The Soulard neighborhood in St. Louis hosts the area's biggest Mardi Gras celebration with more than a dozen events in the weeks leading up to Lent. And, no event at Soulard Mardi Gras is bigger or more popular than the Grand Parade. Each year, hundreds of thousands of revelers fill the streets of Soulard to see the colorful floats and catch some beads.
When and Where
The Grand Parade is always held the Saturday before Fat Tuesday. In 2017, the Grand Parade is February 25 at 11 a.m. The parade begins at Busch Stadium, makes its way south along 7th Street and ends at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery.
What You'll See
The Grand Parade is all about the elaborate floats built by dozens of different krewes over many months. The Krewes on most of the floats throw beads, candy and other prizes to parade watchers. If you want the best view of the floats, stake out your spot along the parade route as early as possible. By parade time, the crowd can be up to 20 people deep or more.
After the Parade
The Grand Parade is just the beginning of a day-long Mardi Gras party in Soulard. Many of the neighborhood's most popular restaurants serve up food and drink specials and live music all day. McGurk's, Molly's and International Tap House are fun places to go if you can get in. Street vendors will also be selling food and drinks throughout the neighborhood.
Another place to celebrate after the parade is the Bud Light Party Tent. It's actually two heated VIP tents set up at Soulard Market Park in the heart of the action. Up to 2,000 revelers can enjoy a Cajun-Creole buffet, drinks and music at this restricted access celebration. Tickets for the Party Tent are $95 a person and must be purchased in advance.
If you don't mind being a bit further away from Soulard, there are several other celebrations that are worth a visit. At Ballpark Village, The Budweiser Brew House is hosting Pardi Gras, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. The event features drink specials, including $5 Hurricanes and live entertainment. Another option is the Broadway Oyster Bar near the beginning of the parade route. The restaurant will be serving up New Orleans favorites like gumbo, crawfish and jambalaya at its big Mardi Gras party. There's also live music throughout the day.
Where to Park
Parking is very restricted in Soulard on the day of the Grand Parade, so you'll either have to park in an adjoining neighborhood and walk, or take the shuttles running between Soulard and other parts of the city. Metro will be running a Mardi Gras shuttle from the Stadium Metrolink Station. The shuttle costs $6 for a round-trip ticket and will run from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Another option is to park at Laclede's Landing and take the free shuttle from the Landing to Soulard. The Laclede's Landing shuttle will run from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. And finally, you might consider a taxi. County and Yellow Cabs will be available throughout the day.