One of the most eagerly anticipated events on the Key West calendar, Fantasy Fest offers 10 days of masquerade balls, quirky costume contests and other delicious delights. The spectacle climaxes in an exotic grand parade whose floats are as elaborate as candidates' pre-election promises.
Fantasy Fest is to begin with a Royal Coronation Ball Friday, Oct. 21, where the public casts votes to elect the king and queen of the masked madness. Also that weekend, Key West's Caribbean roots are celebrated with Friday and Saturday's family-friendly Goombay street party in historic Bahama Village.
Friday through Wednesday, Key West Burlesque is to stage an original theatrical extravaganza that incorporates imaginative costuming and production values.
At 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26, the fur is to fly during the traditional Pet Masquerade. The eccentric competition is likely to include Re-pup-licans and Demo-cats as well as other canine, feline and avian critters strutting their stuff on an oceanfront stage.
Political "party animals" can compete for costume prizes and glory Thursday during soirees including a tantalizing toga party that is one of the festival's longest-running events.
Friday, Oct. 28, brings the lively Fantasy Fest Street Fair, when the island's renowned Duval Street become a mile-long marketplace with vendors offering costumes and masks, arts and crafts, tempting food and libations.
Friday evening the Masquerade March of bold barbarians, voodoo vixens and other costumed characters parades through the streets from a starting point at the Key West Cemetery.
Other Fantasy Fest standouts are to include exuberant themed costume competitions, a children's day at a local park and parties that are definitely not politically motivated.
The pre-election action is to reach its climax Saturday, Oct. 29, as tens of thousands of spectators flock to Key West's historic downtown for the Fantasy Fest Parade. The spectacle typically includes feather-bedecked marching groups, Caribbean bands and enormous, lavishly decorated motorized floats.
Since the parade falls just days before the 2016 presidential election, festival organizers expect many floats and costumes to feature a political focus -- spiced with the offbeat flamboyance that characterizes Fantasy Fest and Key West itself.
Event information: www.fantasyfest.com
Key West visitor
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