Revelers can unleash hidden heroics or devious alter egos during Key West's annual Fantasy Fest celebration, Oct. 18 - 27. Themed "Super Heroes, Villains...& Beyond," the 2013 festival features 10 days of masquerade balls, costume contests, parties and uninhibited escapades, all climaxing in an epic grand parade set for Saturday, Oct. 26.
Event organizers encourage participants to design floats and costumes around the festival theme. They might take inspiration from caped crusaders or cartoon foes, mythic gods and monsters, "good guys" from the silver screen or denizens of the dark side.
The dastardly doings are to begin with a Royal Coronation Ball Friday, Oct. 18, to crown the festival's King and Queen. In addition, Key West's Caribbean roots are to be celebrated with Friday and Saturday's Goombay street party in historic Bahama Village.
Subsequent festival highlights include Tuesday's "Bizarro Key West" Headdress Ball, where stalwart heroes and villainous vixens can earn prizes for the best masks, cowls and other headgear designed to disguise. Wednesday brings the offbeat Pet Masquerade and Parade, where furred and feathered "sidekicks" take center stage while competing for costume prizes.
Throughout the festival, themed costume competitions are planned to draw competitors ranging from single super-humans to dynamic duos and groups. The schedule also includes a pirate bash, a rock-and-roll burlesque musical, a "Halos & Horns" soiree and parties for the valiant and villainous alike.
The spotlight shines on Key West's renowned Duval Street Friday as vendors of costumes, arts and crafts, food and libations star in the mile-long Fantasy Fest Street Fair. In addition, the Masquerade March draws masked and costumed evildoers and action heroes for an exuberant walking parade.
The clash between superheroes and scoundrels is to culminate Saturday, Oct. 26, during the Captain Morgan Fantasy Fest Parade through Key West's historic "Gotham City" downtown. Tens of thousands of spectators converge to cheer the parade's exotic marching groups, Caribbean bands, costumed characters and lavishly decorated motorized floats.
When you go
From Fort Lauderdale, Key West is a five hour drive along the Overseas Highway. American Eagle offers flights from Miami International Airport. Event information: www.fantasyfest.com.