Discover the excitement as Corpus Christi and Cajun culture come together on the beach for the annual Barefoot Mardi Gras celebration. Read our guide and learn all about its history, the parade, festivities, and more. Get ready to kick off your shoes and enjoy a one-of-a-kind, memorable experience celebrating Mardi Gras on the coast.
Know where to go for the action
Get out your beads and get ready to boogie at the Fat Friday Kick-Off Party at The Waterline at Doc’s Seafood and Steaks on January 19th, from 6:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m. with a delicious Cajun dinner from Doc’s, live music from the Groove, a costume contest, and a silent auction.
On February 3rd, from 7:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. coast over and dance the night away at the King and Queen Ball held at the Wyndham Corpus Christi Resort on North Padre Island Dr. and witness the crowning of new royalty while enjoying appetizers and cocktails.
Then, for the part we’ve all been waiting for – the Barefoot Mardi Gras Parade! On February 10th, from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., head to Whitecap Beach with your beads and join the crowds of spectators as they watch and cheer on the line of vehicles adorned in purple, green, and gold. At the end of the parade at Padre Balli Park, get ready to party.
Brief history of the Gulf Coast Capital Tradition
In 2009, the celebration began as a backyard party with a group of friends with an excuse to celebrate. Eventually, the celebration grew as the neighborhood joined the festivities, complete with costumes to show their spirit. Each year, the gathering grew, starting with the addition of a parade around the neighborhood, and growing into a daytime parade on the beach with an evening King and Queen Ball.
Once that event maxed out capacity, the festivities were placed in the hands of the Padre Island Business Association to transform it into a grander celebration, and in 2016, the festival was expanded into an entire weekend of festivities, right on the beach.
What to wear
Wear beads, tutus, hats, crowns, or anything else you want in shades of purple, green, and gold for a festive and colorful beachside celebration. As you enjoy the festivities in your festive accessories, let's remember to be mindful of the beach environment and avoid littering and steering clear of plastic use. Keeping our beaches environmentally friendly and sustainable allows us to preserve the natural beauty that makes our beaches one of a kind.
We make clean up easy! Pick up a complimentary trash bag or two from the Visitor Information Center downtown or from the blue boxes that are located as you come onto the beach at all access roads. These bags are cleverly designed so they won’t catch the wind and fly off down the beach. Trash cans can be found at every beach entrance and all along the beach. There’s no excuse to not leave it better than you found it!
Coastal weather is great year-round and during the Barefoot Mardi Gras, you’re looking at very pleasant temps in the 60s and 70s, making it the perfect backdrop for a beachside celebration. While the weather promises to be nice and cool and sunny, it’s best to check the current weather updates for any shifts in weather.
How to get around
Navigate your way around the festivities with ease by planning ahead. Arriving early is key, especially as the event unfolds and the crowds increase in size. The festival takes place on the drivable portion of the beach so anticipate multiple vehicles, as well. Consider carpooling to make parking hassle-free and secure your spot early on to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience.
Where to grab a bite to eat afterwards
You’ve worked up an appetite with all the festivities and there are great places to eat on the island. For a quick and casual bite, head to Surfside Sandwich Shoppe for a meatball sub or a roasted turkey sandwich on warm sourdough bread, or let your creativity run wild at Padre Island Burger Co. with their build your own burger option.
If you brought a larger group, head to a sports bar like Hard Knocks and enjoy wings, chicken strips, burgers, and more with your favorite drink while watching one of the 83 HDTV’s.
Seafood is always a good option on the coast, and Doc’s Seafood & Steaks and Snoopy’s at Marker 37 bring some of the best seafood to your plate and stunning waterfront views. Head to Doc’s and enjoy fresh Gulf seafood, Angus Beef hand cut steaks, and tropical mixed drinks directly from the bar while enjoying live music. At Snoopy’s find old-fashioned, quality seafood and top it off with your choice of dessert made with Blue Bell ice cream at Scoopy’s, right next door.
Beach permits are required along certain sections of the beach, and Whitecap Beach and Padre Balli Park, where the festivities are held, require a permit. Corpus Christi Beach Permits are $12, good for the whole year, and generate income for beach maintenance, along with your sustainable efforts to keep our beaches clean.
A few places you can purchase a permit include:
- Corpus Christi Visitor Information Center
- Stripes convenience stores
- Circle K convenience store (Padre Island)
- H-E-B grocery stores (Aransas Pass, Corpus Christi, Calallen, Portland, and Rockport)