What is Fantasia Fair?
We are a week-long transgender event held every October since 1975 in the GLBT-friendly resort and fishing village of Provincetown on the very tip of beautiful Cape Cod. The Fair is a full immersion experience, meaning attendees can and usually do spend an entire week living as they wish they could the other 51 weeks of the year.
What ISN'T Fantasia Fair?
So, what ISN’T Fantasia Fair?
Fantasia Fair is an event for trans and nonbinary people, their families, and their partners, Despite a name that might signify anything goes to some people, the Fair is not a costume or fetish event. Most attendees wear casual or work attire during the day of either gender, and more formal clothing at night. Fairgoers make adjustments for time of day and venue; for instance, sometimes our banquets are themed, and people wear costumes. We ask attendees to be aware they are in public space with children present, and you know what? They do.
In rare instances where someone is dressed grotesquely or indecently, our staff will take them aside and speak with them, but that almost never happens.
Why Fantasia Fair? Why Not Some Other Event?
There are some wonderful transgender events held throughout the world, but only Fantasia Fair is seven days long, and only the Fair gives its attendees a whole town in which to be themselves. Fantasia Fair doesn’t take place in a hotel, but rather in many small venues scattered throughout the village. Provincetown is a walking town, meaning much time is spent on the streets, going from location to location, exploring, shopping, dining, and socializing–in comfort and safety, because P’Town is just that friendly. Imagine being yourself, without standing out, anywhere in town. That’s Fantasia Fair. There’s nothing else like it; just ask any past attendee.
Why Provincetown? Why October?
In 1975, when planners were putting together the first Fair, there were few places in North America that could be considered safe for transgender and gender-nonconforming people. Even then, Provincetown was a friendly place, tolerant of difference, an out-of-the-way safe haven in which it was possible to be out and about with little chance of being recognized. Today, Provincetown is even friendlier. While it’s now possible to have a transgender event in almost any city, only Provincetown gives its attendees a sprawling, friendly place with hundreds of inns, restaurants, pubs, shops, and galleries, and the ocean, the dunes, and the beach. P’town is still a great destination. Tens of thousands of tourists fill the town in the summer—which brings up the second half of the question: why October?
Why, indeed! October brings lower prices. The town is less crowded, and it’s easier to get reservations. October also brings cool temperatures on Cape Cod, good for the well-being of the attendees. Fair attendees have always been predominantly male-to-female, and makeup stays on better in the cool Fall than in the warm summer. ‘Nuff said!
What About Transmen? What About People of Color? What About Young People? What About Those Who Identify as Nonbinary?
Transgender men, people of color, young people, and people who identify as nonbinary or gender questioning have been part of Fantasia Fair for many years. We do our best to create safe and welcoming space for everyone, provide programming of broad interest, and give priority to people of color and trans youth in our scholarship program. We are always interested in workshops that educate our attendees about diversity within the transgender identity, and we are open to your ideas about how to increase our appeal to every faction of the community.
That said, since the very first Fantasia Fair in 1975, our demographic has been skewed toward white, middle-aged, female-identified trans people and their spouses. We suspect that’s largely because it’s the population most likely to be able to afford a week-long event and able to spare the time to attend. Again, we are always interested in hearing suggestions to help us become more diverse.
What Else is There to Do in Provincetown?
There’s lots to do! The shopping in Provincetown is fabulous. So are the restaurants. There are dozens of galleries with paintings, sculpture, glass art, and any number of museums. You can go whale watching or take a dunes tour. You can ride a bicycle along the paved paths of the national seashore. You can dance until late at night at the A-House, then go to Spiritus for a pizza. You can browse for antiques, look through the large collection of out-of-print volumes at Tim’s Books, take advantage of end-of-season closeouts at the clothing boutiques, or get an early morning breakfast at Cafe Heaven, a bowl of kale soup at the Governor Bradford, or a two-pounder at the Lobster Pot. You can sit on the benches in front of the Town Hall and watch the colorful parade of passers-by, or drop by Adam’s Pharmacy to buy an umbrella and chat with the townies. You can get away from it all and walk over the breakwater to Long’s point. You can take in a drag show or listen to a lesbian comic. You can visit a winery or a lighthouse. There’s no end of things to do in and around P’town.
How Do I Get to Provincetown?
Just click your heels together and say to yourself, “There’s no place like home!”
If that doesn’t work, Provincetown is a two hour drive from both Boston and Providence, RI. Just head for Cape Cod and drive on Rt. 6 until your tires are wet. Provincetown is at the very tip of the Cape–the last stop before England! The drive is scenic, with plenty of places to stop for a meal or a stretch. When you reach town, find a place to park and head for the Fair office. The Fair office is at the Boatslip Beach Club, 161 Commercial Street.
If you’re flying from far away, you can fly Cape Air directly to Provincetown from Boston’s Logan Airport or other Cape Air locations. Remember the TV show Wings? It was modeled on Cape Air, which flies to Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, Hyannis, Provincetown and other locations. If you like small planes, you’ll love the short twenty-minute scenic hop from Boston’s Logan Airport to the tiny P’town airport.
