Laissez les bons temps rouler! You don’t have to be in New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras. Houston’s strong cajun influence shines as Mardi Gras festivals, parades, happy hours, and freshly baked king cake take over the town. Grab your krewe and check out our list of the best ways to celebrate Mardi Gras in Houston.

Festivals and Parades

Though it’s just outside Houston, Mardi Gras! Galveston is the third largest Mardi Gras celebration in the United States, attracting more than 300,000 attendees annually. The two-week (February 17-28) celebration is best known for its lavish parades held on the streets of the city's historic downtown and beachfront. The 2017 event is scheduled to be the biggest Mardi Gras! Galveston celebration yet with 26 parades and dozens of concerts, balcony parties, DJ laser shows, masked balls and more. The events also includes a separate 5k run, golf cart parade, and hokey pokey dance party.

Downtown’s Discovery Green and Avenida Houston will host the 4th annual Houston Creole Festival & Mardi Gras Parade on February 25. The event features live music by zydeco and southern-inspired favorites like Jerome Batiste & Zydeco Players, 601 Live, and Lil Jabb. Don’t miss an action-packed day of parades, food and drinks, and other family activities.

Kingwood’s Mardi Gras Festival and Parade is the perfect fit for a free family day out over the holiday weekend. From noon to 6 pm on Saturday February 25th, the celebration will include live music by DJ KDub, Leroy Thomas and his Zydeco Roadrunners, craft boothes, kidzone with bungee jump, and delicious selections from local food vendors. Local businesses and organizations will parade around Town Center Park with free beads and candy at 2 pm.

Local Houston Whole Foods Markets will also be celebrating Mardi Gras in their own way February 25. The Voss and Westchase locations will be transforming shopping carts into epic Mardi Gras floats while parading through the store to festive tunes. Also sample cajun/creole food favorites like gumbo and king cake. At the end of the day the King of Mardi Gras will be crowned!

el big bad

Mardi Gras Happy Hours and Pub Crawls

The nightlife options in Houston are endless. But we selected a few Mardi Gras celebrations that should be especially fun. Head to El Big Bad for Mardi Gras and Crawfish - a night of drinking margaritas and eating crawfish with friends. The event not only celebrates Mardi Gras but also kicks off the the start of Crawfish Season in Houston. El Big Bad features the world's largest Infused Tequila Bar with over 70 in-house made Infusions and was recently named the “best patio in Houston” by the Houston Press.

Brennan’s of Houston truly offers an authentic take on Mardi Gras. After all, Brennan's is part of the same family as Commander's Palace, the landmark New Orleans creole dining room in the heart of New Orleans. Brennan’s of Houston will celebrate Mardi Gras in style with faux float, beads, palm readers, jazz band, specialty cocktails and a special menu that includes favorites like snapping turtle soup, NOLA bbq shrimp, and Vieux Carre Beignets.

Head downtown for the annual Mardi Gras Pub Crawl to some of downtown’s best bars. The pub crawl features free swag and beads as well as drink specials. The event will make stops at Boots 'n Shoots, Moonshiners Southern Table + Bar, Dean's Downtown, Christian's Tailgate Bar and Grill, Lilly & Bloom, Dizzy Kaktus, Barringer, Craft Beer Cellar Houston, El Big Bad, Bovine & Barley, Conservatory, Batanga Houston, Live Sports Bar & Grill, Shay Mcelroy's Irish Pub, and Molly's Irish Pub.

king cake

Where to Get King Cake

No Houston bakery list is complete without mentioning Three Brothers Bakery. The iconic baker is expected to serve up to 5,000 king cakes this season! For nearly 200 years the Jucker family has been in the baking biz, so you know it’s going to be good.

French Riviera Bakery & Cafe is a cozy bakery and bistro that serves sandwiches, salads and breads right from the oven. But during Mardi Gras, the bakery pumps out some of the best king cake the city has to offer. Grab some breakfast while you’re picking up your cake, you’ll be glad you did.

When you mention Boil House to Houstonians the first thing they think is crawfish. But did you know the well-known Heights mudbug spot also serves up a mean homemade king cake? Stop by for a slice or pick up a whole cake for the perfect Mardi Gras treat.