Gulf Coast Carnival Association Mardi Gras Parade
rolls up Lemeuse Street in Biloxi, Miss., on
Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016.
Mardi Gras season once again, and while New Orleans is the
American epicenter of this festive pre-Lenten celebration,
there are plenty of other options for some fantastically
fun Fat Tuesday revelry.
different locales bring their own unique flavor to the
merrymaking, there are some elements that are certain to
be found wherever you join the party. You will definitely
see people wearing all kinds of colorful masks and
costumes (traditional colors are purple, gold and green)
and the main event of all Mardi Gras celebrations is a
gala parade (usually more than one), featuring floats,
musicians and costumed marchers. Corollary events might
include dances, fancy balls, and cook-offs. Ready for some
partying? Well then, here are seven places not named New
Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras.
to the first Mardi Gras in the United States, the "bonne
temps" have been rolling in this Gulf Coast city
since 1703. This rich history is celebrated with dozens of
parades and special events over a two-week period leading
up to Fat Tuesday (Feb. 28 in 2017). Tour the Mobile
Carnival Museum for a look at the gowns, crowns, scepters
and robes of the city’s Mardi Gras Kings and Queens.
about any Louisiana community worth its gumbo has some
sort of Fat Tuesday celebration, but the state’s second
largest Mardi Gras fete holds forth in Lake Charles —
officially known as Mardi Gras of Southwest Louisiana.
Festivities kicked off on Jan. 6 with the Twelfth Night
celebration and continue through Fat Tuesday. Nearly
150,000 celebrants come together for the parades, music
and food. It’s a family-friendly affair with an alcohol-
and tobacco-free zone along parade routes. The city’s
Imperial Calcasieu Museum celebrates Mardi Gras
year-round, with the world’s largest display of Mardi
Gras costumes and other regalia.
promoters bill it as the "greatest free party on
earth," but this Cajun- and Creole-flavored Carnival
celebration isn’t nearly as raucous, risque or crowded
as New Orleans. Here in Acadiana, residents traditionally
celebrated Carnival with the unique "Courir de Mardi
Gras," or Mardi Gras Run, where masked men on
horseback would roam the countryside singing songs,
dancing and begging for ingredients to make a gumbo.
Homeowners would throw chickens to the begging maskers who
would attempt to catch the birds for gumbo meat. This
tradition is restaged each year along with numerous
parades leading up to Fat Tuesday’s big Mardi Gras Show
at Clark Field Stadium.
and other Louisiana Mardi Gras celebrations have nothing
on their Mississippi neighbors to the east — where from
Pascagoula to Bay St. Louis, cities and towns along
Highway 90 throw Fat Tuesday celebrations that rank among
the most festive anywhere. Biloxi, home to the Gulf Coast
Carnival Association, is the center of festivities along
the Coast, and its King d’Iberville and Queen Ixolib
serve as official royalty of the Gulf Coast Mardi Gras.
The city hosts 24 parades and parties aplenty. If you go,
take time to visit Biloxi’s Mardi Gras Museum, which
traces the 300-year history of Mardi Gras on the Gulf
it’s not widely observed in the Sunshine State, Mardi
Gras is a major event in Pensacola and has been celebrated
there since 1874. In fact, the Grand Mardi Gras Parade (on
Feb. 25 this year) is downtown Pensacola’s largest
annual event, drawing some 6,000 participants and
attracting more than 100,000 spectators.
is well-known for doing things up big — and the 106th
annual Mardi Gras celebration on Galveston Island will be
no exception. It’s the Lone Star State’s largest Mardi
Gras and it’s said to be one of the largest in the
nation — boasting 22 parades, 30 concerts, 5 elegant
masked balls and who knows how many parties. The
extravagance of it all can be measured in beads —
organizers claim more than 3 million of them will be
thrown during the two weeks of festivities. 866-505-4456,
might seem a surprise that one of the nation’s biggest
Mardi Gras celebrations takes place in this Midwestern
city, but it’s a legacy thing, linked to the founding of
St, Louis by French fur traders back in 1764. French
customs and traditions live on here (the fleur-de-lis
serves as the city seal) and the Soulard District is
always ready for a Mardi Gras bash come February. There
are parades, of course, with the biggie being the Bud
Light Grand Parade on Feb. 25, but a long list of fun
events takes place in the weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday.
Among them is the Beggin’ Barkus Pet Parade (North
America’s largest animal parade), a softball tournament,
a 5K run, a wine and beer tasting, and a variety of
culinary events including a Cajun cook-off.