PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — Mardi Gras season is set to kick off Friday, Jan. 7 in downtown Pensacola.

The 2022 Pensacola Mardi Gras kick off event starts Friday at about 6:30 p.m.

The 2022 Twelfth Night Party will feature live music, food, drinks and revelry in the city’s largest street party. It’s free and open to the public.

Danny Zimmern, president of Pensacola Mardi Gras, Inc. is gearing up for this year’s festivities.

“We’re really thrilled to get everybody back together for Pensacola’s Mardi Gras in 2022,” said Zimmern.

Mardi Gras celebrations were cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, there was a Mardi Gras celebration in May.

Event organizers said the krewes are excited to be back.

“When we started 25 years ago, there were about 25 krewes and now as I said, there’s about 90,” said Zimmern. “So we’re really excited about the growth of Mardi Gras and the season this year is just going to be fantastic with everyone coming together.”

In Mardi Gras fashion, the carnival season starts with a party.

“Friday, Jan. 7, we’re having Pensacola’s official Mardi Gras kickoff. We’re going to start inside Seville Quarter about 6:15 or 6:30. The floats will be lined up by the time everyone gets here and the krewes can come meet their floats,” Zimmern said.

“On stage, Father Nick Schumm is going to bless the community; bless the community king cake; and bless the krewes that didn’t bring their floats. Then, we’ll come out on the street and have a royal processional and bless the floats that are here.”

Organizers said they’ve been monitoring COVID-19 conditions and are encouraging everyone to be safe.

There were 129 COVID hospitalizations in Escambia County on Thursday.

“Everybody is very excited and of course, we encourage mask wearing and social distancing when possible,” Zimmern said. “It’s an outside event for the most part, and we hope everybody takes the necessary precautions, and if they’re uncomfortable, don’t come.”

The Pensacola Mardi Gras parade weekend starts Friday, Feb. 25 with the Krewe of Lafitte Illuminated Parade in downtown Pensacola. It rolls at 7:30 p.m.

Also in downtown the following Saturday, Feb. 26, is Pensacola’s Grand Mardi Gras Parade. It rolls at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 27, the Krewe of Wrecks Pensacola Beach Mardi Gras parade will roll at 2 p.m.