Staff Report

Tampa Bay’s annual Gasparilla celebration, which is named for legendary pirate Jose Gaspar who terrorized the coastal waters of West Florida during the 18th and early 19th centuries, will kick off the celebrations in January with a full schedule of exciting events.

On Saturday, January 18, younger swabs and their families enjoy their own special celebration with the Children’s Gasparilla Extravaganza. An alcohol-free event, the extravaganza includes a children’s parade, pre-schooler stroll, parachute jump team, “piratechnics” and much more. The event takes place along Bayshore Blvd. from 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m.

On Saturday, January 25, the highly-anticipated Gasparilla Pirate Fest gets underway as the Gasparilla Flotilla sets sail at 11:30 a.m. from the south end of Hillsborough Bay. Led by the world’s only fully-rigged pirate ship, the Jose Gasparilla, a flotilla of pleasure craft follows along to participate in the annual reenactment of the historic pirate invasion. Upon landing at the waterfront Tampa Convention Center (TCC), the Mayor will hand over the keys to the city and the official celebration begins. The Gasparilla Invasion Brunch runs from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at TCC, followed by the 3.8-mile-long Gasparilla Parade of Pirates in downtown Tampa from 2-5:30 p.m., including more than 90 elaborate floats, 14 marching bands and more than 50 distinct Krewes. Along Kennedy Boulevard in downtown Tampa, the Gasparilla Pirate Fest Street Festival takes place from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., complete with live entertainment, food and a colorful cast of characters.

The celebration continues with the Gasparilla Distance Classic, which takes place Friday-Sunday, February 21-23 and includes a 5K, 8K, 15K, half-marathon and even a run for kids ages 2 to 10. Athletes can participate in a single event or variety of combinations of two or more.  All races take place along Bayshore Blvd.  A Health & Fitness Expo will be held in conjunction at the Tampa Convention Center.

On Saturday and Sunday, March 1 and 2, the Raymond James Gasparilla Festival of the Arts takes place in downtown Tampa at the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, featuring works from some of the country’s most acclaimed artists and rising stars.  Featured art includes ceramic, digital, drawing, fiber, glass, jewelry, mixed media, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, watercolor and wood. The esteemed event also features the works of local young artists, live entertainment and a children’s art activity area.

The Gasparilla Music Festival, which takes place in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and Kiley Gardens Park on Saturday and Sunday, March 8 and 9, and will feature musical acts from a wide variety of genres on several stages and cuisine from the region’s top restaurants. General, VIP and Higher Ground admissions are available for the two-day event.

The Gasparilla International Film Festival kicks off Wednesday, March 19 featuring five days of Florida and world-premiere showings, shorts, indie films, educational panels and more.

For more information and events calendar, go to or follow on Facebook (Visit Tampa Bay) or Twitter @VisitTampaBay.


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