Tampa’s Gasparilla Adventures – Luxury Edition
The beautiful waters surrounding Tampa are deeply rooted in history and exploration. Home to dolphins and manatees, this vast estuary connects us to the Gulf of Mexico and served as a passageway for Spanish explorers in the late 1500s.
One of the best and longest-standing events along the water in Tampa Bay is the internationally known Gasparilla.
The History of Gasparilla
Marina Pointe is a proud part of Tampa Bay and if you’re a resident, you know the importance of this annual pirate festival well. This celebration of legend is the third-largest parade in the nation and takes place in late January or early February at the intersection of historic Bay to Bay and Bayshore Boulevard.
Our famous celebration gets its name from a pirate known as José Gaspar. With his crew of motley thieves, Gaspar seized and raided merchant ships off the Gulf Coast, plundering the waters throughout the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. Unbeknownst to them, their final pillage took place in 1821 on a United States Navy warship in disguise. The long-lived thievery of Gaspar and his crew had come to an end.
The city of Tampa began celebrating this honorable victory with a Gasparilla Parade of Pirates in 1904. As part of the celebration, “Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla” was formed, and its forty members planned a mock pirate attack on the city. This customary celebration upholds the legend of José Gaspar to enrich the community with imagination and gusto.
On January 29, The Gasparilla Pirate Invasion re-enactment takes place from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. and the victory parade will commence at 2 p.m. Come be part of Tampa Bay history and celebrate in style, the Marina Pointe way.
Party like a Pirate – Tips to Enjoy Gasparilla in Style
- Board a Gasparilla Invasion Brunch Cruise
Join the largest luxury vessel in the flotilla, The Yacht Starship. Enjoy a delicious, all-you-can-eat brunch menu, two complementary cocktails, and an unparalleled view of the pirate invasion re-enactment. Tickets are $149.95 per adult and $89.95 per child.
The Florida Aquarium’s Gasparilla Invasion Cruise takes place on a 72-foot catamaran. Your ticket grants you bottomless mimosas, a deluxe open bar, gourmet sandwiches, and two-and-a-half hours amongst the colorful fleet of Gasparilla ships. Pricing is $175 per person (21+ only).
2. Join The Party Offshore
Gasparilla boat docks are officially sold out at the Tampa Convention Center, but you can still enjoy the festivities offshore on your personal vessel. If you want to be front and center for the fun, consider hiring a captain and taking a boat out for a few hours. With Anchor Rides, you can enjoy the afternoon with a licensed captain for only $75 an hour while partying like a pirate responsibly.
3. Sponsored Tents and Private Seating
Avoid the crowd and reserve your private bleacher seating to watch the Parade of Pirates. If you’re looking for something a little more exclusive, The Scully’s Parade of Pirates Hospitality Experience offers a reserved area with bleachers, pre-parade family entertainment, a picnic-style buffet lunch, and free alcoholic beverages. With the purchase of a ticket to these private viewing areas, you have access to explore the colorful sponsored tents lined along Bayshore Blvd. A few of this year’s sponsors include Bud Light Seltzer, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, and Captain Morgan Rum. Within these striped tents, treat yourself to a drink and a shady view of the festivities.
4. Music at Riverwalk
Presented by Bud Light Seltzer, two stages will be featured along the Riverwalk in downtown Tampa with live entertainment. The music will run before and after the parade at both the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and MacDill Park stages. Keep an ear out for the lineup, which will be announced as Gasparilla comes closer.