Costumes in Key West: The Incredibly Wild Fantasy Fest
When it comes to costumes in Key West and the Florida Keys, Fantasy Fest precedes Halloween. It’s kind of ironic, really, since many Fantasy Fest partiers hardly wear any costumes whatsoever; I mean they do but they don’t. Let me explain. Being a Florida costume shop that’s close to the action, we receive tons of visitors from all over who pass through Miami en route to the Keys for the event. The types of outfits they look for are definitely not family friendly but that does not matter; that is far from what Fantasy Fest claims to be. We try to keep our blog PG so we are not going to share the pictures of the incredibly wild and revealing sexy costumes that you may see at Fantasy. Instead, we’ll share some of the costumes that our clients have purchased in the past for the event. But just to give you an idea of how wild they can get, we’ll just say that some the costumes are so revealing they appear to be painted on, and in some cases they are— literally! It’s not that Fantasy Fest is exclusively for adults—since it impossible to keep children out of the city without violating rights—but they do have certain events and “Fantasy Zones” where things get a bit racy.
According to the official event’s website, Fantasy Fest is a “10-day party in paradise for grown-ups” held every year in Key West. The great thing about it is that the party does not get in the way of a family-friendly Halloween as it usually lasts through October 30th, just enough time for parents to ditch the party life and return to their kids for some wholesome trick-or-treating— if they can overcome the hang-over. Thousands of people from all over the word flood the streets of Key West in extravagant costumes that you won’t see at your typical Halloween parade. Lively music, delicious food, drinks and people having (nearly) uninhibited, blissful fun is what Fantasy is all about. Fantasy Fest is a carnival that has earned a reputation that rivals Mardi Gras and even the historic festivities held in the Caribbean.
How Fantasy Fest Came to Be
You would think that an event of this magnitude—involving costumes around the Halloween season—would have originated in local traditions passed from generation to generation; especially since it takes place in such a historic city in the Keys. The truth is, Fantasy Fest kind of came out of nowhere. The carnival was actually (the founder and President of the Tourist Development Association) Joe Liszka’s answer to the economic slump Key West faced every year in October, which also happens to be the most beautiful month in terms of weather.
In 1978, Joe had the idea to create an event that would attract people from all over to the Key West to celebrate the wonderful climate the Florida Keys have to offer. The next year, out of the blue, Fantasy Fest was born with an “Old Key West” themed celebration that kick-started the yearly recurring event. Visitors were invited to wear costumes and party up in Key West’s major streets—Front and Duval—but the event has expanded to cover almost the entire Old Town, Key West as it hosts more than 100,00 visitors!
Costumes Put the “Fantasy” in Fantasy Fest
Some sort of street party could probably exist without the extravagant costumes and the Halloween-inspired festivities, but it would definitely not be what Fantasy Fest is today. The most special thing about Fantasy Fest is how it manages to become the hub for costumes in Key West without playing into the clichéd Halloween traditions that make you say “been there, done that.” Fantasy Fest is completely unique in that it blends Mardi Gras style festivities with cosplay, Halloween and Burning Man-like debauchery in some cases. Even explaining Fantasy through these other events does not do the carnival justice. The experience is completely unique and one that you can only understand by being there. The parades feature floats like Mardi Gras but the themes are not at all what you see in Bourbon street, the festival happens around Halloween but you will not see typical Halloween costumes, it is like a cosplay convention in the amount of time and effort people put into their costumes but they are not the costumes you see at comic-con, and there is certainly an air of Burning Man’s free-spirited free-for-all but it is not so unhinged that people feel uncomfortable and think twice before attending.
As mentioned earlier, we have had our fair share of customers coming to us for Fantasy Fest costumes on their way to Key West. For the most part, the looks they go for are sexy for the ladies and funny for the men. The outfits they buy from us are far from the finished product; Fantasy Fest attendees know how to accessorize and put together Franken-costumes made from different parts to create an incomparable look.
Above are some of the more conservative women’s costumes that we have supplied for Fantasy Fest attendees. They seem pretty appropriate for the Florida Keys’ weather but I’m pretty sure that’s not the only reason they show a little leg.
As far as men go, humor seems to be synonymous with “men’s costumes” at Fantasy Fest. Men’s costumes for the event will vary from outrageous to witty and funny. Funny costumes are pretty common in Key West during the festival.
Dressing Up for the Festival
If you plan on dressing up in costume to attend Fantasy Fest this year, you should consider their rules. Just because the event has earned a reputation for being a “naughty” free-for-all doesn’t mean that you can do as you please. There are many misconceptions about the event thanks to social media and the internet, especially when it comes to costumes. The pictures found online posted by attendees paint a slightly different picture than the actual event’s organizers. While partial nudity is allowed in designated areas and some private parties are clothing-optional, the code of conduct clearly states that you cannot be exposed in public property. The local authorities do enforce the law, so make sure that you are not caught breaking any of the rules posted in their website. You do not want to wind up in jail over costumes in Key West.
If you want information on costumes you can wear to Fantasy Fest or are simply looking for a place in South Florida to wear to shop for Halloween costumes, contact us at 1-800-288-9916 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.