For the 50+ Traveler

Today is Twelfth Night, also known as the Twelfth Day of Christmas. While it marks the end of the Christmas season, today also marks the beginning of the Carnival season, which concludes with Mardi Gras (Tuesday, February 16 this year).

Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday,” which is the day before Ash Wednesday. Since Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, Fat Tuesday is the last day for indulgence before the Lenten season and its solemnity, sacrifice, and fasting.

There’s much more to Mardi Gras than simply eating and drinking, however. In normal times, there also are balls, parties, parades, and other events spread out throughout the season. We checked with all of the cities who historically put on the biggest and best celebrations this time of year and only one is moving forward with all of their plans, but with a twist.

The festivities in St. Louis, Missouri, home to one of the largest Carnival -- and Mardi Gras -- celebrations in the U.S., kick off tonight. Everything is going online to keep revelers safe, but now you can participate no matter where you live.

“If there was ever a time we all need a reason to celebrate, it’s now,” Mack Bradley, president of the Mardi Gras Foundation, which produces Soulard Mardi Gras in St. Louis, said in a statement to TravelAwaits. “So the show will go on -- it will be fun, it will help you to connect with friends, but it will be different, and it will be designed to protect public health. It will adhere to the latest safety recommendations from federal, state, and local officials to make sure we can all ‘laissez les bon temps rouler’ safely and responsibly in 2021, and many years to come.”

There’s more good news: The foundation is presenting all of the events virtually on its website and on Facebook, so you can take part -- even if you aren’t in St. Louis.

Details on events are still being finalized, so be sure to check the organization’s website for more information. Let’s take a look at the calendar of events.

Twelfth Night (Virtual)

January 6, 7 p.m.

Carnival Season begins tonight, with pre-recorded skits, petitions, songs, toasts, and, naturally, cocktails. Join Jason Neely, Master Mixologist of Mardi Gras, as he shows viewers how they can make their own cocktails at home to share the experience.

Shoebox Float Parade (Virtual)

January 23, 10 a.m.

The parade for children will feature themed shoebox floats paired with well-known St. Louis locations to tell a story about the location.

Cajun Cook-Off @ Home

January 23, 2 p.m.

Join three renowned local culinary star chefs as they show you how to cook Cajun dishes at home.

“Drive Around” Mardi Gras Scavenger Hunt

January 30, beginning at 2 p.m.

Drive around St. Louis to specific sites where you will -- safely -- be asked to answer questions about that location and perform an activity that will be posted on social media.

Registration for this event is required.

Missouri Lottery Run For Your Beads Virtual 5K

February 4 to 13

Be sure to check for details as they become available.

Drive-Thru Taste Of Soulard (Curbside Carryout)

February 6, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Participants will buy a digital “Taste Booklet” and then drive to six Soulard establishments to redeem digital “tastes” for samples of each establishment’s signature dish.

Purina Pet Parade (Virtual)

February 7

Owners take pictures of their pets, who then compete for prizes from Purina and the title of “King of Barkus.” Registration is required.

Mardi Gras Derby Day, Featuring The Wiener Dog Derby

February 13, 2 p.m.

While there won’t be a parade around Soulard this year, there will still be a Wiener Dog Derby that you can watch safely from home.

Fat Tuesday

February 16

In the spirit of Mardi Gras, “laissez les bons temps rouler,” but remember to let the good times roll safely.

For the latest information about festivals and special events, see more here.

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