Conch Republic Independence Celebration: 5 Fun Ways To Enjoy

Conch Republic Flag - Independence Celebration

Anyone who loves a little bit of Key West trivia probably already knows all about the Conch Republic! What is the Conch Republic? The Conch Republic is a micronation in Key West that technically seceded by declaring its independence from the rest of the United States in April of 1982.

Under the leadership of Mayor Dennis Wardlow, residents began a protest that would eventually lead to the split in response to a U.S. Border Patrol blockade that disturbed both residents and tourists. Each year, the secession is commemorated with the Conch Republic Independence Celebration that reminds both locals and visitors to always keep a “sovereign state of mind.”

However, this foreign country tucked away amidst the familiarity of Key West Harbor is more about tourism and fun than political divide today! In fact, members of the public can even order official Conch Republic passports.

While officially taking place on April 23, the Conch Republic Independence Celebration is stretched out into a 10-day event full of music, dancing, great food, wares from local artists, and fun on the water. Key West truly comes alive like no other time during this lighthearted event. That may be why you’re thinking of coming down to paradise to enjoy the Key West Conch Festival this year!

From Mallory Square to Duval Street, here’s a look at what you need to know to party like a local while celebrating your FUN-dependence in the Conch Republic!


1) Fun On The Water At Night

While the Conch Republic independence celebration mostly takes place in the streets, the people of Key West love to celebrate by getting on the water! For locals, that might mean hopping on a personal yacht with some friends. However, you don’t have to settle for an overcrowded public boat tour just because you’re coming from out of town. Night Kayak Key West offers a luxury experience for your group.

We show off the wonders of Key West after dark with one-of-a-kind night kayaking experiences offering opportunities for encounters with the nocturnal marine life of the Atlantic Ocean! This experience offers the perfect opportunity to:

  • Paddle through crystal-clear water in the moonlight

  • Explore mangrove tunnels

  • Bond with friends or family

  • Spot busy marine life under the night sky

Our kayaks aren’t ordinary kayaks! These are LED-illuminated glass-bottom kayaks that reveal the hidden wonders of the ocean at your feet. People who have experienced our guided kayaking excursion describe it as paddling through an aquarium.

We have a team of experienced local guides who know all the best spots for spotting the nocturnal creatures of the Florida Keys! That’s why only Night Kayak Key West can take you to out-of-the-way, hidden spots that few people ever get to experience.

If you’re coming to the island for the Key West Conch Festival, don’t miss the opportunity to experience this magical voyage. Book spots with Night Kayak Key West today!

Best Night Kayaking In Key West Florida


2) The Start Of The Conch Republic Independence Celebration

The Conch Republic Independence Celebration begins with an opening ceremony and “raising of the colors” at the famous Mallory Square at 400 Wall Street in Key West. While lighthearted in nature, the ceremony celebrates the pride that locals have in this beautiful sliver of the Florida Keys. Highlights of the ceremony include the Conch Republic pledge of allegiance, battle hymn, and conch shell horn salute!

Also happening on the first day of the event are the kick-off party and conch shell blowing contest that take place at the official party headquarters of the Conch Republic at Schooner Wharf Bar near Key West Historic Seaport. Attendees of the kick-off party will get to keep company with pirates and Conch Republic dignitaries.

Conch Republic Independence Flag Raising Ceremony In Key West


3) The Annual Conch Republic Independence Naval Parade

Taking place at Key West Harbor, this amazing experience allows spectators to watch a water parade consisting of a naval fleet, charter boats, and private vessels decked out in colorful Conch Republic flags that float past the iconic Mallory Square Sunset Celebration!

You can enjoy the parade from the shore or book a passage on a passenger boat. Alternatively, you can join the parade in your own vessel, adorned with vibrant Conch Republic flags.

Private Vessels - Key West


4) Reenactment Of The Great Sea Battle Of The Conch Republic

When the United States insisted on putting up a blockade more than 40 years ago, the brave people of Key West stood their ground. This good-natured reenactment of the Great Sea Battle pits the Conch Republic’s military forces against a United States Coast Guard cutter. Mallory Square offers the best viewing from land.

Sailboat - Key West


5) Other Fun Events

With the Conch Republic annual celebration lasting two weeks, it’s impossible to cover the full itinerary of events. However, there are some standouts to know about. Get into a sovereign state of mind when attending any of these big annual Conch Republic events:

  • Republic Military Muster and Conch Tail Party

  • Conch Crawl Bar Stroll Through Old Town

  • Key West Artisan Market at Higgs Beach

  • Jazz at the Garden at the Gardens Hotel

  • Pirate Ball and Costume Contest

  • Drag Races on Duval Street at Bourbon Street Pub

  • Annual Schooner Wharf Wreckers Race Series Cup Awards Party and Ceremony

These events offer opportunities to check out goods from local artists, enjoy cocktails on Duval Street, and learn about one of the most interesting pieces of history of the Florida Keys! While Key West Historic Seaport is the epicenter of all things in Conch Republic, nearly every bar and business in town has something special going on during this 10-day extravaganza.

Plan wisely: With activities and locations changing each year of this event, be sure to confirm all festivities on the official Conch Republic website before building your itinerary.

Mallory Square


Celebrate The Spirit Of The Conch Republic When You Visit The Florida Keys In April

What is the Conch Republic all about when you really break it down? While this celebration may seem quirky to outsiders, the Conch Republic simply represents a sovereign state of mind. The annual Conch Republic celebration reminds citizens to stand up for their rights in a very tongue-in-cheek fashion.

The annual Conch Republic celebration is also a time to give back. In addition to large-scale beach cleanup events that help to preserve marine life, this 10-day celebration also hosts many charity events that raise funds for the community.

Here at Night Kayak Key West, we give the conch shell horn salute to anyone who simply wants to party, have a good time, and take in the natural beauty of the Florida Keys. Our world-class guided tours in LED-lit glass-bottom boats bring you out on the water at night to see electrifying sea life you would never be able to see just by hanging out on the shore at Key West Historic Seaport.

Let us help you discover why the Conch Republic is always worth defending with an unforgettable experience that’s perfect for couples, groups of friends, and families. Book your April night kayaking tour with us today!

Celebrate The Conch Republic With Key West Paddle

1 hour 30 minutes
Group Size
Up to 18

Night Kayak Guided Tour

Get a single or double glass-bottom kayak illuminated with lights and follow our tour guide on this one of a kind, unforgettable and simply magical adventure.

This slow paced, immersive, and very relaxing experience will allow you to see some cool, active at night marine life as you are gliding through crystal clear waters of Key West.

Guests will experience going through narrow mangrove tunnels at night, floating around shallow and calm waters as the tour guide will look for interesting critters for everyone to see.

3 hours
Group Size
1 to 6

Key West Sandbar Trip

Key West sandbars are our local well kept secret. This is where we take our families to hang out and relax on our days off. This is the perk of our island lifestyle. Now we want to share this experience with you.

Turquoise shallow waters, epic picture worthy sights all around you that look like a postcard - that is what you're signing up for!