When you mention Mardi Gras in St. Louis, most locals think of Soulard, home to one of the largest Mardi Gras celebrations outside of New Orleans. The Soulard festivities last for weeks, beginning with Twelfth Night on January 6 and ending with Fat Tuesday, which is on February 25 in 2020. Here are the top events and celebrations during the 2020 Soulard Mardi Gras festival.
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 for the community 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 for another Mardi Gras season, the gathered crowd then marches throughout the Soulard neighborhood and crowns that year's Mardi Gras Rex.
Family Winter Carnival
The Family Winter Carnival on Saturday January 11, 2020, is a chance for everyone to get into the Mardi Gras spirit with live performances, arts and crafts, and a children's parade. The carnival is held at Soulard Market Park, but many of the events are inside a heated tent.
The free, family-friendly event also features bounce houses, story time, fire truck and police demonstrations, and even a small petting zoo. Local artists, musicians, and creators will also be on-site throughout the event.
Professional and amateur chefs from around the St. Louis area compete in separate categories for the best Cajun or Creole dish. Watch the chefs prepare their dishes, and then settle in for a fantastic Cajun lunch. Everyone who attends gets food and drinks, but reservations and tickets are required.
Taste of Soulard
The annual Taste of Soulard event—which takes place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, February 15 and 16, 2020—is a great way to sample food from many of Soulard's best restaurants.
During the event, make your way to each restaurant or pub in the Soulard neighborhood and use one of your tickets for a taste of its signature dish. Ticket books cover six tastes and one drink.
Purina Pet Parade
It doesn't matter if you have a dog or not, the annual Pet Parade is something to see as organizers are expecting thousands of dogs and their owners to turn out. Many will be decked out in costumes, and others just come to be part of the fun.
You can register on the day of the parade, starting at 10 a.m., at 12th Street and Allen Avenue. The parade starts at 1 p.m. on February 16, 2020 and winds through the streets of Soulard. Be sure to check the associated website for a full map of the parade route.
Wiener Dog Derby
Talk about a dog-eat-dog competition, the annual 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 fun than actual competition, the derby in Soulard Market Park is always one of the most popular events of the Soulard Mardi Gras.
The Wiener Dog Derby will take place on Sunday, February 16, 2020, at the Wiener Stadium in Soulard Market Park. The first heat starts at 2 p.m. and is free to watch, but participants must pay a small entry fee to compete.
The Mayor's Mardi Gras Ball
This Mayor's Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball in the Rotunda at St. Louis City Hall is the formal event of Mardi Gras and one of the biggest major social events of the year for St. Louis.
Hobnob with St. Louis society for the evening while enjoying dinner, an open bar, and live music from 7 p.m. to midnight Friday, February 21, 2020.
The Grand Parade
The Grand Parade is the main event of Mardi Gras, bringing tens of thousands of revelers to the streets of Soulard, and it's the biggest Mardi Gras parade except for the Big Daddy in the Big Easy.
Krewes spend months building their floats, which will number almost 100 in 2020, hoping to win prizes and bragging rights at the parade. In addition to the floats, there are also marching bands and, of course, millions of beads flying through the air.
The parade begins at Busch Stadium, makes its way into the heart of Soulard and ends at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, where the Mardi Gras celebration got its start over 40 years ago. You can't miss this: It starts at 11 a.m. on February 22, 2020.
Bud Light Party Tent
The Grand Parade kicks off a whole day of Mardi Gras celebrations in Soulard. Dozens of neighborhood restaurants will be selling food and drinks at outdoor booths and Soulard residents open their homes and host parties of their own.
However, if you don't know anyone who lives in Soulard, the best and most comfortable way to spend the day partying is to buy a ticket to the Bud Light Party Tent, which is actually two heated VIP tents set up at Soulard Market Park in the heart of the action on February 2, 2020.
Up to 2,000 revelers can enjoy a Cajun-Creole buffet, drinks, and music at this restricted access celebration. Stay warm, dance, eat and drink. Plus, there are restrooms. You just can't beat this. Tickets for the Party Tent must be purchased in advance.