Hillsborough County, FL

01/26/2023 | News release | Distributed by Public on 01/26/2023 11:28

Argh! It's Pirate Season, and Gasparilla's Back

Pirate Fest and slew of Gasparilla events fill calendar from January through March

The hugely popular Gasparilla Pirate Fest returns to Hillsborough Bay and Tampa's scenic waterfront on Saturday, Jan. 28.

Costumed pirates, tossing beads and firing cannons, swarm into downtown Tampa.

First staged in 1904, the nautical invasion and parade inspired by the legend of pirate Jose Gasparilla now takes over much of Bayshore Boulevard and downtown Tampa. The Jose Gaspar ship, filled with Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla members clad in buccaneer attire, sails across Hillsborough Bay accompanied by a flotilla of hundreds of vessels. At the Tampa Convention Center, the mayor of Tampa surrenders the key to the city to the swashbuckling invaders. The maritime coup is followed by the Parade of Pirates, which rolls and strolls along Bayshore Boulevard, across the Brorein Street bridge, and into downtown.

There's plenty of selfie-taking, bead tossing, and general revelry along the way.

Pirate Fest is the main feature, but Gasparilla is much more than a single event. Wedged between Children's Gasparilla on Jan. 21 and the Gasparilla International Film Festival on the weekend of March 23, there's a whole season of outings, including the Sant' Yago Night Parade (Feb. 11), the Gasparilla Music Festival, the pirate ship's Outbound Voyage (March 4), the Gasparilla Distance Classic road race (Feb. 25-26), and the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts (March 5-6).

Visit Tampa Bay, Hillsborough County's nonprofit tourism agency, has complete details about Gasparilla season events.