Fantasy Fest to Celebrate Florida Keys' Bicentennial and 'Unicorn-like' Uniqueness

The Florida Keys' annual Fantasy Fest is gearing up to be an exceptional celebration this year, with festivities scheduled from Friday, October 20, through Sunday, October 29. In addition to showcasing the Keys' quirky creativity and whimsical spirit, the 2023 edition of the festival will also honor the bicentennial of both the Florida Keys and the U.S. Navy in Key West.

A Festival of Costumes and Creativity

Fantasy Fest is an internationally acclaimed festival known for its focus on costuming and masking. The nine-day event features an array of activities, from masquerade balls and glamorous galas to over-the-top grand parades. Imaginative costumes take center stage at the festival, earning accolades and applause from onlookers and participants alike.

Celebrating 200 Years with "Uniforms and Unicorns"

This year’s festival is themed "Uniforms and Unicorns … 200 Years of Sailing into Fantasy." The theme not only pays homage to the bicentennial of the Keys and the U.S. Navy in Key West but also highlights the islands’ unique individuality and mystical allure. Festival organizers are encouraging attendees to embrace this theme in their costume and parade float designs, drawing inspiration from an eclectic range of sources, from 17th-century Navy officers and mythical creatures to superheroes and futuristic intergalactic forces.

A Tapestry of Events

The official kickoff for Fantasy Fest is the Goombay Festival, taking place on October 20 and 21 in Key West’s Bahama Village. This two-day event will feature nonstop Caribbean music, arts and crafts, and island-style food, culminating in a traditional Junkanoo parade.

On the same day, the crowning of the Fantasy Fest king and queen will occur at the Royal Coronation soiree and stage show, marking the end of a six-week fundraising campaign to benefit the Florida Keys SPCA.

The festival offers a wide range of other activities as well. The wacky Pet Masquerade, scheduled for Wednesday, October 25, is a fan favorite that features costumed pets and their owners. The following night, the Key West Business Guild celebrates its 40th-anniversary Headdress Ball, where participants compete in creating elaborate masks and cowls.

On Friday, October 27, the Captain Morgan Masquerade March will see participants in unicorn and uniform-themed costumes strut through a section of Key West’s Old Town. Other events to look forward to include a family-friendly Zombie Bike Ride, Beatles tribute shows, "Tutu Tuesday," pool parties, music and art showcases, and a lively Fantasy Market, among many others.

A Grand Finale

The festival will culminate on Saturday night, October 28, with the Bud Light Fantasy Fest Parade. Expected to draw tens of thousands of spectators to Key West's historic downtown, the parade promises a dazzling procession of large-scale floats, costumed groups, and bands. This spectacle serves as a fitting tribute to the creativity and spirit that have defined the Florida Keys for the past 200 years.

For more information on Fantasy Fest 2023, visit