Fantasy Fest

fantasy festLet yourself escape to a wacky and wild week in Key West.

What

Right up there with New Orlean's Mardi Gras, Fantasy Festival is a huge celebration with lots of costumes, parades, and fun for everyone. Originally created in 1979 to drum up business in the slow season, the festival has become a major fundraising event. For months leading up to the festival, individuals work to ensure that money is donated to the charitable cause AIDS Help. The two individuals who are most successful at raising funds are declared the Conch King and Conch Queen. Since Fantasy Festival's inception, it has raised $2.6 million.

Lasting for 10 days, the festival features a different event each day. There's Goombay, which is two days of food, dancing, and art, celebrating the Bahamanian population of Key West. (A goombay is the goatskin drum that fuels the music of the party.) During Goombay, the Conch King and Queen are crowned. Don't miss Pretenders in Paradise, a creative costume competition held every year. The Pet Masquerade is a favorite part of Fantasty Fest.

You'll find dancing, clubbing, and young people trying to get noticed. There are parades and masquerades throughout the week, so be sure to pack your most outrageous clothing. Check out or participate in the annual body painting contest. Consider reserving a seat at the legendary Headdress Ball, yet another contest with dancing and live entertainment. Since Key West is primarily a tourist town, there are plenty of vacation rentals where you and your family or group can stay. Fantasy Festival usually draws two or three times the island's population of 30,000.

Where

Key West, Florida is the site of Fantasy Fest 2010. Key West is also known as the "Conch Republic" among the locals.

When

Fantasy Fest 2010 runs the last week in October, the 22nd through the 31st.