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While New Orleans gets the most Mardi Gras hype, St. Louis is second in line when it comes to this festive season. During Mardi Gras, the Carnival celebration of food before Lent, revelers in St. Louis certainly know how to throw a party. The city hosts the 2nd largest Mardi Gras celebration in America, and Soulard paints the town in festive gold, green, and purple. All of the week’s events lead up to the famed Grand Parade where tens of thousands of merrymakers fill the streets, a quarter of them tourists. If you’re wondering about other ways to celebrate, here are a variety of exciting Mardi Gras events in St. Louis this season:
When: 9:00 AM Saturday, February 3
Where: South Eighth Street and Lafayette Avenue
Think Mardi Gras culture is restricted to drinking and mayhem? Think again. Some athletes in St. Louis will celebrate by racing in the annual “Missouri Lottery 5K Run for Your Beads”. This event happens on Saturday, February 3rd at 9:00 AM. While some are more serious about the race, many come dressed in festive garb with the goal of winning the prize for best costume. In true Mardi Gras spirit, runners can stop off along the race at pit stops stocked with beer and hurricanes to fuel them through the race.
When: 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM Saturday and Sunday, February 3 and 4
Where: Participating restaurants throughout the Soulard neighborhood, Allen Avenue, and Menard Street
After the 5K, make your way over to the Taste of Soulard where you’re sure to satisfy your craving for Cajun cuisine. This self-guided pub crawl and tasting happens throughout the Soulard neighborhood at various restaurants. The menu is online, so give it a glance before you start your adventure. A $25 pass gets you one drink voucher and six food vouchers to sample some Mardi-Gras-inspired favorites. Some tasty options include Big Daddy’s Buffalo Cajun Crawfish Sliders and the Crawfish & Shrimp Gumbo over at Duke’s.
When: 1:00 PM Sunday, February 4 (Registration: 10:00 AM)
Where: Starts at 12th and Allen
In St. Louis, Mardi Gras festivities aren’t reserved for human residents, and pets are welcome in the celebration. At the world’s largest costumed pet parade, you can dress up your furry friend and walk in the popular “Beggin’ Pet Parade”. The winning pets for best dressed will be selected and crowned the King and Queen of Barkus. This annual parade kicks off at 12th and Allen on Sunday, February 4th. Get there by 1:00 PM and watch for free or register at 10:00 AM with a $10 donation to participate in the parade. All proceeds from the event go to Open Door Animal Sanctuary.
When: 2:00 PM Sunday, February 4
Registration: 10:00 AM (9th and Lafayette)
Where: Wiener Stadium in Soulard Market Park
Need more dog cuteness to cap off your Mardi Gras? After the Beggin’ Pet Parade,
head over to the Wiener Dog Derby, where Dachshunds race for the grand prize in America’s longest-running wiener dog derby. It’s free to watch and just $10 to enter your pooch into the derby. The first heat starts at 2:00 PM, and the derby will finish with the crowning of the most dashing Dachshund champion.
When: 7:00 PM - Midnight, Friday, February 9
Where: The Rotunda in St. Louis City Hall
If you’re looking for an elegant way to celebrate Carnival, look no further than the Mayor’s Ball, the pinnacle Mardi Gras social event in St. Louis. Tickets start at $150 for this glamourous party. The charitable event is held on Friday, February 9th, and proceeds will go towards grants for the Soulard and Downtown communities. Hosted by the Mardi Gras Foundation, this chic gala is a black-tie event whose admission includes cocktails, dinner, dessert, and dancing to the music of some of the best performers around, including the Funky Butt Brass Band, DJ Mahf, Sean Canan’s Voodoo Players, and even some surprise Muny performers.
When: 11:00 AM Saturday, February 10
Where: Soulard Neighborhood
The annual Grand Parade is the starring attraction of Mardi Gras in St. Louis. This free event takes place in the Soulard Neighborhood on Saturday, February 10 at 11:00 AM. The festivities kick off at the Busch Stadium and continue through Downtown South and Soulard, finishing at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery itself. This year’s theme is “Celebrating #Muny100”, honoring the 100th year of St. Louis’ Muny theatre. As the largest Mardi Gras parade outside of the Big Easy, don’t miss this exciting free event. If you want to secure a warm spot to watch the parade, buy a ticket for the Bud Light Party Tent where they’ll have two climate-controlled tents complete with a dance floor, free beads, drinks, and a Cajun buffet.
Who says New Orleans gets to have all the fun? While Louisiana is the only state where Mardi Gras is a legal holiday, St. Louis holds a strong second place for outstanding Fat Tuesday revelries. The elaborate festivities, including their Grand Parade, draw in crowds from all over who come to enjoy their Mardi Gras season.