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Key West, Florida
Need to study concerning the best-kept secret for avenue celebrations in the USA? It’s a wild 10 day costume get together in October referred to as Fantasy Fest in Key West, Florida.
If I needed to describe Fantasy Fest in a single sentence, I’d say it’s Burning Man meets Mardi Gras for Halloween on a tropical island. Besides in a spot the place you can even keep in a wonderful B&B surrounded by historic banyan bushes.
A spot so numerous that gays, bikers, pirates, artists, strippers and entrepreneurs are the norm, dwelling a motto “One Human Household.” A spot the place you possibly can watch the solar each rise and set over the ocean daily.
After figuring out concerning the competition for years dwelling in South Florida, I lastly made it right down to see what all of the hype was about with my blogger pal Steph from Travel-Break.net.
Our week was extremely enjoyable, absurd, and liberating abruptly.
The Conch Republic
Key West is America’s personal little Caribbean island, often called the Conch Republic to locals who fancy themselves a separate nation. The island is situated on the southern tip of the attractive Florida Keys.
With sure legal guidelines being a bit extra lax (like permitting “open containers” on the road) and such a singular mix of individuals and kinds, you truly do really feel as if you’re in one other land.
Spend a day strolling previous Key West’s pastel coloured properties or shopping a few of its 50 artwork galleries whereas nonetheless by no means greater than a dozen blocks from the ocean in any route.
The entire island’s 1 x four miles is navigable by quaint lanes bordered by tropical flora, feeling a bit like a secret backyard which you’ll be able to navigate by foot, bike or moped.
Fantasy Fest Vibe
This magical little island will get even wilder when it celebrates Halloween for 10 days on the finish of October in an unbelievable wonderland often called Fantasy Fest… the place virtually something goes.
Convey out any piece of your character (or a unique one each night time)!
In the course of the competition venues host their very own particular occasions. These celebrations create a complete world inside themselves, worlds that you’re inspired to affix in! They pull collectively a mixture of native delicacies, proficient artists, and fundraising for varied native charities.
This collaboration makes every occasion tackle a lifetime of its personal, feeding everybody’s artistic inner-child that you simply’ll go away the competition feeling nearer to.
There are costume competitions, AIDS fundraisers, family-friendly parades, drag-queen contests, and extra.
Intergalactic Freak Present
The theme for 2015 was the All Hallows InterGalactic Freak Present, and it actually lived as much as its title. This small city welcomed 60,000 freaks, free spirits, and aliens from everywhere in the nation.
Folks spend months planning out their costumes (or lack thereof) for the multitude of themed events that occur all through the week. I bought into the spirit of issues by packing three completely different costumes myself — Greek God, Soiled Pirate, and Intergalactic Alien full with full-body paint job.
One night time Steph and I discovered ourselves at Irish Kevin’s annual Fantasy Fest 80’s get together when who ought to crash the stage however Mr. Margaritaville himself!
Jimmy Buffett (okay, possibly not the true one) picked up a guitar and performed together with the band for a number of songs as the remainder of us danced like nobody was watching.
Only a typical night at Fantasy Fest in Key West.
Fantasy Fest Occasions
Some highlights of Fantasy Fest embody The Coronation Ball the place the Conch King and Conch Queen make an look. They win this royal title by having raised the best quantity of funds for AIDS Help.
In 2007 they raised over $200,000 and since 1989 virtually $2.6 million has been donated.
Goombay is a two day avenue get together held in Key West’s Bahama Village neighborhood. It’s named after the goatskin drums that generate the get together’s rhythms and celebrates the heritage of Key West’s giant Bahamian inhabitants with meals, artwork and numerous dancing.
Different common occasions embody the Zombie Bike Trip, Pet Masquerade, Something However Garments Celebration, Rum Barrel Pirate Bash, Airbrush Expo, Sloppy Joe’s Toga Celebration, and rather more.
You could find a full itemizing of occasions on the Fantasy Fest Website.
On the final day, the competition culminates with the Fantasy Fest Parade down the city’s primary Duval Road spanning the 1 mile cross-stretch from the Atlantic to the Gulf shore.
Fantasy Fest Ideas & Recommendation
Whereas principally an prolonged grownup costume get together on the finish of October, Fantasy Fest doesn’t at all times fall on Halloween itself. It did in 2015, however that’s not at all times the case.
There’s some nudity at Fantasy Fest, however that’s not all it’s about. You’ll discover individuals of each race, age, physique sort, sexual-preference, and profession right here too. A celebration for judgement-free and open-minded individuals.
With solely 75 taxi cabs and 60,000 individuals throughout the occasion, discovering a taxi isn’t at all times simple. Renting a motorcycle is perhaps a very good possibility for getting round, offered you don’t drink an excessive amount of.
No Fantasy Fest expertise is full with out some physique paint. Airbrush artists from across the nation arrange store to make your goals actuality. Costs vary from $100 to $800+ relying on how intricate the work is.
So how do you get to this loopy get together referred to as Fantasy Fest in Key West? Fall down a rabbit gap? Hope a twister picks up your farmhouse in Kansas? Luckily you possibly can simply drive 160 miles South from Miami on Freeway US1.
The road trip to Key West from Miami is a wonderful drive over limitless bridges throughout the Florida Keys islands, flanked by the Atlantic Ocean on one facet and the Gulf of Mexico on the opposite.
A fast 45 minute puddle jumper flight from Miami or Ft Lauderdale airport on to the island can be doable.
Good Locations To Keep
We stayed on the stunning Casa Marina Resort on the sting of the water. However I’m an enormous fan of AirBnB too. In the event you haven’t but, be sure to learn my article about how to find cheap hotels.
So in the event you’re on the lookout for a very good get together, and wild photographs of crazy and scandalous costumes, you must try Fantasy Fest someday. I hope I’ll see you there subsequent yr! ★
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