St. Louis claims to host the largest Mardi Gras party outside of New Orleans, and while we can’t promise balmy February weather, you can be assured that there will be plenty of beads and beer. The festivities take place in Soulard, a historic French neighborhood south of downtown. The celebration spans over more than a month in both January and February, featuring all sorts of quirky events: a snowman softball tournament, a 5K where they hand out beer to runners, a pet parade and the Wiener Dog Derby (the longest-running dachshund race in America, in case you were wondering). The culminating event is the Grand Parade, with more than 100 floats winding through the streets of downtown and literally millions of beads flying into the crowds. After the parade there is a street party throughout Soulard featuring live music and general tomfoolery. Just don’t forget to wear a coat!
— Noah E., M1
Shakespeare in the Park
As a MSTP, I have committed to being in St. Louis for a very long time. One event I can confidently say I am looking forward to doing every single summer for the next eight years is Shakespeare in the Park. A classic St. Louis experience, all you have to do is grab a picnic (with some choice beverages) and enjoy lying out on the lawn as you watch some really excellent and free Shakespeare. Another event the group does in the fall, that I am sad I missed this year, is Shakespeare in the Streets. A creative team works with local neighborhoods in St. Louis to create an original play that puts a personal twist on one of Shakespeare’s works, incorporating in the character and voice of the community. A free festival-like celebration is then put on with free performances of the play.
— Anna T., M1
Fourth of July
There are many ways to celebrate Fourth of July in St. Louis, and most of them involve fireworks! The most popular event is Fair St. Louis, a free, three-day event in Forest Park featuring live music from people you’ve likely never heard of plus some big names (Flo Rida and Kool & the Gang in recent years); plenty of food and drinks; and nightly fireworks. Forest Park gets mobbed during Fair St. Louis, so be prepared for crowds if you plan on going. For a more low-key celebration, find a spot on high ground and watch the fireworks over Forest Park from afar. (The iconic Brookings Hall on the Danforth Campus is a great spot.) For a more family-friendly, less-intoxicated celebration, Webster Groves puts on a carnival (with a Ferris wheel!) and barbecue as well as a fireworks show. It’s just a 15-minute drive from the medical school, and it’s guaranteed to satisfy any craving you may have for a wholesome, old-school Fourth of July celebration.
— Noah E., M1
Festival of Nations
The words “I could really go for some Eritrean food right now” had never gone through my head before attending the Festival of Nations, but I’m so glad they did. With over 40 different countries’ cuisines represented at the food booths, you’re sure to find a delicious new dish to try or satisfy a craving for some authentic food from any corner of the world. Held in Tower Grove Park, the festival also features music, dancing and art from local groups. There’s also an impressive offering of crafts from vendors representing an equally diverse selection of countries around the world. The Festival of Nations is a great way to explore a new part of town and interact with the vibrant St. Louis community!
— Sarah M., M1
Good news, everyone! You don’t have to drive all the way to Chicago to enjoy a great music festival. Loufest is one of the thousand awesome things you can experience in Forest Park. There’s a really diverse lineup; this year featured Ms. Lauryn Hill and LCD Soundsystem as headliners. Don’t miss out on the food and drink either. A lot of local restaurants set up shop, so you can get great snacks in between sets. Wild Turkey even brought a whiskey tasting truck! The festival is also a steal at around 100 bucks for two full days of music.
— Anand U., M1
The Forest Park Balloon Race is one of my favorite events of the year in
St. Louis. Every September, several dozen hot-air balloons of all sorts of shapes, sizes and colors take off from Forest Park and race across the St. Louis skies, chasing after the bright pink Energizer Bunny balloon. You can see the balloons from all over town, and it is really a surreal experience to see them drifting across the sky chasing a giant inflatable rabbit. Even more fun than the race itself is the Balloon Glow, which takes place the night before the race. All of the hot air balloons are set up in a field in Forest Park and their flames are turned on so that the whole field “glows.” People walk around and look at the different balloons up-close, and there is plenty of food and entertainment as well. The Balloon Glow draws huge crowds and is a classic St. Louis event that you do not want to miss!
— Noah E., M1
Grove Fest is an annual festival in October that takes place in The Grove neighborhood (about a 15-minute walk from campus). It starts in the afternoon and continues into the night, with a variety of options for food, drink, art and entertainment. You can choose how you want to enjoy it, from spending an afternoon shopping at local vendors’ booths and sampling dishes from different restaurants, to heading over in the evening to have some local craft beer and cocktails and enjoy the concerts and live performances (including
fire breathers!). Grove Fest is family- and dog-friendly in the afternoon but gets lively at night. It’s a great way to experience many different aspects of the Grove at once, and I highly recommend doing so. There is always a new restaurant or shop opening, and you’ll want to check them out. You may just find your new favorite spot!
— Curtis A., M1