PIRATES PLANKWALKKEY WEST, Florida Keys The historic seafaring town of Key West is to become a pirate stronghold Thursday, Nov. 24, through Sunday, Dec. 4, when “brethren of the coast” and winsome wenches invade the island for the 12th annual Pirates in Paradise Maritime Heritage & Music Festival.

Featuring more than 100 costumed pirate re-enactors, Pirates in Paradise offers a packed roster of revelry for children and adults intrigued by the Florida Keys’ seafaring history and culture.

The festival includes nautical excursions and pirate sails, the staged re-creation of an actual pirate trial, parties and buccaneer balls with dancing under the stars, walking tours of Old Town Key West led by re-enactors and historians, a lively pirate village and marketplace, swashbuckling film presentations and much more.

Highlights include the annual National Walk the Plank Championships, set for noon Saturday, Dec. 3. Entrants in this typically hilarious competition are to plunge into the deep from Key West’s “pirate vessel” Schooner Wolf, moored at the Truman Waterfront. Plank-walkers are judged on their costumed attire, overall style, pleas for mercy and splash.

Seafarers and wannabes can experience tall ship sails and sea battles on the Schooner Wolf, scheduled to weigh anchor at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. daily. In addition, a “shoot and sail” challenge for marksmen is scheduled aboard the Wolf. Call 305-296-9694 for reservations.

Festival attendees eager to mingle with costumed pirates and damsels are invited to “invade” the Pirate Village Marketplace, Art Fair & Holiday Bazaar, open daily at Key West’s Truman Waterfront Commons. Attractions include the Pirate Pub & VIP Hospitality Tent with nonstop entertainment, craft beer tastings, period arts and crafts, storytelling competitions, a carnival, daily sea chantey songfests, strolling minstrels and more.

Adventurous attendees also can enjoy Literature & the Sea sessions with author/historian Robert N. Macomber and other writers, an exuberant re-enactment of the trial of real-life female pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read, and a rich cargo of other events.

Event information, costs and ticketing: www.piratesinparadise.com or 305-296-9694

Key West visitor information: www.fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY

Social: www.facebook.com/floridakeysandkeywestwww.twitter.com/thefloridakeyswww.YouTube.com/FloridaKeysTV

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