Our 15 Tips To Have The Best Time During Fantasy Fest In Key West, Florida Keys
Fantasy Fest is an annual (not just 1 but) 10-day party in Key West paradise for grown-ups! You’ll find good music, booze, costuming, parades and a whole lot of fun!
This event was started by a small group of Key West locals in 1971. It was created to bring visitors to the island in what was a typically quiet, but beautiful season. It worked! So since then, Fantasy Fest has grown every year and is now the wildest extravaganza around! Here’s ALL you need to know about this crazy and fun event! ♡
1) The parties are strictly for adults
There are overflowing drinks at night and wild parades! So it’s better not to bring the kids or just let them stay in your hotel from 6 PM so you can party and dance the night away! Worry not, plenty activities are available for them in the morning like snorkeling and dolphin watching so I’m pretty sure these kids will be asleep by the time the party starts :p
2) Key West’s popular Stone Crab and Lobster (and all things seafood) shouldn’t be missed
It’s juicy, fresh, and oh so tasty! You can find a restaurant probably in every corner of Key West selling these and I can say that you can just pick out randomly and you’ll get the same quality of only the freshest seafood.
The Three Hand Fish Revolution banded together Key West’s commercial fishermen, consumers, and restaurant owners where the fishermen (1st hand) send their fresh catch to the fillet masters for cleaning (2nd hand) and it is thereafter sold directly to the restaurant owners (3rd hand). This fresh catch directly goes into your plate after cooking :)
3) Key West’s Rum and other distilled spirits is a must try!
There was an era where the trade of rum-running (ships from Bimini in the western Bahamas transported cheap Caribbean rum to Florida) ruled South Florida. For years, distilling rum was off-limits in the Keys, due to laws still on the books from this era. A recent change to those laws have allowed local businesses to concoct mixtures for the perfect distilled spirits made from the finest ingredients.
You’ll be surprised to see a lot of Rum Distilleries around the area. Key West really takes pride that most of them, if not all, captures the spirit and history of Key West. Still, we can’t help but have our favorite: Papa's Pilar Rum-- it has the perfect blend which smells good, tastes even better, and gives you an exceptionally smooth finish ♡
4) You should get your costumes right and ready!
There’s a lot of costume parties going on and make sure you have enough costumes for 10 days-- and make sure you follow the theme! People are taking this very seriously guys, so don’t be sloppy! For this year, bring your tutu skirts, your sexiest white outfit, anything red blue & green, vintage swimsuit, psychedelic patterns, platform shoes and marine-themed & drag queen outfit. Wear and strut them and you might just win amazing prizes. Oh dress like Elvis Presley, and Cher too and get discounts on your drinks!
5) Or you can come without any costume at all (if you know what I mean)
People get nude when they want to (and you can too)-- that’s how crazy the party gets. Some get nude all out or some just cover themselves up in paints or strings. So please refer to #1 :P
6) If you’re planning to do #4, I suggest you wear a mask
People take a lot of photos the entire event and these photos spread on the internet like wildfire. So do yourself a favor and wear a mask. (Unless you don’t care about everyone seeing your privates and your face)
7) Hotel rates go up around this time.
Plan ahead, book ahead! That should be your mantra if you plan to go out here within these 10 days. There’s an influx of tourists around this time (it’s the new peak season!) and it’s very likely that rates go up, sometimes all hotels are fully booked. So make sure you book months ahead and save all that money! Here's the list of the best hotels in Key West.
8) If you don’t want to be stuck in traffic and want to sleep soundly at night, avoid Duval Street
Duval Street is the center of the event, so expect really loud music and a lot of people. If you don’t want that kind of thing, avoid it at all cost.
9) You MUST join the Masquerade March
Be on your costume, join the march at any point once you see it, enjoy the music and get free drinks at every participating guesthouses, or you can bring your own. Drinks are overflowing and there’s a high probability that you’ll find yourself drunk by the end of the parade. :P
10) Finding a parking slot could be a pain in the ass
So carpooling, riding a bike, taking the bus, or hopping on a scooter is always a better idea than missing out the fun by finding yourself a parking slot (that is if you’re lucky enough).
11) Come with a group!
One’s a company, two’s a crowd, three’s a party… More than that, it’s not just going to be any party. Go with your friends, prepare the same costume, and be an instant eye candy! Don’t forget to bring a bottle of booze everywhere you go!
12) Be creative!
People here take things seriously and bringing a ready-made costume is a big no-no! You’ll be surprised once you see how creative the minds of these people are and you might feel underdressed if you come unprepared. So be really creative and stand out from the crowd :)
13) Body paint can be quite expensive
A boob paint alone could cost you up to $100 (it could last for days if you don’t scrub it with a loofah in your bath), but what’s surprising is that people are more than willing to pay for it! If you’re one of those people, book your appointment ahead as slots get booked fast.
14) It’s for a good cause
Many Fantasy Fest events and activities serve as important fundraisers for local non-profit organizations, including the iconic King & Queen of Fantasy Fest campaign, which raises money for AIDS Help of Monroe County.
15) It’s here!!
It usually starts every third to last week of October. Pack your bags and your costumes ASAP, you’re all invited to join this crazy event! ♡ Missed it? Don’t worry! You’ll have one full year to prepare for your costumes! :p
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