If you’ve never experienced the Galveston Mardi Gras, you’re in for a sweet treat.


  • Both sides of the streets lined with fun-loving crowds having a good time;
  • The sound of music (rock, country, reggae, and more) coming from all directions;
  • A wide variety of colorful and interesting costumes parading up and down the street;
  • Lots of beer, Hurricanes, and Margaritas;
  • The smell of delicious food making your tummy growl;
  • Loud cheering as bands and colorful floats parade down the street;
  • Strands of beads flying everywhere … from balconies loaded with people … tossed from all of the floats passing by … fans tossing them back and forth across the street and up the balconies … and even the parade police getting in on the action;
  • Everyone with a smile on their face wearing strands of beads around their necks

Mardi Gras in Galveston is a blast!

food at Mardi Gras
girls and boys at Mardi Gras wearing their beads
Mardi Gras floats

Collecting Beads at Mardi Gras is Fun

For our winter vacation, we jumped in the motorhome and headed to Galveston for 10 days. We wanted to enjoy Mardi Gras and lots of other fun activities in Galveston. Within minutes after parking the RV at Stella Mare RV Resort, we loaded the Jeep and headed to the Strand to enjoy Mardi Gras.

The main activity for a majority of Mardi Gras fans seems to be collecting as many strands of beads as you can. For me, Mardi Gras is about people watching, cold beer, music, and a variety of food!

People line the street yelling with their hands in the air, trying to get the people on the floats or on the balconies to throw them some beads. Strands of beads must be some type of Mardi Gras status symbol – the more beads you collect, and the bigger they are, the more respect you earn. For some, it’s just the thrill of trying to snag as many flying beads as you can!

collecting beads at Mardi Gras
what a bead collection
another bead collection at Mardi Gras

My Wife’s Bead Collection Rules

After about an hour of collecting beads, my wife had at least 50 strands around her neck. When I asked her when she would stop eagerly trying to grab all the beads she could, her response was, “It’s the competition and the sport of it; it’s addictive! I can’t stop.”

Once beads decorated her neck like a Christmas tree, she set a few bead collection rules:

my wife going for the beads
  1. Try to grab a section of fence where there are few people;
  2. Smile, yell, and keep both hands in the air;
  3. Never grab a strand of beads out of the hands of anyone under age 7 – older than that is fair game;
  4. Don’t pick beads up off the street and, if you do, toss them to someone else;
  5. If you grab a strand of beads at the same time as the person next to you, let them have it with a smile on your face;
  6. Occasionally give a strand to a younger or shorter person next to you;
  7. Don’t get so wrapped up in scramble for beads that you forget to drink your beer;
  8. Continue yelling to attract the attention of bead throwers on the balcony and floats, but not too aggressively or your arms will be sore and your throat will be hoarse the next morning;
  9. Do not, under any circumstances, even if attracted by the chance to get a beautiful big strand of unique beads, show your boobs!

Even with those rules in place, her yelling and arm-waving resulted in another 100 strands of beads around her neck within a couple of hours. She’s only 5’2′, but I swear she was jumping higher than Michael Jordan with her arms outstretched to snag those flying beads!

When we returned to the RV, she put a quarter of the beads around our grandkid’s bear. He loves to camp with us (the grandkid, not the bear). Doesn’t he look a little disgusted with having to wear all those silly beads?

Teddy bear with beads

Parades Are The Real Attraction at Mardi Gras

So, what are we going to do with all the rest of the beads? The grandkids still have hundreds of strands from a previous Mardi Gras. When she’s not looking, I’ll steal a couple of strands from my wife and bury them in the trash until they all slowly disappear. Or, I could take them all to a Mardi Gras store and promise to buy her a diamond ring with the proceeds!

We enjoyed watching the parades with uniquely decorated floats, bands, and colorful costumes. The Krewe of Barkus & Meoux Parade on Sunday with an intriguing mix of dogs, cats, and ferrets dressed up for Mardi Gras may have been the funniest. Some of the floats were made to look like interesting figurines on the front of the float.

Mardi Gras floats
more Mardi gras floats
another Mardi Gras float

Others had colorful decorations.

All of them were loaded with people tossing strings of beads. Marching bands from several different areas around Galveston filled in the gaps between the floats.

Mardi Gras floats
Mardi Gras floats
more Mardi Gras floats

As interesting as the parades were, the fans were just as intriguing. They were decked out to have a good time and enjoy the festivities in costume.

Mardi Gras costumes
more Mardi Gras costumes
Mardi Gras outfits
Mardi Gras costumes
dancing Mardi Gras fans
dancing mardi gras person
fans at Mardi Gras
fans at Mardi Gras
fans at Mardi Gras

Final Tips for Your Next Mardi Gras

Monday was a day of rest for all of us, but Tuesday was the final Mardi Gras Parade – the Mystic Krewe of Aquarius 21st Annual Fat Tuesday Parade. We found a bar along the parade route, ordered some wings and beer, and waited for the parade to pass by. Two hours later, my wife was loaded with beads again!

Mardi Gras float
more beads
Mardi Gras float

The extravagance found in Texas’ largest Mardi Gras celebration includes more than 3 million beads thrown (the majority of which seemed to be around my wife’s neck), elaborate parades, headliner performances, family events, dining on a wide variety of cuisines, 5K and 10K runs, lots of balcony parties as well as formal dances, and other festivities.

If you’ve never been to Mardi Gras in Galveston, it’s fun for everyone from 4 to 94. Come in costume to make it more authentic!

The most fun place to watch the Galveston Mardi Gras parades and do some people watching, listen to the bands, enjoy the crowds, have some drinks, and devour some food is in the Strand. There is an entrance fee to get into this area, but if you’ve got a little extra cash, consider buying a ticket to one of the Strand balcony parties or one of the fancy gala Mardi Gras parties.

Parking can be a challenge if you don’t get there early. Be prepared to walk, or find a parking spot and bike the rest of the way. Some of the parades start on the Seawall and meander down several crowd-lined streets before ending up at the Strand. Tons of fans line both sides of the street with coolers, snacks, and lawn chairs, because there’s no charge.

There is no entrance fee to the Strand on the final Sunday of Mardi Gras. Perhaps I’ll see you there next year.

Mike Sharp
Author: Mike Sharp

I have a passion for travel and outdoor activities, and now I'm enjoying retired life. I will continue my traveling, golfing, boating, and enjoying life all across the great state of Texas.

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