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Columbus Day Weekend in Miami 2017

Columbus Day Regatta and Weekend Parties

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Columbus Day Weekend in Miami 2017

It's all happening in Biscayne Bay October 7 - 9, 2017

Important: Following the aftermath of Hurricane Irma this September, the official Columbus Day Regatta has been cancelled. Waterfront infrastructure was damaged and many of the participating sailboats also sank during the storm.

A substitute event will be held Saturday, October 7, to try and keep some of the sailing tradition alive. The one-day race will be about half of the normal 21-mile course, and won't have the traditional second day of racing on Sunday.

Columbus Day celebrates the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the Americas on October 12, 1492 and is observed in the United States on the second Monday of October.

Columbus Day Regatta

Columbus Day is a bank holiday and this year will be on October 9, 2017.

Columbus Day Weekend is a huge boating event in Miami.

Originally, the center of the celebrations were the Columbus Day Regatta races commemorating the voyages of discovery.

Through the years, the event has given way to a massive Mardi Grass-like boating party that has drifted towards the banks of Elliot Key for a weekend jammed with boaters on (and in) the water, loud music, heavy drinking and clothing optional everything-goes crowd. The Elliott Key revelry is NOT part of the Regatta activities. So be sure you understand these are two separate events, even though they are both taking place in the waters of Biscayne Bay.

The Columbus Day Regatta

This is the oldest event taking place in the waters of Biscayne Bay. There is even some colorful history behind it that ties back to the 17th Duke of Veraguas, a direct descendant of Cristobal Colon, who attended the event in 1960 and granted permission for the use of the Columbus Coat of Arms for the Regatta's emblem.

The races take place over Saturday and Sunday, it is sailing at its best. Watch this fantastic drone footage...

The course is between the Quickflash marker just south of the Rickenbacker Causeway in Key Biscayne and Black Ledge in the south, just north of the Biscayne National Park boundary.

On Saturday, the vessels will race southwards from Quickflash to Black Ledge, and on Sunday on the opposite direction. The points will be marked with orange flags and a red Bacardi (the event's sponsor) mark.

Here's a course chart indicating the start and finish points. This is a reference chart and not for navigation purposes.

Planned race course for Columbus Day Regatta Races Start and Finish Points


Saturday October 7, 2017 exact times and course TBA

Sunday October 8, 2017 Cancelled

Where?: On the water all along race course. Where to watch the races? The start and finish points are good places

More info:

Columbus Day Weekend Events by Elliot Key

The heavy partying area (not part of the Regatta activities) is along Elliot Key. Elliot Key although part of Biscayne National Park, is not associated with these activities. The park has dubbed this the "most dangerous weekend of the year" and needless to say, this is not a family event.

In fact, there are special regulations issued for the weekend. If you are heading out please act responsibly and comply with them as there will be zero tolerance for violations:

  • Boats are directed into a marked anchorage area on the northwest side of Elliott Key. See chart below.

  • No more than five boats may be rafted together in this area

  • A minimum of 100 feet is required between single vessels or groups

  • Boaters should be alert for swimmers or those operating boats under the influence of drugs or alcohol

  • "Stay Parked After Dark": While no official curfew will be in place for the weekend, remember that all the fatalities and the majority of the boating accidents that have occurred over recent Columbus Day Weekends have occurred after sunset. Stay on your boat and remain in the anchorage after sunset.

  • Lost swimmers: Visitors who get separated from their boats ("lost swimmers") will be transported to Elliott Key to await eventual transport to the mainland. Park personnel WILL NOT taxi lost swimmers back to their boats.

Anchorage Zone During Columbus Day Weekend

You can follow the Columbus Day Weekend activities being planned on the community Facebook page. And remember, stay safe!

What Else is Happening on Columbus Day Weekend?

Florida Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday October 7

Florida Panthers Tickets BBT Center

When? Saturday, October 7, 2017 - 7:00 pm

Where? BB&T Center, Sunrise

Find Tickets here

Miami Dolphins vs. Tenessee Titans On Sunday October 8

Miami Dolphins Home Games

When? Sunday, October 8, 2017 - 1:00 pm

Where? Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens

Find Tickets here

NBA Pre-Season: Miami Heat vs. Charlotte Hornets on Monday October 9

Miami Heat Tickets AA Arena

When? Monday, October 9, 2017 - 7:30 pm

Where? AmericanAirlines Arena

Find Tickets here

Columbus Day What's Open and Closed on Monday October 9, 2017

Columbus Day is a public holiday. Federal government offices are closed except for National parks.

You can expect the following to be open and closed on Monday:

  • Government Offices
  • Schools
  • Post Offices
  • Banks
  • Public Libraries
  • Shopping centers and malls
  • Grocery Stores
  • Restaurants
  • Federal, State, Regional Parks
  • Public Transportation, check for special holiday schedules

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