Guide to Soulard Mardi Gras in St. Louis: Festivals, Events, Things to Do

Mardi Gras Beads and Masks

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When you mention Mardi Gras in St. Louis, most locals think of the colorful neighborhood of Soulard, home to one of the largest Mardi Gras celebrations outside of New Orleans. Mardi Gras festivities in Soulard last for weeks, beginning with Twelfth Night on January 6, 2021, and ending with Fat Tuesday, February 16, 2021. During this time, trendy neighborhood bars stay open round the clock, people flood the streets, and the locals, well, they don't sleep much. For 2021, things may seem a little different than past Soulard Mardi Gras. Make sure to check the event's website for up-to-date info on virtual and in-person festivities.

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Twelfth Night

Every year on January 6, the Soulard celebrations officially kick off during 12th Night at the Bud Light Party Centre in Soulard Market Park starting at 5 p.m. During the event, the Board of Directors gathers to determine whether or not to celebrate another Mardi Gras in Soulard while politicians, local leaders, and krewes petition the board with dances and "bribes." After the board votes, the gathered crowd then marches throughout the Soulard neighborhood and crowns that year's Mardi Gras Rex (the king of the carnival). In 2021, 12th Night will be hosted virtually on the event's Facebook page.

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Cajun Cook-Off

Tune into Soulard Mardi Gras' Facebook or YouTube channels on January 23, 2021, at 2 p.m. to watch professional chefs from around the St. Louis area compete in a "secret ingredient" cooking challenge. Then, learn how to make a traditional southern dish, red beans and rice, from famed former Soulard bar owner Johnny Daus. After that, watch mixologists craft signature cocktails in the Mardi Gras BARage. Before tuning in, make sure to register for your Cajun Cook-Off Home Party Box to be entered to win a dinner for 10 cooked in your home by a celebrity chef.

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Drive Thru Taste of Soulard

The annual Taste of Soulard event—which takes place February 6, 2021, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.—is a great way to sample food from many of Soulard's best restaurants. And this year, it can be enjoyed safely without even getting out of your car. To participate, first, plan your route on the event's website, and then purchase your redeemable, digital taste booklet. Each booklet comes with one "cocktail taste" which can be redeemed at event headquarters as a to-go drink. With 16 participating establishments, you're bound to go home with full bellies.

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Wiener Dog Derby

Talk about a dog-eat-dog competition, the annual Tito's Wiener Dog Derby pits some of the area's fastest dachshunds against each other in a race down a 30-foot track. While this event may be more of a "fun run" than an actual competition, the derby in Soulard Market Park is always one of the most popular festivities of Mardi Gras. The Wiener Dog Derby takes place on February 13, 2021, at 2 p.m., and can be viewed live—while enjoying your Mardi Gras Safe-at-Home Party Box—on the event's Facebook page.

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Shoebox Float Parade

The first parade that graces the lineup of Soulard Mardi Gras takes place on January 23, 2021, at 10 a.m. The Shoebox Float Parade can be viewed on Facebook or YouTube and features shoebox floats made by local students and artists. This virtual event will take you behind the scenes to see what goes into making the floats. Then, they'll cap things off with an online stroll through the city's favorite family attractions, like the St. Louis Aquarium, The Wheel, Missouri Botanical Gardens, the St. Louis Zoo, City Museum, Magic House, and the St. Louis Science Center.

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Purina Pet Costume Contest and Parade

The Purina Pet Parade takes place virtually on February 16. 2021, on Facebook Live. This parade showcases the winners of the Pet Parade Costume Contest which runs the span of the Mardi Gras event (voting starts January 25, 2021). Purina will donate $1 for every vote cast to the Open Door Animal Sanctuary, a local, no-kill shelter. All you need to do is enter your pet for a chance to win $500 and a year's worth of Purina Pet products coupons, and then tune back in on February 16, 2021, to see who wins.

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Missouri Lottery Run for Your Beads

This year's annual Run for Your Beads takes place from February 1 through 13, 2021, as either a virtual 5K or a virtual marathon. That means you can complete your run anytime at your convenience between the given dates (and you can do so in the city, around a track, or even on a treadmill). After that, log into the event's website to post your results. Prizes will be given for best costume and most creative route, and each participant will receive a Run for Your Beads T-shirt.

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