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The Pirate Festivals of Florida
By Nicholas Jurkowski

Tampa is one of Florida’s vacation hotspots, and anyone who is planning a trip to Florida should seriously consider visiting, even though it is a fair ways from the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area. The activities in the Tampa area are quite varied, ranging from outdoorsy hiking and fishing opportunities to the nightlife, bars, and restaurants of Ybor City (Tampa’s nightlife hotspot). You will also find Busch Gardens and the Florida aquarium in the Tampa area, and these attractions draw thousands of tourists each year. With all of these fantastic opportunities for people of all budgets, ages, and tastes, you may wonder why I will highlight something totally different. The answer essentially boils down to this: I’m a sucker for pirates.

The Gasparilla Pirate Festival is an annual event that Tampa hosts every January. The festival is named after famed pirate José Gaspar, who operated out of the Tampa area back in the Golden Age of piracy. The festival begins when Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla sail into town on a 165’ pirate ship, making landfall near downtown Tampa and having a huge parade through the middle of town. It’s a crazy time, and certainly my favorite annual festival in Florida (I try to make it over to Tampa each January to catch it).

The Gasparilla Pirate Festival is sandwiched by two other Tampa festivals. A week before, there is a family oriented children’s parade, as well as a “Piratechnic Extravaganza” of fireworks launched over Tampa. This is a good festival to bring the whole family to, and is far less crowded than the main “invasion” and pirate parade a week later. A week or two after the parade, you will see the more adult-oriented Sant’Yago Knight Parade, which marches from Ybor City and as such, predictably can get a little blue.

All pirates know that the best way to take in a pirate festival is from a comfortable limousine. Mirage Limo services Tampa and the surrounding area, so it is a natural choice for any reveler who seeks the comfort and luxury that only a limousine can provide – so when you head to Tampa next year for the Pirate Festival, keep that in mind or walk the plank (ye scurvy dogs!).

Nick Jurkowski is a senior editor for MilleniumLimo.com: the essays above can be found on his night life blog, updated daily and available via RSS, at The Urban Adventure Blog.

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