Fantasy Fest: Fancy dress and Frolics in Florida

More than 100,000 grown adults dressing up in outrageous costumes, underwear auctions and fancy dress pets? Well, it can only be Florida’s Fantasy Fest of course.

They say Americans do things bigger than most, and that is certainly the case when it comes to this most flamboyant of fancy dress parties which takes over the island of Key West for the last week of October every year. The population of the island swells to more than three times its usual size during the festivities which have grown into a 10-day extravaganza, raising huge sums of money for AIDS charities in the meantime.

When Did It Start?

First staged in 1979 to help out local businesses in what was typically a slow tourism month, parties and parades galore now cram the streets of Key West each year, with the spirit of the Caribbean filling the Bahama Village and its family-friendly Goombay Festival, good battles evil in the most flamboyant of burlesque shows, while ‘Wet and Wild’ is the name of the game for the decadent Blue Pool Party.

From Tighty Whities To Art...

Artists show what can be done with a pair of undercrackers and a little bit of imagination, turning men’s tighty whities into works of art before auctioning them off during the Pinking of You sale in aid of breast cancer research, while the Chippendales display their own underwear in their own special way with a raunchy live stage show.

Outrageous Enough?

Outrageous fancy dress, masks and costumes are the most common theme of Fantasy Fest and even the animals get in on the act with a pet masquerade and parade while it is the Fantasy Fest Parade which proves one of the main attractions every year, drawing crowds of more than 70,000 to watch the sparkling floats, dirty dancing, marching bands, the newly crowned Fantasy Fest King and Queen, and more parade their way through the streets in unique Fantasy Fest style.

Clothing Optional!

It is not always about dressing up either, dressing down is the name of the game in the Garden of Eden, a ‘clothing optional’ rooftop bar where visitors take a leaf out of Adam and Eve’s book and turn up in just their birthday suits. There is body painting if you feel a little naked though. Plenty more ‘just for adults’ entertainment is staged throughout the 10 days, including wet t-shirt contests, home-made bikini parades, fetish parties and the Key West Couples Fest

Kids Can Get In On The Act Too...

With family-friendly parade days and children’s day in the park with arts, crafts and fancy dress. It’s fair to say the kids might be a little confused by some of the other events taking place though.