I just moved into an apartment in Tampa, and I’ve been wondering: what’s up with all the pirates?

I grew up in Tampa Bay, and as a long-time resident of the area, I promise that we're not all obsessed with pirates. That being said… pirate culture is a big piece of living here. You can't live in the apartments in Tampa without knowing just a bit about Gasparilla; here's a quick history lesson so you can fit in with the locals:

This pirate festival is all about Jose Gaspar, who was considered the "last of the buccaneers. He was a Spanish naval officer who went rogue, commandeered a ship and made his way to the Gulf coast of Florida. He then took on a new name - Gasparilla (!!) - and began his career as a pirate.

If you're interested in more of his life story, you can check it out here, but I think what's even more interesting than what he did, is the impact he has had on the Tampa Bay area. Because of this buccaneer, you get to enjoy two whole months of swashbuckling fun, all within a few miles of Tampa apartments! This time period, from January to March, is known as "Gasparilla Season," and it includes events like: 

  • The Gasparilla Distance Classic. This event entails several races, from a 5K to a half marathon, so you should get your running shoes ready. You can get plenty of practice in on Bayshould Boulevard, which offers gorgeous views of the water and downtown, as well as makes up a long stretch of the official race path. Talk about taking the scenic route!
  • The Gasparilla Festival of the Arts. Downtown becomes a huge display of art during this event, with hundreds of submissions to admire. If you're living in one of the Channelside or downtown Tampa apartments, you can expect this to be a very busy time. I recommend walking down the Riverwalk or taking a scooter to check out the art.
  • The Gasparilla Music Festival. From local acts to major headliners, this event has something for every type of musical taste. This is a great opportunity to make your way to one of the four stages and taste food from local restaurants; however, if you're only in it for the music, you might just be able to hear the bands from your apartment window.
  • The Gasparilla Pirate Fest. When someone talks about Gasparilla, this is probably it. This is by far the biggest event of the season, when your friends will be begging to stay in your Tampa apartment. The Pirate Fest is one of the largest parades in the United States, which kicks off with an "invasion," followed by a four-mile long parade attended by hundreds of thousands of people, all dressed up like pirates. You can't miss it.

When you moved to Tampa, you couldn't have known so much about Gasparilla, but hopefully you can now adopt the pirate's life - at least for a few months of the year! Outside of that, you can always look to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for your pirate fix. The games are fun and conveniently located to most Tampa apartments, as Raymond James Stadium is right on Dale Mabry. Enjoy your new space in Tampa, matey!

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