Gasparilla in Tampa: A Girls’ Getaway

Gasparilla, the annual pirate-themed festival in Tampa, is a one-of-a-kind experience that promises excitement, adventure, and a whole lot of fun! This was my first time to Gasparilla, and let me tell you, it exceeded all expectations. From the lively parades to the vibrant atmosphere, here’s a glimpse of my unforgettable adventure, along with some recommendations for those planning their own Gasparilla getaway for 2025.

Gasparilla Parade

Often referred to as Tampa’s Mardi Gras, Gasparilla takes place every January and is inspired by the legend of José Gaspar, a mythical Spanish pirate. The entire city transforms into a pirate’s haven, with locals and visitors alike embracing the spirit of intense revelry. From the moment we arrived, it was clear that Gasparilla was not just an event; it was an experience.

The Gasparilla Invasion, featuring the arrival of the legendary pirate ship, kicks off the day’s festivities, while the lively Street Festival on Bayshore Boulevard keeps the celebration going with live music, food vendors, and unique shopping opportunities. The highlight of Gasparilla is undoubtedly the Grand Parade, a spectacular procession of pirate-themed floats, marching bands, and krewes tossing beads and treasures to the crowd. We secured a prime viewing spot along Bayshore Boulevard. The energy was infectious, and the elaborate floats were a testament to the creativity and dedication of the Gasparilla participants.

One of the most entertaining aspects of Gasparilla is the array of costumes on display. From traditional pirate garb to outlandish and whimsical creations, the streets were a sea of colors and textures. We fully embraced the pirate spirit and donned our own creative costumes, making us feel like a part of the vibrant tapestry that is Gasparilla.


Stay Downtown: We stayed downtown at the Hilton and I cannot recommend that enough. It was a nice hotel with several great amenities including a rooftop pool and a Starbucks conveniently located in the lobby. It was great to not have to try to leave the downtown area after the parades were over.

Arrive Early: Find a prime spot to make the most of the Grand Parade. Bring drinks or stand near a bar and don’t forget your pirate-themed accessories!

Dress the Part: Gasparilla is all about embracing the pirate spirit, so don’t be shy about dressing up. Whether it’s a classic pirate costume or a creative, personalized ensemble, the more spirited, the better.

Explore the Street Festival: Take some time to explore the Street Festival on Bayshore Boulevard. From local cuisine to unique artisanal goods, the festival offers a diverse range of experiences that complement the pirate-themed festivities.

Hydrate and Stay Energized: Gasparilla can be a full day of excitement, so be sure to stay hydrated and energized. Bring water, snacks, and I highly recommend a portable phone charger to capture all the memorable moments.

Gasparilla Photo Booth with Captain Morgan

Gasparilla in Tampa is more than just a festival; it’s an immersive and unforgettable experience. From the lively parades to the creative costumes and vibrant street festivals, our girls’ trip to Gasparilla was a blast. If you’re looking for a unique and lively getaway with friends, Gasparilla should be at the top of your list. Embrace the pirate spirit, explore the festivities, and create memories that will last a lifetime!

Follow me on Instagram for more pics and behind-the-scenes footage @theashliemiller

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