People celebrate Mardi Gras in St. Louis.

Everything You Need to Know about Mardi Gras in St. Louis

Tuesday November 28, 2023

By Rachel Huffman

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the nation’s second largest Mardi Gras celebration takes place in Soulard, the St. Louis neighborhood with a French name that means “drunkard” when translated into English.

With boozy drinks and delectable eats, colorful beads and epic events – including the world’s largest parade of costumed pets – Mardi Gras in St. Louis will exceed your expectations.

While you can certainly show up in purple, green and gold and just wing it, we want to help you make the most of this iconic St. Louis event – which, by the way, lasts for weeks!

Here’s everything you need to know about Mardi Gras in St. Louis in 2024.

The Basics

  • If you’re going to do it, do it right. Head to Soulard (pronounced Soo-lard) for Mardi Gras in St. Louis. Oh, and arrive early!
  • Don’t drive. Take a shuttle, taxi or ride-share service.
  • Bathroom access is key, so have a plan for what to do when nature calls. If you know someone who lives in the neighborhood, great! If not, plan to make friends or use one of the thousands of portable restrooms throughout the festival zone. Note: Lines will be long.
  • St. Louis weather is notoriously fickle, so plan accordingly. Festivities roll on, rain or shine, and you’ll likely be on your feet a lot. Wear comfortable shoes, preferably waterproof as precipitation and spillage are always possibilities.
  • Respect the neighborhood and its residents. As one of the oldest residential and entertainment districts west of the Mississippi River, Soulard is recognized as a national historic treasure. Treat it as such.
  • The Bud Light Party Tent and the Blues Alumni Experience are two of the most enjoyable ways to experience the Bud Light Grand Parade during Mardi Gras in St. Louis. Both include an open bar with beer and spirits, a lunch buffet and beads in a climate-controlled tent in close proximity to the parade route.


The nation’s longest-running wiener dog derby takes place in Soulard Market Park during Mardi Gras in St. Louis.
Tito's Vodka Wiener Dog Derby in Soulard Market Park

Family Winter Carnival

January 13

The Family Winter Carnival ignites the Mardi Gras spirit in the youngest among us. The annual event includes interactive displays, story time and hands-on projects to keep kids entertained. Children are also invited to design and submit their own Mardi Gras float using shoeboxes in a one-of-a-kind competition that will spark their creativity, challenge their craftiness and give them a taste of what it’s like to be the Mardi Gras parade director.

January 20

Explore the Soulard neighborhood on foot during the annual Mardi Gras scavenger hunt. Your team will solve clues that lead to local haunts, where you’ll answer questions and perform challenges. Along the way, rack up as many points as you can to claim the grand prize! After the hunt, the fun continues at an after-party at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery.

January 27

Get your fill of Cajun cuisine at the Cajun Cook-Off. Talented amateur chefs from across the region will face off in this spicy competition. As the chefs prepare their best dishes for a panel of hungry and highly discerning judges, you can enjoy a traditional Cajun lunch, unlimited Bud Light and Southern Comfort Hurricanes and live music. There will also be cooking demonstrations – with free samples! – revealing some of the secrets of Cajun cooking.

February 3

No other race is quite as fun, colorful and, well, wacky as the 5K Run for Your Beads during Mardi Gras in St. Louis. Dress in your best purple, green and gold garb as there will be a prize for the runner with the most eye-catching costume. In true Mardi Gras spirit, pit stops along the race route will be stocked with complimentary beer and Hurricanes (available for runners 21 and older). Catch your breath, take a sip and enjoy the historic scenery of Soulard.

February 3 and 4

On this self-guided tasting and pub crawl, you can savor the Cajun flavors that define Soulard. Passes are $35 and include one drink voucher and six food vouchers, which you can redeem at participating establishments. On Saturday, attendees can also enjoy complimentary trolley rides from one spot to the next.

February 4

The Guinness World Record holder for the largest costumed pet parade in the world, the Purina Pet Parade boasts thousands of festive four-legged friends strutting their stuff. As the adorable animals prance through Soulard, the best-dressed pets will be selected as members of the Court of the Mystical Krewe of Barkus and invited to the Coronation Pageant at Soulard Market Park, where the King and Queen of Barkus will be crowned.

