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Your guide to art festivals in the Fort Myers and Naples area, including new COVID-19 rules

Charles Runnells
Fort Myers News-Press

The rules of COVID-19 are well-established by now. Wear masks. Social distance. Outside events are better than inside events.

That last rule gives Southwest Florida’s art festivals a big advantage over most local events: They already happen outdoors, where the wind, sun and other elements help disperse the virus that causes COVID-19.

But organizers haven’t stopped there. They’ve stepped up safety precautions for this year's art-festival season — more than 20 major events happening between now and the end of April.

Expect mask requirements, wider aisles, social distancing and many other changes. Plus more events are requiring tickets this year to limit attendance.

In case you missed it:Dog-themed art bar Snouts and Strokes opens in downtown Fort Myers

Other major events are skipping 2021 entirely.

Cape Coral Art Festival & Market Place — formerly Cape Coral Arts & Music Festival — canceled its in-person event for January and is taking the show online, instead. Other festivals are offering both in-person and virtual options.

Here's a closer look at the festivals and what art lovers can expect:

Julio Garcia and his paintings will appear at the Naples Fine Art Show in March.

ESTERO FINE ART SHOW

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 2-3

Where: JetBlue Park, 11500 Fenway South Drive, south Fort Myers.

Admission: Free. Parking is $5.

Number of artists: About 70

Year the festival started: 2008

Organizers: Michigan- and Florida-based art festival company Hot Works

More about the festival: The juried festival started out at Miromar Outlets in Estero. It moved to JetBlue Park two year ago, but kept Estero in its name. The festival takes place twice a year.

Other attractions: A Youth Art Competition for ages 5-18, with awards presented at 3 p.m. Sunday.

COVID-19 precautions: The event will follow social distancing guidelines, organizers say. Face masks recommended. An online version of the show is available for people not comfortable attending in-person.

Info: artsandeducationinc.org

NAPLES NEW YEAR’S ART SHOW

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 2-3

Where: Fifth Avenue South, downtown Naples

Admission: Free with suggested $10 donation

Number of artists: About 170

Year the festival started: About 1996

Organizers: Naples Art

More about the festival: The outdoor art show celebrates its 25th anniversary this season. It was ranked No.15 in the country in Sunshine Artist magazine’s 2019 list of the top 100 best fine art shows in the United States.

COVID-19 precautions: Visitors are asked to wear masks (except for ages 2 and younger), and artists and festival staff are required to wear them. Artists and festival staff must take health screenings at check-in. Booths have a maximum capacity to encourage social distancing. Hand sanitizer stations available throughout the area.

Info: 262-6517 or naplesart.org

You might also like:Need a sunshine fix? Here are some prime places to explore the great outdoors

Ceramics by Glenn Woods, one of 170 artists lined up for this year's ArtFest Fort Myers

ART IN THE PARK

When: The first Saturday of the month through April, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: The event rotates between Baker Park, 10 Riverside Circle, and Cambier Park, 755 Eighth Ave. S., Naples.

Admission: Free

Number of artists: Up to 48 

Year the festival started: 1957

Organizers: Naples Art

More about the festival: The monthly juried event features local artists.

COVID-19 precautions: Visitors are asked to wear masks (except for ages 2 and younger), and artists and festival staff are required to wear them. Artists and festival staff must take health screenings at check-in. Booths have a maximum capacity to encourage social distancing. Hand sanitizer stations available throughout the area.

Info: 262-6517 or naplesart.org

VIRTUAL CAPE CORAL ART FESTIVAL & MARKET PLACE

Landscape photographer Garry Everett will show and sell his work online during January's Virtual Cape Coral Art Festival & Market Place.

When: Jan. 4-31

Where: Online-only. The 36th annual fest was supposed to happen Jan. 9-10 in downtown Cape Coral, but organizers canceled the in-person event. The City of Cape Coral hasn't been issuing permits for large events, said festival chairman John Jacobsen.

Admission: Free

Number of artists: More than 200

Year the festival started: 1985

Organizers: Rotary Club of Cape Coral

More about the festival: The event used to be known as the Cape Coral Arts and Music Festival. Organizers changed the name this year and dropped the musical performances. The festival is considered to be the first and largest juried art fest in Lee County.  

