A weekend to celebrate seashells

Top, left to right, top to bottom: Shell Show scientific display, Shell Show artistic display, historical photo of Sanibel Community House Live Shell Exhibit, Shell Show scientific display, Shell Show artistic display, Shell Festival crafter exhibition, Shell Festival live mollusk display, Shell Festival seashell art.

Top, left to right, top to bottom: Shell Show scientific display, Shell Show artistic display, historical photo of Sanibel Community House Live Shell Exhibit, Shell Show scientific display, Shell Show artistic display, Shell Festival crafter exhibition, Shell Festival live mollusk display, Shell Festival seashell art.

There are two great reasons to head to Sanibel, Florida, this March: the Sanibel Shell Show and the Sanibel Shell Festival. Both events will be celebrated the second weekend of March in two different venues.

Learn what it's like to plan and attend a seashell show or festival ›

The Show

The Sanibel-Captiva Shell Club will host the Sanibel Shell Show on March 8–9, 2024, which features juried scientific and artistic shell displays, shell vendors, and a live mollusk display. The event will be held at the Marriott Sanibel Harbour Resort and Spa in Fort Myers, just across the causeway from Sanibel. Exhibitors and vendors come from around the world—with something for every sheller to enjoy. Competition at the Shell Show is fierce, and attendees will have the opportunity to see some of the most beautiful and rare shells at the event.

Proceeds from the Shell Show are donated to educational and research organizations in the fields of conchology and malacology, and to conservation and water quality projects. Past grants have been awarded to the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum, the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation, and other organizations in Southwest Florida.

The Festival

On March 7–9, 2024, the Sanibel Community 
Association Shell Crafters will host the 87th Annual Shell Festival at The Community House in Sanibel. The Shell Festival features seashell exhibits, seashell art, a coastal craft marketplace, raffles, educational exhibits from the Sanibel School and The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum, and live mollusk tanks. Festival visitors can vote in the People’s Choice Award Artistic Exhibits to help choose the most outstanding artistic exhibits on display. The Shell Festival is the world’s longest-running and largest shell festival, drawing visitors from far and wide to celebrate seashells.

Funds raised by the Shell Festival support rebuilding of the Community House, which was heavily damaged by Hurricane Ian in September 2022. This historic building is a hub of cultural and social activity for Sanibel and beyond.

The Weekend

This March weekend in Sanibel is a great opportunity to immerse yourself in celebrations of the wonder and natural beauty of seashells. Check out the scientific and artistic exhibits, meet the mollusks who create the beautiful shells we collect, bring some coastal art home with you, and maybe find a few shells of your own!

Check out advice, stories, and more seashells from Sanibel lovers ›

Learn more about the Shell Show at sanibelshellclub.com. Learn more about the Shell Festival at sanibelcommunityhouse.net.

Learn more about seashells

nature and history of seashells and collecting

Learn more about identifying shells, the history of seashell collecting, great shelling beaches, and the lives of the animals who make the shells we find on the beach. Articles ›

No live shelling: Be sure shells are empty and sand dollars, sea stars, and sea urchins are no longer alive before you bring them home.

This article appeared in the Beachcombing Volume 40 January/February 2024.

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