Womenfest was created over 20 years ago to enable singles, couples and groups of women to experience camaraderie and shared activities in a warm and welcoming environment.
For several thousand women, early September in Key West means enjoying adventures in Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico waters, entertainment and parties with like-minded people, and relaxation on an accepting subtropical island, all during the island city’s annual Womenfest. Described as one of North America’s largest gatherings of lesbians and their friends, the 2022 festival is scheduled Wednesday through Sunday, Sept. 7-11.
Womenfest was created over 20 years ago to enable singles, couples and groups of women to experience camaraderie and shared activities in a warm and welcoming environment. “Feeling supported and celebrated has always been the mission; that’s why Womenfest exists,” said Fritzie Estimond, event coordinator for Womenfest and its presenter, the Key West Business Guild. “Come to Womenfest with an open mind and be prepared to make lasting friendships, in safe spaces where we are truly celebrated.”
For attendees arriving early, a pre-festival sunset sail is set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 6, on the SV Argo Navis luxury catamaran sailing yacht. The two-hour women-only cruise is to include elegant food and drink pairings. The official kickoff is a poolside welcome party featuring DJ Citizen Jane set for 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 7. The women-only fun takes place at the festival’s host hotel, the Silver Palms Inn at 830 Truman Ave.
Subsequent events are to include the second annual Ultimate Beach Bash and Cornhole Tournament at Lagerheads Beach Bar, located on Simonton Beach; and a clothing-optional sandbar snorkel trip aboard the catamaran Blu Q. The entertainment roster also includes the “Women, Words & Art Poetry Reading and Art Exhibition” and a narrated bike tour exploring facets of Key West’s literary side though the city’s Art in Public Places sidewalk poetry installations.
“This year we have implemented more cultural events, so I implore visitors to include those events as part of their ‘must dos’ and experience a mix of everything Womenfest has to offer,” Estimond said. Festival partygoers can spend their evenings enjoying high-energy parties, including one whose “dress code” mandates tutus, at the Aquaplex venues and Mangoes, located in Key West’s LGBTQ entertainment district around the 700 and 800 blocks of Duval Street.
Among Womenfest’s anticipated highlights is a Saturday night show by Sarah Potenza and Katie Kadan, both critically acclaimed singer/songwriters and alumni of television’s “The Voice,” at the Key West Theater at 512 Eaton St.
Closing events Sunday, Sept. 11, are to include a noon “Drunken Drag Brunch” at Mangoes Restaurant showcasing local drag entertainers and a special brunch menu with craft cocktails. At 4 p.m. Sunday festival participants can share in a weekly tradition for local residents and visitors: the beloved Sunday Tea Dance at La Te Da, 1125 Duval St.