Have a Family-Friendly Mardi Gras on Alabama's Beaches

Gulf Shores & Orange Beach

Carnival season is here, which immediately brings to mind parades, beads and revelry! But did you know you don't have to travel to the Big Easy for Mardi Gras fun? There are plenty of parade and carnival festivities going on right here on the Alabama Gulf Coast. In fact, Mardi Gras originated in a nearby Mobile in 1703. Not surprising, this annual celebration spilled over into nearby towns and eventually along the entire Gulf Coast.

Here on the Alabama Gulf Coast, locals and visitors alike will find a full calendar of Mardi Gras events now through Feb. 17. For instance, on Feb. 5, Mary's Shelter Gulf Coast presents An Evening of Mardi Gras: A Black Tie Mardi Gras Celebration and Silent Auction in Gulf Shores. Activities include live entertainment, dancing, masquerade contest, games and more. A local tradition, Lulu's Annual Birds of Paradise Mardi Gras Ball takes place in Gulf Shores on Feb. 11. Featuring live music by The Tip Tops, the event also includes a buffet dinner, open bar and entertainment.

If it's beads and MoonPies (an Alabama Gulf Coast Mardi Gras staple) you want, head to Orange Beach on Feb. 13 for the Mystical Order of Mirams Parade followed by the Mystics of Pleasure Mardi Gras Parade on Feb. 14. A true family favorite, Mardi Gras at The Wharf takes place on Feb. 15, with a kid and pet parade followed by a float parade.

On Fat Tuesday, Feb. 17, start the day off with the Gulf Shores Mardi Gras Parade, and remember a bag or two to haul away your collection of beds, MoonPies and other fun trinkets. Keep up the fun at the Orange Beach Mardi Gras Parade, and then head over for one of the Alabama Gulf Coast's largest Mardi Gras celebrations at Lulu's 16th Anniversary & Mardi Gras Boat Parade. This all-day-long party includes live music, costumes, food and, of course, the boat parade.

You'll find more parades in nearby Foley, Fairhope, Daphne and Mobile during the next two weeks. And, if you do make it over to Mobile during your stay in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, be sure to stop in at the Mobile Carnival Museum. This local gem shares the origins of Mardi Gras and its evolution, and features one of the best collections of Mardi Gras costumes I've ever seen assembled in one place.

When you're in between Mardi Gras celebrations, you'll still find plenty to keep you busy. You're sure to find something of interest on the things to do list.

Mardi Gras along the Alabama Gulf Coast may not garner the same attention as New Orleans, but that's okay. After all, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach not only have fun and fabulous Mardi Gras celebrations, but the cities also have 32 miles of soft sand and clear waters. Who wouldn't want to celebrate a family-style Mardi Gras at the beach?

Follow Gulf Shores Orange Beach's board 2013 Mardi Gras Boat Parade on Pinterest.

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