The virtual version features “booths” where you can see the work of artists and crafters, buy things, chat with the sellers and even see video presentations. There will also be a marketplace featuring local businesses and nonprofits. Live, streaming events will include tours of local attractions, a cooking demonstration and chats with city officials.

Info:CapeCoralFestival.com

BONITA SPRINGS NATIONAL ART FESTIVALS

Carol Ferony will show her pastels and drawings this January at the first of three Bonita Springs National Art Festivals.

When: This annual series of festivals takes place January through March. The first one is 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 9-10. Two more are scheduled for Feb. 6-7 and March 6-7.

Where: Riverside Park, 10451 Old 41 Road, downtown Bonita Springs.

Admission: Free with a suggested $5 donation

Number of artists: More than 200

Year the festival started: 2000

Organizers: The Centers for the Arts of Bonita Springs

More about the festival: The fests benefit the Centers for the Arts, including their programs and scholarships.

COVID-19 precautions: Face masks are required. Social distancing and frequent sanitization will be practiced. Hand sanitizer stations available throughout the grounds.

Info: 495-8989 or artcenterbonita.org/artfest

BONITA SPRINGS ART WALK AT THE PROMENADE

Artist Thom Milsap will show and sell his work Jan. 16-17 at the Bonita Springs Art Walk at the Promenade.

When: Noon to 7 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 16-17

Where: The Promenade at Bonita Bay, 26795 S. Bay Drive, Bonita Springs.

Admission: Free

Number of artists: About 25

Organizers: Boulderbrook Productions

COVID-19 precautions: Masks required. The number of artists has been limited to allow at least 8 feet between displays. Hand sanitizer available throughout the event. Directional arrows to encourage a one-way traffic pattern.

Info: 293-9448 or boulderbrook.net

ART FEST NAPLES

About 120 artists will show their work at Art Fest Naples on Jan. 16-17, including clay artist William Kidd.

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 16-17

Where: Fleischmann Park, 1600 Fleischmann Blvd., Naples (across from Coastland Center mall on south side).

Admission: $5 donation

Number of artists: 120

Year the festival started: 1998

Organizers: Art Fest Naples

More about the festival: The 24th annual juried festival was founded by a Naples artist and a local physician whose daughter has autism. It benefits the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Naples’ Meals on Wheels program.

COVID-19 precautions: The festival will follow the City of Naples’ COVID-19 guidelines. Masks are required whenever people can’t maintain a social distance of at least 6 feet (except for kids 2 and younger, or when people are eating or drinking). Sanitizing areas available throughout the park.

Info: 634-2337 or artfestnaples.com

NAPLES UPTOWN ART FESTIVAL

Photographer Dennis Goodman will show his work Jan. 23-24 at the new Naples Uptown Art Festival.

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 23-24

Where: Tenth Street South in The Naples Design District from Central Avenue to Fifth Avenue South (Tamiami Trail)

Admission: Free

Number of artists: 140

Year the festival started: 2021

Organizers: The festival is presented by the United Arts Council and Howard Alan Events.

COVID-19 precautions: All attendees are asked to use hand-washing and sanitizing stations, avoid casual touching and wear masks (kids 2 and younger don’t have to wear masks). Social distancing required. Capacity is limited, so visitors are encouraged to reserve a free time slot online to make sure they'll be allowed into the gated event.

Info: 561-746-6615 or artfestival.com

THE ART FESTIVAL AT THE MERCATO

About 40 artists will be featured Jan. 30-31 at The Art Festival at the Mercato, including Bonnie Hawley.

When: 11 a.m. to about 7 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 30-31

Where: Mercato, 9132 Strada Place, North Naples

Admission: Free

Number of artists: About 40

Year the festival started: 2017

Organizers: Boulderbrook Productions

More about the festival: The annual fest takes place on the lawn in the middle of Mercato shopping center.

COVID-19 precautions: Masks required. The number of artists has been limited to allow at least 8 feet between displays. Hand sanitizer available throughout the event. Directional arrows to encourage a one-way traffic pattern.

Info: 293-9448 or boulderbrook.net

ARTFEST FORT MYERS

ArtFest Fort Myers will feature 170 artists Feb. 6-7, including 2021 poster artist Kathleen Murphy Willer.

