Arggh, Mateys! It’s Talk Like a Pirate Day, a very real holiday that the internet totally made happen…despite all the pirate haters working to sink the celebration. And if there’s one thing pirates know how to do, besides how to plunder and bury treasure, it’s how to party! The transformation of the depiction of pirates from terrifying marauders to swashbuckling rapscallions (thanks, Johnny Depp), has led to the rise of the “pirate festival,” which is essentially organized pirate-themed revelry.

So if all the old timey maritime slang has got you wanting to party like a pirate, here are a half-dozen upcoming festivals where you can get your “Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum” on.

Fort Myers Beach Pirate Festival, October 7 – 9

This year’s Columbus Day will see the 11th annual Fort Myers Beach Pirate Festival. Hosted by the southwest Florida city’s chamber of commerce, the three-day, family-friendly celebration has a $5 entry fee and features live ship battles, costumes, live music, a “jolly pub quest” (for 21+ landlubbers only, of course), and more.

Pirates Week Festival, November 10 – 20

If there’s one place that’s perfect for a pirate festival, it’s the Caymen Islands. A trio of isles located between Cuba and Panama, it’s one of the few locations hosting a pirate festival in the heart of pirate territory…the Caribbean. The 11-day Pirates Week Festival includes a kick-off steel pan competition and party, a mock pirate invasion, street dancing, lots of food, a festival queen, a parade, a kids’ day, and fireworks (along with a ton of other stuff)!

Gasparilla Pirate Festival, January 28, 2017

Arguably the original pirate festival, Gasparilla has become a Tampa, Florida institution that’s been going on for more than 100 years. The celebration is built around the mythical pirate José Gaspar (as known as Gasparilla), who “invades” the city of Tampa every year by sailing in with “Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla” aboard a replica pirate ship, along with a flotilla of other boats. After landing, the pirates ceremonially demand the key to the city from Tampa’s mayor and begin the Gasparilla parade through the city, resembling a Mardi Gras-like party atmosphere. For families wanting to get in on the pirate fun, there’s an alcohol-free children’s version the week before on January 21.

Contraband Days, Early May, 2017

Taking place across the first two weekends of May, Contraband Days is a 12-day festival that’ll be celebrating its 60th year in 2017. The Lake Charles, Louisiana celebration brags to have over 100 events and attractions (on both land and sea), including a staged capture of the city’s mayor by costumed pirates (who then force him or her to walk the plank), live music, plenty of local food, carnival games, and rides.

Blackbeard Festival, June 2 – 4, 2017

Who’s down for a little mariner’s song? #blackbeardfestival #visithamptonva

A video posted by @visithamptonva on

While most pirate festivals are centered around celebrating the roguish life of a pirate, Hampton, Virginia’s Blackbeard Festival is built around celebrating the death of probably the most notorious pirate. Born Edward Teach (or Thatch), Blackbeard made a name for himself raiding and pillaging from America’s eastern colonies to the West Indies. In 1718, a crew of sailors dispatched by the governor of Virginia killed the infamous buccaneer in battle and his severed head was then displayed at the head of the Hampton River as warning to other freebooters. The city celebrates the events with three days of historical re-enactments, a pirate ball, mardi gras-like partying, and activities for kids.

Ahoy! Did we fail to mention ye favorite scurvy pirate festival? Let us known in th’ comments section below!


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About The Author

Dave Odegard

Dave Odegard is an ex-army brat turned freelance writer and editor, who spends his time exploring the wilds of Brooklyn, New Jersey, and Sweden. His work has been published on Maxim Online, USAToday, Buzzfeed, and more. Stalk him all you want on Twitter at @WordyNinja.