Saturday, November 8, 2014

Fantasy Fest 2014 live

7 November 2014. Well Fantasy Fest 2014 is well and truly over. Amazing fun, great events, little inhibition and tens of thousands of beads later. No rain for the main events on Friday and Saturday, and actually great weather. It was super busy on the Saturday of the main parade. Well done to all the people who selflessly organise, and raise money around, Fantasy Fest.

The best: Ten times better than Saturday's parade, and the best event of Fantasy Fest overall, was the Masquerade March on Friday. Brilliant! Key West locals you're the best. We had an amazing party again. The variety and creativity of fancy dress was amazing!

Here's looking forward to Fantasy Fest 2015!


My best 3 pictures: I took hundreds of pictures, so here are a very small number of my favorites....
Of the thousands of costumes and fancy dress creations on the 2014 Masquerade March here is my very favorite 
Fantasy Fest 2014 Masquerade March and my favorite picture overall - the view along Simonton Street of thousands of locals and visitors in full costume
One of the brilliant things about the Masquerade March, where everyone expresses themselves as they wish, is the occasional contrast this philosophy produces, like the one shown above 
This old and historic house on Fleming Street in Old Town Key West has seen some sights and goings on in the last 150 years. None more so than the above, during Masquerade March 2014

Masquerade March ends on Duval Street where the party continues

My joint favorite costume of Saturday's Fatasy Fest parade 2014
Joint favorite costume - Fantasy Fest 2014  - a lot of body paint was used in Key West in these 2 days of Fantasy Fest
2014 parade at Fantasy Fest Key West 
2014 parade at Fantasy Fest - a float
Southernmost point buoy costume and Highway 1 End marker - very local oriented fancy dress for Key West Fantasy Fest 2014. Excellent. (Taken outside 801 Bourbon Bar on Duval Street during main parade on Saturday).

Also on my blog:

Thursday after Fantasy Fest 2014. Some images I had taken but not posted.

First, cynical money making scheme from CVS. Why would anyone buy beads for Fantasy Fest when thousands are given out / thrown to you for free?

The Price of Fantasy Fest 1.

Parking before Fantasy Fest $10 per day
Parking during Fantasy Fest $20 per day
The Price of Fantasy Fest 2. Buy this year's t-shirt from Walgreens for $10....

...or last year's still on sale today at half the price!

Some businesses had made a great effort to dress the exterior of their buildings.
Sloppy Joe's on theme Fantasy Fest design for 2014
801 Bourbon Bar's theme for Fantasy Fest 2014
Monday after Fantasy Fest 2014. 27 October. 5.15pm. It's over. Only 12 months to wait until next year. Let's hope they pick an easier, less obscure and more pronounceable theme for Fantasy Fest 2015. Most of the 60,000 of those watching the parade on Saturday night are long gone and Key West feels a bit more normal today, and actually quite quiet. (It's really nice).

Here's some pics from today, post-Fantasy Fest, Key West.
Fantasy Fest is over. This is Duval Street the day after the main parade. Quiet, right? Peace returns to Key West

Sunday evening. 4pm. It's the last event of the Fantasy Fest 2014 year - the "It's not over until the fat lady sings" tea dance at La Te Da. It was super busy and super fun. More pictures in separate post here.

Sunday morning. The morning after, as the Citizen puts it. A shame, I think, that the Fantasy Fest section with today's paper was not in color throughout the whole section. 

10pm. Here are the pictures from the parade which has just finished tonight. Well done to everyone - months of work went into  these.

Also on my blog:

5.59pm. It’s coming up to 6pm here in Key West and we’re just about to head off to Duval Street to watch the main parade for Fantasy Fest 2014. The weather today has been near perfect, it’s now 79 degrees, a light wind and hardly a cloud in the sky. Duval Street is madly busy today with many people driving 5 hours from Miami today and from even further afield. There is a real party atmosphere tonight.

So I am off to the parade! Don’t forget the Sloppy Joe’s live streaming webcam - assuming it survives the many hits and doesn’t go down (actually, I think it's down already). My pictures of the parade will be up quickly - I expect to post them sometime around 10pm tonight so please check back then.

Happy Fantasy Fest to you!

