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Your Ultimate Guide to Gasparilla 2022

Gasparilla 2022 is back! After being cancelled in 2021 due to Covid, the Ashley Children’s Gasparilla presented by Chick-Fil-A Tampa Bay and Seminole Hard Rock Gasparilla Pirate Fest return this month!

Tampa’s longest-standing tradition celebrates the “invasion” of Jose Gaspar and his legion of pirates…well, at least that’s the story and Tampa’s sticking to it. Myth, legend, or fact…Gasparilla is an event that attracts visitors from all over the United States and has grown into the third-largest parade in the country!

So let’s dive in, shall we? We’ll start with the celebration for the kids and then move into the BIG event…Gasparilla Pirate Fest. Keep scrolling because we also have TOP TIPS, parking info and MORE!

Children’s Gasparilla Parade: January 22, 2022

The Children’s Gasparilla Parade day consists of family-friendly and kid-orientated activities, followed by a parade along Bayshore Blvd. You’ll find it commonly referred to as the “Kids Parade” (although it’s grown to be more than just a parade) this event always occurs a week before the primary “adult” Gasparilla pirate invasion and parade.  The Children’s Gasparilla Parade provides a family-friendly, alcohol-free environment for families to see over a hundred floats, collect thrown beads, engage in a preschooler stroll or a bike safety rodeo.

NEW for 2022! The parade is celebrating its 75th anniversary and will include 121 units such as krewes, school groups, local organizations, and more.

This year will also feature a Gasparilla Air Invasion with planes, skywriters, and precision jumpers taking flight day and night.

The second year of the Piratechnic fireworks finale will take place with the Jose Gasparilla center stage filled with lights, cannons, and fireworks.

Alcohol is prohibited along the parade route.  For detailed info on the Gasparilla Children’s Parade, check out Tampa Bay Parenting’s detailed articles on the best way to enjoy this family-friendly event for kids of all ages!


Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla Mayor’s Raid: January 25, 2022

12 pm at Lykes Gaslight Park, 241 E Madison St, Tampa

Steely-eyed warriors from Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla’s elite Plunder-Team Ten Special
Operations Unit infiltrated Tampa’s outer defenses. They swept into City Hall, presenting the Mayor with a dire warning letter from their Captain, Peter Lackman. The letter, signed in blood, commands that Mayor Jane Castor meet with Captain Lackman at high noon on
Tuesday, January 25th, in downtown Tampa to negotiate a peaceful surrender of the city and avoid a lengthy and costly battle. The letter further indicates the Pirates are threatening to hold hostage an International Treasure, revered by 31 powerful dynasties and recognized by the grand title of “Lord.” At 11:30, Pirates will arrive (noisily) in downtown Tampa via float, on the west side (Tampa Street) of Lykes Gaslight Park. This event is free and open to the public.


Gasparilla Pirate Fest: January 29, 2022

This is the Big Deal – THE Gasparilla event that put Jose Gaspar (and maybe Tampa Bay) on the map, so to speak!  The Gasparilla Pirate Fest takes place on Saturday, January 29 2022. Sponsored by Seminole Hard Rock Casino, Gasparilla Pirate Fest features the 104th Gasparilla Invasion and Parade of the Pirates presented by Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla.

Gasparilla Pirate Fest Events:

  • The Gasparilla Parade of Pirates: This year marks the 200th Anniversary of the DEATH of legendary pirate, Jose Gasparilla. You will see his tomb carried by a horse-drawn caisson in this year’s parade.
  • Pirate Fest Presented by Bud Light Seltzer: 11am – 8:30pm along Tampa Riverwalk. Stages in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and MacDill Park will feature both pre-and post-parade live entertainment, inviting guests to enjoy their stroll along Tampa’s renowned waterfront.

Related: JUMP to Gasparilla Survival Tips

Gasparilla Invasion Brunch

10:00 am-1pm at the Tampa Convention Center

The Gasparilla Invasion Brunch provides the best view of the historic Gasparilla Invasion. The pirates of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla sail up Seddon Channel aboard the Jose Gasparilla accompanied by a majestic flotilla and dock tableside at 1 pm at the Tampa Convention Center. The Gasparilla Invasion Brunch includes a buffet brunch with a cash bar and reserved table seating. Tickets are $140 per person. Children two years of age and under do not need a ticket, as long as they remain in the lap of an Adult Ticket holder at all times. Children must have a ticket if they will be occupying a seat. Click here to purchase tickets.

Related: TOP PICKS of Gasparilla Invasion Brunches in 2022

Photo credit: Ryan McGibbeny

The Gasparilla Invasion

11:30am – 1:00pm at the Tampa Convention Center

(January 28 UPDATE: Due to inclement weather, the invasion route has been changed to now move from the Port of Tampa to the Tampa Convention Center. Small crafts are advised to stay on land this year due to a small craft advisory.)

