The Ultimate Guide to Mardi Gras in Lake Charles

When you’re planning a trip to celebrate Mardi Gras in Lake Charles, check out this handy how-to guide to make the most of your experience.

Mardi Gras

When is Mardi Gras 2022?

Mardi Gras weekend runs Feb. 25 - March 1, 2022, with a wide array of events from a chicken run, Krewe of Barkus dog parade, gumbo cook-off, Children's parade and many more activities packing the calendar! The magic of the Mardi Gras season culminates with the finale of the Krewe of Krewes Parade on Mardi Gras Day Tuesday, March 1, 2022.

What Do I Wear for Mardi Gras?

Although Louisiana summers are hot, carnival season in January-Early March brings milder temperatures ranging from the mid-40s at night to the mid-70s during the day. Be sure to pack for cooler weather and bring light layers you can easily add or remove based on current conditions. Comfortable shoes are a must, too. There’s a lot of walking – and dancing – to be done! 

Remember to wear the traditional colors of purple, green and gold. Visit the many local party and boutique stores in Lake Charles to pick up festive shirts, hats, and beads to wear during the celebrations.

Pro Tip: Bring a poncho for the rain and an "upside down" umbrella to catch beads! Parade float-riders love to try to throw beads directly into the umbrellas that line the route!

What Do I Bring to a Parade?

  • A tote for all of your Mardi Gras catches
  • Lawn chairs for your family krewe
  • Blankets for wrapping up in or sitting on 
  • An ice chest with plenty of snacks and drinks
  • Wet wipes and/or tissues for whipping your hands
  • A rain coat/poncho, because a short rain storm isn't out of the norm in South Louisiana
  • Scope out restroom options ahead of time

Where Do I Park for Mardi Gras in Lake Charles?

Lake Charles offers ample free parking. But to know where to park, you will want to know where the parade routes are. Park near the route, but be sure to follow the parking rules and not to block driveways, roads or other cars. For the larger parades such as the Krewe of Krewes, to get a good parking spot and viewing spot, arrive about 30 minutes to an hour before the parade is scheduled to roll. You will also want to consider what side you will want to view the parade from and think about your exit strategy if you need to leave before the parade ends (but who would willingly leave early?).

What Parades Roll in Southwest Louisiana?

More than a dozen Mardi Gras parades will roll through Southwest Louisiana during carnival season, but here are just a few you won’t want to miss.

  1. The granddaddy Krewe of Krewes Parade winds four miles through Lake Charles, with more than 100 elaborate floats tossing thousands of beads, cups, doubloons and other fun items to cheering crowds along the way.
  2. Pets and pet lovers strut their stuff to adoring fans during the popular Krewe of Barkus Parade, while a sea of purple, green and gold delights the young (and young at heart!) at the Children’s Parade.
  3. Jeep lovers unite for the jammin’ Jeeps on Parade, hot rods and classic cars take center stage at the Motor Gras Parade, local businesses and social organizations make festive floats for the Merchants Parade, and Mardi Gras music fills the air during the festive Second Line Stroll.
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Where Should I Eat?

For Mardi Gras weekend, plan your meals ahead. Many restaurants along the parade route will close or not allow entry or departure during the parades. You may opt to eat street vendor food or pack your own snacks and sandwiches. It will be a long day, so plan ahead!

For a true taste of Mardi Gras you won’t want to miss the World Famous Cajun Extravaganza and Gumbo Cook-Off. Sample spicy gumbo from a collection of amateur and professional teams, all putting their own spin on this Louisiana classic to a backdrop of foot-stomping music.

Can I Bring the Kids to Mardi Gras?

You not only can, but you absolutely should bring the kids! Mardi Gras in Lake Charles is a family-friendly jubilee with special activities catered to children and teens. They’ll enjoy all of the history, pageantry, and traditions of this one-of-a-kind celebration in a safe, welcoming atmosphere. For ideas on what to do with the kids while you’re here, check out the top Mardi Gras family activities on tap.