly)


            The Fall Destin Food Truck Fest is a family-friendly event held at the Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village, featuring some of the finest food trucks, live entertainment, and a variety of vendors.


            You can enjoy an array of gourmet food from the city’s beloved food trucks, offering everything from savory dishes to sweet treats. The festival also includes live music, providing a vibrant backdrop as you explore the various culinary offerings. In addition to food, there are vendors selling gifts, crafts, jewelry, and personal care products, making it a great place to find unique items and support local businesses.


            7. Destin Boat Parade, December (Family-friendly, Water activities, Cultural)


            Kick-starting the holiday season, the Destin Boat Parade is a magical evening event that transforms Destin Harbor into a festive spectacle of lights and holiday cheer. Held in December, this parade showcases boats adorned with twinkling lights and holiday decorations, creating a mesmerizing display.


            The parade starts at 6 PM, with public viewing available from various docks and restaurants along the harbor, from Harbor Docks to HarborWalk Village. Each spot offers a unique view of the beautifully decorated boats, making it a perfect outing whether you’re cozying up in a waterfront restaurant or standing along the docks.


            As each boat passes by The Edge, they are judged for their festive decorations and creativity, adding a competitive and exciting element to the parade. The event culminates in a spectacular fireworks display sponsored by HarborWalk Village, lighting up the sky above Destin Harbor and marking the end of an unforgettable evening. 


            Wondering where to stay in Destin, FL?


            Thinking about traveling to Destin, FL yourself? Then stay like a local by booking one of our RealJoy Vacations rentals.


            From spacious beachfront houses to luxurious resorts, we offer a wide selection not just in Destin but along the Emerald Coast. All our properties come with top-notch amenities that will make your experience unforgettable.


            Book now with RealJoy Vacations and have the ultimate vacation on the Emerald Coast.


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