The Gasparilla Guide – Part 1


The pirate invasion has begun! Today, Mayor Buckhorn joined the pirates and the city of Tampa for parade through downtown. This was the festive preamble to one of the most anticipated events of the year in the city, Gasparilla!

One of the trickiest parts about navigating the event is parking. Due to the spirited nature of the event, which takes place on January 30, we encourage everyone to make use of Uber, Lyft and our local cab services. This year, Captain Morgan has teamed up with Uber to give an estimated 1,000 Gasparilla attendees $20 vouchers for the ride sharing service. This offer is for riders 21+. Just enter the promo code "PIRATERESPONSIBLY" in the Uber App by Saturday at 2pm. Winners will be notified via email or text. 

If you're going to be in the city for this event, and are ready to brave the crowds, here is how you fest:

On Friday, January 29th, beginning at 6pm, the Gasparilla Pre-Invasion celebration and Charity Concert takes place at Curtis Hixon Park. The concert will feature performances by The Hip Abduction, Howie Day and The Swon Brothers (2014 winners of The Voice). The event will benefit the YMKG Gasparilla Communtiy Fund and the Pepin Academies. The Pepin Academies will also host the Gasparilla beer garden on Friday and Saturday night in Curtis Hixon Park. 

General admission passes are available for just $20 each. Click here to purchase yours. 

Saturday, January 30th, is the main event. The day begins with a special brunch at the Tampa Convention Center. The brunch includes live entertainment, a buffet brunch with cash bar and reserved table seating. The event is $95 for adults, $75 for children. Click here to purchase brunch tickets. The waterview setting of the Convention Center makes it the perfect spot to watch the invasion. Brunch begins at 9:30am and runs until 1pm. 

The convention center will put you front and center to view the Gasparilla Flotilla! This re-enactment ends with Mayor Buckhorn officially surrenduring the key to the city to the Captain of the Ye Mystic Krewe. The invasion re-enactment begins at 11:30am. 

After docking, the full pirate invasion and parade begins at 2pm. The Victory Parade goes from Bay to Bay and Bayshore. The 4.5 mile parade has been a tradition since 1904. This year's parade will feature 103 floats, 3 marching bands and 50 social organizations. The Gasparilla Parade of the Pirates will travel from Bayshore into downtown Tampa. The Parade will cross into downtown over the Brorein Street bridge, turn north on Ashley Drive, and end at Cass Street and Ashley Drive in the heart of the Cultural Arts District in downtown Tampa.

The Riverwalk will also feature a variety of live music, vendors and activities all day Saturday! This will be the first year that Kennedy Plaza will connect downtown residents directly to Bayshore. MacDill Park will host a latin themed entertainment stage. Channelside Plaza will host a pirate party from 6pm-10pm Saturday night. There will be live music and entertainment by the Glenn Cummings Band! 

For more details on the event visit the official Gasparilla Pirate Fest website. The parade is free to view, however there are a select number of bleacher seats available for purchase. Click here to reserve your seat

Written by Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey is the founder of I Love the Burg and That's So Tampa. In addition to regular contributions to each blog, he's been featured as a commentator to Bay New 9, The Tampa Tribune, The Tampa Bay Times, The Tampa Bay Business Journal and The Business Observer as well as national outlets including The Huffington Post and The Wall Street Journal.