Fantasy Fest is a 10 day long mostly adult Halloween celebration that takes place during the last part of October in none other that Key West, Fl. Every year thousands of people visit to celebrate big. They come from all over the world to join in what is considered the best and the largest Halloween party. A new theme is selected each year and a slew of activities and festivities are lined up to tempt the adult in you. Floats and costumes are uniquely crafted to represent the theme. October which used to be the slowest time of the year for the Florida Keys is now the busiest time. It is one of the top festivals in the world outranked in visitors only by Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival. This year Fantasy Fest promises to be special because it marks the 30th year anniversary of the festival. The festivities start on October 23 and end Nov 1. One could spend the whole week and have something new and exciting each day of the Fantasy Fest holiday. The selected theme for this year is Villains , Vixens and Vampires.
Each day during Fantasy Fest , at different locations, businesses, civic groups and the Key West tourism development program hold popular events that include costume contests, look a like contests, a royal coronation ball, headdress ball, vampire and monster balls, best costume and pet masquerade, toga party, pimp and ho party, art expo, pirate bash, street fair to name a few, plus a day dedicated especially for the children. The festival culminates with an amazing glittery, fun-filled parade on the last Saturday. Participants compete and prepare months in advance for the best float decking them with bright colors and glitter. Creative and extravagant themed floats roll down Duval street. Beware of flying candy and beads.
Even if you are planning on attending and not wearing a costume the mood will change your mind. You might find yourself pleasantly surprised at the last minute trying to fashion something out of your wardrobe to get into the themed spirit. Try to plan ahead but if not it is absolutely fine to show up with a last minute outfit dressed as a tourist or lady of the night or plainly clothed and adorned with beads. No one really cares what you are wearing anyhow as for this fest the less the better. Some just wear masks to hide their identity in case someone flashes a picture. You might not want to find yourself on the internet. Its all in good fun. I once snapped a picture of an attorney friend in full body paint nakedness and threatened her with posting it online. LOL
Body Paint and Artwork
Body Paint airbrush artists line the street ready to get creative on your body. If you have something in mind they will do their best to capture that or better yet if you have a picture of what you would like reproduced on your bare skin bring it with you. Simple designs can start at about $50 while other more involved detailed projects might run a couple of hundred. The artists are talented beyond words. Creating what you want or giving you ideas, not a problem. All their airbrush design charts are available for viewing and airbrush supplies, compressors and paints galore at your disposal. You may choose to just paint your face.
Past Years Themes
In past years these have been some of the themes. My favorite was 2008 and following 2005.
2008 - Pirates, Pundits and Political Party Animals
2007 - Gnomes, Toads and White Rabbit Tea Parties
2006 - Key Weird on the Dis-Oriented Express
2005 - Freaks, Geeks and Goddesses
2004 - Delirious Dreams and Hilarious Screams
Fantasy Fest is a lot of fun but I would not recommended it for children or for those taking offense to nudity or possible visuals of vulgar behavior. Although the city has done its best to control nudity in the last years by stating the intent to arrest anyone in violation there seems to be a very slim line as to what is considered such, apparently above the waist frontal nudity doesn’t count. We all know rules are meant to be bent and participants have done just that. They have found a way to skirt the law by covering themselves with body paint. You may also see ornaments affixed to private parts suggesting tassels, and although not quite conforming with the law , officers and the city tend to turn a blind eye. You really have to see it to believe it. I highly recommend the kiddies be left at home, making it an adults night only.
My Favorite Carnival Foods
The best part for me is taking in the sights. The costumes people create are original , funny and daring. Some dress up as a couple , for example a police officer and an inmate or Fred and Wilma Flinstone but my absolute favorite are the ones that take the time to make group costumes.
Good to Know
Like any other outdoor event, here you can find delicious food at the street stands. Every carnival food imaginable is available to whet your appetite. There is no shortage of beer either. Restaurants are open all along the parade route and open late to accommodate your dining preference.
Some restaurants also offer VIP parties for the night that include food, open bar and a private location to watch the parade from. Some have upper balconies where you can look down onto the parade. For this type of accommodation reservations are highly recommended. It’s a nice way to avoid the crowds but comes obviously at a price.
For this Fantasy Fest event I have known people that have driven down from neighboring towns with no prior reservations or place to stay. The affordable hotels are booked rapidly and months in advance so if you haven’t made reservations ahead of time be prepared to pay a lot or risk not finding suitable accommodations. I’ve seen others pile into small hotel rooms, slept in their cars and others bypassed the sleep part all together. These are mostly the die hard young crowd but there is the occasional old fart that will howl at the moonlight till the wee hours of the morning and from there head over to the nearest Dennys Restaurant for a sobering cup of coffee and a hearty breakfast. As for me I like to crash on a nice comfy place after I waltz in around 3 or 4 in the morning.
Captain Morgans Fantasy Fest Parade
The main part and obviously what everyone is in anticipation of is the Captain Morgan Fantasy Fest Parade. The parade starts in the evening and strolls down Key West’s main street Duval. It is the busiest night of the fest when everyone comes out to mingle and people watch and maybe get a little naughty. The whole town is there although you may not recognize them as they like to hide their true identity and act a little crazier than normally would. It is certainly a wild time as you are totally involved in the music, rating costumes, taking pictures and awaiting to see the next glittery float while candy and beads are being tossed from every angle. The consensus seems to be that to receive them you have to show them. The party phrase and occasional shout , show me your boobs.
Bail Up ! (author) on July 25, 2010:
It's almost that time for Fantasy Fest again. Good Times.
innerpower4u from Sunny California on July 24, 2010:
Wow looks like a great time! Have to leave the kinds home for that one:) Thanks for the good time info hub...
Bail Up ! (author) on December 03, 2009:
I love Key West, not to live mind you but for a fun time no better place. Thanks for reading.
Truth From Truth from Michigan on December 03, 2009:
Good hub, fun pictures looks like a great time.
Bail Up ! (author) on October 22, 2009:
I know exactly what you mean. Its almost sad to see a kid out there. This is a good warning. Thanks for the thumbs up on the hub - I still enjoy the parade - the aftermath is pretty scary though :)
SweetnPantyhose on October 22, 2009:
It blows me away when parents bring their children to Fantasy Fest, Bike Week and other adult events. Please do not bring your children to any of these events, yet for the adults out there have a great time. Great posting on Fantasy Fest 2009 and well done.
I only disagree with one thing, the parade is not worth the trouble to attend, unless you have someone watching you will you get drunk out of your mind. Then again you will not remember how nasty it gets after the parade rolls through, enjoy!
Bail Up ! (author) on October 21, 2009:
It certainly is full of color and energy but you are right children should probably not attend. They do have a special day for children but for this night best leave them home.
syras mamun on October 21, 2009:
This is real colorful fest,though people from all age range can not join in.