In a place known for fun, crowds gather to celebrate the biggest party of the year, the Fantasy Festival in Key West. Over the course of ten days in October, the island hosts masquerade balls, an elaborate parade, costume contests, and lighthearted fun. Fantasy Fest was started more than 25 years ago to spice up the slower fall tourism season. Over the years, the celebration grew to become the highlight of the calendar of special events. As the name suggests, the Key West Fantasy Fest is an excuse to leave behind the everyday, have fun, and soak in the nightlife.
When the end of October rolls around, Key West springs to life with a full slate of entertaining things to do. Bahama Village hosts a street party, full of all the sounds, sights, and rhythms of the Caribbean, and several local bars, restaurants, and attractions host their own brand of fun events. Several Florida Keys hotels offer special vacation packages just for Fantasy Fest attendees.
Even though many of the events of the Key West Fantasy Fest are for an adult crowd, some of the activities during the day are suitable for the younger set. There's even a children's day planned toward the end of the ten-day celebration, complete with games and costume contests.
Year after year, those who come to enjoy the party look forward to the signature events of Key West Fantasy Fest. The whole celebration kicks off with the Royal Coronation Ball, but the annual Headdress Ball is one of the most popular and dazzling parties of the whole festival. An equally impressive event is the Pretenders in Paradise, the legendary costume competition where creativity is rewarded. The Southernmost Hotel also gets in on the action with its annual costume contest.
During the fantasy festival in Key West, the Rum Barrel and other partners band together to host the pirate bash. Here, those with the best costumes are rewarded, the music is upbeat, and specials on rum keep the party going. Another Key West institution, Sloppy Joe's, hosts a toga party. The bar, once a favorite haunt of author Ernest Hemingway, is always hopping with food, fun, and entertainment. During the celebrity look-alike contest at the Crown Plaza La Concha Hotel, held during Fantasy Fest, there's bound to be an abundance of bearded men portraying Papa Hemingway.
At the end of the colorful celebration, the Duval Street Promenade is filled with music, entertainers, and food, as people party from the Gulf to the Atlantic. Perhaps the grandest celebration of the fantasy festival in Key West occurs on the same day: The Captain Morgan Fantasy Fest Parade draws some 70,000 revelers to Duval Street for the magical event filled with colorful costumes, marching bands, dancers, music, and other performers. Captain Morgan also sponsors a shuttle during the course of the festival, ensuring that everyone safely makes it from the party to their hotels.