By Stephanie Be
Calling all freaks!
Key West's Fantasy Fest, a cross between Mardi Gras and Burning Man, welcomes 60,000 of the most liberal fun-lovers every year. A 10-day festival situated at the Southernmost Point of the Continental U.S., Fantasy Fest is famous for sunshine, body paint, and all manner of Halloween shenanigans.
Here are some things to know for your next visit!
What is there to do at Fantasy Fest?
"Everything" may an appropriate answer.
March in or view the Halloween parades and bike rides. Each group of party-goers takes the Fest's annual theme and twists it to individual tastes.
The 2015 theme, All Hallows InterGalactic Freak Show, inspired space cowboys, lots of "Star-Trek," Space Mountain, and a mix of Martians, all in various states of dress, and some in states of undress.
Costume Parties & Contests
If you love live music and cocktails, the already bustling Key West nightlife somehow manages an upgrade with toga parties, pirate raids, a pet masquerade, and a home-made-bikini contest. Jam out to a DJ, cover band, or go nuts over surprise celebrity guest appearances-- such as, Jimmy Buffet, casually taking stage at the local dive bar.
Street Fair & Games
If you can hang with a day party, check out an air-brush station, the mechanical bull, or throw some darts to win some prizes.
Food, Beach, & Shopping
Wandering the streets of Duval, the demographic is as diverse as each person's take on the costume theme. Fantasy Fest is where people escape to be completely free. You'll meet people of every race, age, body type, sexual preference, and career lifestyle.
One minute, I'm talking to a middle-aged couple who works in law, and the next I'm dancing with University of Miami alumni, fulfilling their #SquadGhouls.
The festivities aren't lacking for Hugh Hefner and Crystal lookalikes (including the Playboy founder himself), LGBT partners, and every decade of hippies.
There are several things all these people have in common: an open mind, un-judgement, and a need for a good time dancing in costume. The festivities aren't short of NSFW costumes, so leave the kids at home for adult playtime, or have a chat with them about potential nudity beforehand.
Five tips for attending Fantasy Fest
- Come with your mind wide open. Given the way-out-there Halloween themes, it can be eye-popping. (By the way, even with the size of the crowds, Fantasy Fest felt very safe and friendly.)
2. Be prepared to remove your body paint. Unless you want blue paint all over your hotel sheets, have a game plan to get rid of the dye when you're stumbling in at 1 a.m. (or 4 or whatever) a.m.
3. Split cabs or stay on Duval Street. While I wouldn't typically suggest getting in a car with strangers, there are only 75 cabs at Fantasy Fest -- and 60,000 people. Don't be ashamed to share a cab with a fellow bogeyman babe.
4. Drink lots of water and eat well. You'll be doing plenty of walking and dancing in warm weather -- and potentially drinking in the festival spirit because the drinks are cheap. So please, hydrate often, and drink the stronger stuff responsibly.
5. Explore The Florida Keys! You're already in Key West and it's the perfect place to recover and de-stress. If you've missed sailing, scuba diving, and the hammocks because of the fantasy festivities, stick around to reap the rejuvenation of The Florida Keys.
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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of VISIT FLORIDA. The opinions and text are all mine.
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