Large snowbird Winter Guest Fest event to go on as planned on Okaloosa Island

Special to Gannett

Every January, the Emerald Coast welcomes thousands of winter visitor’s affectionately known as the snowbirds.

This year, Crystal Shores Realty, along with the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce, present the 2021 Winter Guest Fest, one of the area’s best-attended trade show and kick-off to the snowbird season.

The 2021 Winter Guest Fest will be held from 8 a.m. to noon on Jan. 28 at the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Convention Center (formerly Emerald Coast Convention Center) Ballroom on Okaloosa Island. Admission is $2 per person, payable at the door. 

Snowbirds wait in line during the 2019 Winter Guest Fest. Temperature checks will be made this year due to COVID-19

More (2019):Winter Guest Fest a snowbird favorite (PHOTOS)

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This event is always a highlight for visitors who are not disappointed with plenty of coupons, giveaways, activities and sometimes a few new friends.

Winter guests will be delighted to see some of their favorite businesses, along with a few new vendors, represented at the event. Some of the vendor categories represented are dining, resorts, shopping, hotels, entertainment and more. With area snowbird clubs closed, this is the best place to get visitor entertainment information.

More:PHOTO GALLERY: Pictures from the 2019 Winter Guest Fest

Bags for freebies are passed out at the 2019 Winter Guest Fest

“We want to make sure our snowbirds feel appreciated," said Thomas Griffin with Crystal Shores Realty. "We want to give them a fantastic event while also letting them know about all the great businesses in our area. Our hope is they return year after year and maybe even decide to make our community their permanent home.” 

COVID-19 safety protocols will be in place. Temperature checks will occur at the entrance, masks are required and social distancing is encouraged.

Snowbird mingle during the 2019 Winter GUEst Fest

The event is co-sponsored by Crystal Shores Realty Inc., the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce, the Northwest Florida Daily News, the city of Fort Walton Beach, and the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Convention Center. For more information or to register as a vendor, contact the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce at 850-244-8191, email Rachelle Graves at or visit