Located on Mississippi's Gulf Coast, Biloxi is a city with Southern charm and a deep connection to the seafood industry. It is home to a number of carnivals, parades and competitions that are exciting for locals and tourists alike. Whether you're in the mood for a seafood festival, a speedboat race, or a Mardi Gras celebration without the rowdy crowds that flock to New Orleans, Biloxi has something for everyone.
Blessing of the Fleet
A Biloxi tradition since 1929, The annual Blessing of the Fleet is one of the city's most popular festivals. The event marks the start of the fishing season for Biloxi shrimp fishermen. Shrimping is an integral part of the city's history and economy. The blessing is given each year by the acting pastor of St. Michael's Catholic Church and the acting Bishop of the Biloxi Diocese. In the blessing, the pastor and bishop ask for a prosperous and safe season of shrimping for the workers in Biloxi as the shrimping boats from the area line up to sail down the Mississippi. They stand in the "blessing boat," which is anchored in the Missississippi Sound near the town center. As each boat passes, they sprinkle holy water and bless each individually. The day prior to the blessing, Biloxi holds a Blessing of the Fleet Festival with seafood stands, dancing, and a coronation of the year's shrimp king and queen, locals who will reign over the celebration. All events are free to the public.
New Orleans is not the only city in the United States that hosts a lively Mardi Gras festival. Biloxi is home to the Mississippi Gulf Coast's oldest and most popular Mardi Gras parade and carnival. The first Mardi Gras parade was held in Biloxi in 1908. The parade boasts a number of colorful floats, fresh seafood stands and live music concerts. A coronation ball held the day before the Mardi Gras parade commences the festivities. During the ball, Biloxi locals vote on a king and queen, named "King D'Iberville" and "Queen Ixolib," to preside over the festivities the following day.
One of Biloxi's most lively annual events is the Biloxi Seafood Festival. Each fall, Biloxi's streets fill with booths selling local produce, seafood and arts and crafts. The festival celebrates Biloxi's culture, history and deep-rooted connection to the seafood industry. This two-day celebration offers live music and a world-famous gumbo cooking contest. A number of children's activities take place, including face painting, balloons, and coloring. But the best part of this festival is the food; booths line the street selling more fresh seafood than anyone can eat including shrimp, seafood gumbo, crawfish, calamari and mussels.
Smokin' The Sound
Smokin' the Sound is an annual three-day boat show and race in Biloxi. The event is full of parties and entertainment with live music, gambling and an air show that includes helicopters and stunt boat performances. The main event of Smokin' the Sound is the off-shore boat racing. Smokin' the Sound is the first race of the season for the Offshore Super Series Powerboat Racing Association, and boasts 30 speed boats in 10 different racing categories. OSS CAT boats, the fastest boats to be raced at this event, are known for reaching speeds close to 150 miles per hour. VIP passes allow visitors to see the action up-close, while general admission tickets are available for seats further away.
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