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10th Annual Lionfish Festival This Weekend, May 17–18, in Destin


Florida - Tuesday May 14, 2024: The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Destin–Fort Walton Beach invite everyone to celebrate the 10th annual Lionfish Festival and Emerald Coast Open Lionfish Tournament this weekend, and the Lionfish Challenge that lasts all summer long.

Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day
To increase public awareness about the lionfish invasion and encourage removal efforts, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) signed a resolution creating Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day in February 2015. Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day is a statewide day celebrated the first Saturday after Mother’s Day each year.

Emerald Coast Open Tournament Details

The tournament will run May 17–18, and include categories for most lionfish, largest lionfish and smallest lionfish with nearly $100,000 worth of prizes up for grabs! For official tournament rules and registration instructions,

Lionfish Challenge
The 2024 Lionfish Challenge is a summer-long tournament is open to everyone and is completely free to enter. The Challenge begins May 24.

Visit to register for the Lionfish Challenge.

Participants in the Lionfish Challenge have removed over 1 million lionfish from Florida waters since the program began in 2014.

Lionfish Festival
The festival takes place from 10 a.m. -5 p.m. Central Standard Time, on Friday May 17 and Saturday May 18 at AJ's Seafood and Oyster Bar and HarborWalk Village in Destin.

This two-day outdoor festival is free, open to the public and will include conservation and art booths, live music, an interactive kid’s zone and the world’s largest lionfish tournament, the Emerald Coast Open.

Lionfish Restaurant Week
Sample lionfish at one of Destin–Fort Walton Beach’s featured restaurants during the Emerald Coast Open Lionfish Restaurant Week. Local chefs will highlight lionfish in unique dishes in the week leading up to the event to help bring awareness to the lionfish invasion in the Gulf of Mexico.

May 14 – Beach Walk Cafe

May 15 – Harbor Docks

May 16 – The Harbor Tavern

May 18 – AJ’s Seafood & Oyster Bar

Contact the FWC Division of Marine Fisheries Management at 850-487-0554.