February 4

The nation’s longest-running wiener dog derby is back. Starting at 1:45 p.m. on February 4, participants will square off in Soulard Market Park to determine the “dashingest” dachshund in all the land. Your wieners have been waiting all year for this! There will be four age-based classes: Cocktail Wiener (up to four years old), Hot Dog (four to eight years old), Ballpark Frank (eight or more years old) and Wiener Wannabe (dogs small enough to fit in the starting box). In a series of six-dog elimination heats, competitors will race down a 30-foot track with the winning wiener moving onto the next round until a champion is crowned.

February 9

Considered the social event of the season, the Mayor’s Mardi Gras Ball combines elegance and exuberance. The must-attend gala features fine cuisine, craft cocktails, entertainment and dancing, and it usually culminates in a packed dance floor of blissful revelers moving to the music in alluring gowns and modish tuxedos. Ticket proceeds benefit the Soulard and Downtown neighborhoods of St. Louis.

February 10

Attracting tens of thousands of merrymakers, the Bud Light Grand Parade is the crown jewel of the Soulard Mardi Gras season – and the largest parade outside of the Big Easy. Approximately 130 Krewes spend months building their floats, hoping to win prizes as well as bragging rights at the parade. In addition to the floats, the parade features marching bands and, of course, millions of beads flying through the air. Beginning at 11 a.m. at Busch Stadium, the Bud Light Grand Parade makes its way to the heart of Soulard and ends where the King of Beers is brewed: Anheuser-Busch Brewery.

Looking for more guidance on how to experience Mardi Gras in St. Louis? We’ve created three itineraries with varying approaches to laissez les bons temps rouler. That’s fancy French for “let the good times roll.”

Where to Eat

Mardi Gras in St. Louis includes a Cajun cook-off.
Cajun Cook-Off in the Soulard neighborhood

It’s not difficult to find a drink during Mardi Gras in St. Louis, but to make the most of the festivities, you’re going to need to eat, too. Here are our top picks for places to eat throughout the season.

The Biergarten pays homage to the rich history and brew portfolio found only at Anheuser-Busch Brewery. Chow down on Bavarian pretzel sticks, pulled pork nachos and toasted ravioli. For something more substantial, order the kale pasta salad, the G&W bratwurst poached in Budweiser or the 8-ounce all-beef burger tucked into a toasted potato bun. Of course, the menu also suggests the perfect beer pairing for every bite.

Bogart’s Smokehouse is a great stop for barbecue-lovers. Its pitmasters prepare some of the best smoked meats in town – think brisket, burnt ends, ribs, pulled pork and turkey. Add sides such as Bogart’s Beans, Sweet & Sour Slaw and Fire & Ice Pickles to complete your meal.

Using locally sourced ingredients whenever possible, Epic Pizza & Subs dishes out high-end creations. If you’re craving pizza, try the Epic Supreme or Hot Hawaiian. For subs, you can’t go wrong with the Meatball Parm or the Epic Cheese Steak.

Famous for live music, Hammerstone’s also has tasty treats for any meal. For breakfast before the big parade, try the slinger, a St. Louis staple made with hash browns, meat patties and two eggs, smothered in chili, onion, jalapeños and Cheddar. Throughout the day, the menu also boasts soups, salads, sandwiches and pizzas. In keeping with the theme of Mardi Gras, though, we recommend the Cajun mac ‘n’ cheese served with garlic toast.

There’s always something to do during Mardi Gras. If you don’t want to waste time at a sit-down meal, order dishes to-go from Joanie’s. The toasted ravioli is a classic choice, but you can also indulge in hot mozzarella sticks, Cajun-battered shrimp, jalapeño mac ‘n’ cheese bites and more. The crispy chicken and hot roast beef sandwiches are also satisfying, or you can create your own calzone. If you’re feeding a group, order a few pizzas. Franco’s Cajun Pride with Cajun-seasoned ground beef, green pepper, onion, black olives and cayenne pepper certainly fits the occasion.

