The Gaslamp Quarter Mardi Gras festival has quite a reputation. No other Mardi Gras celebration that is held on the West Coast is known to be larger or more extravagant, for example, and it ranks as San Diego’s biggest one-day festival. Fat Tuesday is when the main festivities take place, and as the name implies, these festivities are held in the city’s historic Gaslamp Quarter district.
The Gaslamp Quarter Mardi Gras celebration has grown considerably in popularity over the years. In 2011 alone, more than 40,000 people flooded into downtown San Diego to enjoy the festivities. The festival sees the historic Gaslamp Quarter district essentially being converted into one big street party, and you can bet that the local bars and restaurants get lively. DJ’s churn out tunes one after the next, and as you might imagine, the parades are quite colorful. Much of the action is centered around the portion of Fifth Avenue that is found between K Street and Broadway, though this is pretty much a district-wide celebration.
San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter Mardi Gras festival rivals the New Orleans Mardi Gras festival in many ways. Masquerade parades mix with various street performances, and you are sure to see plenty of revelers donning interesting Mardi Gras costumes. Beads are definitely in good supply, and there are plenty of places to get some food or drink on the side. The overall atmosphere has a rather debaucherous edge, and as such, the Gaslamp Quarter Mardi Gras is very much an adults-only affair.
Anyone wishing to partake in the San Diego Mardi Gras festivities must be at least 21 years old, and a valid ID is required to get in. Tickets can be purchased in advance or at the door. Discounts are usually offered for advance ticket purchases. The proceeds go to the Gaslamp Quarter Association. As for the general timeline, the Gaslamp Mardi Gras party kicks off at 6 pm and lasts until midnight. The parades, for those who might be wondering, typically begin at around 7:30 pm and 10 pm respectively. After midnight, the fun doesn’t have to stop. Many San Diego bars and clubs stay open late, and there’s no telling how many after parties spring up around town.
The San Diego hotels can fill up fast around Mardi Gras time. This is especially true with the Gaslamp Quarter hotels. As such, it can be a good idea to book a room well in advance should you plan on partaking in the festivities and need a place to stay. If you simply can’t make it to San Diego for the Mardi Gras festivities, the city plays host to other fun events throughout the year. The shamROCK St. Patrick’s Day festival is one such event. Much like the Mardi Gras party, this festival is held in the Gaslamp Quarter district and is known for being quite the bash.