5pm Saturday. The parade is 2 hours away and we're just back from lunch and a walk around Duval Street. Wow! It's super busy already, mad, crazy and lively. Here are some pics.
Fantasy Fest on Duval Street - 4 hours to go and getting very busy

Also on my blog:

2.30pm. So to yesterday (Friday) afternoon and the Masquerade March. There was no theme apart from silly and outrageous outfits of a thousand different types. Unlike the main parade tonight, it's "just" a march so it's the visitors and locals in Key West who are the stars. It was fantastic fun. 

We definitely had our fair share of the free booze along the route so thank you very much to the guesthouses and business owners for making this a free and special event.

Bearing in mind the outlook that morning (50-50 chance of rain) and the heavy clouds until about 2pm, one huge surprise was the weather. Beautiful blue skies and we were walking along Fleming Street into the setting sun.

It was a fantastic few hours, here are some pictures and I hope you get a feeling of how much fun it was.

Elton John would be proud
Can pulls dress

Walking very slowly along Fleming Street as part of the 2014 Masquerade March - into the setting sun.

One for the Key West locals - Shoot the iguanas

Masquerade March Key West - thousands of different costumes. Here outside Marquesa restaurant.


Masquerade March 2014 as part of Fantasy Fest. Thousands of locals and visitors alike steam down Simonton Street.

Have you got any change?
Free booze and alco-jelly

The march peters out on Duval. We chose to stop outside Bourbon Street pub.

And then it was dark...

A little bit drunk at this point...

Also on my blog:

Saturday 2.09pm: This young man in black pants, black wings and black stilettos to kill for just sauntered past our porch. Swaying a little. Either he's started early or finished late. My guess is the latter. He's just disappeared down White Street.

Also on my blog:

Saturday 25 October. 1.41pm. Sorry for the delay this morning. Worse. Hangover. Ever. Just up out of bed. Our room looks like it's been broken into - but it's just our mess from yesterday. Downloading the pictures right now - should be on site in 15 minutes. Now where is that water and those pills....

5.06pm (Friday) latest on Fleming, a few minutes before the Masquerade march hits:

3.56pm: Attacked by birds, I retreat to the bar. That's all the live blogging for now. I need to go socialise at the party and then go on the March at 5pm. There will be loads and loads of pictures from the Masquerade March here as soon as I get back this evening, sober up, and post them. Most likely, see you tomorrow.

2.15pm Our outfit is based on Tippi Hedren from The Birds

1.13pm: Even though it's quarter past one, it's 5 o'clock somewhere. Cheers. Happy Fantasy Fest.

1pm. Before the public March at 5pm, our guesthouse - Alexanders - is having 2 pre-event parties. So it's 1 hour to go before the first one and time to pop the booze in our room (which is our pre-pre-pre event party). Please leave comment below if you are attending Fantasy Fest - would be great to hear from you.

12.08pm. It's Masquerade March day today in Key West's 2014 Fantasy Fest. Followed by Pirates. And then fetish. Normal day at the office here in Key West. Here's from the official brochure.

Today's agenda at Fantasy Fest 2014

11.28am  Costume preparations continue. Deadline 2pm. Here is a teaser.

Blonde wig and a blackbird - costume teaser
10:39 Returned from Fairvilla. Blood for the costumer today successfully purchased. Fairvilla is going to be very busy today. Then to Walgreens and first nakedness of the day (in the cold drinks aisle too!) at 10am! I'm going to start topless count. Topless men so far: 0 (disappointing). Topless* ladies so far: 3.     * topless = with or without body paint.

Now it's time to start on the costume. Music we go...

Bucket O'Blood - this is what we're after for Fantasy Fest costume
Fairvilla Key West - will be a busy shop today and tomorrow
Fairvilla Key West entrance
Rest of the store at Fairvilla Key West
09:06.  Blue skies - the sun comes out for the first time today and no rain yet. Here's some pictures from around the Bight take an hour ago. Generally pretty coudy today with medium winds.
Masquerade March morning down at the Bight. This is the most optimistic picture weather wise....
...this is more representative. Heavy cloud. But will it rain?
It hasn't rained yet today but the latest weather forecast is for increasing cloud and increasing chance of rain peaking between noon and 4pm  - during that time it's a 50-50 chance of rain. Which is ok odds. But if we get any rain, it'll probably be heavy. Then the rain chance decreasing for the actual Masquerade March from 5pm so maybe that will stay dry.

