Music fans are in for a treat in September when a host of renowned singer-songwriters descend on Southwest Florida for the 6th annual 6th annual Island Hopper Songwriter Fest. The festival offers guests a unique experience to interact with the talented performers responsible for writing their favorite hits, and it takes place over 10 days on The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel.

Rodney Atkins performing on stage
Rodney Atkins will headline the Island Hopper Fest in Southwest Florida. Image: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for ACM

Most of the performances at the festival are free, apart from a few special experiences that require a ticket. Among the headliners are country music superstar Rodney Atkins, whose 2006 single, Watching You, was named the number one song of the decade by Country Aircheck. Rodney will perform poolside at the Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina on Fort Myers Beach to help the festival go out with a bang on September 29, as will major-label artist and prolific Nashville hitmaker, Jerrod Niemann.

A poolside performance at Pink Shell Beach Resort
Rodney Atkins and Jerrod Niemann will perform poolside at the Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina on Fort Myers Beach. Image: The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel

Nashville-based rock-country quartet, Gone West, comprises multiple Grammy-winner Colbie Caillat and her fiancé, Justin Kawika Young, and Academy of Country Music Award nominee Nelly Joy and her husband Jason Reeves. They will perform at Pinchers at the Marina at Edison Ford on September 25, and their special guest will be Ryan Hurd, who has written songs recorded by Lady Antebellum, Tim McGraw and Rascal Flatts, among others.

Nashville-based rock-country quartet, Gone West
Nashville-based rock-country quartet, Gone West, will perform at Pinchers at the Marina at Edison Ford. Image: The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel

Another highlight will be double Grammy award-winner, Kristian Bush, who will perform with the Gulf Coast Symphony at Florida Repertory Theatre in downtown Fort Myers on September 22. “We’re excited to showcase our community’s outstanding Gulf Coast Symphony with the star power and talent of Kristian Bush,” said Tamara Pigott, executive director of the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau. “This addition to this year’s Island Hopper lineup can only be described as a once-in-a-lifetime performance, not to be missed.”

Kristian Bush performing on stage
Grammy award-winner, Kristian Bush, will perform with the Gulf Coast Symphony at Florida Repertory Theatre. Image: Harmony Gerber/Getty Images

Notable new acts at the festival this year include Sam Williams, the 21-year-old grandson of the legendary Hank Williams, and Sawyer Fredericks, the Season 8 winner of NBC’s The Voice, who will both perform on Captiva.

Sawyer Fredericks, the Season 8 winner of NBC’s The Voice
Sawyer Fredericks, the Season 8 winner of NBC’s The Voice, will perform on Captiva. Image: Hollytutor Photography

Island Hopper Songwriter Fest is produced by the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau, iHeartMedia, Cat Country 107.1 and BMI, the largest music rights organization in the US. It will take place on Captiva Island from September 20 - 22, moving to downtown Fort Myers from 23 - 26, and on to Fort Myers Beach from September 27 - 29.

Singer-songwriter Megan Linville beside Fort Myers Beach Pier.
Singer-songwriter Megan Linville beside Fort Myers Beach Pier. Image: The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel

Visit the website here for further information on the festival, or download the Island Hopper Fest app for first access to news and ticketed experiences.

This article was produced in collaboration with The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel and written to reflect Lonely Planet’s policy of editorial independence and impartiality.

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