Survival Tips for Gasparilla

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We've got your 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, and you need some Gasparilla survival tips from the pros! 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) with these Gasparilla survival tips. ~ “It's not a race, it's a marathon”

(We've got your Ultimate Guide to All Things Gasparilla HERE!)

Start Early

Gasparilla Survival Tips 1: 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!


Gasparilla Survival Tips 2: The weather for this years parade looks like it is going to be close to perfect with a low of sixty-five degrees and a high of seventy-six. The sun will still be shining bright in the sky during the parade even if the temperatures are a little cooler than what Floridians are used to. 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.


Gasparilla Survival Tips 3: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

Gasparilla Survival Tips 4: 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. For more details on where to stand check out —> Where to Watch? Gasparilla Invasion and Parade of the Pirates

**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?

Gasparilla Survival Tips 5: 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!  Learn about buying a ticket for a Gasparilla Invasion Cruise Here!

Have Cash on Hand

Gasparilla Survival Tips 6: 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.

If you're looking for things to do after Gasparilla weekend passes, check out Tampa Riverwalk Date Night and The Top Tampa Girls Night Ideas: Ybor City.


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