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Ahoy Matey it's Gasparilla Season

Updated: Jan 12, 2022

Gasparilla Season is in Full Swing!

From January through March, the Tampa Bay area celebrates its pirate heritage with a series of community events that are sure to have you saying, "Shiver me timbers." The Gasparilla Pirate Festival is one incredible celebration of arts and culture. Gasparilla truly has something for everyone.

Let's break down the Gasparilla experience.

Kicking off the celebrations is the Gasparilla kids' parade. An air invasion signals the start of Gasparilla. USSOCOM Para-commandos parachute to Bayshore Boulevard, and the party is on!

The kids' parade begins with preschoolers strolling down Bayshore with over 40 floats from the crews of Gasparilla dressed in pirate garb. This tactical stroller parade is alcohol-free and family-friendly. End the day with a fabulous fireworks extravaganza over beautiful Bayshore.

Adult Fun

The Gasparilla parade starts with Tampa's finest getting prepped in pirate gear at the Tampa Bay Yacht and Country Club for a day of debauchery. The pirates set sail for the convention center with over 300+ additional support vessels loaded with beads and booze to rock the city. The ship docks at the convention center, and the mayor hands over the keys to the city to the Ye Mystic Krew. Let the party begin! You'll see the streets of South Tampa lined with pirates, and the city smells like gunpowder. The Gasparilla experience includes marching bands, pirate ships, fantastic music and beads, and more beads. You will need a little time to recover from this party, but the good news is that the next Gasparilla event is not until February.

The Sant' Yago Knight Parade held in Ybor City is a treat for the senses, but it's not for the faint of heart. It's a real party, and you will see Tampa's finest getting down and drunk — don't be surprised to see your favorite doctor or prominent attorneys three sheets to the wind. You will be impressed with the culinary options and Cuban influence of Ybor City.

Ybor City is home to some of the best food and drinks options in Tampa Bay. You'll find numerous after-parties hosted by the local venues to keep the party going till the early morning hours.

After all this partying, you will want to keep healthy. The Gasparilla Distance Classic is a great way to sweat out the drink and burn off the chow. The race is open to all walkers and runners, offering short strolls to half marathons. It wouldn't be Gasparilla if there weren't a party afterward. The Gasparilla Distance Classic awards ceremony consists of post-race parties and live music.

The great music keeps going with the Gasparilla Music Festival, a two-day four-stage event that brings out the best in food, drink, and tunes combined to make the Best Festival in the Tampa Bay area for the last four years. Over a dozen local restaurants and beloved local food trucks supply the crowds with delicious goodies and divine cocktails to keep the party going.

Once you've had your fill of debauchery, it will be time for some culture and arts. The Gasparilla Festival of the Arts in Downtown Tampa is a chance to see some of the best artists and purchase some incredible works of art. The artists are hand-selected, and the caliber of creativity is immense. The event offers a wide variety of food and drink options. There are a children's art show and many activities throughout the day to keep you and your family happy, busy, and making memories.

The Scoop

There are many ways to experience the Gasparilla parade. It's free to the public, so come to South Tampa in your best pirate garb and be prepared for traffic (including parade parking) that will make mutiny seem like a good idea. It's worth it to do a little planning. There are plenty of private and sponsored parties and events along the parade route that will provide excellent views of the Bayshore invasion. If you're feeling a little adventurous, you can be out on the waves with the pirates, join the floating city that arises in the bay, and experience Gasparilla pirate-style. Grab a sober boat captain and prepare for high times on the pirate-infested seas.

By now, you get it — we are doing pirate things, and when we finish, we'll have another party. There are plenty of after-parties for those not ready to walk the plank yet!

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