How to Celebrate Mardi Gras in Gulf Shores

Getting away to a beachside paradise in the middle of winter sounds like a dream come true, doesn’t it? If you’re thinking about planning a February getaway because you’re missing the warmth of summer, consider coming down to the sands of Gulf Shores and Fort Morgan! There’s plenty to see and do around here, and you’re sure to have an incredible time with your family away from the cold climate that the rest of the United States often experiences this time of year. You can stick your toes in the sand, indulge on fresh local seafood, and experience some of the most exciting historical attractions.

In addition to the permanent activities you can find in Gulf Shores all year round, February brings one special celebration that you definitely don’t want to miss out on Mardi Gras! Gulf Shores Mardi Gras is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will bring you and your family close together and allow you to get in on an authentic Mardi Gras celebration that you will never forget. Here’s everything you’ll need to know about Mardi Gras, whether you choose to spend it in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, or Fort Morgan.

If you’ll be staying in one of our Gulf Shores rentals, you’ll be just down the road from some of the most exciting Mardi Gras celebrations on the coast.

Mardi Gras float during a parade

History of Mardi Gras

Before we jump into the specific events of Mardi Gras in the area, we should take a minute to discuss the history of the holiday. Though most people generally associate Mardi Gras with the city of New Orleans, the tradition actually originated right here in Alabama! That’s right; the city of Mobile, just an hour away from Gulf Shores, was the location of the very first Mardi Gras celebration in the United States way back in the 1700s. It all started when Mobile was first founded in 1702 and served as the colonial capital of French Louisiana.

It’s important to understand that Mardi Gras was already a tradition for the French Catholic community and wasn’t invented in the United States. Instead, it was brought to the US when King Louis XIV sent a group of men to the Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama areas to defend their acquisition of lands. Though these men were far from home, it only made sense to maintain their traditional Mardi Gras celebration in their new location, and from then on, Mardi Gras was here to stay.

Mardi Gras actually translates to “Fat Tuesday” in French, and it always falls on the day before Ash Wednesday. The date changes every year to coincide with Easter. Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent, which is 40 days (not including Sundays, so usually 46 days) of fasting. Mardi Gras began as a way for Catholics to party and indulge on the things they would have to give up once Lent started the next day on Ash Wednesday.

Gulf Shores Mardi Gras

If you’ll be staying in one of our Gulf Shores rentals, you’ll be just down the road from some of the most exciting Mardi Gras celebrations on the coast. Arguably the biggest draw of the Gulf Shores Mardi Gras celebration is the parade, which dates all the way back to 1978. This parade typically runs from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m. and features floats traveling from Clubhouse Drive all the way down to Gulf Place. 

Many local restaurants and establishments also have their own Mardi Gras celebrations, such as the LuLu’s Birds of Paradise Mardi Gras Ball. This event is held at Lulu’s Restaurant Gulf Shores and allows you and your family to experience a delicious dinner buffet with an open bar, dance to live music from a local act, and simply dance the night away! LuLu’s also tends to hold a celebration after the Gulf Shores parade, which often involves a boat parade, costumes, food and drinks, and so much more!

To enjoy the parade, simply be aware that the route from Clubhouse Drive to Gulf Place will be closed to traffic from 6 a.m. until noon. Luckily, you’re sure to get a great view no matter where you situate yourself along the parade route! If you choose to attend the celebration at LuLu’s, they have convenient parking right on site.

Orange Beach Mardi Gras

Mardi Gra mask and beads center piece in a glass

Down the road in Orange Beach, the Mardi Gras fun just continues. Orange Beach also holds an annual Mardi Gras parade that typically occurs every year on Fat Tuesday at 2 p.m. More than 50 groups come out to join the parade, such as local high school bands and musical acts, and of course, plenty of amazing floats! If you come out to the celebration, expect road closures along Highway 182 within the Orange Beach city limits. Traffic is often closed on the Saturday before (to help floats get into the area) anywhere between 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., as well as on Tuesday from anywhere between 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

But that’s not the only Mardi Gras parade happening in Orange Beach! Just a short trip away from our Fort Morgan beach rentals, you can come out to experience the Mystics of Pleasure Mardi Gras Parade. This event has been a local stable since 2001 and features a unique marshal: instead of horses leading the parade, it’s Harley-Davidsons! This parade route runs from the traffic light east of Phoenix West and ends down at Highway 161, so expect road closures in this area.

Finally, head to The Wharf to experience MoonPies on Main! This is a family-friendly celebration full of kids’ activities like petting zoos, face painters, bounce houses, rock walls, and more. There’s also a Kid and Pet Parade at this event for your viewing pleasure, and best of all, this incredible event is absolutely free to attend!

Plan Your Stay

With well over 50 different properties, you will have no trouble finding your ideal vacation rental. Book your stay with us, and be close to the best Mardi Gras parties around!

Mardi Gras beads on bicycle handles

Fort Morgan Mardi Gras

The Mardi Gras celebrations in Fort Morgan may be young, but they’re no less fun than their counterparts in Orange Beach or Gulf Shores! The main attraction here is the Fort Morgan Mardi Gras Parade, which was recently established in 2019. The celebration is a bit smaller than those held in bigger cities around the area, making it perfect for families with young children or groups that simply want a more relaxed environment. Still, you’ll get to see some amazing floats and have tons of fun with the locals!

This parade route travels almost two miles through Fort Morgan, so again, make plans to avoid the parade route on the day of the event or simply walk from your rental property down to the street.

Tranquil Beach Houses

Mardi Gras is an incredible time in Fort Morgan and Gulf Shores, but once you’re done celebrating in the parades and finding the best local hangout spots, you’re sure to be exhausted. At the end of the night, you’ll probably just want some peace and quiet to relax with the ones you love most. Our Fort Morgan beach rentals are the perfect solution!

At Fort Morgan Property Management, we are proud to offer some of the most affordable yet luxurious vacation homes in Gulf Shores and Fort Morgan. No matter how many people you’re bringing with you or how long you plan to be in town, we have the ultimate property for you and your family. If you can’t find exactly the right property for you, simply contact our friendly staff, and we can help you pick out the right rental. Ready to spend Mardi Gras in Gulf Shores? Contact us today to learn more!


Fort Morgan Property Management
6930 Hwy 180
Gulf Shores, AL 36542, USA
(800) 959-7326