Prepare for Gasparilla 2020, & Read All About Tampa’s Pirate Festival

Get Ready for Gasparilla 2020 Season in Hillsborough County, FL!

It’s that time of the year once again! Next week, the Gasparilla Pirate Festival will return to Tampa, FL. Get ready to watch bands of colorful pirates as they march through the downtown Tampa area. With parades and musical performances anyone can enjoy, Gasparilla is the most anticipated event of the year for many Tampa Bay residents.

To help you get ready, we’ve compiled information on each of the major events in the festival. Read now to make sure you know when everything takes place!

The Children’s Gasparilla Festival

A Pirate Themed Float, Used in the Children’s Gasparilla Parade
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Saturday, January 18th, 2020 at Bayshore Boulevard

Children’s Stroll: 1:00pm / Air Invasion: 12:00pm thru 3:30pm / Children’s Parade: 3:30pm

Celebrate the return of the Gasparilla with the annual Children’s Festival! Sponsored by Ashley HomeStore, this alcohol-free event offers a selection of fun activities that are perfect for all ages. Headlining the event is the Children’s Parade, which will feature marching bands, floats, dancers, and several other units marching down Bayshore Boulevard.

Returning for 2020 is the Gasparilla Air Invasion! This air show will feature aerobatic teams, vintage military aircrafts, and much more. Younger kids can take part in the Preschooler’s Stroll, which will let them experience firsthand what it’s like to be part of a parade.

If you’re looking to get into the Gasparilla spirit a bit early, come out with the whole family!

The Gasparilla Parade of Pirates & Pirate Fest

Several Boats on the Water, Waiting for the Gasparilla Invasio
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Saturday, January 25th, 2020 in Tampa, FL

Starts at 11:30am

The Parade of Pirates is the headlining event of the Gasparilla Festival, and is the third-largest parade held in the United States. Watch as the infamous pirate José Gaspar and his men invade the streets of Tampa, and take the key to the city from the mayor. Following a successful invasion, the pirates will celebrate their victory by parading through the streets.

With more than 140 units on display, this impressive parade captures the hearts of residents every year. The Pirate Fest will continue into the day, with live musical performances and more. Those attending early can take part in the Gasparilla Invasion Brunch, which includes a buffet brunch and reserved seats for the invasion.

Sant’Yago Illuminated Knight Parade

Pirate Themed Float, Illuminated In the Middle of the Night
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Saturday, February 8th, 2020 in Ybor City

From 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm

The festival will kick back into gear with the Sant’Yago Illuminated Knight Parade in early February. Since 1974, this parade has been hosted in the historic Ybor City, and serves to celebrate the culture of the region. The parade features more than 100 units, including illuminated floats, marching bands, and krewes.

Thanks to its prime location, the parade has become a popular destination for older residents. Attendees are welcome to check out the bars and nightclubs in the local area once the parade concludes. If you enjoy the Tampa nightlife, this is one event that you don’t want to miss.

The Gasparilla Jazz Fest & Distance Classic

People Running in the 2019 Gasparilla Distance Classic at Day
Source: Facebook

While the invasion is the most well-known event from Gasparilla, there’s much more you can take part in.

Returning from last year is the Gasparilla Jazz Fest, taking place on January 26th at Curtis Hixon Riverfront Park. From 10am to 4pm, you can attend and listen to jazz performances from a selection of talented artists. The event is free, and you are free to check out some of the local shops during the event.

Another popular event is the Gasparilla Distance Classic. February 22nd – 23rd, taking place on Bayshore Boulevard. Thousands of people compete in this road race each year, and the event serves to raise funds for charitable Tampa Bay organizations. Thanks to the area’s consistent weather, everything is good to go for a race at this time of year.

Wrap Up With the Outbound Voyage

Gasparilla Pirate Ship Sailing off at Sunset during Outbound Voyage

Saturday, February 29th, 2020

From 2:00p.m. to 10:00pm

Keeping with tradition, the festival will conclude with the Gasparilla Outbound Voyage. Taking place at the end of February, the pirates will wrap up the season with one final meeting with the mayor. After the final celebration, the pirates set out for sea.

After the pirates leave, the festivities will continue with live music performances. Food will be supplied as well.

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