THE BEST OF THE BAY
Discover the area’s attractions, dining and shopping destinations
Channel your inner-pirate, let loose for the day and enjoy the Florida sunshine at Gasparilla Pirate Fest on Jan. 30. See Jose Gasparilla (the “last of the Buccaneers”) sail into Hillsborough Bay and invade downtown Tampa.
Nearly 100 floats, 15 local marching bands and 60 Krewes of pirates of every ilk make their way down picturesque Bayshore Boulevard during the Parade of Pirates. Tens of thousands of revelers line the 3.8-mile parade route, arms outstretched in hopes of catching one of the thousands of strands of beads thrown. This is Tampa’s Mardi Gras.
CHILDREN’S GASPARILLA EXTRAVAGANZA Ahoy me mateys! It’s no surprise that kids love pirates, too, which is why the Children’s Gasparilla Extravaganza, held a week before (Jan. 23), is the perfect event to take them. Children ages 5 and under can strut their pirate stuff down Bayshore Boulevard during the Gasparilla Preschooler’s Stroll. Afterwards, the Gasparilla Air Invasion launches the Children’s Gasparilla Parade, which is then followed by a “Piratechnic” fireworks show. It’s an afternoon-into-evening filled with pirate fun for the entire family. gasparillaextravaganza.com RAYMOND JAMES FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS Though the pirates retreat back out into the Gulf of Mexico and beyond after the Pirate Fest ends, the Gasparilla theme continues well into the spring in Tampa. From its humble beginnings in 1970, the annual Gasparilla Festival of the Arts (March 5-6) brings together 300 of the world’s most talented artists and transforms downtown Tampa into a virtual museum, attracting more than 250,000 art lovers annually. Art forms include digital, glass, painting, photography, watercolor and wood—in other words, something for everyone. gasparillaarts.com
GASPARILLA MUSIC FESTIVAL
Sounds of music fill the streets of downtown Tampa during the Gasparilla Music Festival (March 12-13). In its fifth year, the festival has garnered much acclaim in the music industry and attracted thousands of music lovers over the course of two days. Past headliners have included The Flaming Lips, Selwyn Birchwood and the Spam Allstars. Before the main acts, the GMF Kids Fest takes center stage featuring the Instrument Petting Zoo and the Interactive Kids Zone. gasparillamusic.com
GASPARILLA FILM FESTIVAL It was “Lights! Camera! Action!” when the Gasparilla International Film Festival (March 30-April 3) launched in 2006, and it’s quickly grown in popularity among filmmakers and moviegoers. Films are shown at movie complexes and independent theaters and after-parties are held nightly. Industry panels are held on casting to finding funding and much more. gasparillafilmfestival.com
Gasparilla Pirate Invasion
Parade of Pirates