Key West’s Fantasy Fest began Friday, launching a 10-day schedule of masquerades, elaborate parties and costume competitions.
The Fantasy Fest schedule features nearly 100 events including Sunday’s Zombie Bike Ride, the Pet Masquerade for costumed pets and their people, the flamboyant Headdress Ball and the Masquerade March that draws several thousand costumed participants in historic Old Town.
The Zombie Bike Ride on the island is a Halloween tradition that attracts thousands of people and even animals.
Participants dressed in creative costumes cycle along the island’s streets and shores, donning white face paint and ripped clothing to complete their zombie looks.
Events will culminate the night of Saturday, October 28th, when some 60,000 spectators are expected to line Key West’s downtown streets for the Fantasy Fest Parade, a procession of large-scale motorized floats, costumed marching groups and island-style dancers in colorful feathered attire.
The festival has been notoriously famous for its decadent motif, but during the past few years, festival officials have focused their efforts on creative costuming and an effort to create more PG-rated events.
Fantasy Fest debuted in 1979 to boost the fledgling tourism economy during a slow period. Now, tourism officials said, it brings approximately $30 million in annual revenues to the Florida Keys.