For Mardi Gras fun, there’s no need to drive to the state next door—there are beads and bon temps galore at many events right here in Texas.
One of the largest celebrations in the nation takes place in Galveston, which is expected to draw upwards of 350,000 revelers to more than 30 concerts, 22 parades, 20 balcony parties and several elegant balls from Feb. 6-17. The historic downtown entertainment district is the main hub of activity for concerts and parades, including two of the largest—Mystic Krewe of Aquarius Parade and Krewe of Gambrinus Parade—on the first weekend. There also are exclusive black-tie events encouraging masks and elaborate costumes, the Jolly Jester Jaunt 5K Fun Run on Feb. 7 (if you just can’t wait until Lent to atone for all that king cake), “Family Gras” activities on Feb. 8, and the Krewe of Barkus and Meoux Pet Parade and Mardi Gras Children’s Parade on Feb. 15. Tickets are required for entry into the entertainment district, and additional tickets may be required for balcony parties—get details at www.MardiGrasGalveston.com.
Mardi Gras also has history in the East Texas town of Jefferson, which was connected by steamboat to the culture and commerce of New Orleans from the 1840s-70s. At its peak, the town was a booming inland port said to be second only to Galveston in the amount of freight it handled, and newspapers of the day mention grand galas and riverboat parties at this time of year. But Jefferson took a major blow in 1873, when a natural logjam was removed on the Red River, reducing water levels and cutting off steamboat traffic from ports downstream. A railroad also bypassed the city, speeding its decline. It wasn’t until 1990 that the city resurrected its annual celebration, now known as Mardi Gras Upriver. Festivities are Feb. 6-8 this year, beginning Friday night with the Doo Dah Parade and rolling through the weekend with more parades, continuous live music, contests and children’s activities.
Find details for these and more events in our Mardi Gras events calendar listings before Fat Tuesday arrives on Feb. 17:
BANDERA: 11th Street Cowboy Mardi Gras, Feb. 4-7
NOCONA: Mardi Gras, Nocona Style, Feb. 5-7
JEFFERSON: Mardi Gras Upriver Celebration, Feb. 6-8
GALVESTON: Mardi Gras Galveston, Feb. 6-17
SHERMAN: Red River Mardi Gras and Jazz Festival, Feb. 6-8
ORANGE: Mardi Gras Parade and Concert, Feb. 7
PALESTINE: A Taste of New Orleans—Mardi Gras Celebration, Feb. 7
PORT ARTHUR: Mardi Gras of Southeast Texas, Feb. 12-15
LAMAR: Lamardi Gras, Feb. 13-14
MAGNOLIA: Mardi Gras on the Stroll and Cajun Cook-Off, Feb. 14
SAN ANTONIO: Mardi Gras River Parade and Festival, Feb. 14
CRYSTAL BEACH: Mardi Gras Parade, Feb. 14