Downtown Dunedin, Fla- For 28 years the downtown area of Dunedin has been transformed on Fat Tuesday into the largest Mardi Gras celebration in the Southeast. The festival, presented by Downtown Dunedin Merchants Association, and produced by AMG Group Music Events, is one of the cities largest events. And as someone who was there since the very first one, a lot has changed.
To give you an idea of how large this event has become, in 2012 the city hosted more than 20,000bead enthusiast. This year’s event is expecting to bring in almost double that. So let’s go over what you should know to have the best Mardi Gras this side of the Mississippi.
Road Closures You Wanna Know
Please note the following road closures:
- Main Street from Broadway to Louden 6 AM Tues to 7 AM Wed
- Broadway from Scotland to Main 9 AM Tues to 7 AM Wed
- Virginia Lane from Main to Douglas 2 PM Tues to 7 AM Wed
- Douglas from Union to Scotland 4 PM Tues to 9 PM Tues
- Beltrees from Douglas to Highland 4 PM Tues to 9 PM Tues
- Douglas from Monroe to Skinner 4:30 PM Tues to 9 PM Tues
- Highland from Virginia to Skinner 4:30 PM Tues to 9 PM Tues
- Monroe from Trail to Douglas 4:30 PM Tues to 9 PM Tues
As we all know parking can fill up fast, so think about using one of the ride apps, have a friend drop you off or maybe you’re close enough to ride your bike! But if you prefer driving here are your options.
- The Gateway
- The lot at New York & Patricia
- The Lower parking garage at The Artesian (Across from the Dunedin Brewery)
- The lot at Scotland & Douglas
The usual lots will be available at a first come first serve basis.
- Food : Besides all the amazing downtown restaurants to choose from, attendees can also find vendors selling food along with a Food Truck court.
- Alcohol : Well of course there will be that. Just know that Dunedin still follows state laws. So proper ID is required for ALL that intend to drink. And PLEASE know when to say when. The event is for EVERYONE to enjoy. So a word of advice, pace yourself.
The procession begins at 7:00 p.m. in front of the Dunedin Stadium, runs along Douglas Avenue and ends near Skinner Boulevard.
For many the main event is the parade, and I don’t blame them! With over 40 floats making their way down Douglas towards downtown, bead lovers of all ages line the parade route.
So here are a few tips:
- Grab your spot early- When I helped organize this event a few years ago people started to line the parade route around 1pm. So if a perfect spot for you is a must, DO NOT wait till 7 pm to grab a spot.
- Be prepared- You will be standing for some time so wearing the proper shoes and clothing (it still gets hot) and having something to keep you hydrated is advised.
- Plan It Out- I can not stress this enough! Once the parade gets started Main St. will be separated by Douglas. This means YOU WILL NOT be able to cross from the east/west sides of main street at Douglas. So if you plan on leaving before the parade ends, make sure you are on the same side of Main Street you parked on. Otherwise you will need to go up to Lyndenhurst or down past Skinner to cross over Douglas.
- Be Nice- This is an ALL AGES FREE event that the Downtown Dunedin Merchants, along with AMG Group Music Events, the countless volunteers and sponsors work very hard to put on each year. So PLEASE have a good time, make new friends, but act appropriately so that everyone can enjoy it!
The VIP experience
Now if you wanna really do this years Dunedin Mardi Gras right, well I gotta suggest you grab a VIP ticket!
I love wandering around the streets of downtown, seeing old friends, enjoying the festivities. But there comes a point in the day where I just like to have that “home base” . You know what I mean. That spot you can go to when you just need that time to chill, relax, do some people watching.
When you are a VIP you get to experience not only the live music being performed from Pioneer Park, but you also get a prime spot to view the parade. You also get the following:
- VIP this year has expanded beverage service while enjoying the parade
- Brews from the Beer of Mardi Gras Abita Brewing Company
- Food from The Art Institute of Tampa
- Wines from Kim Crawford Wines Constellation Brands such as Meiomi Wines Charles Smith Wines
- VIP Parade Viewing Area / Executive restrooms
- Swag Bags/ Beads ( Of course while supplies last)
On top of that your VIP Lounge Ticket also includes unlimited beer and wine as well as hors d’ oeuvres and of course lots of beads.
Tickets are still available for the ultimate Dunedin Mardi Gras experience
“Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler”