9 years ago10.8K views
Key West's 30th annual Fantasy Fest begins today (Oct. 23), kicking off a 10-day schedule of masking and costuming balls, lively street parties and costume contests for those who want to dress up, dress down or bare whatever they dare. Themed "Villains, Vixens, and Vampires," the festival continues through Sunday, Nov. 1, with more than 40 individual events. Fantasy Fest debuted in 1979 as a weekend party, conceived by local merchants to enliven a traditionally slow period. It has since grown into an extravaganza famed for its flamboyance and internationally recognized as Key West's premier festival. Tonight, an evening coronation ball to crown the festival king and queen. Aspiring royals earn their crowns by raising money for the Keys' AIDS Help organization. Since 1989, candidates have amassed more than $2.8 million for the nonprofit. Friday and Saturday, partiers can enjoy island-style food, crafts, music and fun at the Goombay celebration in Key West's historic Bahama Village. Other scheduled standouts include a wacky costume contest for pets and people, an outrageous Headdress Ball, the elaborate Pretenders in Paradise costume competition and a masquerade march starting at the Key West Cemetery. The festival's traditional highlight, this year scheduled for Halloween night, is the Captain Morgan Fantasy Fest Parade down Whitehead and Duval streets. Set for 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31, the eye-popping procession typically draws more than 60,000 revelers to applaud its costumed marching groups, Caribbean bands and lavishly decorated motorized floats. Keys tourism officials said accommodations are still available for Fantasy Fest, but encourage making reservations prior to traveling to the festival.