A Local’s Guide to Tampa’s Gasparilla 2023 Pirate Fest

A Local’s Guide to Tampa’s Gasparilla 2023 Pirate Fest

December 19, 2022

Are you ready to experience the most exciting event of the year in Tampa? Get ready to grab your eye patch and hoist the mainsail because it's time for the Gasparilla 2023 Pirate Fest!

The Gasparilla Pirate Festival is an annual event that takes place in Tampa, Florida and celebrates the legend of Jose Gaspar, a Spanish pirate who allegedly terrorized the Gulf Coast in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

It’s believed that the festival originated in 1904 when a group of residents decided to have a mock pirate invasion of the city to celebrate winter's end. The festival combines parades, live entertainment, food, and fun for people of all ages. Back for a second time since being canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, it’s certain to be bigger and better than ever this year than the previous Seminole Hard Rock Gasparilla Fest.

If you're a local to the 813 (that's Tampa for you non-locals), you already know that the Gasparilla Pirate Fest is not to be missed. But if you're new to the area or simply want to make the most of your experience, here's a guide to help you navigate the festivities like a seasoned pirate.

First, make sure you mark your calendar for the main event: the Gasparilla Pirate Invasion and Parade. This is the festival's highlight and takes place on the last Saturday of January each year. The parade features dozens of floats, live music, and of course, the arrival of the legendary Jose Gaspar and his band of pirates.

A group of "pirates" led by the mythical Jose Gaspar (also known as Gasparilla) takes over the city of Tampa. The pirates sail across Tampa Bay, dock their ship at the Tampa Convention Center, and then proceed to "invade" the city, complete with cannon blasts and a thrilling sword fight. It's a sight to behold and not to be missed!

The parade route runs through the heart of downtown Tampa, so make sure to stake out a good spot along the route early to get the best view. Starting at Bay to Bay Boulevard and Bayshore Drive and ending at the Tampa Convention Center, it's best enjoyed by arriving early to ensure you've got a clear view of the excitement.

After the parade, the fun continues at the Gasparilla Pirate Fest Street Festival. This event takes place in Curtis Hixon Park and features a variety of food, drink, and merchandise vendors, as well as live music and entertainment. It's the perfect place to grab a bite to eat, relax, and enjoy the festival atmosphere. And if you're feeling brave, you can join in the fun and dress up as a pirate yourself! Don't forget to try the famous Gasparilla Rum Punch and some traditional jerk chicken.

One of the best ways to experience the Gasparilla Pirate Fest is by joining one of the many krewes. A krewe is a group of people who come together to participate in the Gasparilla Parade and other events. There are krewes for every interest, from social clubs to charitable organizations.

Each krewe has its own theme, costumes, and floats, and many also have their own social events and parties leading up to the parade. To join a krewe, you can contact the krewe directly to find out about their membership requirements and how to apply. Some may have an application process and require you to attend certain events or participate in fundraisers—but if you’re looking to immerse yourself in the action entirely, there’s no better action plan!

How to Best Experience the Gasparilla 2023 Pirate Fest


Tampa's Gasparilla Pirate Fest is a special annual event that attracts visitors from all over the country. If you're planning on attending next year's fest, here are some tips to help you make the most of your experience:

  • Plan ahead: The Gasparilla Pirate Fest is a popular event, so it's important to plan to ensure that you have a smooth and enjoyable experience. Secure accommodations, purchase Gasparilla 2023 tickets in advance and make transportation arrangements.
  • Dress the part: One of the best things about Gasparilla is the opportunity to dress up in pirate garb and join in the fun. So, pack your pirate hat, eye patch, and sword (just make sure it's a plastic one!) to immerse yourself in the experience fully.
  • Arrive early: Gasparilla is a full-day event, so arrive early to get the most out of your day. This will also give you the best chance of securing a good spot to watch the parade and other events.
  • Stay hydrated: Tampa can be hot and humid, so staying hydrated throughout the day is essential. Be sure to bring plenty of water and consider packing some snacks to keep your energy up.
  • Have fun: Above all, Gasparilla is about having a good time. So, let loose, embrace your inner pirate, and enjoy all the fest offers.

Overall, Gasparilla Pirate Fest is a unique and exciting event that offers something for everyone. Following these tips ensures you have a great time and make the most of your experience. Arr, matey!

When and Where Is Gasparilla 2023 Held?

Gasparilla Pirate Ship

In 2023, the festival will be held on January 28th. If you want the whole experience, set your morning alarm early—the parade begins at 11:30 am.Going by the Gasparilla 2023 lineup of activities, we have compiled a list of things to do during the fest.

Things to Do During the Fest

Still not sure what events to check out while you're in Champa Bay? Here are some great ideas:

  • Try delicious food and drink: The Gasparilla Festival offers a variety of tasty food and drink options, including traditional pirate fares such as jerk chicken and rum.
  • Enjoy live music and entertainment: The Gasparilla Festival features live music and entertainment on multiple stages throughout the event. A great opportunity to see local bands and enjoy some lively entertainment.
  • Get some brunch: For a fun way to kick off the festivities, grab tickets to an invasion brunch cruise. These events offer food and music and let you get some of the best views of the parade from aboard a boat. One of them is even held on the Jose Gaspar Pirate Ship itself.

BONUS: For those training to be the GOAT, you might also consider entering a road race. The Gasparilla 2023 5K and Gasparilla 2023 half marathon are road races that take place as part of the festival, typically on Saturday and Sunday (respectively) before the main festival event.

Featuring a course that runs through the streets of downtown Tampa, the races attract runners of all skill levels and are popular among residents and visitors to the city. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers organize the races and typically include music, food, and other activities before and after the race.

For even more events and concerts, check out the Seminole Hard Rock's website for a list of what's going on and ticket links. Gasparilla 2022 was a blast; we expect this year to be even better!

Experience Gasparilla 2023 in Style

Beads Booze Bayshore T-Shirt

Now that you know what to do at Gasparilla, let's talk about what to wear—possibly the most crucial detail. Plenty of people will be decked out in pirate garb, so why not stand out from the crowd with some awesome Tampa gear?

We've got a collection of high-quality tees, tank tops, hoodies, and more that'll help you show your love for all things Tampa. We've even got one featuring the three famous B's: Beads, Booze, Bayshore.

Our products use incredibly soft cotton that feels like a well-worn vintage favorite and keeps its shape after washing—so you can show your Florida pride all week long. We recommend changing your shirt at least every once in a while, though…

What are you waiting for? Check out our full collection of Tampa Bay gear to show your local pride or attempt to blend in with the locals. And while you’re here, don’t forget to try a Cuban sandwich!


Gasparilla Collection

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