The world’s only fully-rigged pirate ship, the Jose Gasparilla, will set sail from the south end of Hillsborough Bay. Shouts of “Land, ho!” will ring out from the ship, once it magically appears, poised to invade and conquer Tampa (but in a friendly way, of course). To defend itself, Tampanians will launch a defending flotilla of ships, boats and watercraft of all kinds to defend the city and stop the pirate invasion.  You’ll see over a thousand boats and watercraft of every kind in the water along Hillsborough Bay as they prepare to meet the invading pirates. Upon docking the Jose Gasparilla at the Tampa Convention Center at 1pm, the Mayor will surrender the Key to the City of Tampa into the hands of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla’s Captain Peter Lackman.

Although in years past, boaters have thrown beads to those on land, this year may look a bit different. Tampa Mayor, Jane Castor, and community organizers are relaunching “Bead Free Bay” as a way to help marine animals by keeping plastics out of the water. But don’t fret – you’ll have plenty of chances to catch some loot at the actual parade later that day!

Related:  We answer the question “What is Gasparilla” here!

The best place to view the invasion is on a boat in the invasion. Other great spots are along the downtown waterfront – check out American Social and Jackson’s Bistro on Harbour Island, The Sail and Tampa’s Riverwalk, and of course the Convention Center itself – but be prepared for the crowds!  If you can snag an invite to a party on Harbour Island or Davis Island, that’s a great bet too as the ships all pass with yards along the Seddon Channel heading to the Convention Center.  Many parties begin in the downtown Tampa high rises – which have stellar views of the water and provide a true birds-eye view of the invasion.

Gasparilla Parade of Pirates

2pm starting at Bayshore Blvd at Bay to Bay Blvd

Having again successfully invaded Tampa, the Pirates of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla celebrate with a parade down Bayshore Blvd. The parade features more than 117 units of krewes, floats, marching bands, and social organizations.

Participating groups gather on Bayshore Blvd between Bay to Bay and Gandy to join their
group of merry pirates on a 4.5 mile-long march along Tampa’s Bayshore Boulevard to
celebrate their victory. Beads, coins, and other Gasparilla treasures are tossed into an
excited crowd of more than 200,000 visitors and locals as pirates share their booty.

This year marks the 200th Anniversary of the DEATH of Jose Gasparilla. You will see his tomb carried by a horse-drawn caisson in this year’s parade!

2022 Grand Marshal and Community Hero Announced!

The two-time NFL world champions, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, will serve as Grand Marshal for this year’s event. Jalem Robinson, CEO and Founder of the Tampa-based non profit, Brothers United Building Brothers Alliance (B.U.B.B.A.), has been selected as this year’s honorary Community Hero. Robinson and representatives from the Bucs (TBD) will lead the parade beginning at 2pm.

“When we look for a Grand Marshal or Community Hero, we aim to find someone or something that reflects the same excitement, strength, and passion for community that we hold dear,” said Captain Peter Lackman of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla. “With both our champion Buccaneers and Jalem Robinson, we find a drive for success and commitment to excellence that helps make our city great. We look forward to welcoming both to the 2022 Gasparilla Parade of Pirates.”

Important tips to know before you go! 

Alcohol and Safety

The City of Tampa has established temporary wet zones along the parade route.  These wet zones are the only safe places to consume alcohol.

Unofficially, the many law enforcement officers working the parade tend to be pretty cool as long as you’re cool and respectful.

  • If you’re underage, don’t drink; the police can and do make underage drinking arrests every year.
  • Be respectful of your surroundings and please use the provided porta-potties.
  • Don’t have glass, don’t bring coolers, don’t bring weapons, etc.  Check out the City of Tampa’s Gasparilla Safety Page for more info.

Viewing Areas

The non-water side of Bayshore Blvd. are mostly open to the public, whereas large chunks of the water side of Bayshore are restricted and reserved for private paid seating or viewing areas, corporate tents, and these areas are limited access to the public.  Reserved seats can be purchased, some of which include things like bar and food access, private porta-potties, etc. from Gasparilla Treasures.

Parking

With almost a million people descending on a 4.5 mile route, there’s barely any room for people to move, much less park tens of thousands of cars.  Best bet is to not park if possible.  Grab a hotel, carpool, Uber/Lyft, bus, etc.

(Need help finding a Gasparilla hotel?  We detail some great Gasparilla hotel options for you!)

If you simply must drive and park, allow ample time to arrive to your destination and secure parking. Below we’ve outlined some available event parking options:

  • Tampa Convention Center Garage (Tampa St & Brorein St) will open at 7:00am at a rate if $15/vehicle
  • Ft Brooke Garage (Whiting St between Franklin St & Florida Ave) will open at 7:00am at a rate of $15/vehicle
  • Poe Garage (Ashley St south of Cass St) will open at 7:00am at a rate of $15/vehicle. 

For a full list of parking options, click here.

Road Closures

Head to the City of Tampa’s site here dedicated to all things parking and road closures for Gasparilla.

