THE BEST OF THE BAY

Dis­cover the area’s at­trac­tions, din­ing and shop­ping des­ti­na­tions

Where Tampa Bay - - Front Page - BY SUSAN B. BARNES

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

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