Reading Time: 6 minutes - Fantasy Fest Halloween

Calling all freaks!

Key West’s Fantasy Fest, a cross between Mardi Gras and Burning Man, welcomes 60,000 of the most liberal fun lovers every year. A ten day festival situated at the Southernmost Point of the Continental U.S.A., Fantasy Fest is famous for sunshine, body paint, and Halloween shenanigans.

Here are some things to know for your next visit! - Fantasy Fest Halloween

I’m playing dead at Fantasy Fest. Matt Karsten @ExpertVagabond

What is there to do at Fantasy Fest?

“Everything” may be an appropriate answer.


March in or view the Halloween parades and bike rides. Each group of partygoers takes the Fest’s annual theme and twists it to individual tastes.

The 2015 theme, All Hallows InterGalactic Freak Show inspired space-cowboys, “Star-Trek,” Space Mountain, and a mix of Martians all in various states of dress and undress. - Fantasy Fest Halloween - Fantasy Fest Halloween

1 of 7,000 costumed riders at Key West’s annual Fantasy Fest. Rob O’Neal/Florida Keys News Bureau/HO

Costume Parties & Contests

If you love live music and cocktails, the already bustling Key West nightlife somehow manages to upgrade with toga parties, pirate raids, a pet masquerade, and a homemade bikini contest.

Jam out to a DJ, cover band, or go nuts over surprise celebrity guest appearances such as Jimmy Buffet casually taking stage at the local dive bar. - Fantasy Fest Halloween

Bri and I, @StephBeTravel, catch the masquerade parade before a pirate themed dance party at Fantasy Fest. 

Street Fair & Games

If you can hang with a day party, check out an airbrush station, the mechanical bull, or throw some darts to win some prizes.

Food, Beach, & Shopping

You are, after all, in Key West. For a brunch of champions, opt for Blue Heaven and Cuban Coffee Queen. Take a dip at the beach or one of the many luxury resort pools. - Fantasy Fest Halloween

Veggie Eggs Benedict at Blue Heaven @StephBeTravel

Who attends Fantasy Fest?

Wandering the streets of Duval, the demographic is as diverse as each person’s take on the costume theme. Fantasy Fest is where people escape to be completely free. You’ll meet people at every spectrum of race, age, body type, sexual preference, career, and lifestyle.

One minute, I’m talking to a middle-aged couple in the law field, the next I’m dancing with University of Miami alumni, fulfilling their #SquadGhouls. The festivities aren’t lacking of Hugh Hefner and Crystal look a likes (including the Playboy founder himself), LGBT partners, and every decade of hippies.

There are several things all these people have in common: an open mind and a need for a good time dancing in costume.

The festivities aren’t short of NSFW costumes, so leave the kids at home for adult playtime or have a chat with them about potential nudity beforehand.

However, given the size of the crowds and the nature of the season and series of parties, Fantasy Fest felt safe and friendly. - Fantasy Fest Halloween

Looking for candy at Fantasy Fest? Photo provided by the Florida Keys New Bureau, Key West, Fla. Rob O’Neal/Florida Keys News Bureau/HO)

When & Where is Fantasy Fest?

Fantasy Fest lasts 10 days on the island of Key West in Florida. With weather in the eighties and nineties, you can take a jet ski tour or sunbathe with a Bloody Mary before heading out to the freak show.

Upcoming Fantasy Fest Dates:

2016: 10/21 – 10/30
2017: 10/20 – 10/29
2018: 10/19 – 10/28
2019: 10/18 – 10/27
2020: 10/23 – 11/01 - Fantasy Fest Halloween

Casa Marina in Key West, via meee @StephBeTravel

What are your top five tips for attending Fantasy Fest?

  1. Come with an open mind. Given the way out there Halloween themes, it can be eye-popping.
  2. Be prepared to remove your body paint. Unless you want blue paint all over your hotel sheets, have a game plan to get rid of the dye when you’re stumbling in at 1 am (or 4 or whatever).
  3. Split cabs or staying on Duval Street. While I wouldn’t typically suggest getting in a car with strangers, there are 75 cabs at Fantasy Fest and 60,000 people. Don’t be ashamed to share a cab with a fellow bogeyman babe.
  4. Drink lots of water and eat well. You’re doing plenty of walking and dancing in warm weather and the drinks are cheap. So please, hydrate often and drink the stronger stuff responsibly.
  5. Explore The Florida Keys! You’re already in Key West and it’s the perfect place to recover and de-stress. If you’ve missed sailing, scuba diving, and the hammocks because of the fantasy festivities, stick around and reap the rejuvenation of The Florida Keys.

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of VISIT FLORIDA. The opinions and text are all mine.

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