Gasparilla 2024: Your guide to Tampa’s annual pirate festival

Image via Instagram @gasparillatampa

By Crystal Harlan

January 25, 2024

Gather your mateys to watch a fully rigged pirate ship and hundreds of rowdy buccaneers invade downtown Tampa before heading over to Bayshore Boulevard for the annual parade.

Thousands of revelers in eye patches, tricorne hats, and fake beards will descend on Tampa this Saturday, Jan. 27, for the Gasparilla Pirate Festival.

For the uninitiated, Tampa Bay has been celebrating Gasparilla since 1904. The festival features a parade and mock invasion of the city to honor the memory of the legendary (and most likely fictional) pirate José Gaspar.

The Mardis-Gras style celebration will kick off with the Gasparilla Invasion Brunch held at the Tampa Convention Center, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., where you can get breakfast and sip mimosas while you save your spot to watch the invasion.

At 11: 30 a.m., a flotilla of hundreds of vessels, led by the fully rigged pirate ship and Ye Mystic Krew of Gasparilla, will sail up Hillsborough Bay to downtown Tampa.

After docking their ships at 1 p.m., the pirates will storm the area behind the Tampa Convention Center and invade the city after Mayor Kathy Castor refused to give up the key to the city to Ye Mystic Krew on Tuesday, Jan. 23.

The Gasparilla Parade of Pirates is from 2:00 p.m. to 5;30 p.m, and features nearly 100 floats following a 4.5-mile route along Bayshore Boulevard. Parade-goers who are at least 21 years old are allowed to openly carry and consume alcohol in designated areas, or “wet zones,” along the parade route.

The parade is free to attend, but if you want a prime spot to view the floats, you can reserve your seats in advance for a fee.

Along the Tampa Riverwalk there will be live music from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and MacDill Park.

Visit gasparillapiratefest.com for more information and gasparillatreasures.com to purchase brunch tickets and reserve seats to watch the parade.

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Author

  • Crystal Harlan

    Crystal is a bilingual editor and writer with over 20 years of experience in digital and print media. She is currently based in Florida, but has lived in small towns in the Midwest, Caracas, New York City, and Madrid, where she earned her MA in Spanish literature.

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