Halloween parties are great, but we can guarantee you have never been to a Halloween party like this. Fantasy Fest, held the last 10 days of October every year in Key West, Florida is a fiesta like no other. Started in 1979, every year Fantasy Fest attracts over 100,000 visitors from all over the world. Typically October is a slow month in Florida for tourists, and this event was started as a way to boost the local economy while having a little fun at the same time. Although some of the events are family friendly, a good majority of the goings on are definitely adults only!
The festival begins with Goombay, a huge outdoor celebration of Caribbean life, food, and music. After Goombay, is the Royal Coronation Ball where the official Queen and King of Fantasy fest are announced. The Conch Queen and King (Key West is also known as The Conch Republic) are selected from a fundraising competition for helping those with HIV/AIDS. There is also the annual Headdress Ball which has a different theme every year and is a big crowd pleaser. Winners are awarded prize money and get the glory of having the most fanciful and exotic headdress to parade around town. Don’t feel like getting dressed up quite yet? Don’t worry, dress up your dog, cat, or bird for the Pet Masquerade and Parade and let them strut their stuff down Duval Street.
We don’t know why you wouldn’t want to dress up though. Not when $10,000 in prizes are available to you in the Pretenders in Paradise costume contest. Paired with a yearly theme, you are guaranteed to see some of the weirdest, wackiest, and most creative costumes ever. Some revelers put months into their creations; so be dressed to impress. If you don’t feel like going all out to make a fancy costume, throw on a sheet for Sloppy Joe’s Toga Party. Try to go with the year’s theme for some added fun. Stay around to march to a different drummer, because you are the attraction in the Masquerade March; a daytime parade featuring whoever wants to join in. Once you are done hooting and hollering down the streets of Key West, walk around the Fantasy Fest Street Fair for a break that includes tons of food, drinks, arts, and entertainment.
But you’re not done yet. Fantasy Fest is topped off every year by the Fantasy Fest Parade. Be prepared to see lots of fantastical floats, dancers, marching bands and more. It is a glorious display of everything that makes Key West wonderful. If you are planning on going, make sure to reserve hotel rooms in advance, because they fill up very quickly. Other than that, strap on that feather boa, slap on some glitter, and be prepared to have the time of your life!
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