Fun Things To Do on US Gulf Coast in January 2024

From the hundreds of things to do on US Gulf Coast in January 2024 I narrowed my suggestions down to the following eight festivals and events. Cool, happy, and fun events that you expect to find on the Gulf Coast.

The following Gulf Coast January events include food, music, and outdoor themes. NFL Playoffs are in full swing (Geaux Saints and Go Bucs) and mid-January commemorates Martin Luther King, Jr. and features free admission to National Park properties. A great time to visit our Everglades and National Seashores (Gulf Islands and Padre Island).

And is anyone thinking Mardi Gras yet? Mardi Gras is February 13, 2024 but you know I will be celebrating well before then!

Please see Festive Florida Holiday Events guide for Christmas, lights, holiday boat parades, and New Year’s Eve events and my collection of fun tropical Florida Christmas decorations.

Enjoy Fun Things To Do on US Gulf Coast in January.

117th Annual Epiphany, Tarpon Springs FL, Jan 6, 2024

For over a century, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Tarpon Springs celebrates the baptism of Jesus in an old school Greek tradition. After a service at St. Nicholas Cathedral, the procession heads to nearby Spring Bayou for the blessing of the waters, Gospel reading, release of a white dove, and, the highlight for many, the cross dive.

For the cross dive, the Archbishop tosses a cross into the water and young men dive to retrieve it. The one who does ultimately bring it back to shore is blessed for the upcoming year.

Visit the event website for information. Also see favorite Tampa Day Trips.

sunset from Sunset Beach, Tarpon Springs, Florida
sunset from Sunset Beach, Tarpon Springs, Florida

Lighting of the Mardi Gras Tree, Mobile AL, Jan 6, 2024

While there are many Krewe balls and other kickoff Mardi Gras events along the US Gulf Coast in January, perhaps no other event launches Mardi Gras season quite like the Lighting of the Mardi Gras Tree in Mobile, Alabama’s Mardi Gras Park.

After the tree lighting, join the Second Line procession to Cooper Riverside Park and continue the Mardi Gras party with live music from The Juke Box Brass Band.

Visit the event website for information. Also see favorite Things to Do in Mobile Alabama.

finding street art is a fun thing to do in Mobile Alabama
Heart of Mobile Alabama wall mural

New Year New Boots, Flora-Bama, Jan 11, 2024

The fine folks at Visit Perdido welcome back Florida Gulf Coast Panhandle snowbirds with a four event series called Snowbird Hootenanny. Yes, this means one more event in 2024, up from three snowbird hootenanny dates in 2023.

The first event is called New Year, New Boots and is held at the world famous Gulf Coast bar Flora-Bama.

Two weeks later, on January 25, 2024, plan to attend Sweetheart Saloon. Two other Snowbird Hootenanny events are in February (Mardi Gras Mambo and Hawaiian Hoedown).

Buy tickets in advance and enjoy music, dancing, food from Flora-Bama chefs, free swag from local businesses, and one drink (you can buy more!).

Visit the event website for information. Also see favorite Florida Panhandle Beaches and favorite Orange Beach Alabama places to eat.

bra room at Flora-Bama
bra room at Flora-Bama

15th Annual Yaga’s Chili Quest & Beer Fest, Galveston, Jan 12 -13, 2024

Join the quest to find the best chili in the world on The Strand in Galveston. Participants vie for the Chili Champion award in the Yaga’s Chili Quest cook-off contest. Attendees can enjoy all the chili versions in the tasting event along with craft beer samples.

The 5K Fun Run attracts BREWtiful runners to the Seawall Boulevard course and note that the first 100 registrants receive an event t-shirt and medal.

Visit the event website for information. Also see favorite Texas Gulf Coast Paddling Trails.

Galveston Texas sunset

Florida Manatee Festival, Crystal River FL, Jan 13 – 14, 2024

January is peak time to see my favorite US Gulf Coast mascots, the manatees!, when they seek the warmest waters and want to avoid the cold. Same for us humans. also!

Enjoy two days of live entertainment, hundreds of food and craft vendors, children activities, and much more at the Florida Manatee Festival in Crystal River, Florida. But, yes, manatees are the star of the festival and enjoy seeing them on guided kayak paddles, discounted boat tours, or from select viewing spots.

Visit the event website for information. Also see favorite Things to Do in Crystal River Florida.

McCool Travel tip: look for the $5 off coupon for Sunday in the Citrus County Chronicle.

Swimming with Manatees Crystal River FL, photo by Explorida Adventures
Swimming with Manatees Crystal River FL, photo by Explorida Adventures

Bonita Springs Art Festival, Bonita Springs FL, Jan 13 – 14, 2024

If you find yourself in Southwest Florida in mid-January, enjoy Bonita Springs Art Festival, one of USA’s top fine art festivals. 200 national and international artists attract the largest audience of any event in this area.

Bonita Springs National Art Festival actually is held over three weekends in three separate months. Other event dates are February 10 – 11, 2024 and March 2 – 3, 2024.

Visit the event website for information. Also see favorite Things to Do in Fort Myers Beach.

MLK Coastwide Celebration, Biloxi MS, 2024 date TBA

The annual Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration in Biloxi Mississippi features a family-friendly parade followed by a Battle of the Bands event at MGM Stadium. Alcorn State University headlines the band battle and find out who will dare take them on.

The event and schedule were not officially announced when this article was published so check the event link below for updated information.

Visit the event website for information. Also see favorite Coastal Mississippi Hidden Gems.

Biloxi wall mural Gulf Coast Shall Rise Again

Chuck Eats Restaurant Week, Lake Charles LA, Jan 19 – 28, 2024

Restaurants in Lake Charles and all across Calcasieu Parish are excited to host longtime and first time diners during the 2nd annual Chuck Eats Restaurant Week—which is actually 10 days! More than 30 restaurants officially registered for Chuck Eats when this article was published but check back as more may choose to participate.

Look for offers like buy one get one free entrees, discounted menu items, percentage off entire bill (or select menu items), and special multi-course menus at area favorites like Crying Eagle, Rikenjaks, Restaurant Calla, and more than a dozen others.

Visit the event website for information. Also see my favorite place to stay in Lake Charles: L’Auberge Lake Charles review.

Crawfish in Lake Charles LA
Crawfish in Lake Charles LA

106th Gasparilla Pirate Fest, Tampa, Jan 27, 2024

Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla (YMKG) invades downtown Tampa every year (since 1904). Jose Gasparilla—the only fully-rigged pirate ship in the world—enters Hillsborough Bay at 11:30am. The magnificent ship will be followed by thousands of boats in a phenomenal flotilla invasion with cannon fire and that must be seen and heard to be believed.

After receiving the key to the city from Tampa’s mayor, YMKG hosts a Gasparilla brunch (at Tampa Convention Center) followed by the Parade of the Pirates. The victory parade will feature over a hundred floats, a half dozen marching bands, and more than 50 Krewes.

Enjoy live entertainment from 10am – 8pm from stages in MacDill Park (rock music) and Curtis Hixon Park (Latin music). Both venues take a break from 3:30 to 5:30 for the iconic Parade of the Pirates. Do not miss it!

The popular Children’s Gasparilla will be on January 20, 2024 and features the Children’s parades, with more than 125 Crews, bands, performance teams, and organizations.

Visit the fest website for information. Also see favorite Best Tampa Restaurants.

Gasparilla Invasion, Gasparilla Pirate Fest. Photo credit: Keir Magoulas

Please let me know of other happy, fun, and cool things to do on US Gulf Coast in January. Or any month!

See also December Gulf Coast events and February Gulf Coast events.

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