Get your calendars out and mark the dates and book your reservations early – October 15th through the 25th is Key West’s annual Fantasy Fest and the theme is the Roarin 2020’s! Although it IS a wildly popular event, many travelers may not have heard of Fantasy Fest, Key West’s 10-day annual celebration of fun and nonconformity that occurs each year in October and dates back to 1978. Over the years, this street festival has grown in popularity to rival the New Orleans Mardi Gras. However, be warned if you’re easily shocked or faint of heart. Fantasy Fest is billed an “adult festival” with few rules to constrain the exuberance. Only a few of the events are reliably “family friendly.”
History of Fantasy Fest
In 1978, Key West businessmen noticed the lull in visitors that came to the city during the month of October. They presented their ideas for an October festival to fill the lull in business, and the next year, the locals put together the first Key West Fantasy Fest. Word of the autumn celebration spread, and before long, it became a popular event for residents from all over the state, as well as for travelers from around the country. As the years passed, Fantasy Fest has increased in size and attendance to upwards of 75,000 attendees. New events are constantly being added, and the proceeds for many events were raised for AIDS research and assistance. Today, Fantasy Fest attracts visitors from all over the world who come to enjoy the fantastic sights, sounds and sensations of this yearly celebration.
Popular Fantasy Fest Events
- Fantasy Fest offers ten days of activities for visitors to enjoy. These events are scheduled at various times throughout the period. A look at the Family Fest website will provide the schedule for this year’s event.
- The Fantasy Fest Parade is the most popular event of the festival. Themed floats and walking groups create a spectacular visual display.
- The Pet Parade is another favorite event with both pets and their owners dressed in costume for the public to enjoy.
- The Bahama Village Goombay Festival features Caribbean arts and crafts, music and food in Key West’s historic Bahama Village neighborhood.
- The Royal Coronation Ball is held to vote for the Festival’s Conch King and Queen. The proceeds from the event go to the AIDS Help website.
- The Heroes and Villains 5K Run/Walk is a race in costume of your favorite superhero or super-villain with prizes for the winners.
- Other events include the bra-decorating event, body painting events, tighty-whitey party and pig roast.
See a list of ALL of the Official 2020 Key West Fantasy Fest Events!
Tips For Fantasy Fest
- Each year is a different theme! This year its the ROARING 2020’s!
- Travelers who wish to visit Key West during Fantasy Fest should keep a number of tips in mind in order to fully enjoy this unique festival:
- Although Fantasy Fest is now sponsoring a few events suitable for children, most of the evening events feature uninhibited behavior, nudity and liberal consumption of alcohol. Parents should limit attendance to the daytime events listed as family-friendly.
- Because Fantasy Fest has become an extremely popular Key West event, you must make your reservations for lodging and events several months in advance.
- Leave your inhibitions and judgments at home. Fantasy Fest was designed to be free-spirited and no-holds-barred. If you are easily shocked, stick to events scheduled for the daylight hours. Nudity, public drunkenness and lascivious acts are all illegal. However, you may witness a variety of startling sights and actions.
- Attendance is heavy, and parking is difficult. Check the official Fantasy Fest website for parking availability. Park-and-shuttle buses are often the best opportunities for attending events.
- In October, Florida can be extremely hot and sunny. Bring sunscreen, hat and cover-up to protect you from the sun. Bring water liberally throughout the day to prevent dehydration.
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