By Daniela Ortega, Contributing Reporter
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – Fantasy Fest returns to Key West, bigger and bolder than ever this October 18th through the 27th for the 40th consecutive year. This year’s theme is “In Tune but Off Key: Celebrating 40 Years of Fantasy!,” and promises extravagant masks, body paint, and non-stop out-of-the-box fun.
Florida’s Key West is approximately four hours by car from Miami Beach, so it is perfect for a weekend getaway, and this may be THE best time to make the trip. The annual ten-day festival started in 1979 by a few Key West residents, created “to bring visitors to the island in what was a typically quiet but beautiful season.”
Needless to say, their plan succeeded. Today, Fantasy Fest brings thousands of tourists from around the world and locals, to party in costumes, join in parades and partake in fun-events throughout the ten day madness and excitement.
The myriad of activities seems never-ending, and there is definitely something for everyone. Some activities are more family-oriented and friendly, while others are more of an adult-only nature.
Nadene Grossman Ore, Director of the Festival, commented “Each year we strive to make the festival more artful and creative, and more relevant. There are too many highlights… But the Goombay Festival and the Zombie Bike Ride are definitely not to be missed!”
The Bahama Village Goombay Festival will take place October 18th and 19th from 12PM to 12AM in the heart of Key West historic Bahama Village. It is a family-friendly event celebrating the island’s culture with live musical entertainment, art and crafts and delicious food. Admission to this event is free.
The Zombie Bike Ride is also a family-friendly event on October 20th. Attendees are invited to gather around 2PM at Zombieland at Fort East Martello to enjoy an afternoon snack and get their bodies painted. Costumed zombies will gather at 6PM to start their ride down the US1 up to Duval Street in Downtown Key West. Admission fee is $5.
The Masquerade March on October 25th is also quite popular among festival goers. The march with music and noisemakers, starts at 5:30 PM at the Key West Cemetery, although attendees are welcome to join in their costumes (that cover all private parts) anywhere along the way. Admission is free.
On Saturday October 26th at 7PM the Bud Light Fantasy First Parade takes place down Duval Street, and along with many viewing parties across town. Lavish floats and costumes will entertain the wild bunch of spectators as the magical and glorious week of the festival’s 40th anniversary comes to an end.
For guests over 21 years of age, there is a ‘Little Black Book Schedule.” Among the most popular events is the Kinky Carnival on October 21st, the 1st Annual Fantasy Air Sex Championship (as seen in HBO) and a Sexy Bull Riding Contest on October 23rd, a Naughty Bike Ride on October 24th, and a Kinky Couple’s Party on October 26th.