Live music, a colorful parade, street performers and a massive block party will light up the Gaslamp Quarter as San Diego celebrates Mardi Gras.
The Gaslamp Mardi Gras Block Party – a 21+ event that spans 5th Avenue, from E to Market streets – takes place Saturday from 5 p.m. to midnight. The highlight – the Big Easy Parade – goes down at 9 p.m. at 5th Avenue and E Street.
The Fat Tuesday street shindig includes a lively lineup of entertainment across five outdoor stages. On those stages: live music, DJs, street performers and more. There will also be an area for a “silent disco,” where revelers, equipped with their own personal set of headphones, dance to the beat of the music. Organizers say the event will also include a Brazilian carnival art show.
General admission tickets can be purchased in advance starting at $55. On the day of the event, general admission will be $60 per person. VIP tickets start at $90, and include three hosted cocktails.
A special Club Pass upgrade is available for an additional $40, which gets you no cover at participating nightclubs and entry into four exclusive parties, including a kickoff party at The Commons Bar and the grand finale party at Parq. The Club Pass also includes 16 hosted “welcome shots” at participating VIP venues. Club VIP locations include Analog, Coyote Ugly, Double Duece and McFadden’s, to name a few.
As for parking and transportation into the Mardi Gras bash, there are some options. Event parking will be set up on 4th Avenue and G Street. A parking pass for that location can be purchased in advance online for a discounted rate of $10. Mardi Gras attendees can also use the code “ClubVIPSD” for a $30 credit on your first UBER ride to the event.
The Metropolitan Transit System’s (MTS) trolley is also an efficient mode of transportation into and out of downtown San Diego. MTS says it has scheduled extra trolley service this weekend to accommodate more than 70,000 people expected to attend both Mardi Gras and Monster Jam (happening at 2 p.m. Saturday at Petco Park).
Saturday’s trolley service frequency will vary between 7.5 minutes and 30 minutes, depending on the time of day. MTS says service will be the highest immediately before and after the downtown events.
The last trains to leave downtown for the night from key locations are: Green Line at 1:08 a.m. from Gaslamp Quarter Station; UC San Diego Blue Line to San Ysidro at 12:36 a.m. from Fifth Avenue Station; Orange Line to El Cajon at 12:25 a.m. from Fifth Avenue Station.
By trolley, the best way to get to the Gaslamp Mardi Gras party is via the Blue and Orange lines to the Fifth Avenue Station. From there, it’s a short walk down Fourth Avenue to E Street. Green Line riders can transfer to the Orange Line at Santa Fe Depot or walk to the event from the Gaslamp Quarter Station, too.
As always, there’s plenty of free parking at MTS trolley stations throughout San Diego, including 5,000 spots at Qualcomm Stadium and 412 spots at the Old Town Transit Center. Riders can park their cars in the lots and board the trolley from there. Before you head out, check the Metropolitan Transit System's website for trolley schedules.
Organizers encourage revelers to dress in their most festive Mardi Gras gear, including purple, gold and green garments. That also means breaking out the fun masks, beads, feather boas, bustiers and doubloons – Big Easy style. Also, don’t forget those dancing shoes.
On Tuesday, downtown San Diego will keep the Mardi Gras festivities rolling with the 10th annual San Diego Fat Tuesday Party Gras. That event runs from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. across multiple participating venues, and kicks off at Coyote Ugly Saloon on 5th Avenue. Tickets to that start at $30.