Celebrating Mardi Gras in the Big Apple (when you can’t be in the ‘Big Easy’)
ZEALnyc, February 24, 2017
Merely the name Mardi Gras conjures up images of parades, masquerade parties, and liquor-laden bacchanals. The Mardi Gras/Carnival season technically begins on January 6 with festivities culminating on “Fat Tuesday”—the night before Ash Wednesday, the Christian church’s ‘holy day’ signifying the start of Lent when church members are charged with eschewing their sinful ways for forty days in preparation for Easter. With the clock ticking towards February 28, there are sure to be massive numbers of hurricanes (of the liquid variety), sazeracs, and Vieux Carrés consumed in these coming days.
The epicenter of festivities here in America has traditionally been in New Orleans (Bourbon Street is to Mardi Gras in the same way that Times Square is to New Year’s Eve), which has adopted the unique tradition of throwing and/or accumulating strands of beads (click here to find out the requirement for earning beads). The French Quarter hosts a variety of events and quite literally becomes one of the largest block parties imaginable. The influx of revelers invading the Big Easy can reach up to 1.4 million over the course of the weekend, and the party continues almost non-stop until the wee hours of next Wednesday morning.
In solidarity, various bars, restaurants and clubs in New York will host special Mardi Gras-themed drinks, menus and entertainment so that we may feel part of this ultimate debauchery (it really is the Super Bowl of parties). A couple of local venues are so excited with their seasonally-themed offerings that celebrations will spill over into the next day—heaven help us! Some of your options are below:
B.B. King Blues Club and Grill gets the party started with their 5th Annual “Funky Fat Tuesday” Celebration with George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic’s Mardi Gras Madness Tour. The doors open at 6:00pm with the main event starting at 8:00pm. For more info click here.
The Blue Note is hosting Kermit Ruffins and the BBQ Swingers for a run of performances (February 23-26) presenting a nice traditional ‘Louis Armstrong’ approach to their musical stylings, following that up with Donald Harrison in his Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday Celebration on February 28 and March 1.
Bar LunAtiko in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn is cooking up its own version—’Mardi Gras with Tubby‘— featuring old-school music from New Orleans and Creole cooking from the kitchen. Costumes (or at least dressing festively) are encouraged. For more info click here.
If you’re looking for the soul of a New Orleans party, then check out Professor Cunningham and the Speakeasy Sessions, featured at the special Mardi Gras Party at Drom in the East Village. They’re one of the hottest bands on the international swing scene and will be performing repertoire deeply steeped in the New Orleans tradition. For more information click here.
If you don’t mind a ‘Germanic’ approach to your merry-making, then head on over to Bierhaus NYC for their own version ‘German Karneval‘ on Friday, February 24 with a ‘Dudes In Dirndls’ Contest, where men will dress up in German dresses for a chance to win $300 cash, but they will also be celebrating Fat Tuesday with their own Mardi Gras celebration, so grab a stein and chant eins, zwei, drei, g’suffa!
If you’re also looking for food to accompany your Mardi Gras drinking, then you might consider The Hall at MP in Williamsburg, Brooklyn which is hosting their 2nd Annual New Orleans Crawfish Bowl on Friday, February 24, Saturday, February 25 and culminating on Tuesday, February 28. There are different bands for each of these nights, but the menu remains the same. For more info click here.
For that ‘meat lover in you’ check out Cannibal Beer and Butcher with their ultimate Mardi Gras extravaganza featuring an authentic pig roast. Although the ticket is pricey ($125), the festivities get underway starting at 3:00pm and will include food and an open bar serving all the traditional New Orleans imbibables including sazaracs, hurricanes, zombies, and more. To purchase your tickets click here.
And if you’re looking for that ‘ultimate bacchanal’ then you might consider the House of Yes in Bushwick, Brooklyn’s Mardi Gras: Brass, Sass & Ass event. Their advertising states they are ‘the only Mardi Gras celebration in town that actually involves a parade.’ With New Orleans-style Idle Hands Brass Band providing music on the dance floor starting at 10:00pm, aerialists of Lady Circus will be above providing their own entertainment. The event is listed as free, but there is a link to register to ensure admittance; click here to register. Costumes are encouraged, so party on!