Craving tacos? Mission Taco Joint serves its street tacos with a side of West Coast vibes. You can’t go wrong with the spicy chorizo (housemade chorizo, fresh avocado, grilled pineapple pico, pickled jalapeños and cilantro-lime crema), mango-hop-anero shrimp (beer-battered shrimp, red cabbage slaw, fresh mango salsa, smashed avocado and mango-hop-anero aïoli) or Yucatecan pork (achiote-roasted pork shoulder, pineapple pico, habanero-pickled onions and avocado-serrano sauce). For vegetarians, there’s also the portabella (wood-fired portabella mushrooms, smashed black beans, goat cheese, arugula, crispy onions and chipotle aïoli) and soft taco (Hungry Planet beef, pico de gallo, lettuce, vegan cheese and Mission Taco Joint sauce).

Boasting one of the best year-round patios in St. Louis, Molly’s in Soulard is the perfect stop on your Mardi Gras journey. The adventurous eaters in your group will gravitate toward dishes such as Molly’s famous alligator Rangoon, Cajun-fried deviled eggs and the cochon de lait sandwich made with Creole-style pulled pork, pickled red cabbage, fresh jalapeños and Dijon mustard. Gumbo, jambalaya and New Orleans barbecue shrimp also stand out on the menu. Molly’s has a noteworthy brunch, as well, featuring breakfast tacos, avocado toast, a French toast bake and more – plus, plenty of boozy offerings, including Soulard Sangria and a build-your-own Bloody Mary.

This casual seafood-focused restaurant is owned by award-winning chef Kevin Nashan. Here, you can load up on clam chowder, lobster rolls and po-boys before heading to the next Mardi Gras event.

For a change of scenery, reserve a table at Sidney Street Cafe, where hospitable staff serves inventive New American cuisine in a sophisticated yet comfortable setting. Located in a century-old storefront in the historic Benton Park neighborhood, the exquisite restaurant attracts diners from around the world. Dig into fluffy lobster turnovers served with a tomato-brandy reduction; juicy ribs with mustard-caramel glaze; scrumptious scallops with chorizo, spiced sweet potatoes and cauliflower chimichurri; or roasted broccoli risotto with maitake mushrooms and smoked Cheddar mousse. A side of fried Brussels sprouts with fish sauce caramel or creamy polenta doesn’t hurt either.

You probably know of this fast-casual eatery as Panera Bread, but here, we call it St. Louis Bread Co. If you’re looking for a quick bite, head to 7th Street and Russell Boulevard for broccoli-Cheddar soup, a Green Goddess Cobb Salad, a Chipotle Chicken-Avocado Melt and more. For breakfast on the go, you can also snag a few bagels – bread-sliced for convenience, of course.

Warm service, a cozy atmosphere and delicious food converge at Tucker’s Place. Steaks and chops are grilled with Tucker’s signature steak sauce and are worth a taste, but you can also take advantage of the daily lunch special for $13.95, which includes the sandwich special of the day, one side (soup, salad or french fries) and one beverage (soda, tea, select draft beer, house wine or well drink).

Where to Stay

Live! By Loews gives guests unbeatable views of Busch Stadium, the Gateway Arch and downtown St. Louis.
Live! By Loews – St. Louis in Downtown

Staying in the Downtown and Downtown West neighborhoods of St. Louis, you’ll have easy access to Mardi Gras festivities in Soulard. Here are our top picks for places to stay during your visit.

Comfort, convenience and warm hospitality await you at Courtyard by Marriott St. Louis Downtown West. After a long day of partying, you can ease into spacious rooms with complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi. Hungry? The on-site restaurant serves breakfast and dinner, or you can check out nearby restaurants such as Maggie O’Brien’s, Pappy’s Smokehouse, Schlafly Tap Room and The Fountain on Locust.

The Drury Plaza Hotel St. Louis At The Arch boasts spectacular views of downtown St. Louis, the Gateway Arch and the riverfront. In between Mardi Gras events, enjoy the hotel’s indoor pool and Jacuzzi or simply kick back in one of its recently renovated rooms. Free breakfast with hot food and cold drinks is included, and you can also dine at the two in-house restaurants: Carmine’s Steak House and Angelo’s Taverna.

