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Gasparilla 2020: Everything you need to know about the annual Pirate Fest

Posted at 12:31 PM, Jan 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-25 18:24:54-05

TAMPA, Fla. — Since 1904, pirates have been invading Tampa for the annual Gasparilla Pirate Fest!

Pirate accents and eye patches will be aplenty and parking and traffic will be busy. Here's everything you need to know about the annual throw-down.

The 2020 Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa Gasparilla Pirate Fest kicks off on Saturday, January 25.

The Gasparilla Invasion will start at 11 a.m. when the world’s only fully-rigged pirate ship, the Jose Gasparilla, sets sail at the south end of Hillsborough Bay and travels north to Seddon Channel to dock at the Tampa Convention Center.

Gasparilla Pirate Invasion time-lapse 2020

Over 300,000 spectators are expected to line the streets to watch Tampa's Gasparilla Pirate Fest.

The Parade of the Pirates begins at 2 p.m. at Bay to Bay Boulevard and Bayshore Boulevard. It will continue along Bayshore Boulevard to Brorein Street turning east on Brorein Street and then north on Ashley Drive. The parade will end at Cass Street and Ashley Drive. The parade is FREE to attend. You can purchase reserved seating here.

A Gasparilla Brunch will also be held at the Tampa Convention Center from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tickets are required for this event. Get more info here.

Traffic and parking information from the City of Tampa

There will be several road closures in and around Tampa’s downtown and along Bayshore Boulevard due to the parade.

Check out these parking options:

  • Tampa Convention Center Garage (Tampa St. & Brorein St.) will open at 7:00 a.m. at a rate of $10 per vehicle entry.
  • Ft. Brooke Garage (Whiting St. between Franklin St. & Florida Ave.) will open at 7:00 a.m. at a rate of $10 per vehicle entry.
  • Poe Garage (Ashley St., south of Cass St.) will open at 7:00 a.m. at a rate of $10 per vehicle entry. Due to the parade route, this garage will close from 1:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Customers will not be able to enter or exit this garage until after 6:00 p.m.
  • Twiggs St. Garage (Twiggs St., west of Nebraska Ave.) will open at 7:00 a.m. at normal hourly rates of $1.20/hr, with a $7 daily maximum. This will be an automated facility with a Pay Station collecting payment upon exit.
  • Centro Ybor Garage (5 th Ave. and 15th St.) will open at 6 a.m. at the standard hourly rate with a $9.00 maximum.
  • Palm Ave Garage (13th St. and 9th Ave.) will open at 6 a.m. at the standard hourly rate with a $9.00 maximum.
  • Royal Regional Lot (Tampa St. & Fortune St.) will be open at 7:00 a.m. at a rate of $10 per vehicle.
  • Scott Street Lot (Morgan St. and Scott St.) will be open at 7:00 a.m. at a rate of $5 per vehicle.
  • Meters south of Kennedy Blvd. and on Kennedy Blvd will be enforced from 8:00 a.m. until midnight.

*** Attendees may also consider parking in Ybor or the Channel District and taking the Tampa Streetcar for FREE to the event.

PREPAID PARKING is highly recommended. Click here to purchase your parade parking and guarantee your parking space in downtown! Also, we highly suggest taking a ride share to and from Gasparilla to avoid parking all together.

Getting to and from Gasparilla

TECO Line Streetcar System

  • Streetcar service is free
  • Continuous streetcar service from 8:30 a.m.- 2:00 a.m.
  • For parking in Ybor City, Station #2 (Centro Ybor) is your best bet to the event with Stations #3 and #4 CLOSED from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. A FREE bus shuttle will be provided (details below).

HART Bus Service

  • An all-day pass is $4, which may be purchased in advance at HART retail outlets or on board buses on Gasparilla Day with cash only (no change provided). Passengers may also use their monthly bus pass. This fare does not cover City of Tampa parking fees.
  • For parking in Ybor City, HART will provide FREE bus shuttle service between Station #3 (Streetcar Society Station) and Station #4 (Cadrecha Station) and downtown Tampa (Station #10 - Dick Greco Plaza) continuously from 9:30 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
  • For parking at the Port Authority Parking Garage, HART will be providing FREE bus shuttle service to/from Station #10 (Dick Greco Plaza) continuously from 9:30 a.m.- 7:00 p.m.

