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Historians tell us Mardi Gras dates back thousands of years to pagan celebrations of spring and fertility in Rome. The celebrations had parades, lots of eating and even more drinking.
Over the years, the celebration of spring became the traditional prelude to Lent which was 40 days of fasting and sacrifice. The French later dubbed the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday Mardi Gras, which translates to Fat Tuesday.
The French founded St. Louis. The city hosts over a month of celebrations. The French Soulard neighborhood hosts the Bud Light Grand Parade. St. Louis claims it’s the second largest Mardi Parade in the United States, second only to Bourbon Street. Their Grand Parade features over 100 floats.
In the 1790s, a refugee from the French Revolution settled in what is now St. Louis. His name was Antoine Soulard. Soulard translates to drunkard.
Laissez les bons temps rouler
Let the good times roll
It is said that St. Louis’ Mardi Gras began in 1979 with a group of drunk friends. They were walking the streets of Soulard tossing beads to make their own fun before Lent began.
In 2024, over 400,000 people are expected to come to St. Louis’ Mardi Gras celebrations and 20 million strands of beads will be tossed into the crowds. Here are just some of the parties, parades and celebrations.
Police Athletic League (PAL) is happening at The Bud Light Party Center on Saturday. February 5, 2022, from 12 pm to 4 pm. This new celebration is about playing games and sipping on cold drinks.
Challenge your friends to games, including
- Connect 4
- Flip Cup Tic-Tac-Toe
- Yard Jenga
- Dizzy Bat
- Beer Pong
- Corn Hole
Entry is free with food and drinks being available for purchase. Or you can upgrade with a $35 wristband which includes an open bar of
- Bud Light
- Southern Comfort Hurricanes
- Captain Morgan’s Soulard Smash
Proceeds from this event will go to PAL to provide a positive environment through sports and activities for St. Louis youth at no cost.
Cajun Cook Off
Bud Light Party Center will be hosting the Cajun Cook Off on Saturday, January 27, 2024, from 12 pm to 4 pm. Admission price is $75.
Amateur chefs from the greater St. Louis area prepare their best dishes for a panel of judges.
Your ticket includes
- Live Music
- Authentic Cajun Lunch from Sugarfire Smokehouse
- Open Bar with Bud Light and Southern Comfort Hurricanes
- 2 Cocktail Demos with samples from Master Mixologist Jason Neely
- 4 Cooking Demos with samples
The Supplement Superstores 5K Run For Your Beads
On Saturday, February 5, 2024, you can see a fun-filled, slightly wacky race. The Supplement Superstores 5K Run For Your Beads has runners in Mardi Gras garb racing through the streets of Soulard. There will be mid-race pit stops stocked with beer and hurricanes for 21+ aged runners. Prizes will be given to the winners in each division plus a prize for the runner in the best costume.
Taste Of Soulard
The Taste of Soulard is a self guided tasting and pub crawl through the Soulard neighborhood. Your ticket will include 1 drink voucher and 6 food vouchers that can be redeemed at any of the participating venues in Soulard on February 3 and 4, 2024. On Saturday, Soulard Trolley Tramps will be shuffling party goers to restaurants throughout the neighborhood.
The Purina Pet Parade
The Purina Pet Parade is the largest costumed pet parade on the planet. It’s happening on Sunday, February 4, 2024. It begins at the corner of 12th and Allen at 1 pm.
You and your adorable pet can strut your stuff in this parade, The best dressed pets will be selected as members of the Court of the Mystical Krewe of Barkus. The Coronation Pageant will take place at Soulard Market Park where the King and Queen of Soulard will be crowned.
All proceeds from the parade will go to benefit Open Door Animal Shelter.
Tito’s Vodka Wiener Dog Derby
Tito’s Vodka Wiener Dog Derby is happening on Sunday and the first heat will begin at 2 pm. This is the nation’s longest running dachshund derby!
In a series of elimination heats, the dogs race down a 30 foot track with the winner moving on to the next round until a champion is crowned. There are 3 age based divisions for the dachshunds. There is also a Wiener Wannabe class for dogs small enough to fit in the starting box.
There will be a Tito’s Wiener Dog Derby hat contest for humans.
The Mayor’s Mardi Gras Ball
“…the social event of the season…” – Riverfront Times
The Mayor’s Ball will take place at The Midway at St. Louis Union Station on Friday, February 9, 2024, at 7 pm. It will feature fine cuisine, cocktails, dancing and spectacular entertainment. It has been described as a “classy affair.”
Bud Light Grand Parade
All of the celebrations have been leading up to the Bud Light Grand Parade. It begins at Busch Stadium and goes through the streets of Downtown South and Soulard and ends with a big bash at Anheiser Busch Brewery. You’ll see beautiful floats, elaborately costumed marchers, dancers, bands and beads, beads and more beads.
An integral part of Mardi Gras is the enjoyment of great food. Try these restaurants in the Soulard neighborhood. They were chosen as the 12 Best Restaurants by the users of TripAdvisor.
- Roberto’s Trattoria & Chophouse
- The Fountain on Locust
- Stocked STL
- Charlie Gitto’s On The Hill
- Eleven Eleven Mississippi
- Broadway Oyster Bar
- Anthorino’s Taverna
- John J. McGurk’s Irish Pub
- Budge Tap House & Wino Bar
- The Crossing
- Salt + Smoke
If you’d like to visit St. Louis to enjoy the Mardi Gras festivities, you should consider the following hotels. They’re located near the festivities and you can get discounted prices for these hotels here.
- Moonrise Hotel – 20% Discount
- The Last Hotel – 20% Discount
- Forest Park Hotel by MDR – 20% Discount
- OYO Hotel St. Louis Downtown City Center MO – 20% Discount
- River City Casino & Hotel – 20% Discount
- Hotel Lumiere at the Arch – 20% Discount
- The Royal Sonesta Chase Park Plaza St. Louis – 18% Discount
- Wingate by Wyndham St. Louis Airport – 10% Discount
- Red Lion Inn & Suites Pontoon Beach – 10% Discount
- The Cheshire – 10% Discount
- La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham St. Louis Route 66 – 10% Discount
- Red Roof Inn PLUS + St. Louis – Forest Park Hampton Avenue – 5% Discount
- Travelodge by Wyndham St. Louis – 5% Discount