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History

Traditionally October has been a slow time for tourism in the Keys, but since its inception, Fantasy Fest® has continually boosted the economy by filling up hotel rooms and inundating local businesses, restaurants, and bars during this time period. The tremendous influx of visitors during the ten days of the festival sustains the local economy until the holiday season begins. Fantasy Fest is committed to extending the time that visitors stay by encouraging the creation of diverse events throughout the entire ten days. The opportunity to show off the imaginative and resourceful spirit that defines the Keys excites participants as well as the thousands that are drawn to the Keys.

Frank Romano, a board member of the Tourist Development Association of Monroe County, Inc. (TDA), and a founding member of Fantasy Fest, gives us a personal introduction into the conception of Fantasy Fest. He shares the early vision of Joe Liszka, President of the TDA, giving us a glimpse of how this good-natured revelry came to be.

"In 1978, on Halloween Day, Joe Liszka asked me to accompany him to the intersection of Front and Duval Streets. He asked me to look up Duval Street and tell him what I saw. "What was I supposed to see?" "No cars moving, no people walking, lots of store fronts boarded up because the retailers take their vacation in this slow season?"

"How is the weather," he asked. "Well, it is a typical beautiful day in Paradise, warm, with bright sunshine." "That's what's wrong," he told me. " Here it is the most beautiful weather day of the season and the town is deserted. Workers are laid off. Business owners have a tough time paying their expenses. It is a disaster season for the Key West economy."

"I understand", I replied, "but what can we do about it?" "We need a fest, a carnival, a celebration, something that will entice people to change our moribund season to one of great fun; a party that will bring many people to understand that this season is one of our best," he replied.

Liszka's creative inspiration was the birth of Fantasy Fest. Now, Halloween is the busiest day of the year with thousands of people visiting our town. Fantasy Fest week produces the most revenue of any week in the year. A moribund season has become our best. Thank you, Joseph Liszka."

Frank Romano
Board Member
The Tourist Development Association of Monroe County, Inc.


Past Fantasy Fest Themes

  • 1979 Old Key West
  • 1980 House of Horrors
  • 1981 Va Va Voom
  • 1982 Carnival
  • 1983 Plays of Tennessee Williams
  • 1984 50 Years of Film Fantasy™
  • 1985 Broadway Fantasies™
  • 1986 Fantasy in Space™
  • 1987 Halloween with a Key West Flair™
  • 1988 Fantasy Fest B.C.™ - 10th Anniversary
  • 1989 Future Fantasies 2089™
  • 1990 Caribbean Fantasies™
  • 1991 Junglemania™
  • 1992 Halloween in the Devil's Triangle™
  • 1993 Lost in the '60's™
  • 1994 Mystical Myths and Twisted Tales™
  • 1995 Tinseltown Dreams™
  • 1996 Call of the Wild™
  • 1997 TV Jeebies™
  • 1998 Fright Night on Bone Island™
  • 1999 www.warptime.net™
  • 2000 Circuses and Sideshows™
  • 2001 Secrets of the Zodiac Revealed™
  • 2002 Mystical Mornings/Monsterious Nights™
  • 2003 Daze of Futures Past— 25 Years of Fantasy™
  • 2004 Delirious Dreams and Hilarious Screams™
  • 2005 Freaks, Geeks and Goddesses™
  • 2006 Key Weird on the Dis-Oriented Express™
  • 2007 Gnomes, Toads and White Rabbit Tea Parties™
  • 2008 Pirates, Pundits and Political Party Animals™
  • 2009 Villains, Vixens, and Vampires™
  • 2010 Habitat for Insanity™
  • 2011 Aquatic Afrolic™
  • 2012 A-Conch-Alypse™
  • 2013 Super Heroes, Villains & Beyond™
  • 2014 Animéted Dreams and Adventures™
  • 2015 All Hallows Intergalactic Freak Show™
  • 2016 Political Voodoo & Ballot Box Barbarians™

A limited number of T-shirts and Posters are
available at the Fantasy Fest Store.
Click here to view.

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