Where to Watch? Gasparilla Invasion and Parade of the Pirates

Gasparilla Invasion

Known to be one of the most popular and exciting events in the Tampa Bay area, the Gasparilla invasion is the perfect date for pirate enthusiasts and parade lovers alike. Watch from a boat, attend a party or hang out on the parade route, there are a number of ways to enjoy the annual Gasparilla Invasion!

Not to mention, the Gasparilla Invasion is the third largest parade in the country. And it’s free for all guests. There is truly no better way to experience Tampa than at the Gasparilla Invasion. This year’s Gasparilla Invasion and Parade of the Pirates will take place on January 25th from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m in Downtown Tampa.

Before the parade begins, the infamous pirate invasion will take place. At 11:30 a.m. sharp, The José Gasparilla pirate ship, filled with its most trusty pirates, will set sail at the end of Hillsborough Bay. The ship will sail north until finally reaching its destination – The Tampa Convention Center. Couples along the seawall, as well as the couples relaxing in their boats in the bay, will watch with awe as the pirates make landfall on Tampa.

Gasparilla Pirate Festival

Shortly after the pirates invade our beloved city, the Gasparilla invasion parade will begin. Starting in the streets of South Tampa, the parade will run along Bayshore and into Downtown Tampa from 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Floats designed and built by local organizations, businesses, nonprofits, and sponsors will be throwing out beads, candy, pirate themed party favors, and more. These floats are always extravagant and are designed to fit the pirate-y themed day. They are true works of art – making it hard to look away as they waltz down the roads of Tampa.

In addition to the Gasparilla invasion and actual parade, there will be food vendors dishing up delicious cuisine to hungry parade goers. Munch on a massive turkey leg, sip an ice cold beer, or try something more unique at one of the local restaurant stations. Looking for Brunch before the parade? Check out Brunch Ideas: Gasparilla.

Where should my sweetie and I go to watch the Gasparilla Invasion and parade?

This is an excellent question, considering how crowded the parade is each year. If you are interested in a more low key afternoon, where you can collect a lot of treasure, you should try and get as close to the starting point as possible. Once the Gasparilla invasion lands at the convention center, the starting point is Bay to Bay Boulevard and Bayshore Boulevard. Other than that, any spot is a good spot for the parade. Just make sure to get there early in order to get a good place to stand.


Advice from our resident Pirate, “The best way to watch is by purchasing bleacher seats through EventFest. You can also arrive early and line up on the land side of Bayshore blvd between Bay to Bay blvd and Rome to find a section of grass and line up against the barricades along Bayshore. Another good Section is downtown along the barricades”


Do expect heavy traffic during the day of the Gasparilla invasion and parade. There are trolleys which can take you from your parking spot to the actual parade if you choose to drive. However, Uber is always an option, and may be a bit easier for your and your significant other. Plus, if you plan to drink, which we know is a very important hobby for a pirate, you may be better off just hopping in an Uber.

Gasparilla Pirate Festival

For more information regarding parking, street closings, the parade route map, and other Gasparilla activities, visit City of Tampa.

Get on your best pirate gear and head on down to the Gasparilla Invasion for iconic afternoon in Tampa Bay. Looking forward to seeing you there my fellow pirates.

Looking for Pirate gear? Check out South Tampa Trading Co. on S. Dale Mabry.

Looking for more unique date ideas? Check out Thai Sunday Market at Wat Tampa or Brunch Ideas: Gasparilla 2019.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Tampa Downtown Partnership


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