Located in the up-and-coming Downtown West neighborhood, Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott St. Louis Downtown sits within walking distance of CITYPARK stadium, Enterprise Center, Stifel Theatre and St. Louis Union Station, where you’ll find the St. Louis Aquarium and a host of other attractions, restaurants and amenities.

Set in a stunning 19th-century mansion, this exclusive bed-and-breakfast ranks among the top accommodations in St. Louis. It’s nestled in the Compton Heights neighborhood, which also provides easy access to Soulard. Each of the five spacious guest rooms has a character of its own, and the signature breakfast is enticing enough to get you out of bed in the morning.

A stone’s throw from Busch Stadium, Ballpark Village, Kiener Plaza, Gateway Arch National Park and The Dome at America’s Center, Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark puts guests in the center of the action. The hotel also offers a swanky rooftop bar and eatery with 360-degree views for those who want to continue the party outside of Soulard.

Embodying the modern spirit of St. Louis, Hotel Saint Louis is located in the heart of downtown. As you step through the revitalized historic entrance, you enter a two-story lobby illuminated by natural light. The 140-room hotel has a restaurant on the ground floor and a pool on the roof. The restaurant, Union 30, serves St. Louis staples with contemporary twists, while Form Skybar offers delicious small plates and eclectic cocktails with a heightened sense of style.

Designed to captivate the curious traveler, The Last Hotel promises delightful discoveries at every turn. Housed in the International Shoe Company Building, steps from City Museum, the hotel tells fascinating stories through its chic design, culinary arts and genuine experiences. Even locals like to hang here, enjoying refreshing cocktails, notable wines and local craft beers at the rooftop bar.

The building that houses Le Méridien St. Louis Downtown was built in 1913 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. When the hotel reopened in 2021 after undergoing extensive renovations, it presented a modern art-focused design with nods to the property’s storied history. Approximately two miles from Soulard, Le Méridien St. Louis Downtown is the perfect home base from which to partake in Mardi Gras celebrations.

Opened in 2020, Live! By Loews – St. Louis sits in a hot spot of sports activity. Mere steps from Busch Stadium, the hotel’s design hearkens back to the origins of American baseball – but you’ll still find all the modern amenities here. The staff will welcome you like family, and the pristine rooms will offer unparalleled access to the entertainment and nightlife of Ballpark Village. For more live music, check out Tin Roof, which is a three-minute walk down Clark Avenue.

Magnolia Hotel St. Louis provides a boutique experience in downtown. Fusing old-world opulence and urban sophistication, it offers guests a glamorous retreat in a prime location. Whether you’re traveling with kids or not, you won’t want to miss the nighttime milk and cookies!

Newly renovated, The Pennywell is a boutique Hilton hotel housed in a former bank. The 1888 building retains its original vault, and The Pennywell is recognized by Historic Hotels of America. The hotel’s proximity to the Gateway Arch is a major draw, and for the weekend of Mardi Gras, it will offer a daily $25 credit to Pennydrop Bar & Kitchen, where the festivities continue. We recommend ordering shareable plates and washing them down with a king cake-themed cocktail made with vanilla vodka, Baileys Irish Cream and Grand Marnier.

Once one of the largest and busiest passenger rail terminals in the world, St. Louis Union Station is now home to the St. Louis Aquarium, the St. Louis Wheel, a 3D light show and, of course, St. Louis Union Station Hotel. The hotel retains the elegant archways and elaborate décor of the Grand Hall, which acts as its lobby, and it boasts a state-of-the-art fitness center and a seasonal outdoor swimming pool.

For more ideas of where to stay in St. Louis, check our listings of various hotels, beautiful B&Bs and budget-friendly campgrounds.

We hope that you make lasting memories at Mardi Gras in St. Louis. Have fun, stay safe and share your Mardi Gras photos with us using #ExploreStLouis for a chance to be featured on our social pages.