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What is Fantasy Fest?

Fantasy Fest group Body Paint.
“Fantasy Fest is an Adult celebration of all things that go ‘Bump’ in the night.”

For some Fantasy Fest is a bucket list item to be fulfilled.
For Others it is an annual pilgrimage to an exotic place.

The extremely popular festival was first held in 1979 when two local businessmen decided that something was needed to spice up a very slow season in Key West.  Over the years the festival has grown in size with both attendance and number of days.  Fantasy Fest has now expanded to a ten day celebration that starts with the with the local’s Bahamian street festival.  During the two day festival of Goombay, Fantasy Fest gets the party started with the Royal coronation Ball where the King and Queen of Fantasy Fest are crowned.  After that, the celebrations continue with parties, morning, noon and night.
Each year the organizers of Fantasy Fest decide on a new theme, which is usually announced around mid-June. The dates for Fantasy Fest 2015 are: October 23 – November 1, 2015.  This is generally a guideline that determines what the theme of many of the Fantasy Fest parade floats will be decorated as. There will be many party goers that will stick to the theme, but most are inclined to dress for the weekly parties or take this as an opportunity to act out something silly or as an chance to wear something in public that would normally be against the law in polite society.

How many people attend Fantasy Fest?

Different sources will give you different numbers. Wikipedia puts the number at over 100,00 visitors which is more than three times the population of Key West. Tourism officials estimate that the annual event brings in in approximately $30 million in revenues.

When is Fantasy Fest?

Always held the last weekend in October, Fantasy Fest has now grown in size as well as attendance. Now a ten day celebration that encompasses the Goomba Festival. Only once, in 2005 was the annual event postponed. The threat of Hurricane Wilma put a damper on the festival causing postponement until mid-December of that year.

How does Fantasy Fest compare to Mardi Gras?

Being that Fantasy Fest is so close to Halloween, many of the costume themes are adult versions of traditional kiddie Halloween Costumes. You’ll see ghosts and goblins, ghouls and zombies – with costumes of paint rather than fabric.  Mardi Gras costumes tend to be more elaborate and true to the theme. Fantasy Fest is more about body paint – no need to flash em, they are already out there for all to see. So, in a nutshell – much more nudity is found at Fantasy Fest than at Mardi Gras.  Being that New Orleans is not as land-locked as Key West, the potential for more parties and bigger crowds will be found at  Mardi Gras.

What is the best night for Fantasy Fest?

The largest number of people come to Fantasy Fest on the final Saturday evening of the event. This is the evening of the Fantasy Fest Parade. Some regulars will avoid this evening all together because of the parade and the extreme crowds. Parties and events can be found every night of the week where some of the more popular bars and hotels have themed nights.

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