Mardi Gras at the Beach

Galveston jazzes up Mardi Gras with eight new parades

Galveston jazzes up Mardi Gras with eight new parades

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The Philadelphia Mummers are a tradition at Galveston's Momus parade. Courtesy of Genesis Photographers

The city of Galveston is jazzing up its Mardi Gras tradition with eight new parades and a return to a ticketed Entertainment District in the city's historic uptown district (known to most as The Strand).

The celebration, which features 18 parades, 26 concerts, 13 balcony parties and five masked balls, stretches from Feb. 25 through March 8 with plenty of new attractions, including:

  • A new family day on Sunday, Feb. 27 with a kids' parade benefiting The Sunshine Kids — a non-profit organization providing support for young cancer patients;
  • A "funky umbrella parade" through the entertainment district on Feb. 25 that will attempt to grab the Guinness Book title for largest second-line parade, where costumed participants can earn free entry to the entertainment district;
  • An Art Cars of Houston Parade, featuring the iconic decorated vehicles with special nighttime lighting, on Feb. 26;
  • A "State Champs" parade honoring the Pearland High School football team, on Feb. 25.

As always, the crown jewel bead is the Knights of Momus Grand Night Parade, the largest parade of all, slated for 6:30 p.m. on March 5 along the Seawall and through the Entertainment District. Among the entertainers: The Philadelphia Mummers, who have become a Galveston Mardi Gras tradition.

The Knights of Momus date back to 1871, when two rival Mardi Gras "krewes" emerged in Galveston — the Knights of Momus, known as K.O.M., and the Knights of Myth. Each sponsored grand spectacles, each trying to outdo the other year after year. 

Mardi Gras Galveston has since struggled through world wars and hurricanes, ceasing the celebration in 1941 for nearly 40 years, until 1985, when Galveston native George P. Mitchell and Cynthia Mitchell (of Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion fame) launched its city-wide revival. The same year, the Knights of Momus returned.

Mitchell will be saluted in a nighttime parade that kicks off two weeks of Mardi Gras activities on Feb. 25.

Today, Mardi Gras Galveston draws as many as 250,000 visitors to the island each year.

Tickets to the Uptown Entertainment District are $15 at the gate, or $10 in advance online. The full schedule of Mardi Gras Galveston activities can be accessed here.