The Gasparilla Pirate
Festival in Tampa is one of the most popular and
unique festivals that you can visit in the US
because of its pirate theme.
Pirate Festival is held in late January (normally
the last two weeks of the month), and boasts three
main events: Gasparilla Extravaganza Children’s
Parade, the Gasparilla Invasion and the Gasparilla
Parade of the Pirates.
The children’s parade
boasts cool marching bands and dance units, and
happens a few days before the Gasparilla Invasion
and the Parade of the Pirates events.
Gasparilla Invasion and the Parade of the Pirates
events happen on the same day, and it’s the time
when the festival truly comes alive! You'll see
people dressed in colorful pirate costumes, and
dozens of beautifully decorated floats, marching
bands and parades passing through the streets of
Gasparilla was first held in May
1904 in Tampa Bay, but the invasion originated on
horseback instead of by boat. In years past, a US
Navy ship would be attacked by small boats
throwing Cuban bread and black bean soup. The Navy
would respond with fire hoses but would succumb to
the Ybor City Navy, and then surrender to the
Alcalde of Ybor City. The sailors would be treated
to an evening on the town. This was discontinued
after the September 11, 2001 attacks. However, the
invasion itself continues as "Capt. Jose Gaspar"
and his crew of "Pirates" "attack" Tampa,
surrounded by hundreds of other boaters as they
sail the Gasparilla Ship through Tampa Bay, land
in Downtown Tampa and "take over the city."