Mardi Gras! Galveston

Mardi Gras! Galveston
Mardi Gras! Galveston is the largest Mardi Gras festival in Texas. The island tradition includes elaborate parades, performances, masked balls, family events, exquisite costumes, contests, balcony parties, electronic dance parties, and feasting.

The Mardi Gras celebration in Galveston dates back to 1867. Back then, there was no parade, the celebration consisted of a masked ball and a theater performance from King Henry IV by William Shakespeare. The first extravagant celebration featuring a colorful parade took place in 1871 due to the emergence of two rival New Orleans-style krewes, the Knights of Myth and the Knights of Momus.

Galveston’s Mardi Gras celebration grew more elaborate each year as the krewes tried to outdo each other. By 1880, the street parades were discontinued because they had become too expensive and extravagant. Neither the municipality nor the community could fund them. However, masked balls remained an integral part of the celebrations and continued to flourish.

The demise of Mardi Gras was caused by the outbreak of the Second World War. For nearly 40 years after the war, private balls and parties hosted by local families, clubs and associations were held in place of the citywide celebration. The official celebration was revived in 1985 by local businessman George P. Mitchell and his wife Cynthia.

Today’s Mardi Gras! Galveston is one of America’s largest Mardi Gras celebrations and the most significant event of its kind in Texas. It attracts up to 300,000 revelers to Galveston Island, offering them over 30 concerts, 22 spectacular parades, 20 balcony parties and five masked balls. The Carnival season in Galveston lasts for almost two weeks, culminating on Fat Tuesday, the last day before the beginning of Lent.

Colorful parades featuring over 100 elaborately decorated floats are one of the Carnival’s main highlights. They are organized by local krewes including the Mystic Krewe of Aquarius, the Krewe Babalu, Krewe d’Esprit Rosaire, the Krewe of Gambrinus, the Krewe of Maximilian, and others. During the parades more than 3 million beads are thrown into the crowd!

Most events and activities take place in the city’s historic downtown. Those who don’t want to watch the parades standing in the street can purchase tickets to one of the balcony parties with the perfect view on the parades and the main stage. Unlike some other carnivals, Mardi Gras! Galveston doesn’t have a theme, although some krewes choose annual themes for their individual parades.

Mardi Gras! Galveston

Photo: Rick Duhrkopf




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