Visitors to the Florida Keys this October can experience a uniquely “animated” Fantasy Fest in Key West (17-26 October 2014). This year the uninhibited annual costuming and masking festival, sometimes compared to New Orleans’ Mardi Gras or Rio de Janiero’s Carnival, is themed “Animeted Dreams & Adventures,” inspired by traditional Japanese anime and virtually all forms of creative animation.
Highlights of the flamboyant 10-day extravaganza, which attracts more than 60,000 participants each year, include a grand parade, “Animelistic Head Trip” Headdress Ball, quirky Pet Masquerade and Parade, Fantasy Fest Street Fair, Masquerade March, Living Art Airbrush Expo, oceanfront Royal Coronation Ball to crown the festival king and queen, Goombay street party in historic Bahama Village, Broadway-style burlesque showcase, sensual soirees and themed costume galas.
The inaugural event was held in 1979 and during that first festival, Linda O’Brien, now director of Fantasy Fest, fell in love with the subtropical Florida Keys island chain.
“After spending most of my young life in Virginia, I wanted to get out and see the rest of our country, ” O’Brien said. “On a cross-country road trip, I decided to visit a friend in Key West. That was all it took. I finished my trip, went home, sold all my belongings and moved to Key West. I haven’t looked back since.”
For the last 35 years, O’Brien has called Key West her home and now applies her tourism and hospitality background to her role as director of the island city’s internationally acclaimed celebration.
“We welcome people from all walks of life to come visit our tropical paradise and let their guard down for 10 days of inhibition-free revelry. I can guarantee that it will be the most memorable part of any trip to the States,” she said.
More than 40 masquerade parties, costume contests and themed events are scheduled during the festival, culminating in a decadent grand parade on 25 October designed to excel in excess and exuberance.
For more information on Fantasy Fest, visit www.fantasyfest.com
For more information on the Florida Keys & Key West, visit www.fla-keys.co.uk