Following on the heels of Tampa’s immensely popular Gasparilla Pirate Fest at the end of January – with its pirate invasion, parade and music festival – comes Ybor City’s contribution to the Gasparilla season: the Sant’ Yago Knight Parade, hosted by the Krewe of the Knights of Sant' Yago
A Tampa tradition since 1974, the Knight Parade lights up the night with illuminated floats, music, costumed pirates and wenches and thousands of spectators vying for the ever-popular shiny beads – Mardi Gras style. This year, visitors are invited to this evening of fun and frivolity on Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015.
Sant' Yago Knight Parade features illuminated floats and elaborately costumed pirates — Photo courtesy of Krewe of the Knights of Sant Yago
Probably the most adult-oriented of all the Gasparilla events, the Knight Parade follows a route down famous 7th Avenue, the main road of Tampa’s most popular entertainment district, Ybor City. The avenue is lined with trendy restaurants, bars and nightclubs, so if you’re really lucky, you may be able to land a place with a view of the route. But there's plenty of room on the sidewalk, as well.
Many of Ybor’s historic brick buildings are decked out with wrought iron balconies, and revelers crowd both the streets and balconies to cheer on the parade participants as they pass. In 2014, over 110,000 spectators and more than 7,500 participants turned out for the event.
It’s all for a good cause. The Krewe of the Knights of Sant’ Yago donate the proceeds of the parade to their Education Foundation, which provides college scholarships to Tampa Bay area students who are economically disadvantaged.
The parade is scheduled for 7 p.m., and people will arrive early to try and secure a good spot along the route. Parking is available at several area parking garages and surface lots for a fee that increases the closer you get to the event.
A good bet is the Palm Avenue parking garage located at 9th Avenue and Nuccio Parkway. Visitors located downtown can just hop on the TECO Trolley for the quick trip to Ybor City.
The parade is just the beginning of a great night, a night where all the clubs are packed and you can party into the wee hours with all your new best friends. After all, how often do you get the opportunity to party like a pirate?
Tampa’s Gasparilla-themed events begin in January and continue through March. First is the Children’s Gasparilla Extravaganza, followed by the more adult-oriented Gasparilla Pirate Fest. The Sant’ Yago Knight Parade is the third major event of the Gasparilla season.
The Gasparilla Distance Classic, the Gasparilla International Film Festival and the Gasparilla Arts & Crafts Festival round out the main events and take place in February and March.