Can you believe it’s the 44th year of Fantasy Fest? It’s hard to imagine that the 10-day extravaganza it is today began as a humble weekend party in the 70s to boost Key West tourism during the low season. If you’re attending this year, it’s a good idea to read about what to expect, what to pack, where to go, and where to stay.
Here’s an overview of all things Fantasy Fest 2023 ‘Uniforms and Unicorns’, which runs from Oct. 20 - 29.
First Time at Fantasy Fest?
Those new to the scene can avoid rookie mistakes by being in-the-know with A First-Timer’s Guide to Fantasy Fest. Our guide covers everything from open container laws to restroom facilities, traffic hacks, and more. Need help packing? We can help with that too, with our Fantasy Fest Packing List.
Fantasy Fest Costumes (or lack thereof)
Fantasy Fest manages to outdo Halloween, with show-stopping costumes front-and-center. Body paint is a popular way to take your costume up a notch, but you’ll want to take warm temperatures and a sometimes unforgiving sun into account. Read up on Fantasy Fest Costume Tips, from where to get painted to practical considerations, like footwear.
Pro tip: Browse the Fantasy Fest 2023 schedule, pick a party in advance, and plan your costume accordingly. Costumed parties for 2023 include themes like Barbie and Ken, Woodstock, zombies, horror, superheroes, disco, tutus, unicorns, underwear, plaid, pink, pajamas, rockstars, and toga.
Fantasy Fest Survival Tips
Aside from costumes, there are ground rules like photo-snapping etiquette, open-container laws, and transportation issues to contend with. You definitely don’t want these little details hampering your good time during Fantasy Fest. Be two steps ahead of the rest by reading up on 5 Tips for Surviving Fantasy Fest.
Best Events of Fantasy Fest
Fantasy Fest has its funky annual traditions, like the royal coronation, the headdress ball, tutu Tuesdays, pet masquerades, and more. There are so many events that take place over the 10-day fest it’s enough to make your head spin. Refer to our new Best Events of Fantasy Fest 2023 guide that covers the best of the best, and make sure to check out our on-site events like the Prohibition Pool Party (Sat. Oct. 21) and Rock On With Your Smock On: Fantasy Fest’s Official Paint & Drink Party (Thurs. Oct. 26).
Can’t Miss Event: Bahama Village Goombay Festival
Fantasy Fest kicks off its first weekend with the Goombay Festival. The street fair is held in the vibrant Bahama Village neighborhood and celebrates the rich music, cultures, food, and dance of the island’s Caribbean roots. This is one of the limited family-friendly events of Fantasy Fest, so round up the kids! This year, the Goombay Fest will be held on Friday, Oct. 20 and Saturday, Oct. 21, from noon to midnight.
Can’t Miss Event: Fantasy Fest Parade
Winding through Old Town from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean, the Fantasy Fest Parade is full of festive floats, wild walking groups, bicycle brigades, and even human-powered kinetic machines (all of which are competing for awards like the Best Overall Winner, Best in Costume, and Best Conch Style). From purchasing a special ‘balcony viewing’ ticket (a tempting option for those who want a table away from the crowds, with bathroom access and drink service) to winging it with the crowd on the street, make a parade game plan.
Pro-tip: See the Fantasy Fest Parade route on this year’s entrant manual to know what to expect. The most crowded and exciting part of the parade is toward the end of the route at the intersection of Duval Street and Truman Avenue, near the judge’s tables.
Book Your Fantasy Fest Hotel Room
What are you waiting for? 24 North Hotel has awesome amenities that set us apart from the rest, such as shuttle service to Old Town - so you never have to contend with Fantasy Fest traffic. We also have a Starbucks on-site, an awesome pool area, lounge, poolside restaurant, and clean, comfortable rooms.
This year, Fantasy Fest is coming to New Town! Just steps from 24 North Hotel, the specialty rum and rum cocktail bar Rum Row will host the Prohibition Pool Party as part of Fantasy Fest. Visit the poolside lounge located next door at our sister hotel, The Gates Hotel. Also on-site, the Sunset Green Event Lawn presents the official Fantasy Fest Paint Party: Rock On With Your Smock On! The fun-filled art class includes all the art, supplies, and instruction you need to create your own Fantasy Fest masterpiece. Grab your tickets in advance.
Check out our rooms at 24 North Hotel and see which of our online specials works for you. We have exclusive rates just for Florida and Georgia residents, plus savings on nightly parking, breakfast, island excursions, and more.