TAMPA, Fla. — Make way, mateys. Everyone's favorite hometown pirates are back and ready to invade Tampa. Gasparilla Pirate Fest is set for Saturday, Jan. 28.
Whether you're a seasoned parade-goer or new to the Tampa Bay area, here's everything you need to know about Gasparilla 2023.
Gasparilla 2023 schedule
11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. - Gasparilla Invasion: The day will kick off with the Gasparilla Flotilla, led by Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla aboard the José Gasparilla II ship, invading the city.
Watch as "hundreds if not thousands of boats" emerge at the south end of Hillsborough Bay and into Seddon Channel (between Davis Islands & Harbour Island).
1 p.m. - Mayor Jane Castor surrenders the key: Once the José Gasparilla II docks at the Tampa Convention Center, Castor will surrender the key to the city of Tampa to the captain of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla.
2-6 p.m. - Gasparilla Parade of Pirates: What do pirates do once they capture the key to the city? Celebrate with a victory parade, of course.
YMKG will share its wealth by sprinkling beads and treasures along the parade route. More than 103 elaborate floats, five marching bands and 50 distinct Krewes will participate.
The main event of the festival will start at Bay to Bay and Bayshore boulevards, turn east on Brorein Street, then north on Ashley Drive. The parade ends at Cass Street and Ashley Drive.
9 a.m. to 8 p.m. - Gasparilla Pirate Fest: Stages at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and MacDill Park will feature live entertainment before and after the parade. Check out the lineup here.
You can park in various city-run garages and lots for $20.
You can't park in the neighborhoods bordering the parade route. Check out the parking maps for different Tampa neighborhoods.
The TECO Line Streetcar and HART buses will be offering free transportation all day around Downtown Tampa.
Designated parking for parade-goers who are disabled is available in the Fort Brooke Garage.
Where to stand
Free parade viewing for disabled patrons is located at the intersection of Ashley Drive and Whiting Street. Organizers note that there are no seats or bleachers in this area.
If you need to use the little pirates' room during the parade, you'll need to find a porta-potty.
There will be plenty of port-o-lets located throughout the event site, parade route on both sides of the street, near all reserved seating sections and downtown at the pirate street fest.
Where to get beads
You can purchase some specialty Gasparilla beads at GasparillaTreasures.com. There are plenty of options, including an all-silver bead of the José Gasparilla II ship and a necklace with José Gaspar's face. Here's where else to buy flashy Buccaneer beads.
Do I have to get tickets for Gasparilla 2023?
The short answer is: No. The event is free to the public.
But there are aspects of the overall pirate fest that do require prepaid admission. These are things like the Gasparilla Invasion Brunch, bleacher tickets and First Mate reserved chair seating.
All add-on tickets can be purchased online here or by calling EventFest’s Gasparilla Ticket Line at 813-251-8844.
Can I bring alcohol to Gasparilla?
Nope. Outside food, drinks and coolers are prohibited.
But you can purchase beer and wine at various Gasparilla Charity Beer Gardens throughout the event. And there are designated wet zones where you can drink them.