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Mardi Gras 2016 in St. Louis officially begins this Wednesday with the annual 12th night celebration and concludes on February 9 with Fat Tuesday.
12th Night is celebrated around the world as the start of the “Carnivale Season”. When Fat Tuesday ends that season, Ash Wednesday begins Lent and brings us into the glorious Friday Fish Frys that lead to Easter Sunday.
The 2016 Carnivale Season is even shorter than last year’s with the many events put on by Mardi Gras Inc. happening in the span of a little over a month.
Soulard Mardi Gras’s Twelfth Night celebration is marked by the official 2016 Mardi Gras announcement on the steps of Johnny’s at 1017 Russell, where the Mardi Gras celebration in St. Louis began back 1979.
After 12th Night, the season’s first big event takes place on Saturday, January 9 in Soulard Market Park under the Bud Light Party Centre tent. The Family Winter Carnival will offer plenty of family-friendly activities from Noon – 4 PM. There will be bounce houses, face-painting and plenty of arts and crafts stations. There will also be fire trucks and police vehicles on hand for the kiddos to explore.
The flagship event of the season is the Bud Light Grand Parade. This year, Grand Parade Day falls on Saturday, February 6th with the theme for this year’s parade being “Celebrating America’s Best Sports Town”. The parade steps off from Busch Stadium at 11 a.m. and ends at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. St. Louis Blues legend and current executive vice president Brett Hull will serve as the parade’s Grand Marshal.
After the parade, the party spreads out throughout the Soulard neighborhood. Many revelers walk around the neighborhood or attend get-togethers at houses throughout Soulard. One ticketed option is the Bud Light Party Tent in Soulard Market Park.
The night before the Grand Parade, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay throws the Mayor’s Mardi Gras Ball at City Hall. The Mardi Gras Masquerade is a black tie affair with plenty of food, drinks, live music and dancing. Tickets start at $150 per person. Tables are also available.
The weekend before the Grand Parade features some more great fun in Soulard. The Southern Comfort Taste of Soulard runs on Saturday, January 30 and Sunday, January 31. For $25, you receive a booklet with six food vouchers and one Southern Comfort drink voucher. Use those to create your own pub crawl around St. Louis’s most historic neighborhood while sampling the delicious food Soulard has to offer.
Sunday, January 31 also brings us the annual Beggin’ Pet Parade. The event, now in its 23rd year, set a Guinness World Record in 2012 for Most Dogs In Costumed Attire. Starting three years ago, the event also began featuring a concert after the parade. The first musical act was the Bacon Brothers featuring actor Kevin Bacon. Barenaked Ladies followed the next year and Blues Traveler took the stage last year in the event’s 22nd year. Tony La Russa also served as the Grand Marshall of last year’s parade. St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Trevor Rosenthal will be the Grand Marshal of the Beggin’ Pet Parade this year. The popular Wiener Dog Derby is also held in Soulard Market Park after the Beggin’ Pet Parade.
Michael and Kevin Bacon of The Bacon Brothers perform at the 2013 Purina Beggin’ Pet Parade as part of the Soulard Mardi Gras season.
One of my favorite events each year is the Wine, Beer and Whiskey Taste. For several years the event was held in the rotunda at St. Louis City Hall, but was moved back to Soulard last year. Tickets for the January 22 event are available in advance for $40 or can be bought at the door for $50. Your tickets includes unlimited samples of “over 50 beers, wines and whiskeys”. Food samples from area restaurants are also included. Chefs from around St. Louis will compete on January 23 at the Cajun Cook-Off. Tickets are $35 in advance or $45 at the door and include an open bar of Bud Light, Southern Comfort Hurricanes and soft drinks as well as a Tony Chachere’s Fully Dressed Po’ Boy and Jambalaya.
Other events happening in the 2016 Mardi Gras season are the Snowman Softball Tournament in Forest Park on January 16 & 17 and the Missouri Lottery Run For Your Beads 5K through the streets of Soulard on January 30.
Mardi Gras 2016 In St. Louis Calendar
Here’s the full calendar for the 2016 Mardi Gras season in St. Louis
January 6: 12th Night
January 9: Family Winter Carnival
January 16 & 17: Snowman Softball Tournament
January 22: Wine, Beer And Whiskey Taste
January 23: Cajun Cook-Off
Januar 30: Missouri Lottery Run For Your Beads 5K
January 30 & 31: Southern Comfort Taste Of Soulard
January 31: Beggin’ Pet Parade
February 31: Wiener Dog Derby
February 5: Mayor’s Mardi Gras Ball
February 6: Bud Light Grand Parade
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