Costumes are not just acceptable at FollyGras, but they're encouraged! — Photo courtesy of VisitFolly.com
Break out your beads, brightly colored garb and your Mardi Gras masks and costumes!
Charleston's own Mardi Gras celebration, FollyGras, is a popular one for both local Folly Beach and Charleston residents and visitors alike, bringing in approximately 10,000 to 15,000 attendees annually.
This lighthearted festival takes places each February, when the temperatures average between 46 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit at this time of year. The annual FollyGras celebration welcomes party-goers of all ages to six days of oyster roasts, a suckling pig roast, live music, children's activities, local food vendors and even a Masquerade Ball.
FollyGras revelers enjoy sunny weather, live music and tons of local food throughout the week — Photo courtesy of VisitFolly.com
FollyGras events are held across several restaurant, bar and hotel venues throughout Folly's charismatic "downtown." FollyGras then concludes with an exciting main event: a street party and parade on Center Street.
The 2015 FollyGras festival invites everyone to join in the costumed revelry from Monday, Feb. 16, to Saturday Feb. 21, with a wide variety of themed events taking place each evening leading up to the finale parade.
FollyGras 2014 brought thousands of Charleston area residents and visitors to Center Street at Folly Beach — Photo courtesy of VisitFolly.com
So what exactly should you expect at FollyGras? This year's FollyGras schedule will be as follows:
Monday, Feb. 16 - The kick-off event LundiGras, held at the Grill & Island Bar, will feature an oyster roast and concert.
Tuesday, Feb. 17 - Celebrate Fat Tuesday at FollyGras with a Block Party oyster roast and live music at Jack of Cups, Drop-In Deli, Planet Follywood and Folly Beach Crab Shack.
Wednesday, Feb. 18 - Get out to Folly for Ash Wednesday and, keeping with Mardi Gras tradition, a Cajun-style Cochon deLait suckling pig roast at Rita's Seaside Grill.
Thursday, Feb. 19 - Thursday brings a Feast Day and a second Cochon deLait at Loggerhead's Beach Grill, with live music from Wadata. Local author Bill Noel will also be on hand from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. for a book signing and meet-and-greet!
Friday, Feb. 20 - Join in the Mardi Gras fun at the Masquerade Ball at The Tides Hotel from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., featuring a live show from The Secrets as well as light hors d'oeurves and a cash bar. Cocktail and costume attire are the dress code for this special event, which will name Best Guy, Best Gal and Best Costume awards throughout the evening. Masquerade Ball tickets can be purchased at The Tides Hotel for $25.
Saturday, Feb. 21 - The festival finale promises a great time for all at the FollyGras Center Street Party and Parade, and the party will continue from noon to 5 p.m. Center Street will be closed to vehicular traffic for most of the day, with a full day of multistage musical performances, food tents, kids games and plenty of costumes and parade floats!
Festival-goers show off their costumes and masks at FollyGras 2014 — Photo courtesy of VisitFolly.com
Admission to the festival is free. Guests pay as they go when it comes to purchasing food from restaurant events and local vendors and attending special events.
Getting to FollyGras is easy! A 20- to 30-minute drive from downtown Charleston will take you to the town of Folly Beach, where both free street-side and flat-rate event parking will be available to FollyGras attendees.
When parking on the street in Folly, take note of parking signs displaying hour restrictions, and be sure to have all four vehicle tires completely off the street, facing the flow of traffic! The Folly Beach parking authorities work hard to make sure there's enough room for everyone visiting their happy beach town.
This FollyGras 2014 attendee even decorated their party van! — Photo courtesy of VisitFolly.com
Where should you stay when attending this year's FollyGras? Folly Beach is well known for its rental condos and houses, as well as several standout hotels. Properties such as The Tides Folly Beach, Water's Edge and the newly constructed Regatta Inn are popular with vacationing couples, groups and families.
What should you bring to FollyGras 2015? Folding chairs, blankets or towels and your best Mardi Gras apparel are highly recommended! This Mardi Gras celebration is all about beachfront fun in the sun, so be sure to wear sunglasses, too.
A hearty appetite is a necessity: Center Street restaurants and local food vendors will be on hand to provide a wide variety of festival foods. Your canine friends are welcome, too!
For more information regarding the festival, schedule of events and parking, visit FollyBeach.com.
Colorful costumes, masks and beads are displayed at FollyGras — Photo courtesy of VisitFolly.com