The 10 days of Fantasy Fest are overflowing with activities, but the event doesn’t come together overnight. Key West prepares for Fantasy Fest months in advance.
This year marks 40 years of Fantasy Fest, and event planners are pulling out all the stops to make it the best yet.
“Whether you’re an alto, a baritone, a soprano, or even tone deaf, you can march to the beat of your own drum in your most creative costumes for this year’s theme: In Tune But Off-Key,” so says the festival website.
Is it too early for you to start planning? (Answer: No). Here are some things you can start preparing ahead of time to ensure smooth sailing during this year’s Fantasy Fest.
This is a big one. Fantasy Fest typically draws approximately 75,000 visitors to the 7.5-square mile island of Key West and hotel rooms fill up quickly. Plus, booking ahead will save you big a hefty sum. Book ahead at 24 North Hotel Key West, which offers shuttle service to Old Town, activities at our Sunset Green Event Lawn, food at our onsite Toasted Coconut restaurant, a full bar, clean, well-kept rooms and pool access. If you’re looking to enjoy Fantasy Fest but you also want refuge from Old Town during your stay, 24 North is the best choice. Check out rooms here.
Party and event tickets
The schedule for Fantasy Fest is posted by late spring/early summer and tickets for all the main events typically go on sale in late July. Now is a good time to book tickets for the annual events like the Headdress Ball (this event always sells out), the Living Art Expo, parties, or spots on celebrity party floats during the parade.
Feeling a little overwhelmed? Check the Fantasy Fest schedule. It’ll direct you to dates, times, details, and ticket purchases.
Knowing what to expect
While Fantasy Fest celebrates everyone’s wild side, it’s not a free-for-all. Read up on the 2019 code of conduct so you know all the rules and regulations enforced during the fest.
Parade game plan
The parade is the biggest event of the 10-day festival, and choosing whether to book a viewing ticket in advance or to wing it with the big crowd will be the biggest choice you’ll make ahead of time. Never been? Here’s how it works – nearly every balcony along Duval Street is accessible for parade viewing with a fee, with prices starting at $100 – and they only go up. Tickets are typically bought in advance (that means now!).
This is a tempting option for those who want a table away from the crowds, access to a bathroom, drink service, or those who have trouble being on their feet too long or mobility issues.
Now is the time to plan the option that best fits your Fantasy Fest desires. Some parade viewing tickets are available through KeysTix, notably the Woman’s Club viewing party. Bourbon Bar is another popular option.
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.
Now that your homework is done, make sure to check out our guide to Surviving Fantasy Fest.
Book Your Room for Fantasy Fest at 24 North Hotel
24 North Hotel is located in Key West and offers hourly shuttle service to Mallory Square in Old Town. There, you can find the renowned Sloppy Joe’s Bar on Duval Street, Hemingway Home & Museum, the Southernmost Point of the continental United States, and more. Intrigued? Read 24 reasons why you want to plan Key West as your next vacation destination here.