Laissez les bons temps rouler, y’all!

by Dale Cox

Mardi Gras time is almost here and if you want to enjoy all the fun without the rowdiness of certain other cities, then Mobile, Alabama, is the place for you!

America’s first Mardi Gras was celebrated upriver from the modern city by early French settlers. The event has grown into one of America’s great happenings, with family safe activities and something for visitors of all ages.  

The Excellsior Band is a popular feature of Mardi Gras in Mobile, Alabama.
The city has celebrated Carnival since 1703 and hosts events for the whole family.
Photo by Tad Denson

Mobile was the capital of French Louisiana in 1703 when Nicholas Langlois organized its first Carnival celebration, fifteen years before New Orleans was even founded.  The first masked ball was the next year and parades started in 1711 when sixteen men pushed a mock cow’s head through the streets!

Mardi Gras was a Catholic event in its early days, but people of all faiths are welcome today. There are parades, balls, great food, King cakes, MoonPies, and much more! Learn more about the history of America’s oldest Mardi Gras celebration by visiting the Mobile Carnival Museum at 355 Government Street.

A float during one of Mobile’s dozens of parades. The first is set for February 15, 2019.
Photo by Tad Denson

You can also experience an early taste of Mobile’s rich Mardi Gras history by visiting the Mardi Gras Parading Through Time exhibit at the History Museum of Mobile. It will remain open April 19 at the museum, 111 S. Royal Street, Mobile, Alabama. Visit their website for more information. 

The parades and other events kick off on February 15, three weekends before Fat Tuesday, and continue through the big day, March 5. There are parades daily during the final two weeks of the celebration. Check out the parade routes and schedule below and visit www.mobile.org for information on events, accommodations, great places to eat and more!