Always held the second full weekend in October, the festival got its start in 1971 after a group of locals got together to try to attract attention to the beaches during the off-season time.
More than 300,000 people from all over the United States flock to the beaches to enjoy beautiful October weather and browse nearly 300 vendors showcasing their shrimp and seafood dishes, arts and crafts, fine arts, children’s activities, and retail offerings.
Throughout the festival, three stages come to life with the sounds of music ranging from jazz and funk to country and blues. On Saturday morning of the festival, the annual Singing for Scholarships brings together top talent from high schools all over Coastal Alabama.
On Sunday morning, there’s even a worship service open to the public.
The artwork and crafts displayed for sale are unlike anything available at other festivals. You’ll find paintings, sculpture, jewelry and all kinds of fun items.
Beyond the lively music and the unique arts and crafts displays, the food is what so many come for.
You’ve got to try the locals’ favorite Cajun Pistol, a buttery made-to-order baguette stuffed with cheese and seafood that always draws a crowd.
It’s true that the festival is a celebration of food. In fact, you’ll find seafood sampling, cooking demonstrations and the annual Restaurant Challenge, in which some of the region’s finest chefs compete for a spot at the World Food Championships, now held in November at The Wharf in Orange Beach.
If you’re a runner, take note. Each year the Annual National Shrimp Festival sanctions 5K and 10K races held at the Orange Beach Sportsplex and Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trails on the Saturday morning of the festival. Net proceeds of the runs are donated to support educational programs within the local schools.
Vacation rental availability is limited during the festival, especially near the festival site and near shuttle stops. That’s why it’s important to book your accommodations early. See a map of condo rentals near the public beach festival site HERE.
A two-bedroom condo would be perfect for a family of 4-6, two couples or a couple to use as home base for the Shrimp Festival. Make your reservations before the beach is full.