Getting to Downtown Tampa on HART

  • From University Area: Routes 1*, 5, 6, 9, 12, 275LX, MetroRapid
  • From Temple Terrace: Route 6
  • From New Tampa/Wiregrass: Route 275LX
  • From Brandon: Routes 8, 360LX*
  • From West Tampa/Citrus Park: Route 7*
  • From South Tampa: Routes 19*, 360LX*
  • From Tampa International: Routes 30*, 60LX

Gasparilla2020 Patron Info Flyer by wftsweb on Scribd

Street Closure Schedule

Those located in the shaded areas can request a ride by heading outside the perimeter:
· Downtown: Walk east toward North Florida Avenue. Once there, you will be able to request a ride.
· Harbor Island: Walk east of Harbor Island Boulevard and south of Knights Run Ave, then tap Request.
· Hyde Park North: Head north toward the University of Tampa. After you've reached Cleveland Avenue, you'll be able to request.
· Hyde Park Center: Head north of Swann Avenue and east of South Boulevard, and from there, request a ride.
· Hillsborough Bay: If you're enjoying the festivities on the high seas, head back to land to request your ride! You will not be connected with a driver until you are on land.

Both Lyft and Uber may lie to you a little bit and say it will be 12 minutes to pick up -- they can’t fully understand the traffic on the ground So if it says 12 minutes it might be 20 minutes," said Ben Swift, an uber driver that ventured to Tampa last year during the parade. "I had several passengers that stood there, we can’t find you we don’t see you. And I was less than 20 feet away but it would’ve required a U-turn or something so cooperate with that lift and Uber driver. It’s rideshare baby."

He says drivers who haven't done this before should bring a bucket to avoid any accidents in the car. He says customers need to be patient.

Gasparilla road closures, traffic

Drinking alcohol at Gasparilla

Law enforcement will be cracking down on drinking, whether you're on land or sea. So go easy on the bottle of rum!

Tampa police say that their officers will be on the lookout for excessive and underage drinking, that around 2,000 officers will be working during Gasparilla. Landlubber's beware! There are designated 'Wet Zone' areas where you are allowed to legally consume alcohol. If you're caught with a drink or open container outside of the zones, you may be forced to walk the plank! (Or get a ticket, which could ruin your Gasparilla fun)

Things to remember:

  • No underage alcohol consumption
  • No open alcohol containers or consumption outside of designated wet zones
  • No coolers, kegs, or vessels that provide mass distribution of alcohol
  • No glass containers of any type
  • No failure to use available event port-o-lets
  • All bags and backpacks are subject to search

Here is a map of where you are legally allowed to wet your whistle:

Boat Docking: Docking space in and around downtown Tampa for Gasparilla is extremely limited. Boaters attempting to “come ashore” along the Bayshore Boulevard balustrade or any other property without a permit are strictly prohibited.

There is limited docking space available at The Tampa Convention Center or in the Marina area along Bayshore between Platt Street and the Davis Island Bridge, available through the City of Tampa Parks Department (Phone: 813-259-1604).

RELATED | Gasparilla events you'll want to know about: Pregames, after parties and more

Children's Gasparilla Parade

The Children's Gasparilla Parade kicks off a week earlier on January 18 at 3:30 p.m. along Bayshore Boulevard. Drinking is prohibited during the Children’s Gasparilla Parade. Click here for event information and places to park.

#BeadFreeBay is an anti-littering awareness campaign to remind the public that throwing beads and other litter in the water is prohibited. Beads and other non-biodegradable items are incredibly harmful to our environment and they pose serious threats to marine wildlife. The goal of the Bead-Free Bay campaign is to minimize the environmental impact of our City’s traditions and events on our waterways and beyond.

For more important Gasparilla event updates, safety tips, and traffic alerts, text GASPARILLA to 888-777 to have information sent directly to your phone