Key West’s Zombie Bike Ride, founded by We Cycle bike shop, started in 2009 with about 70 “undead” locals riding bikes along Smathers Beach to the downtown area for cocktails and a party. 

This year’s ride on Oct. 23 drew about 6,500 costumed zombies on bikes. The event started with a party (of course) in the afternoon at Fort East Martello near the airport. The bike ride left from there at 6 p.m., with zombies pedaling four miles through town to the Coffee Butler Amphitheater for an after-party (of course).

The sunset ride is a highlight of the island’s Fantasy Fest costuming and masking festival that began Oct. 21. It drew entrants of all ages garbed in ragged garments, chalk-white face paint and accessories that ranged from tattered tutus to battered top hats.

Standouts included a supersized sorcerer, a “zombie ambulance” and a cemetery escapee propelling a pseudo-coffin. Other participants portrayed everything from zombie prisoners and superheroes to fiendish clowns.

Fantasy Fest continues through Sunday, Oct. 30, with a full 10-day slate of events for the first time since before the coronavirus pandemic began.

Upcoming highlights include a costume contest for pets, a masquerade march and a lavish evening parade Saturday, Oct. 29, featuring large-scale decorated floats and elaborately costumed marching groups.