Fantasy Fest 2019 wrapped up with tens of thousands of people cheering on the big Saturday night parade that stretched along Duval Street.
Well, technically, the 10-day adults-only festival that blends costumes and kink, along with some nudity, ended Sunday with the G-rated “Children’s Day.”
Children’s Day fills a park with games and rides and serves as a peacemaking event to the community from the people who brought you the “Kinky Carnival,” an underwear-optional underwear party, fetish parties and porn legend Ron Jeremy’s annual appearance.
In its 40th year, Fantasy Fest in Key West pours some $30 million into the Florida Keys’ economy, according to tourism officials.
Next year’s Fantasy Fest theme is “Roaring 2020s and Future Fictions,” and is set for Oct. 16-25.
But if you missed it or were there and want to dip into instant nostalgia, here are seven events that topped the Fantasy Fest 2019 hot list.
1. Bud Light Fantasy Fest Parade
You love a parade? Fantasy Fest each year culminates with the big Saturday night parade across Duval Street. This year, more than 40 floats moved through Key West’s historic downtown in front of about 60,000 spectators, according to organizers. Entries illustrated the festival’s musical theme “In Tune But … Off Key” with a huge living orchestra of marching instruments conducted by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Other standouts: a troupe of Caribbean-style dancers in sparkling feather-adorned costumes, some grass-skirted patrons at a traveling tiki bar and a squad of oompa loompas from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Local musician Coffee Butler, after whom the city just named its amphitheater, was the parade’s grand marshal
2. Tutu Tuesday
No tutu, no entry. In its 11th year, this spectacle once again tops itself from the prior year’s party. Tutus galore include the store-bought and the handmade. One young man made his tutu from an array of those fake loofah sponges and held a back scrubber as a baton. Scantily clad men and women roamed a complex of bars that started at General Horseplay, 423 Caroline St., and included Teasers strip club, 218 Duval St. Different DJs spun in different bars and partiers got to try out pole dancing inside Teasers. Always a sure bet, make sure you bring your tutu to Key West next year.
3. Masquerade March
Those who live here call it the “Locals Parade,” and it never disappoints when it comes to creativity and outlandish displays of pure revelry — for what reason, we’re not sure. But thousands turn out on the Friday afternoon of Fantasy Fest to start drinking and dressing up. Then they march from Key West Cemetery to Duval Street. This year’s “In Tune But Off Key” theme inspired many rock stars: Prince, David Lee Roth, Freddie Mercury, the Beatles, Elvis and too many Lady Gagas. One couple incorporated a tiki bar into their costumes, complete with drinks.
4. Zombie Bike Ride
More than 10,000 zombies took off on bicycles and in some cases handmade bike-powered mini floats this year, according to organizers. In its 10th year, the event that started out with less than 100 bike-riders has turned into a must-see, must-do event for locals. It’s right up there with the Locals Parade. Anyone with some fake blood can pedal from South Roosevelt Boulevard to Duval Street. The parade always starts at dusk so lighted bikes and costumes are plentiful.
5. Kinky Carnival
How do we describe this leather and latex-costume party. Yes, it’s a rowdy, upper-scale mingling of leather fans with plenty of kink, collars and leashes. Flogging stations were in place. But this year’s 21st annual event included opportunities to get massages and cupping therapy and electro stimulation. The rules are simple: no kinky costume, no entry. The $35 cash entry fee included an open bar.
6. Air Sex Championships
Imagine air guitar but a bit porny. That’s how the Air Sex Championships event at First Flight Island Restaurant and Brewery was described by some. Participants take the stage one by one to “perform” to music and try to wow the crowd with outlandish pantomimes of various sex acts. This year’s contestants included a pants-less man who called himself Bill and Monica. You get the picture. Four judges and the audience chose one winner, a woman from Washington, D.C. dressed as an alien.
7. Womankind’s Brazaar
This gala fundraiser featured flamboyantly decorated bras up for auction and benefits this Key West health clinic. Locals make and model the one-of-a-kind bras on the stage of the Key West Theater with a “Big Top” theme, complete with a master of ceremonies, circus-style performances and a three-ringed catwalk.