• Melanie Loves Tampa Bay

What is the Gasparilla Pirate Festival?

For anyone who doesn't live in Tampa, Gasparilla can be a real head scratcher - what is it?

Mid-January, us Tampa Bay residents are getting our beads ready.

So what is Gasparilla?

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Gasparilla Pirate Festival was inspired by the legend of Jose Gaspar, who supposedly was a Spanish Naval officer-turned-pirate back in the late 18th century and early 19th century who plundered the waters of the West Coast of Florida.

Now, there is no actual evidence that this really happened, but nobody cares about that little detail.

Back in 1904, the story of Jose Gaspar was unearthed and Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla adopted him as a patron rogue of their city-wide celebration.

That celebration has been evolving ever since, and now the Gasparilla invasion and pirate parade is the third largest parade in the United States, attracting around 300,000 people to the city of Tampa.

Even though the pirate invasion is the main draw, there are lots of other Gasparilla-themed events that take place over several weeks:

Children's Gasparilla Parade - family-friendly, bead-throwing good time for all ages. Parade route runs along Bayshore Boulevard, and this usually takes place the week before the main pirate invasion. Alcohol-free event.


Gasparilla Parade of Pirates presented by Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla - held on the last Saturday in January, Ye Mystic Krewe fearlessly pilots their ship up Tampa Bay, firing off cannons until it reaches the city shore. Once there, they demand the key to the city from the mayor. When the mayor gives up the key, they have a victory parade up Bayshore Boulevard, and the pirates take over for one not-so-fearful afternoon.



Even if you're not a 'parade person,' you should still make your day downtown and enjoy the festivities throughout the day at the local bars and restaurants.

Sant'Yago Illuminated Knight Parade


Gasparilla International Film Festival


Gasparilla Festival of the Arts


Gasparilla Music Festival


If you aren't from Tampa and want to join us for the invasion, we hope you do! It is always a fun and memorable time for everybody!

With Love, Melanie



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Melanie is a Tampa Bay area Realtor with Smith & Associates. She loves Tampa Bay area area, houses, and helping clients buy and sell real estate. She can be reached at 813-368-6084 or matkinson@smithandassociates.com

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