When: The 21st anniversary festival takes place 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 6-7. There won’t be an opening night party this year.

Where: Edwards Drive between Heitman and Lee streets in downtown Fort Myers

Admission: To control the size of crowds, the festival will charge admission for the first time this year. Attendees are asked to purchase tickets in advance to avoid lines at the gates. Tickets are $5 until Jan. 25. Then they go up to $7.50 from Jan. 26-Feb. 5. For event weekend, they're $10 online and $12 at the gate. 

Number of artists: 170

Year the festival started: 2001

Organizers: ArtFest Fort Myers Inc.

More about the festival: 586 artists applied to be a part of the 2021 fest. This year’s artists were chosen by a jury panel of five professional artists.

Other attractions: Other activities include a high school art competition, a sidewalk chalk-art competition and food options. No food court or children's craft area this year.

COVID-19 precautions: Masks and social distancing required. Hand sanitizer stations available throughout the grounds. Common touch points will be frequently sanitized.

Due to the pandemic, organizers are selling “timed-entry tickets” instead of the usual free admission. This will be a gated event. Up to 1,250 people can enter the festival every half hour and stay as long as they want. Most of the festival will be cashless and touchless, so bring credit cards to pay for art and other items.

Info: 768-3602 or ArtFestFortMyers.com

LEFT BANK ARTFEST

When: The annual series of festivals takes place every month from October through April. The next one is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 10. Three more are scheduled for Feb. 14, March 7 and April 18.

Where: Marco Island Esplanade, 760 N. Collier Blvd., Marco Island.

Admission: Free

Number of artists: About 20

Organizers: Marco Island Foundation For The Arts

COVID-19 precautions: Artists are required to wear masks. Visitors are encouraged to wear masks and social distance. Hand sanitizer available. 

Info: 389-0280 or marcoislandfoundation.org/shows-and-events.php

THE ART FESTIVAL AT UNIVERSITY VILLAGE SHOPS

Carol Matthei's photos can be seen Feb. 12-13 during The Art Festival at University Village Shops.

When: Noon to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 12-13

Where: University Village Shops, 19800 Village Center Drive, Estero (near Miromar Lakes)

Admission: Free

Number of artists: About 35

Organizers: Boulderbrook Productions

COVID-19 precautions:  Masks required. The number of artists has been limited to allow at least 8 feet between displays. Hand sanitizer available throughout the event. Directional arrows to encourage a one-way traffic pattern.

Info: 293-9448 or boulderbrook.net

BONITA SPRINGS FINE ARTS AT THE PROMENADE

The art of Tetiana Belaev will be featured Feb. 13-14 at the festival Bonita Springs Fine Arts at The Promenade.

When: Noon to 7 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 13-14 

Where: The Promenade at Bonita Bay, 26795 S. Bay Drive, Bonita Springs.

Admission: Free

Number of artists: About 35

Year the festival started: 2017

Organizers: Boulderbrook Productions

COVID-19 precautions:  Masks required. The number of artists has been limited to allow at least 8 feet between displays. Hand sanitizer available throughout the event. Directional arrows to encourage a one-way traffic pattern.

Info: 293-9448 or boulderbrook.net

COCONUT POINT ART FESTIVAL

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 20-21

Where: Coconut Point shopping center, 23130 Fashion Drive, Estero

Admission: Free

Number of artists: More than 200

Year the festival started: 2006

Organizers: Howard Alan Events

More about the festival: The popular juried fest includes art demonstrations.

COVID-19 precautions: All attendees are asked to use hand-washing and sanitizing stations, avoid casual touching and wear masks (kids 2 and younger don’t have to wear masks). Social distancing required. Capacity is limited, so visitors are encouraged to reserve a free time slot online to make sure they'll be allowed into the gated event.

Info: 561-746-6615 or artfestival.com

NAPLES NATIONAL ART SHOW

This year's Naples National Art Show will be different, thanks to the pandemic. All artists and festival staff are required to wear masks, and attendees are asked to wear them, too. Booths will have a maximum capacity to encourage social distancing. Artists and festival staff will take health screenings at check-in. And hand sanitizer stations will be located throughout the event.