And tomorrow for the main parade looking better.

Right, enough looking at the weather forecast. It's Key West, so anything could transpire, perspire or precipitate. We're off to Old Town get the final elements to the costume plus some other essential supplies (i.e. wine).

Fleming Street 8.15am today. Quiet. It'll be a LOT busier at 5pm when the Masquerade March hits.

Friday 24 October 2014: The big day has arrived. There will be lots of blogging and regular updates for the next few days so check back regularly.

First a recap on yesterday. We arrived successfully into Key West at a few minutes after 9pm. The drive from Miami was great: quiet traffic and no issues. We marvelled appropriately at the Roosevelt Boulevard new work/road! Might have taken forever, but it's worth it. The straight into Old Town to get some food before hitting the sack. No martini or partying for us tonight - just too tired and jet lagged.

Thursday was toga party night sat Sloppy Joe's so there were lots of excellent costumes in that theme. Also, already, lots and lots of bare and naked flesh on display. The "naked breast with body paint" count is high already.

The big issue for this week has been the inclement weather - the rain.  The big question of course for today and tomorrow for those going in body paint only is: how will the body pain survive in the heavy rains we are expecting. Naked washout indeed.

As I write this, 8.30am - no rain but very heavy skies.

Fantasy Fest weather 2014 - from the Citizen. Sun returns - but not until tomorrow,

Thursday 23 October: Just like thousands of others we are making our way to Fantasy Fest 2014. Yippee! We - finally - are on our way! Currently at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 and it's five o'clock somewhere so we are having a drink to celebrate. 1 hour to boarding our British Airways flight to Miami. See you Key West in about 16 hours.
On our way to Fantasy Fest 2014
Fantasy Fest costume packed in this bag!

Zombie Bike Ride in Key West
18 October: With Goombay over, thoughts turn to the Zombie Bike Ride on Sunday afternoon. Get ready for lots of blood! Actually, I need some blood for my costume for the Masquerade March next week so I hope after the zombies shuffle off there will be some left on the island for me!

I got to say the Zombie Bike Ride looks absolutely brilliant and all the locals I speak to say it's their favorite event of Fantasy Fest. So if, unlike me, you are lucky enough to already be in Key West, enjoy the zombies, and watch your backs!

Goombay looked good, great pictures from Conchscooter (as usual) on his excellent blog - and also, from him, the line of Fantasy Fest so far: "Duval Street...gets more crowded and less clothed as the week progresses. Oh dear."

Not long to go to Fantasy Fest 2014
16 October: Here we go, folks. 2 hours to go to the official start of Fantasy Fest 2014. The first few days are a little quiet but Friday features the Bahama Village Goombay Festival which sounds great fun. I will miss it, but it's exactly 1 week to my arrival in Key West. If you're visiting the Goombay Festival, or any other event this weekend, drop me a comment in the comment box at the end of the post to tell me how it went. See you in a week!

Fantasy Fest Key West

I am visiting Key West for Fantasy Fest 2014 in October - this is the live blog of the parties, surprises, stories and debauchery. Regularly updated. See below for previous updates.

14 October: Thanks to @FantasyFestKW on Twitter for favorting one of my FantasyFest tweets today. I am @KeyWestDavid if you want to follow me on Twitter. Also nice to be contacted by Dry Tortugas National Park on Google+. Key West and Fantasy Fest is sooooo social media these days!!

11 October 2014: We are on serious countdown to Fantasy Fest now with only 5 days to go. And we were out shopping today for 5 hours and we have bought today the main part of the costume. The shoes were bought on the internet and came last week and the accessories also on the internet with a few extra to be bought on Key West in Fairvilla.

HINT: For last minute shoppers and the plain desperate, a Fantasy Fest saviour is the Fairvilla Megastore in Key West. It's a naughty store / fancy dress / costume store combined and it's huge and centrally located (Front Street and Ann Street, 2 minutes from Duval Street). Even if you've got everything, it's a dealt fun store to go and browse.

