Due to its French roots, Pensacola, Florida, hosts one of the oldest and largest Mardi Gras celebrations in the United States. Several colorful parades, lots of live music, laughter and jokes, await visitors during the celebration. Extravagant parades, with plenty of decorated floats, are presented by Penascole krewes so prepare your beads and doubloons! The festivities also include special dinners, chili cook-offs, balls, and charity events that last from January 6 until Ash Wednesday.
Pensacola Mardi Gras is celebrated since 1874 which makes it one of the oldest in the United States. Food is one of the main attributes of the holiday. In addition to gumbo, King Cakes, Pensacola residents have a weakness for the Moonpie, a marshmallow pie dipped in chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry icing. The main characters of the carnival are a king, queen and royal court. The parades feature about 250 floats, marching bands, and dance teams, —altogether about 6,000 people. Being one of the biggest celebrations on the Gulf of Mexico Coast, Pensacola Mardi Gras is attended by 100,000 people.
The main events of Pensacola Mardi Gras include the Annual Krewe of Lafitte Mardi Gras Parade in downtown Pensacola that begins on Spring & Garden Streets. Starting at 7:30 p.m., this is the only illuminated nighttime parade in the city. Beautiful lighted floats, marching bands, and music will definitely keep you entertained. Pensacola Grand Mardi Gras Parade is the major event in the city that starts at 2 p.m. and lasts for about four hours. A family-friendly celebration begins at Spring & Garden Streets. The parade ends with street parties on the boardwalk with music and dancing.