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 20-21

Where: Cambier Park and Eighth Street South in Downtown Naples

Admission: Free with a $10 donation suggested

Number of artists: 190

Year the festival started: 1979

Organizers: Naples Art

More about the festival: The 42nd annual juried event is a major fundraiser for Naples Art.

COVID-19 precautions: Visitors are asked to wear masks (except for ages 2 and younger), and artists and festival staff are required to wear them. Artists and festival staff must take health screenings at check-in. Booths have a maximum capacity to encourage social distancing. Hand sanitizer stations available throughout the area.

Info: 262-6517 or naplesart.org

BONITA SPRINGS MASTERS ART FESTIVAL

When: Noon to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, March 13-14 

Where: The Promenade at Bonita Bay, 26795 S. Bay Drive, Bonita Springs.

Admission: Free

Number of artists: About 39

Organizers: Boulderbrook Productions

COVID-19 precautions:  Masks required. The number of artists has been limited to allow at least 8 feet between displays. Hand sanitizer available throughout the event. Directional arrows to encourage a one-way traffic pattern.

Info: 293-9448 or boulderbrook.net

NAPLES DOWNTOWN ART SHOW

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 20-21

Where: Fifth Avenue South, downtown Naples

Admission: Free with suggested $10 donation

Number of artists: 189

Year the festival started: About 1988

Organizers: Naples Art

More about the festival: The 33rd-annual festival is a fundraiser for Naples Art. It was previously called the Downtown Naples Festival of the Arts.

COVID-19 precautions: Visitors are asked to wear masks (except for ages 2 and younger), and artists and festival staff are required to wear them. Artists and festival staff must take health screenings at check-in. Booths have a maximum capacity to encourage social distancing. Hand sanitizer stations available throughout the area.

Info: 262-6517 or naplesart.org

PEACE RIVER NATIONAL ART FESTIVAL

The Peace River National Art Festival returns March 20-21. About 80 artists will be there, including jeweler Anisa Stewart.

When: 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, March 20-21

Where: Laishley Park, 100 Nesbit St., downtown Punta Gorda

Admission: $3 (or $5 per couple)

Number of artists: About 80

Year the festival started: 2005

Organizers: Boulderbrook Productions

More about the festival: The annual fest benefits the Visual Arts Center. Food, beer and wine will be sold.

COVID-19 precautions: Masks required. At least 8 feet between displays. Hand sanitizer available throughout the event. Directional arrows to encourage a one-way traffic pattern.

Info: 293-9448 or boulderbrook.net

NAPLES FINE ART SHOW

Eighty artists will show their work March 27-28 at the Naples Fine Art Show, including painter Yoram Gal.

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 27-28

Where: Naples Italian-American Club, 7035 Airport-Pulling Road, Naples

Admission: Free (although $5 donations are encouraged to support the Institute for the Arts & Education, Inc).  

Number of artists: 80

Year the festival started: 2018

Organizers: Michigan- and Florida-based art festival company Hot Works

Other attractions: Budding Artist Competition (grades 6-12 or ages 9-19) with awards presented at 3 p.m. Sunday.

COVID-19 precautions: Face masks are recommended. All booths are a minimum of 6 feet apart and set along wide aisles for social distancing. Hand washing and sanitizer stations throughout the grounds. An online version of the show is available for people not comfortable attending in-person.

Info: artsandeducationinc.org

CANCELED OR POSTPONED

Cape Coral Art Festival & Market Place (formerly Cape Coral Arts & Music Festival), Jan. 9-10 in downtown Cape Coral. The in-person event has been canceled, but there’s a virtual event instead (see details above). CapeCoralFestival.com

Sanibel SCA Fine Arts Festival, Jan. 22-23 at The Sanibel Community House, Sanibel Island. Postponed. boulderbrook.net

More coverage:What Fort Myers, Naples events are canceled?

Sanibel-Captiva Arts & Crafts Festival, February 2021 at The Sanibel Community House, Sanibel Island. Canceled. sanibelartfair.com

Sanibel Captiva Lions Club Arts & Crafts Fair, March 26-27 on Sanibel Community Center on Sanibel Island. Undetermined. boulderbrook.net

Connect with this reporter: Charles Runnells (Facebook), @charlesrunnells (Twitter), @crunnells1 (Instagram)