Soon the cannons will roar in downtown as Gasparilla sails into Tampa Bay again.
The scurvy krewe of mythical pirate Jose Gaspar, aboard their pirate ship Jose Gasparilla, will make their annual assault on our fair city on January 28, bringing hundreds of thousands to Bayshore Boulevard to witness the third-largest parade in the United States: the Gapsarilla Parade of Pirates.
The day-long party kicks off Tampa Bay's annual Gasparilla Season -- two months of parties, parades, sporting events and festivals sure to shiver your timbers with excitement.
So break out your parrot, your pantaloons, and your gold doubloons and join the fun.
Gasparilla Parade of Pirates: January 28
The granddaddy of Tampa Bay parties, since 1905 Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla has led the annual celebration of all things pirate. The day begins with a public brunch at the Tampa Convention Center, followed by the first sighting of the Jolly Rodger on the horizon as the Jose Gasparilla makes its way up Seddon Channel with cannons blazing. An armada of pleasure boaters joins the throngs of partiers along witnessing the annual invasion from the waterfront. After a parlay with the mayor, Jose Gaspar's crew steps off the greatest parade in Florida in front of 300,000 or more cheering fans as the beads fly.
Sant 'Yago Knight Parade: February 11
One of the largest illuminated parades in the country fills Seventh Avenue in historic Ybor City with costumed revelers and beads. Lots and lots of beads. The Krewe of Sant'Yago celebrates Tampa Bay's rich Latin heritage, which dates back to the first Spanish explorers who discovered the region in 1528. More recently, in the 1880s, Ybor City's Cubans and Spanish cigar workers made Tampa Bay Florida's hub for Latin culture. You still find that culture thriving today in the Knights of Sant'Yago, Ybor City's hand-made cigars and the ubiquitous Cuban sandwich.
Gasparilla Distance Classic: February 25-26
Lace 'em up for Tampa Bay's greatest race series. Whatever your skill level -- from half-marathon to 1 mile fun run -- this is your chance to join the fun, get some exercise and experience the beauty of Bayshore Boulevard. Registration goes quick, so don't dally.
Gasparilla International Film Festival: March 2-9
Tampa Bay's Big 3 cultural festivals coincide this year, creating a 10-day extravaganza of art and culture worth of an extended visit. The Gasparilla International Film Festival starts the week with its award-winning line up new and well-known auteurs, premier screenings and seminars on the art and industry of film. Organizers are still accepting submissions.
Gasparilla Festival of the Arts: March 4-5
This juried show fills downtown's Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park every year with hundreds of talented artists as well as musicians, chefs and family fun. Bring your discerning eye and take home a unique piece.
Gasparilla Music Festival: March 11-12
Growing in size, popularity, and reputation Tampa Bay's homegrown music festival draws bigger names every year. Previous headliners have included Erykah Badu, Modest Mouse and the Flaming Lips. This year's line up includes rockers Cage the Elephant. With four stages and 36 hours, GMF is the perfect venue to experience up-and-coming talent along with major stars. End Gasparilla Season on a high note.
Gasp! The Gasparilla Fringe Festival: March 31
Gasparilla Arts Month goes out with a bang (or maybe a ball of fire) as the Gasp! festival brings out a shipload of odd, offbeat, and unusual performances. The festival is anchored by the Tampa Museum of Art and will spread into Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park for a day of theater, improv comedy, spoken word, music and more. Your ticket comes with free admission to the Tampa Museum of Art.