More than 100,000 people are expected to show to this year’s Fantasy Fest in Key West, which kicks off on Oct. 19. The annual event will feature more than 60 parties including costumed marches, street fairs, glamorous balls, as well as the show stopping and world-renowned Fantasy Fest Parade.

This year’s Fantasy Fest theme “Oh… The Games We Play” speaks to the young person in all of us. Ever the innovator of expression, this year’s festival will flood the streets of Key West with costumes of America’s favorite game show hosts, board games, or one of the many cosplay characters holding the digital attention of both young and aged. 

While Fantasy Fest isn’t an official LGBT event, the LGBT community has long been intertwined in the story of the annual festival as a core demographic of patronage; often revered as the highlight of the Key West LGBT social calendar with its many events and parties throughout its ten days of celebration. 

Festival goers flock to Duval street which remains the epicenter of the LGBT community and is home to popular LGBT night spots where visitors can enjoy fun drag shows, happy hours, karaoke nights and fun themed contests. A stone’s throw from Duval street is the Bourbon Street Pub, a staple of the Key West LGBT community often touted as the most popular gay bar on the island. 

What began as a Halloween meets Mardi Gras inspired parade in 1979, Fantasy Fest was organized to bring economic life to Key West during the slow months of fall. The festival has emerged over the past decades as a destination for revelers eager to take in the temperate climate and the at times outrageous costumes the world has come to associate with Fantasy Fest. 

The Halloween spectacular that takes over Key West each year has continually boosted the local economy, filling hotel rooms, restaurants and bars with bedazzled on lookers eager to join the party. 

Fantasy Fest organizers have grown the economy of Key West and the breadth of the festival year over the years by investing in diverse events throughout the 10-day festival. Many events and activities are platforms for local philanthropic fundraising including the iconic King & Queen of Fantasy Fest campaign, which provides financial support to AIDS help of Monroe County, a non-profit benefiting people living with HIV/AIDS. 

The creative opportunities are endless. This history of hosting personal expression is one of the many reasons Fantasy Fest continues to grow as thousands flock to the opportunity to express themselves. 

Fantasy Fest and the many Island events taking place Oct. 19-28 serve as a thriving calendar of events for the community, promising pool parties, parade viewing, street fairs and more. Beyond the thunder of the nightlife, Fantasy Fest has been and continues to be a space for freedom of expression and a safe haven for the LGBT community. 

For the more adventurous festival goers, the “Little Black Book” calendar hosts more adult themed events such as “Men of LaBare” as seen in the movie “Magic Mike” and the ABC (Anything But Clothes) party hosted by VH1’s Flavor Flave. 

Each day of the festival hosts a new and titillating excursion into the fantasy world curated for expression and exploration. Mild to wild, this electrifying cultural experience hosts an accepting venue for exploration and community interaction. 

Whether you come for events like “BART,” the newest event added to Fantasy Fest where bars & art meet for a self-guided tour along the docks at the historic seaport or the risqué nightlife parties; Fantasy Fest 2018 holds surprises and new experiences for even the most seasoned patron when it kicks off on Oct. 19. 

For information about Fantasy Fest and the many events taking place this October, visit:


When: Friday Oct. 19

Where: Bahama Village - Key West 

Event: Goombay Festival 

Description: Exuberant street party showcasing island arts and crafts, music and food in the heart of Key West’s historic Bahama Village 

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When: Friday Oct. 19

Where: 407 Wall St. Key West, FL 

Event: Madame DuJour’s Magical Game Show & Burlesque Experience

Description: An interactive event awaits as Key West Burlesque and world-renowned magician Nick Locapo create a live production that’s one part live game, two parts theatrical burlesque performances. 

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When: Sunday Oct. 21 

Where: 3501 Roosevelt Blvd 

Event: Zombie Bike Ride 

Description: Zombie bike ride of four miles that takes a leisurely pace down US1 along the Atlantic with riders adorned in costumes. 

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Monday Oct. 22 

Where: Bourbon St Pub

Event: Tops or Bottoms 

Description: Underwear party 

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When: Monday Oct. 22

Where: 301 Whitehead Street 

Event: Kinky Carnival 

Description: Key West’s original Fantasy Fest Kink Party

More info: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


When: Thursday Oct. 25 

Where: Key West Amphitheatre 

Event: 36th Annual Headdress Ball 

Description: The premier LGBT event of Fantasy st headdress competition 

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When: Friday Oct. 26 

Where: Island House Key West 1129 Fleming Street

Event: Bowties & Birthday Suits

Description: Island House Resort for Men invites all boys for an epic all-male, clothing-optional pool party. 

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