Let the Good Times Roll: Where to Celebrate Mardi Gras in Washington

By: Sophie Gilbert

Can’t make a trip down to the Big Easy this year? We’ve got a guide to parties, parades, and other events celebrating Mardi Gras in and around Washington.

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Jimmy’s 12th Annual Mardi Gras Celebration, February 20 through 24
Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern
Jimmy’s will marking Mardi Gras with Cajun food, music, and beer from Friday the 20th until Fat Tuesday, when its main event kicks off, featuring casino games for charity, a DJ, dancing and prizes. Proceeds from the evening will benefit Operation Homefront and the Council for the Arts of Herndon.

La Tasca, February 21
Spanish restaurant La Tasca is keeping it simple for pre-Mardi Gras celebrations: $3 drink specials, a DJ and dancing, and a $100 gift card for the best mask. La Tasca is right along the Clarendon parade route, so expect a lively crowd on Tuesday night as well.

  

Mardi Gras Arts and Music Festival, February 21
Anacostia Community Museum
Families are welcome at the annual arts-and-music festival: In keeping with the carnival theme, children can take part in activities including mask making, face painting, storytelling, music, and even a mini-parade. Free.

Annual Huge Mardi Gras Party, February 21
K Street Lounge
Hosted by DC events group Professionals in the City, this Fat Tuesday celebration boasts “an abundance of everything,” from cocktail specials to prizes. Enjoy $4 Bud and $7 pink vodka drinks all night, and top 40 music. For lonely urbanites there’s even a special Mardi Gras four-minute dating event as a precursor to the party at 7. Cover is $10 before 11; tickets for the dating event are available at www.prosinthecity.com.

Mardi Gras Madness Party, February 21
The Front Page, Arlington
Party Mardi Gras style at the Front Page, with live music from Love Seed Mama Jump and club beats from Playboy’s DJ Kay Jay. The first 200 guests will receive feathered masks, and beads will abound. Cover is $5.Fat Saturday Mardi Gras Kickoff Jam, February 21
Hard Rock Cafe
Can’t make it to NOLA? This event promises to recreate the carnivals, parades, and festivities of Bourbon Street right here in Washington at one of the area’s biggest events. Highlights include a live New Orleans jazz band, salsa and samba music, a DJ, a caricaturist, and multiple prizes (oh, and beads). Hurricanes, Cajun Bloody Marys, and complimentary hors d’oeuvres will be served. Tickets are $12 if bought in advance.

Carnaval Cooking Class, February 21
Ceiba
Learn how to prepare the traditional Brazilian foods of Carneval at Ceiba with a Saturday cooking class from 11 AM to 1 PM. Tickets are $75 per person; to register, contact Jillian Zins at 202-408-0201.

Clarendon Mardi Gras Parade, February 24
The parade begins on Veitch Street, by the Court House Metro station, and heads up Wilson Boulevard to the Clarendon Metro station. Details haven’t been confirmed yet, but the parade usually features floats from local merchants, live music, and beads galore, culminating in a lively showing in the area’s bars.

Bourbon Street Bash, February 24
Rumors
With live music from Higher Hands Fat Tuesday Funk Band, free drinks being given away by Captain Morgan and the Morganettes, a Cajun hot wing eating contest and a $100 "most beads" contest hosted by the Captain himself, what's not to celebrate? Miller Lites are $2 between 5 and 10pm, Captain Morgan Hurricanes are $3. Cover is $5. 4 PM till close.

Dancing by the Bayou’s Fat Tuesday Celebration, February 24
Glen Echo’s Spanish Ballroom
This year’s Mardi Gras Dance Party features music from Andre Thierry and Zydeco Magic. A dance lesson is scheduled for 7:30, with open dancing from 8 to 11. In addition to N’awlins rhythm, the organizers promise “king cake, beads, and fun.” Admission is $15.

Cafe Citron, February 24
If beads are your thing, Cafe Citron is offering a $200 cash prize for the most extreme Mardi Gras costume as part of its Fat Tuesday celebration. Happy hour specials from 4 to 7 feature $5 mojitos, margaritas, rum, and rum lemonades. Bacardi models will be giving out free drink samples between 7 and 9, and hurricanes and vodka cocktails will be $5 all night.

Fat Tuesday Live New Orleans Jazz Concert and Dinner, February 24
Twins Jazz
It may not be Bourbon Street, but it’s close. Things to Do DC is hosting a Fat Tuesday evening at Twins Jazz, featuring the sounds of a live New Orleans band complete with trumpets, saxophones, and trombones. Tickets are $40 and include a full dinner. www.thingstododc.com

Mardi Gras on U St, Feb 24     
Bohemian Caverns        
Bourbon St comes to U St for Mardi Gras, with food from Popeyes and the Louisiana Network, and music from New Orlean's own DJ WodieRock. Tickets are $10 in advance, or $15 at the door. 6:30 PM.

Mardi Gras Ball at the Showplace Arena, March 7
14900 Pennsylvania Ave., Upper Marlboro; 301-952-7900
United Way of Calvert County’s annual fundraiser is now nine years old. Tickets cost $135 and include live music by the Junkyard Saints, jugglers, belly dancers, Cajun and Creole cuisine from local chefs, a live and a silent auction, a jewelry raffle, and the crowning ceremony of the evening’s king and queen.

Mardi Gras Party at Whitlow’s on Wilson, February 24
Whitlow’s on Wilson
Another parade-watching spot: Whitlow’s offers a fine view of the passing floats as well as Creole specials, hurricanes, and music from Matt Waller. 7 PM.

Did we miss any parties? Let us know about them in the comments and we’ll update this post.

Mardi Gras Parties and Parades
What Restaurants Are Doing for Mardi Gras
A $25 Mardi Gras Menu
Happy Hour Finder
Events Calendar