Drink up me hearties, yo ho! Booming cannons, piles of beads, wild floats and boisterous pirates are about to descend on the city of Tampa for what is sure to be another excellent pirate festival. Gasparilla kicks off with a Pirate Festival and Parade, but it also includes a stacked music festival with new stages popping up along the Riverwalk.
Oh, and brunch. Lots and lots of brunch.
With all that’s set to happen over the next few months, we thought we’d condense it as best we can into a handy guide, a proverbial treasure map, if you will.
Listen, odds are you’ve been to Gasparilla Pirate Fest before, but we assure you this year is going to be much bigger. If you haven’t notice, Tampa’s grown quite a bit even in just the last twelve months.
Four stages for music along the Riverwalk
On January 26, Gasparilla Pirate Fest will feature stages along the Tampa Riverwalk with live music happening before and after the Pirate Parade. The stages will be set up in Curtis Hixon Park and MacDill Park.
The Pirate Fest fun officially begins at 9am on January 26 and goes until 9pm that night.
At 11:30am on January 26, the Pirates officially invade the city of Tampa.
The world’s only fully-rigged pirate ship, the Jose Gasparilla, will magically appear at the south end of Hillsborough Bay.
Prepare for a Pirate Invasion
The colorful Gasparilla Flotilla then makes its way north across Hillsborough Bay and into Seddon Channel (channel between Davis Island & Harbour Island). When the Jose Gasparilla docks at the Tampa Convention Center (at 1pm), the Mayor will surrender the Key to the City of Tampa into the hands of the Captain of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla.
This extravaganza is free and open to the public.
Of course, if you like to enjoy your invasion like a buccaneer, you can reserve a spot at the Gasparilla Brunch Buffet. The event takes place at the Tampa Convention Center at 10am on January 26.
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Brunch like a buccaneer
Tickets for the buffet are $110 and include all the brunch noms you can eat, a cash bar and the best seat in the house to view the historic Pirate Invasion.
The Pirate Parade is next, and it officially starts at 2pm on January 26. This year’s parade will feature 103 elaborate floats, 5 marching bands, over 50 distinct Krewes and, of course, those infamous YMKG pirates.
The parade begins at Bay to Bay Boulevard and Bayshore Boulevard. It continues along Bayshore Boulevard to Brorein Street, turns east on Brorein Street, then north on Ashley Drive. The parade ends at Cass Street and Ashley Drive.
The Pirate Parade is free to attend. However, if you want a cushier parade experience, you can spring for a seat in the bleachers. Bleacher tickets run from $40-$50 and can be purchased online.
First annual JazzFest during Gasparilla
On Sunday, January 27, the crew behind Gaparilla will present the 1st Annual JazzFest in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. Headliner NAJEE, Jeanette Harris and Althea Rena, and Omari Dillard. Music will be performed from 10am-4pm.
Gasparilla JazzFest will offer a VIP Brunch Ticket, featuring a fully catered buffet from 11am – 2pm, lounge experience and two complimentary drink tickets. VIP Brunch Tickets are $65 each and are available exclusively online.
You can find full event details and purchase Gasparilla swag online.
Are you excited for the Pirate Festival? Let us know in the comments.