Lake Wales Annual Mardi Gras to Feature Multiple Events

Celebration Runs February 11 Through Fat Tuesday, February 21

 
Series: Mardi Gras | Story 1

Last updated 2/18/2023 at 10:14am

It's that zany time of year for thousands of celebrants who will participate in the annual Lake Wales Mardi Gras, with festivities running from February 11 through 21. Between two book-end events, the heart of the traditional event will fill two days with music concerts and a colorful parade on the weekend of February 18.

The long-standing tradition of Mardi Gras in Lake Wales typically attracts thousands of visitors, filling streets, restaurants, and other area establishments with revelers. The custom arrived here from New Orleans, where it had grown after being introduced by a costumed krewe from Mobile, Alabama in the second half of the 19th century. The annual Carnival also draws upon traditions and customs from other places throughout Europe, South America, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean. It traditionally ends promptly at midnight on "Fat Tuesday," or "Mardi Gras," when Lent begins with Ash Wednesday.

The event will kick off with the nearly-legendary Wild Shiner Ball on Saturday, February 11, where dozens of black-lights will illuminate costumed revelers rocking glowing outfits. That party will take place at The Coop on South Scenic Highway. The event runs from 7:00 to midnight featuring the music of The Joe Willie Band and Black-Eyed Soozie. Admission is $15 per person. Couples will pay the premium at $35. Details of all the events can be found on our Community Calendar.

The major events of the festival will happen in downtown Lake Wales and Lake Wailes Park. The two-day music festival in the lakefront park will open on Friday, February 17 at 6:00, featuring three bands, live music, children's activities, local food vendors, beer and wine sales, plus a 5K "Glow Run" along the shores of the lake following the Lake Wailes Trail. The music will run until 10:00 pm that night.

On Saturday the music resumes at 11:00 am with a lineup of seven bands. At 3:00 pm more than 10,000 are expected to turn out for the 39th annual Mardi Gras parade, featuring colorful floats and Krewes decked out in their themed costumes. The parade will wind through the downtown streets before heading to the Lakeshore park where the music festival will be in full sway until 10:00.

The pre-lenten observance will climax with a Fat Tuesday party at the Y'all Come Back Saloon on SR 60 east, "where the rustic bayou ambiance only enhances the Mardi Gras experience," according to promotional materials. That event will begin at 7:00.

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