Fantasy Fest Key West – A Brief History
The fall has traditionally been a slow period for tourism in Key West. To help stimulate the local economy during this time, two businessmen back in 1979 held the very first Fantasy Fest in October. Since that time Fantasy Fest grown into a ten day celebration that includes balls, a parade, costume parties and competitions, fundraisers, body painting, drag queen contests, copious amounts of drinking, and pet and neighborhood activities for the family. All the revelry fits in perfectly with the Halloween season. This Mardi Gras style event draws folks from all over the country. Fantasy Fest has surpassed 100,000 in attendance and it continues to grow. The main event of the festival is the parade which features floats and is presided over by the annually elected Fantasy Fest King and Queen. The Fantasy Fest King and Queen are elected from a number of local candidates who compete with one another throughout the summer with a number of fundraising competition to benefit AIDS Help. Whatever candidates raise the most money during the competition period are crowned King and Queen of Fantasy Fest in a large gala ceremony. Since 1979, the festival has always occurred in October, with the exception of 2005 when it was cancelled due to hurricane Wilma which devastated the island; that year the Festival was actually held in December.
Fantasy Fest Rules
The Police Department works diligently for the safety of everyone involved with Fantasy Fest. Please be courteous and patient with police officers and with each other. The City of Key West Police Department summarizes below the code of conduct for Fantasy Fest revelers to abide by.
- Nudity is ILLEGAL. Our city code specifies that body paint does NOT constitute clothing. Nudity is NOT allowed on public property or in public view. Please wear a cover-up to avoid exposure on city streets.
- No glass containers are allowed in the designated Fantasy Zone. Drink from paper or plastic cups provided by bars and vendors.
- Open containers of alcohol are not allowed outside the Fantasy Zone. Please stay inside the party area while you are carrying open alcoholic beverages.
- Trash and recycling containers are located for your convenience along the boundary of the Fantasy Zone for depositing open drink containers. Additional recycling bins will at every cross street within the zone.
- Actual body painting must be done in enclosed or screened areas, out of public view.
- No backpacks, coolers, packages, water guns, weapons or replica weapons will be allowed.
Fantasy Fest Events
There are so many events that are part of Fantasy Fest, something for everyone. Check out the schedule of events for this annual celebration!