Arr you ready for Gasparilla? Here are some ways to celebrate the pirate takeover of the Bay.

Pirate invasion

The yearly invasion by Tampa’s legendary Jose Gaspar and his crew of marauding pirates begins around 11:30 a.m. Jan. 26 when the Jose Gasparilla appears at the south end of Hillsborough Bay. The 165-foot long “pirate” ship, built in 1954 for the pirate festival, makes its way through the bay and into the Seddon Channel before docking at the Tampa Convention Center. Along the way, it is surrounded by decorated boats and other costumed buccaneers. Around 1 p.m., the Ye Mystic Krewe of the Jose Gasparilla will declare Tampa as theirs and launch the Parade of Pirates along Bayshore Boulevard.

Parade of pirates

The captain and crew of the Ye Mystic Krewe celebrate their capture of Tampa by sharing their wealth of colorful beads with revelers during the Jan. 26 parade along Bayshore Boulevard. The parade typically boasts more than 140 units comprised of more than 100 elaborate floats, marching bands and at least 50 krewes. The parade kicks off around 2 p.m. at Bay to Bay Boulevard and ends around 5:30 p.m. at Cass Street and Ashley Drive in downtown Tampa. 

Gasparilla Jazz Fest

The first annual jazz fest comes to Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park on Jan. 27 with headline NAJEE. The family-friendly fest is free to attend and will have live entertainment from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be local vendors and food trucks on site with a variety of brunch options. There are also a limited number of VIP brunch tickets available through the Gasparilla website

The Knight Parade

Another prominent local krewe, the Krewe of the Knights of Sant ‘Yago, hosts an evening parade following the Parade of Pirates. The Feb. 9 parade is a celebration of community pride hosted by the krewe dedicated to preserving Tampa’s Latin heritage. The parade begins at 6:30 p.m. along 7th Avenue in Ybor City.

Outward Bound Voyage

They came, they reveled, and now they’re leaving. It’s time for Tampa’s favorite pirates to head back out to sea, and they’re ending the Gasparilla season in style on March 2. Ye Mystic Krewe returns the key to the city to the mayor and then get back onboard the Jose Gasparilla to fire a final cannon salute as they head back into the bay. The event at the Tampa Convention Center is 2-10 p.m. and is free to attend. 

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