KEY WEST, Florida Keys
The end of time is party time in Key West when Fantasy Fest 2012 takes a lighthearted look at the ancient apocalypse prophecy stating the world will end in December 2012. The outrageous annual masking and costuming festival, set for Oct. 19-28 and themed A-Conch-Alypse, features 10 days of revelry on the subtropical island whose natives are called conchs.More than 40 masquerade balls, costume contests and celebrations are scheduled, culminating in a decadent grand parade designed to banish the gloom from doomsday.Participants are encouraged to draw costume and float concepts from the festival theme, portraying apocalyptic ambassadors, zany zombies, dastardly doomsayers or uninhibited utopians.
Events begin Friday, Oct. 19, with the Mayan Empire Royal Coronation Ball to crown the festival king and queen. Also that weekend, Key Wests Caribbean roots are celebrated with Friday and Saturdays Goombay street party in historic Bahama Village.
Subsequent festival highlights include Tuesdays Salacious Unveiling: End of Time Headdress Ball, featuring prizes for the best masks and headdresses. Wednesday brings the quirky Pet Masquerade and Parade with animal antics from costumed dogs, cats, exotic birds and more on an oceanfront stage.
The lavish waters-edge Pretenders in Paradise costume competition is scheduled Thursday, Oct. 25, under the stars. Themed Zombie Nation Vacation, it stars entrants in dazzling large-scale costumes who present performances complete with lights and music.
Key Wests Duval Street becomes a partiers utopia Friday, Oct. 26, during the Fantasy Fest Street Fair, where vendors offer masks and costumes, artistry, food and libations. Just before sunset, the Masquerade March of exotically costumed characters parades through historic Old Town.
Other festival standouts include the Battle of Bone Island burlesque showcase, a Mayan State of Mind poolside party, sensual after-dark soirees and exuberant themed costume contests.
Rapturous revelry and revelations are predicted Saturday, Oct. 27, as tens of thousands of spectators gather for the Captain Morgan Fantasy Fest Parade in Key Wests historic downtown. The spectacle typically includes feather-bedecked marching groups, Caribbean bands and elaborate motorized floats, showing the end of time just might be the best of times.