The annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (FLIBS) is the largest in-water boat show in the world and 2019 marks its 60th anniversary. Owned by the Marine Industries Association of South Florida (MIASF) and produced by Informa Markets, FLIBS spans more than three million square-feet of exhibit space across seven locations.
Held every year in late October to early November, this boat show is the preeminent destination for boaters of all kinds, with approximately 110,000 attendees and 1,200 exhibitors from 52 countries. The five-day event showcases more than 1,500 vessels so if you’re shopping for a powerboat - whether a dinghy, a cruiser or a superyacht - this is the one show you must attend!
What’s New at FLIBS in 2019?
This year, Superyacht Village and Marina will debut as the crown jewel, featuring vessels topping 300 feet. This venue is an exclusive waterfront and on-land area that will display the most spectacular yachts in attendance. Superyacht Village is adjacent to the southeast corner of the 17th Street causeway, located at Pier Sixty-Six Hotel and Marina’s new “Pier South” property. Also on display will be the accoutrements that come with superyacht ownership including helicopters, personal submarines and exotic autos.
The show is massive and takes significant organization to run smoothly. To help show-goers enjoy the experience, show management has expanded parking and transportation efforts, offering several parking options and six different forms of transportation to and between the venues. Visitors will have access to over 600 parking spots via valet service ($75) and self-serve lots ($40) at Superyacht Village, the new Las Olas parking garage and the main entrance of the show.
Parking and Transportation Updates
Transportation to and from the FLIBS show has also been more structured this year. Two Uber and Lyft drop-off points will be available at the show on the southern corner of the Las Olas bridge and under the 17th street bridge in the southeast corner.
Those traveling from West Palm Beach or Miami central station have the choice of taking Virgin Trains, formerly known as Brightline, to Fort Lauderdale using promo code FLIBS19 to receive 25 percent off SMART tickets and 10 percent off SMARTPLUS and SELECT tickets.
A shuttle system sponsored by West Marine will also be available with several color-coded routes. For $12, guests can also access the boat show by water taxi, enjoying traffic-free waterways and fantastic city views.
And speaking of color coding. Each section of the main venue at the Bahia Mar has its own hue to help you navigate. In case that gets confusing, there will also be an app to help you find that charplotter, PFD or fishing boat you’re looking for.
What are the Ticket Options?
There are a number of ways you can experience FLIBS and prices vary by how and when you want to do it. Primetime Preview is on Wednesday, October 30 and tickets are $53. Thereafter, tickets are $34 per day or $59 for two-day access. Hours vary by day.
For the big splurge, why not go for the Windward VIP Club experience presented by Delta Private Jets. In the heart of the show on the main dock at the Bahia Mar, the new home of the Windward VIP Club will have a climate-controlled tent with outdoor terraces for shore and water views. An exclusive open bar and gourmet food will be accessible all day. Tickets are $300 per person per day and include show entry, Windward VIP Club access, food and premium beverages, and complimentary water taxi transportation.
What We Can’t Wait to Experience
Let’s start with everyone’s favorite – food. Over 100 vendors will serve a variety of upscale delicacies from wood-fired pizza and hand-crafted burgers, to street tacos and fresh pad thai. Dietary requirements including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free will be accommodated. Specialty cocktails, premium wines and a full line of craft beers will be available on site and don’t forget the frozen lemonade for the kids.
Yacht Chef Competition
For the real gourmets, the 2nd Annual Sunset Soiree & Yacht Chef Competition will take place in Superyacht Village on Friday, November 1 at 7:30 to 10:30 pm. You’ll sample delicious cuisine created by four world-leading yacht chefs and enjoy premium craft cocktails and tastings from luxury food purveyors. A panel of judges will sip and savor and then render their decisions. For the second year, the event will be featured in an NBC Sports Network special dedicated to FLIBS. The winners (chef and vessel) will walk away with prizes and coveted recognition. Tickets are $125 per person.
If fishing’s your game, you must indulge in access to the new Angler’s Lounge at the Broward County Convention Center venue. For just $75, you’ll have access to the show as well as an exclusive lounge featuring food, one drink ticket, an otherwise cash bar and fun beverage tastings. The lounge will be open Friday – Sunday and will be the place to tell (and listen to) big fish stories while resting those aching feet as you browse catalogs of the latest lures.
You don’t have to be in the market for boats with eight-digit price to enjoy FLIBS. This is an event that goes well beyond boat sales and is budget-friendly at multiple levels. This year, free seminars include kids’ fishing clinics, conservation talks, photography tips and more.
Hook The Future will host kids’ fishing clinics open to children ages 4-16 on Saturday and Sunday at the convention center.
While at the convention center, check out the Blue Wild Watersports and Marine Art Expo in the middle lobby. You’ll hear experts speak about free diving, underwater photography, spearfishing and lobstering, along with presentations by TV/movie celebrity Manny Puig and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Don’t miss the marine art display with an extensive collection of artwork and photography from a wide range of artists.
Visit the Coral Reef stage and aquarium display inside the convention center lobby. Current marine research projects having to do with mahi mahi, turtle and shark conservation will be presented at 11:00 and 2:00 each day Thursday – Sunday. It’s a great way to teach kids about the importance of our oceans and marine habitats.
Great New Boats & Equipment
All the entertainment is exciting, but FLIBS is first-and-foremost a premier boat show. Fort Lauderdale is a destination for boat builders and marine equipment manufacturers where they debut new models and gear each year. It’ll be easy to find over 200 new pieces of equipment and boats presented to the public for the first time. Nautical wares from apparel to generators and fishing tackle to yacht décor will keep you busy the whole weekend and dreaming of boating well beyond.
Yacht oglers will be especially happy combing the six miles of docks for boats from 10 to 300 feet. Each year, vessels on display include inflatables, center console fishing boats, high performance speedsters, trawlers, power catamarans and plenty of distance cruisers and motoryachts from builders around the globe. Viking’s perennial display invites the requisite selfies and the décor on yachts even well under 80 feet may drive you to redecorate your home just to keep au currant with the latest fashion trends.
The Import of the Show
FLIBS is an economic driver for South Florida. Outdoor recreation accounts for two percent of GDP and half of that is estimated to come from boating and fishing so this show is an important event for the region. FLIBS is also a premier destination with some of the best people-watching anywhere. It’s the ultimate showcase for just about all things that float and have a motor!
Of course, if you’d rather shop for only the motor or maybe some new rods, electronics or even sunglasses, this giant show has that too. Plan well, wear comfortable shoes and lots of sunscreen and enjoy.