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Celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans is definitely an event for the bucket list, but party-goers have to be all in. Plane tickets are more expensive, hotels are hard to find, and there certainly aren’t a lot of deals going on during the festivities. Luckily for the cash-strapped imbibers, New Orleans isn’t the only Mardi Gras Mecca. Fat Tuesday turns into a month-long event in St. Louis, starting with family-friendly wintercarnivals in January and culminating in a grand parade and party the weekend before the anticipated night. Heading to this much more centrally located and not as highly sought-after destination will save you a pretty penny without cutting into the merriment of the festivities.

St. Louis skyline

St. Louis skyline. Photo: Dave Herholz – Flickr.

The weekend leading up to Mardi Gras Feb. 9 is a flurry of activity. It starts with the Mayor’s Mardi Gras Ball on Friday, Feb. 5, a black-tie gala with tickets starting at $150 and reaching up to $3,000. Attendees dawn their formal Mardi Gras garb and head for the St. Louis City Hall Rotunda, for a night filled with food, cocktails, entertainment and dancing. Proceeds benefit the Mardi Gras Foundation, which works to improve the downtown area.

Bud Light Grand Parade

Mardi Gras beads fly toward the crowd during the parade in St. Louis. Photo: Dave Herholz – Flickr

Next comes the Bud Light Grand Parade,starting at Busch Stadium at 11 a.m. Saturday and ending at Anheuser-Busch Brewery. More than 100 floats will move through the streets, tossing more than 10 million strands of beads into the pre-Lent celebrations.

The festivities take over Soulard, St. Louis’ historically French neighborhood about two miles from downtown. Knowing about the stomping grounds is key to the Mardi Gras experience. The city’s oldest neighborhood, it is named after Antoine Soulard, who first started developing the land. He came to America as a refugee from the French Revolution in the 1790s.

Mardi Gras in Soulard

Mardi Gras festivities take over St. Louis’ historic Soulard neighborhood. Photo: Dave Herholz – Flickr

There’s a huge block party throughout Soulard Feb. 6, with tents featuring live music, beer and snacks in designated spots. Bud Light sponsored most of those too, so look for the beer signs.

If the weather isn’t as welcoming for a block party as you’d prefer, head for the Bud Light Party Tent in Soulard Market Park. It’s $100 to get in, but that comes with nine hours of DJs and open bars. They also allow re-entry, so you can jump around.

Saturday is the largest party day, but keep an eye out for Mardi Gras deals throughout town all weekend, especially at the bars and restaurants throughout Soulard.

St. Louis Blues

The St. Louis Blues win. Photo: Dave Herholz – Flickr

If you stay in town through Fat Tuesday, you’re sure to find some smaller celebrations throughout the week. The St. Louis Blues are playing the Winnipeg Jets Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Scottstrade Center, and the city has dubbed it Fat Bluesday. If you go to the Bud Light Tent Saturday and plan on going to the Blues game, you can get a combo ticket and save some cash. The concourse will be full of Mardi Gras-themed games and live music.

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Tagged: City, Festivals, Food & drink, FREE!, Holidays, Last minute travel, Seasonal

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One thought on “St. Louis: The other Mardi Gras”

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