Gasparilla Pirate Festival

By: Haley Roney

Since 1904, Tampa, Florida has held the annual Gasparilla Pirate Festival. The festival celebrates the legend of the mythical Spanish pirate, José Gaspar, who supposedly operated in Southwest Florida. He claimed to have roamed the Gulf of Mexico and the Spanish Main from his base in Florida.   This year's event starts on January 28th, and features parades, music festivals and more.

Jose Gaspar

Jose Gaspar

Gasparilla is a huge event. The main parade draws about 300,000 people and about a million people go to at least one event during the festival. The parade itself draws in $22 million for the local economy!

The event itself kicks off around 11:30. The Jose Gasparilla, which is the world's only fully rigged pirate ship, along with a flotilla(a formation of army ships) will sail from Hillsborough Bay all the way to the Tampa Convention Center where it will dock. This leads into the Parade of Pirates. 

While the parade runs down Bayshore Boulevard into downtown. the city holds other Gasparilla related events, such as a children's parade, a music festival, a film festival, and a 5K road race. 

While the parade is free, you can choose to get reserved bleacher seating for $45 and up. Tickets can be purchased here. 

You can also participate in the Gasparilla Invasion Brunch. It includes live entertainment, a buffet brunch, and reserved seating! Tickets start at $98 for adults and $78 for children. Find more info here.