Gasparilla Survival Tips

By Haley Ward & Sarah Stoulil

The last weekend in January is a big one for the city of Tampa Bay. People from all over come to celebrate the pirate invasion of Jose Gaspar and his crew. About 300,000 people make their way to Bayshore Boulevard for the main parade of Gasparilla in the afternoon after a morning full of mimosa’s and rum filled drinks. With so many people coming to town from outside the Bay, there is always bound to be chaos. Even those who have been to the parade for years make rookie mistakes on the big day. Make sure you make it through the day (at least to after the parade). ~ “It’s not a race, it’s a marathon”

Start Early

If you really want to get the full Gasparilla Experience, start early! The invasion starts at 11:30 in the morning with the parade to follow and various parties happening throughout the day. With all that parting you are going to need to start with a hearty brunch to help you last through the day. It’s also a good idea to travel well before the festivities begin. Traffic will start getting crazy as early as 9 a.m. and will not slow down throughout the day. You may not be able to park close to your final destination so leave extra time to either a) find parking, or b) walk to your destination. And as they say “you can’t party all day if you don’t start in the morning!”

Spending the morning out in the bay waiting for the Invasion to begin!

Protection

The weather for this years parade is going to be COLLLLLLD by Florida standards. So bundle up and layer, layer, layer! It’s the wind that will make it feel even colder, so a winter hat and gloves might even come in handy. It is important to protect your skin and your eyes throughout the day. I recommend carrying around a little travel sized sunscreen, a hat (preferably pirate themed), and sunglasses just in case the sun does join us for the day.

Snacks

Almost every bar in South Tampa hosts a “Kegs and Eggs” event in the morning. Breakfast is a big deal the morning of Gasparilla, but people tend to forget about food throughout the rest of the day once they have had a few drinks and their necks are filling up with beads. It is important to have a few snacks on hand or money for food as you make your way to and from the parade.

Where To Park and Stand

If you are looking for a spot to catch a lot of beads, try to get to the parade early and stand at the beginning. Park by MacDill or Howard and walk to where the parade starts its course for great views and lots of treasure. Park in Ybor or Channelside if you’re into the crazier side of Gasparilla. You can take the trolley from where you parked to the parade to catch the end of the annual parade.

The Bathroom Situation

There are plenty of port-o-lets staged along the parade route…but they’re still port-o-lets. We highly recommend bringing hand sanitizer and/or sanitizing hand wipes. Some pirate pros also bring their own roll of toilet paper which is actually genius because many of the port-o-lets run out. A face mask is a good idea too–have it handy anyway for super crowded situations because who wants Covid and who wants to smell the full effect of a port-o-let? Ew. It’s gross, but is what it is. At least you’ll be prepared.

**Insider Tip** “It’s always a good idea to bring posters, poster board or even a white board to write down your favorite krewe names as they pass you by on the parade route. It will give you the upper hand on more beads and even the potential for special beads, bracelets, or special gifts”

Gasparilla Invasion making it’s way across the bay

Should I Travel by Boat?

If you are planning to travel by boat there are a few things to consider. First of all, know it will be extremely crowded. When the invasion starts out in the bay you will have your share of space, however if you think you are going to come into the channel and dock – you are sorely mistaken. Plan to stay on your boat for the duration of the invasion and return trip back to your docking location. Docking in downtown is extremely limited and most likely will not be an option. (Plan accordingly for restroom breaks – take them when you can.) Also be aware that the invasion is heavily monitored by law enforcement, boating regulations do apply and a designated driver should be appointed. All together being a part of the invasion and celebrating by boat is a great experience and a preferred way to enjoy Gasparilla. Just be prepared for the reality when the big day hits!

Have Cash on Hand

If you plan to eat a a restaurant, have pre-purchased tickets to an event, or don’t plan to purchase anything you should be fine with out it. However, it’s a good idea to have cash on hand as Charity Beer Gardens and Event Vendors accept cash only! There will be ATM’s throughout the parade route to help you out, however we would suggest having it ahead of time.

More Gasparilla Themed Events Coming in February and March:

  • Nighttime Sant’Yago Knight parade in Ybor – February 12, 2022
  • Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic, February 25-26, 2022
  • GMF: Gasparilla Music Festival – February 25-27, 2022
  • Gasparilla Festival of the Arts – March 5-6, 2022
  • Gasparilla International Film Festival March 10-13, 2022

*Written in collaboration with our media partners at TampaBayDateNightGuide.com.

 

 

 

 

Brie Gorecki
Brie has been writing for websites and local publications for over 10 years. A USF graduate, she has worked for several major companies in New York, Atlanta and here in Tampa. You can read her articles on Tampa Bay Parenting, Tampa Bay Date Night Guide and Orlando Date Night Guide. She’s a Disney fanatic, an animal lover, and is a huge foodie who loves trying all the amazing restaurants around Tampa Bay. She’s a proud mom to a sweet little Star Wars and Godzilla-loving boy, and to her “fur-babies,” a rescue dog and cat from Humane Society of Tampa Bay. She loves spending time with her family, whether it’s a date night out with her husband or a day filled with roller coaster rides at a theme park.

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