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 is a bank holiday and this year will be on October 8, 2018.
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.
When?: Saturday and Sunday preceding Columbus Day
Saturday October 6, 2018 - races will start at 9:55 a.m. Starting point near Quickflash marker south of Rickenbacker Causeway in Key Biscayne.
Sunday October 7, 2018 - races start at 10:55 a.m. Starting point is the previous day finish line near Black Ledge ending off Dinner Key.
Where?: On the water all along race course. Where to watch the races? The start and finish points are good places
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.
When? Main events on Sunday October 7, 2018 11:00 am to 11:00 pm include a Carnival Parade and the live Carnival Concerts.
Where? Miami Dade County Fairgrounds (The Fair) at 10901 SW 24th Street, Miami FL 33165
How Much? $30 buy online, VIP $100. Tickets are also available for the different events throughout the week.