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Everything you need to know about the Conch Republic. Keep up on local events, nightlife and activities while in Key West.

A Look at Fantasy Fest 2023

A Look at Fantasy Fest 2023

March 15th, 2023 | Key West Events & Festivals

Daydreaming about the next Fantasy Fest in Key West? We don't blame you. In fact, we're here to add some fodder to your mind trip! As all Fantasy Fests are dubbed with a particular theme, the 2023 theme has been announced: 'Uniforms & Unicorns: 200 Years Of Sailing Into Fantasy'. Start planning your costumes now and check out this sneak peak of Fantasy Fest 2023.

[The Weirdest Events at Fantasy Fest]

While the schedule is still a work in progress, the dates are set for Oct. 20 - 29, 2023. The festival will kick off as usual with the annual crowning of the King and Queen of Fantasy Fest and the Goombay Festival in Bahama Village (Fri. Oct. 20 through Sat. Oct. 21). The high-energy block party celebrating the cultural connection between Key West and the Bahamas features family-friendly entertainment, island arts and crafts, and food vendors.

Recurring events like the Zombie Bike Ride (Sun. Oct. 22) and Headdress Ball (Thurs. Oct. 26) are on the schedule, and the self-guided bar/art walk, known as the "Bart Walk," is expected to return. Fairly new to the Fantasy Fest lineup, Bart Walk invites participants to wander the docks of the Historic Seaport, check in at participating bars like Half Shell Raw Bar, Waterfront Brewery, and Schooner Wharf Bar, and snap photos of local artworks to win Fantasy Fest swag.

Lest we forget, the Fantasy Market (formally the Fantasy Fest Street Fair) and spirited Fantasy Fest Parade (Sat. Oct. 28) are set to make their return. The bold parade draws national attention for its glittering floats, costumes, and overall showmanship on the world-renowned Duval Street. Secure VIP tickets to Bourbon St. Pub’s grand balcony, 801 Bourbon Bar’s balcony, Hard Rock Café’s priority seating, or Mangoes Restaurant’s elevated patio for some of the best vantage points to see the parade below.

[Best Spots to Watch the Fantasy Fest Parade]

While Fantasy Fest 2023 provides fun for the whole family, many of the activities aren't for kids. In fact, there’s always a full schedule of ‘Little Black Book’ events that are packed with debauchery. Past events included the Naughty Bike Ride and parties like ‘The Dungeon of Dark Secrets’, ‘Dirty Doctors and Naughty Nurses’, ‘Pajama and Lingerie’, ‘Anything But Clothes’, and the famous Fantasy Fest ‘Kinky Couples’ party.

The biggest change we’ve noticed isn’t happening to Fantasy Fest at all, it’s to another one of Key West’s most popular events of the year - Parrot Heads in Paradise’s annual Meeting of the Minds. The annual event usually runs concurrently with Fantasy Fest, inviting Fantasy Fest revelers and Jimmy Buffett fans alike to celebrate the music of the beloved island singer-songwriter, through dance and island pirate celebrations. Unable to find an appropriate venue to host the event, Meeting of the Minds 2023 will take place in a city other than Key West for the first time since 1997. In Gulf Shores, Alabama to be exact.

Be sure to add these annual Fantasy Fest 2023 events to your schedule:

Bourbon St. Pub’s Pool Party

Captain Tony’s Party in Plaid

Dante’s Halos & Horns Pool Party

Fantasy Beard Contest

Fat Tuesday Pink Party

Irish Kevin’s 80s Party

Living Art Expo

Lucy’s Blue Party

Luv2Glow Party

Masquerade March

Sloppy Joe’s Slumber Party

Sloppy Joe’s Toga Party

Smallest Parade in the Universe

Smokin’ Tuna Homemade Bikini Contest

Southernmost Scavenger Hunt’s Fantasy Fest Bar Crawl

“The Fat Lady Sings” Tea Dance

Wharfstock at Schooner Wharf

Fantasy Fest season may seem far in the distance, but the 10-day event draws 75,000 revelers to Key West - so it's never too early to start planning your trip. Reserve your spot at Fantasy Fest 2023 ahead of time at The Gates Hotel, a Condé Nast award-winning hotel located in New Town. Enjoy the festivities of Old Town during your stay while having a base in New Town. The Gates Hotel offers shuttle services to Old Town, great amenities, on-site food and beverage options, and a spectacular swimming pool.

Plus, we’re one of the few hotels on the island that is absolutely dog-friendly! Bring along your best friend to Fantasy Fest’s Pet Masquerade at Truman Waterfront Park (Wed. Oct. 25), a special event held every year during Fantasy Fest.


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