If you would prefer, you can rent a car at Logan or in Providence, RI and drive to Provincetown—but you’ll probably use your car little during the Fair. Why? Because everybody walks or bicycles.
You can also catch the Plymouth & Brockton Street Railway bus from Logan Airport or several other locations in Boston.
Several ferry companies run routes from Boston to Provincetown, but the season ends just as Fantasia Fair starts. Due to unseasonably warm weather in 2017, one ferry was in operation throughout the Fair, so it wouldn’t hurt to check just before Fair time–but don’t count on the Ferry being in operation.
See the Provincetown Chamber of Commerce’s Transportation page here for throughout up-to-date information for travelers.
What Should I Bring?
Above all, bring comfortable shoes, for you’ll be doing a lot of walking. Shoes with high heels aren’t practical when you have to get from one end of town to the other in 15 minutes. Pack for cool weather, as temperatures range from 40 to 65 degrees. You’ll need sweaters and a coat and scarf. Bring an umbrella, for Nor’easters are common in the Fall.
You’ll need a couple of fancy outfits for the evening events, and casual clothes for daytime. A knapsack can come in handy when walking across town, and hiking boots or cycling clothing and helmet if you plan to hike or bike the seaside trails. Bring chargers for your digital devices and memory cards for your camera, and stock up on batteries and toiletries, for prices are expensive on the Cape. If you drink, you might want to bring a bottle or two of liquor, for the same reason–but don’t worry, there are at least two liquor stores on Commercial Street.
There’s a laundromat on Shank Painter Road, and some inns have washers and dryers, but you should pack for a week.
This is All A Bit Much for Me. I'm Feeling A Bit Overwhelmed!
Don’t panic! You are having a normal reaction. The shy first-timer of Day 1 is often the social butterfly of Day 5. The Fair has a tendency to bring people out. Provincetown is a safe environment. Once you realize there’s no need to fear, you’ll find yourself blossoming.
Remember: You won’t be alone. For perhaps the first time in your life you’ll be surrounded by peers. They will know how you’re feeling because they’ve felt that way themselves. The Fair is a crucible for forming friendships. And don’t forget–you’re in one of the most trans-friendly places in the world. However frightened you might feel, you’re safe and surrounded by people who will look out for you.
Take time before the Fair to explore this website, and study up on Provincetown and Cape Cod. Visit our Fantasia Fair page and Fantasia Fair Discussion Groups on Facebook. Ask your peers questions on the Discussion Group; they’ll be happy to assist you.
If it’s still a bit much for you, we can assign a Big Brother or Big Sister to help you through the rough spots. Pretty soon you’ll have your own Fantasia Fair support group.
We understand how intimidating it can be to appear in public; we do. Most of us once felt just as you do. Keep yourself safe at your inn if need be, but play in Provincetown. It’s a perfect place to learn to fly.
Will There Be Support for My Significant Other?
Fantasia Fair has the best program for spouses and partners anywhere. There are multiple workshops and social gatherings every day especially for SOs, and they can and we hope they will participate in the full Fantasia Fair program.
Couples who want to work on their relationships can do so in sessions led by mental health professionals. And partners who want to take a break from the Fair can choose from a panoply of interesting and intriguing activities ranging from shopping to whale-watching to bicycling to fine dining.
I've Heard Fantasia Fair is an Event for Rich Crossdressers
We certainly have our share of well-to-do crossdressers, but we also have poor crossdressers and middle-of-the road crossdressers–and nearly all of them identify as transgender these days. We also have both male-vectored and female-vectored transsexuals, transgender people, drag queens, people who identify as nonbinary, genderqueer, or gender nonconfirming–and let’s not forget the many significant others, friends, family members, and helping professionals who come to the Fair to support us. Many of them save all year in order to come to the Fair– it’s that important to them.
Nowadays the Fair is a diverse event, both in terms of socioeconomic levels and gender expression. And nowadays we are able to offer scholarships to people who could not otherwise afford to attend.
Okay, the Big Question: Why is Fantasia Fair so Expensive?
And now for the big answer: The Fair is a good investment for your money. Remember, it’s a week long. You can attend either the second half or first half of the event for a modest amount, not much more than any two- or three-day gender convention—and the Fair will definitely feed you better and more often. The early bird price for the full Fair—seven days, welcoming buffet, Monday night dinner, Pioneer Banquet, six lunches, Fashion Show, the fabulous Follies, Awards Banquet, seminars and classes, farewell brunch, and all Provincetown at your feet, is, while not cheap (what is, these days?) certainly a bargain. We work hard to keep prices low in an expensive resort town.
We understand some people have limited incomes and just can’t afford to pay registration. If that applies to you, ask us for a one- or two-day registration or consider applying for a scholarship. Or just come to Provincetown anyway. Some of our events are free for everyone–for instance and the daily keynote speeches Monday through Saturday. The Fashion Show and Follies talent show aren’t free, but tickets are inexpensive.