Key West, Florida Keys – At the far end of the Florida Keys, sea monsters and mermaids, creatures of the deep and escapees from Davy Jones’ locker are to surface in Key West Friday, Oct. 21, through Sunday, Oct. 30, during the island city’s annual Fantasy Fest celebration. Born more than 30 years ago, the festival is internationally recognized for its uninhibited flair and lighthearted spirit.
Themed “Aquatic Afrolic” this year, Fantasy Fest features 10 days of masquerade balls, costume contests, parties and ocean-inspired escapades climaxing in a glittering grand parade set for Saturday, Oct. 29.
Event organizers encourage 2011 participants to dive into designing floats and costumes around the festival theme. They might represent real or imagined underwater denizens, flashy fishes, sinister seafarers or even seductive citizens of Atlantis.
The aquatic action is to begin with a Royal Coronation Ball Friday, Oct. 21, to crown the festival King and Queen. In addition, Key West’s Caribbean roots are to be celebrated with Friday and Saturday’s Goombay street party in historic Bahama Village.
Subsequent festival highlights include Tuesday’s “Underseas Odyssey” Headdress Ball, featuring prizes for the best masks, helmets and other headgear. Wednesday brings the offbeat Pet Masquerade and Parade, where furred, feathered and even finned friends showcase their animal magnetism while competing for costume prizes.
Elaborately costumed competitors present high-energy performances on a beachfront stage Thursday, Oct. 27, during Pretenders in Paradise, Fantasy Fest’s most elaborate costume competition.
Key West’s renowned Duval Street becomes the stage Friday as venders of costumes, arts and crafts, food and libations star in the mile-long Fantasy Fest Street Fair. In addition, the Masquerade March draws schools of “fishy” frolickers in masks and costumes for an exuberant walking parade.
The festival schedule also includes a pirate bash, (Sea) Monsters’ Ball, soiree for sea nymphs and sailors, burlesque extravaganza, themed costume competitions, tea dances and parties worthy of Poseidon himself.
The aquatic frolic is to make its biggest splash Saturday, Oct. 29, during the Captain Morgan Fantasy Fest Parade through Key West’s historic downtown. Tens of thousands of spectators converge to cheer its marching groups in feathered and sequined robes, Caribbean bands, costumed characters and lavishly decorated motorized floats.
Masquerade Marchers to Prowl Key West Streets During Fantasy Fest
Thousands of costumed revelers are to parade through Key West’s historic Old Town Friday, Oct. 28, during an offbeat Masquerade March that begins at the local cemetery.
The march is a highlight of the island’s annual Fantasy Fest celebration, a lavish pre-Halloween masking and costuming festival scheduled Oct. 21-30. Themed “Aquatic Afrolic,” Fantasy Fest offers a 10-day roster of more than 40 elaborate, exuberant events.
Chief among them is the Masquerade March, which typically draws high-spirited bands and revelers wearing everything from towering masks and dazzling costumes to finery inspired by the festival theme.
Starting at 5 p.m. at the picturesque Key West Cemetery’s Frances Street entrance, participants promenade along two routes, stopping for libations at bed-and-breakfast inns along the way. Spectators line the streets of Key West’s historic district, applauding and sometimes joining in, before the procession reaches its end and the Fantasy Fest Street Fair on mile-long Duval Street.
Past years’ mischievous marchers have included a flock of colorful feathered creatures in primitive masks, a male quartet in matching Wonder Woman costumes, two polka-dotted walking octopuses and a not-very-religious order with self-confessed “nasty habits” dubbed the Sisters of Insanity.
The madcap march is a prelude to the annual festival highlight, the lavish Captain Morgan Fantasy Fest Parade featuring dozens of glittering motorized floats, costumed marching groups and lively Caribbean bands. Scheduled this year for Saturday, Oct. 29, the parade is to proceed down Key West’s Whitehead and Duval streets in front of as many as 60,000 fantasy fans.
The masquerade march is free to enter and watch.
Parade to Highlight Key West’s Fantasy Fest Frolic Oct. 29
Lavishly decorated floats, costumed characters, bands and elaborately garbed marching groups are to make a splash on Key West’s Duval Street Saturday, Oct. 29, during the Captain Morgan Fantasy Fest Parade. The glittering parade is the traditional highlight of the annual Fantasy Fest masking and costuming celebration, set this year for Friday, Oct. 21, through Sunday, Oct. 30.
Tens of thousands of spectators are expected to throng Key West’s historic downtown for the parade. Floats and costumes are to showcase the 2011 festival theme of “Aquatic Afrolic,” with organizers encouraging entrants to draw inspiration from real and imagined denizens of the deep, shipwrecked seafarers, mermaids’ mayhem and undersea worlds. Many entries typically include music, moving parts and elements that tower over the crowd.
Standouts in the 2010 parade included a “1600 Insanity Avenue” spoof of politicians’ antics, a flock of giant multicolored cuckoos, a quartet of 15-foot-tall walking puppets and a devilish wedding float whose two riders were legally married during the parade.
Fantasy Fest’s 2011 pre-parade activities begin at noon Saturday with the open-air Duval Street Promenade. Promenade vendors are to offer masking and costuming finery and accessories as well as food and libations, while live entertainment adds a high-energy flair to the festival frolic.
At 7 p.m. the parade is scheduled to begin at the intersection of Southard and Whitehead streets. Floats, bands and other parade participants are to travel down Whitehead toward the Gulf of Mexico, turn onto Front Street and then proceed the mile down Duval to the Atlantic Ocean.
Originally Published on October 13th, 2011