5 October 2014: Am I the only one who thinks this year's theme is both very difficult and a bit poor? It has caused much stress and a few arguments between me and Mark and last week we made a momentous decision: forget the theme, we are going to do it our way. I will not reveal what it is until the day of the Masquerade March (Friday 24 October) when you will be the first to see the pictures. But needless to say, it has nothing at all to do with Animeted Dreams and Adventures. More on the logic of our decision in the next post. Please leave a comment telling us what you are going to wear - if you want to reveal it!

27 July 2014: OK getting tangibly close now. The better half and me had a brainstorm about fancy dress for the Masquerade March one more time and, again, came up with no inspirations or firm plans. Here's the ideas we covered: high heels and drag (but he refuses to do drag so this is out), Fred Jones and Daphne Blake (couple from Scooby-Doo - but very difficult to get right and not look like a random odd couple from 70s), Mario brothers (easy to do but nothing to do with Key West and i don't think anything to do with anime), Pikachu the Pokemon (well this is really not my era, well after my time, and so I feel no affinity for these characters; also I predict half of Key West will be dressed up in this way!), high heels al la Elton John (random idea, no originality), pirates (nothing to do with theme; also the other half of Key West will be dressed in this fashion), cowboys (Key West cowboys??!!).

So that's the extent of the brainstorm. I sincerely hope you are having more fruitful and creative ideas for Fantasy Fest.

14 June 2014: It's not too late to book to visit Fantasy Fest this year but time will be running out. My guest house contacted me this week as they have had a cancellation and there was a vacancy (there was a mix up as I already have a room booked and did not want a second one!). But it goes to show that there are rooms available for the busiest week of the year in Key West. It's such great fun so, if you are in doubt, book - but do it now!

20 April 2014
Been really busy and have done a little worrying but no creative thinking at all about what costume to wear for Fantasy Fest! WHAT ARE WE GOING TO WEAR??!!

March 2014: 8 months to go. Had a drunk brainstorming session on theme for Masquerade March. And came up with inspirational idea... LOBSTER. 

I am going to come fully dressed as a fully dressed lobster (thermidor?). Brilliance. What do you think?

Asked to interview member of committee to ask the logic behind strange choice of theme but no reply. If you know someone on the Fantasy Fest committee please can you ask them if they would do an interview with me please.

Lots in the press about nudity and lewdness and body painting (instead of clothes) at Fantasy Fest 2013 and how to prevent in 2014. Ok, if you're a prude don't come. Keep the nudity to the nude zone and let the locals go to the non-nude zone. Maybe I'll change my mind come October when I (hopefully) witness it, but this is Key West getting all nanny state on us. Come on, relax, let's have the Key West spirit of the 70s/80s back.

March 2014: 8 months to go
Very busy at work so not a lot of thought has gone into preparations. Everytime we think about Fantasy Fest, we first think about the theme and then how difficult it is to make any sense out of. What the heck does it mean? After making no progress on getting inspired, we give up. Does anyone else have this problem with the theme, or is it just us? Let me know in the comments...

Booking somewhere to stay - November 2013,  11 months to go
Fantasy Fest 2014 has just finished and we are a full year away from Fantasy Fest 2014.  Some people re-book their hotels and guest house rooms for next year on leaving.  So if you want to be sure of staying at the best places, then book now. The best places get booked up very early.

I don't pick anywhere different to stay for FF, the regular place as usual: I stay at Alexander's Guest house, the best gay guesthouse in Key West, by some margin. Even now, 11 months before FF, Alexander's has only 2 rooms of 17 non-vacant for Fantasy Fest.  You see what I mean about the good places getting booked early.

One thing you can's beat by booking early is the room rate premium all Key West hotels and guest houses impose for Fantasy Fest.

Fantasy Fest 2013 - October 2013, 12 months to go
2013's FF looked great fun from afar. The weather held up and the crowds flocked. 2013 theme was (a relatively easy) "Superheroes, Villains and Beyond".

There is no substitute to being there, but for the vast majority of us who are not there then the best way I find of getting in the FF mood is to watch the live Duval Street webcam from Sloppy Joe's.  It's the best webcam on Key West by far.  I was watching for a while before the Masquerade March and the fancy dress looked great.


This live blog is about my visit to Key West Fantasy Fest.  I've visited Key West dozens of times and been to Fantasy Fest before once. I have written another post for the first time visitor to Fantasy Fest with my tips and recommendations for getting the best experience from Fantasy Fest - click here to read that.