FANTASY FESTKEY WEST, Florida Keys — With more than 40 masquerade contests, themed parties, parades and other spectacles during its 10-day schedule, Key West’s Fantasy Fest is to push the skills and imaginations of costume creators and mask makers to the limit. The 2010 masking and costuming celebration, themed Habitat for Insanity, is scheduled Friday, Oct. 22, through Sunday, Oct. 31.

The most elaborate costume competition, Pretenders in Paradise, features huge and vividly colored entries adorned with feathers, thousands of sequins, unexpected elements and even moving parts. As well as designing their costumes, entrants put on performances, complete with lights and music, to entertain the standing-room-only audience.

Pretenders 2010, themed Predators and Prey Come Out to Play, is set for 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28, on an oceanfront stage at the Pier House Resort & Caribbean Spa, 1 Duval St. Cash prizes totaling $10,000 await the winning amateur, professional and group entries.

Fantasy FestTickets are available at the Pier House Resort’s Beach Bar & Grille and Chart Room Bar beginning Oct 1.

Fantasy Fest “insanity” is to take center stage at the 28th annual Headdress Ball, themed Diagnosis: Psychosis, an Assembly at the Asylum. Asylum inmates are to costume their craniums in exotic headdresses, towering masks, mysterious cowls and other “head-turning” haberdashery in this flamboyant festival favorite.

Featuring stellar entertainment, the Headdress Ball is presented by the Key West Business Guild and is a major fundraiser for the organization. The glittering gala is to take place at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 26, at Southernmost on the Beach, 508 South St.

To purchase tickets for general admission and reserved tables, visit www.keystix.com.

Fantasy Fest also provides many other opportunities for attendees to indulge their taste for delicious or devilish garb. Costumed characters are to star in a vampires’ ball, toga party, masquerade contest for pets and their people, sexy sports soiree, buccaneer bash, glamorous pajama party and much more.

For more information about Fantasy Fest and a complete schedule of events, visit www.fantasyfest.net or call (305) 296-1817.

For information about lodging in Key West, call 1-800-LAST-KEY (800-527-8539) or visit the Keys Web site at www.fla-keys.com.

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