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Mark your calendars: 10th Annual Lionfish Festival May 17–18 in Destin

two divers in boat holding lionfish
Media contact: Release Date: 04-19-2024   All Articles Tags:

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Destin–Fort Walton Beach invite everyone to celebrate the 10th annual Lionfish Festival May 17–18 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. CT 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.

Tournament Details

Are you interested in competing with the best lionfish hunters in the world in the Emerald Coast Open? 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, visit

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 10 – The Boathouse Landing - Valparaiso Harbor
May 11 – La Paz Restaurante & Cantina
May 12 – Crab Trap Destin
May 13 – Jasmine Thai
May 14 – Beach Walk Cafe
May 15 – Harbor Docks
May 16 – The Harbor Tavern
May 18 – AJ’s Seafood & Oyster Bar

What is LRAD?

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. 

Lionfish Challenge

The 2024 Lionfish Challenge is approaching quickly. This summer-long tournament is open to everyone and is completely free to enter. Participants in the Lionfish Challenge have removed over 1 million lionfish from Florida waters since the program began in 2014! Are you up for the Challenge? Visit to register for the Lionfish Challenge. The Challenge begins May 24.


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