The Coast is Clear Music & Arts Festival is so Key West as it is rooted in community with the goal of bringing people together through the arts. Since 2017, this festival has helped bring life back into a region that was devastated by Hurricane Irma. It is always on the first weekend of December and signifies the end of the hurricane season every year hence the name coast is clear. This year the dates are December 1st – 4th.
Founded by Billy Kearns
The founder of Billy Kearns has a great vision for the festival. He finds it important to partner with local Key West community members so he brought in the Key West Art & Historical Society who is now a co-producer of the event.
“We started this festival in 2017 — in the wake of Hurricane Irma — as a way to celebrate the official end of hurricane season, hence ‘coast is clear’. The mission has always been to highlight locals’ favorite spots by pairing them with world class music and art as a way to lift spirits after a slow and stormy time of year. The slow and organic evolution of this event that’s taken place over the past five years is honestly the most exciting part for me.”
Kearns went on to say, “And teaming up with my favorite local partners and institutions — like KWAHS, Green Parrot, Tropic Cinema, and Blue Heaven — really reinforces the idea that community comes first, and the arts are important here in Key West. Plus the lineup is amazing. I love all of the bands, but Fruit Bats have been an absolute favorite for a long time. Saturday (12/3) at Fort East Martello will be one for the books!”
The event has organically grown over the years from its backyard start back in 2017 and is now featuring artists like Shakey Graves, Hiss Golden Messenger, Fruit Bats and many more!
The main location for the festival is at the Fort East Martello Parade Grounds that is run by the Key West Art & Historical Society. This is home to the headliners or the festival and is the biggest gathering space all weekend.
Small & Intimate Venues
There are four smaller venues on the island that host events throughout the weekend as well. The San Carlos Institute is a historic theater dating back to the 1800’s that is home to several VIP special events during the weekend. And with a smaller capacity for only 385 people this place holds some very special intimate sets!
Next stop is the quintessential dive bar…The Green Parrot. While the stage is small it just makes it a more magical place to hang out at. The music scene is strong with random celebrity singer sightings and impromptu sets that make for the best stories!
Blue Heaven is just blocks away from The Green Parrot and is located in a building with some wild history. Long before it was a restaurant Ernest Hemingway boxed in the building and then it turned into an infamous brothel! Check out this space for daily breakfast and dinner sets from the bands of the festival. Also, Friday night the VIP party takes over and it’s going to be the place to be!
Last but not least at all…General Horseplay. Their phrase is “cocktails and tomfoolery”. They will be hosting a slew of great bands from the festival all weekend! “This is the spot where all of the local cool kids hang out, so grab a drink and stool at the back bar and enjoy whatever the night serves up!” (Source)
This is sure to be an amazing weekend of music, food, drinks and community. You can get your tickets here.
Check out this curated playlist that the festival producers put together. You can get to know the artists that will be performing and their catalogs.
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