Texas’ largest Mardi Gras celebration includes live entertainment and seven new parades
The legendary revelry of Mardi Gras returns to Galveston Island Feb. 25–Mar. 8 for the 100th celebration of Mardi Gras! Galveston. Already the largest Mardi Gras celebration in Texas, this year’s Mardi Gras! Galveston includes several new features, including headliner music, two entertainment stages, seven new parades, and a ticketed entrance to the island’s historic Downtown Entertainment District where the majority of festivities are held.
Opening weekend, the popular alternative rock band Neon Trees headline band performances that are held throughout each day Feb. 26–27 and Mar. 4–5. The Neon Trees perform at 10 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 26. “With more parades than ever before, headliner bands, and, of course, bead throwing galore, Mardi Gras! Galveston is a party not to miss,” says Mike Dean of Yaga’s Entertainment, the new promoter of the event. “We’re expecting the 100th-year celebration to be better than any year prior.”
More than 200,000 people attend Mardi Gras! Galveston annually to participate in the pre-Lenten celebration. The event, organized by the City of Galveston, is best known for its lavish downtown and beachfront parades sponsored by krewes from around the region and state, as well as dozens of elegant balls and pageants held throughout the island.
In addition to the traditional Seawall parades and carnival, there are several new parades this year, including the Salute to George Mitchell Kick-Off Parade, Funky Uptown Umbrella Brigade, and Krewe da’ Yaga’s Cafe Parade held Feb. 25; the “iheartradio krewe” Parade, Houston Chronicle Parade, and Art Cars of Houston Parade held Feb. 26; and the Sunshine Kids Parade held Feb. 27.
Tickets to Mardi Gras! Galveston can be purchased at www.mardigrasgalveston.com. Admission to the Downtown Entertainment District for the Mardi Gras festivities are $15 at the gate; $10 online in advance, while tickets last.
Mardi Gras, the traditional festival of feasting and merrymaking that precedes the season of Lent, has been publicly observed on Galveston Island as early as 1867. Following a sabbatical imposed in 1941 by war and challenging times, Mardi Gras! Galveston was revived in 1985 by Galveston-born preservationist and developer George P. Mitchell.
The largest celebration of its kind in Texas, the event has grown in cultural creativity and imagination, showcasing lavish parades, galas worthy of royalty, original artwork, children’s activities, and delicious Gulf Coast cuisine.
Still led by Galvestonians and their respective krewes, the grandeur is evident in the dueling parades that range from whimsical daytime processionals to elaborate night parades offering dramatic flair. The streets come to life with parade viewers screaming for beads, lively tunes played by the colorful marching bands, and the infectious merriment that dominates the island for two full weeks.
Galveston’s gayest krewe, the Krewe of Bacchus Texas, hosts a mask ball on February 19 from 7–11 p.m. at the Railroad Museum. Membership of the Krewe is open to singles and couples, as a gay and gay-friendly, private, and social nonprofit organization. Black tie or Venetian Roman costume is required.
Tickets are $100 per person, and proceeds benefit a culinary arts scholarship of Galveston College program. Live music with the band Bits and Piece and food catered by Chopin Mon Ami. For more information, visit kreweofbacchustexas.com.
For a complete schedule of events and activities and more information about Mardi Gras! Galveston 2011, visit mardigrasgalveston.com.