Celebrate Mardi Gras with parades, brass bands and cocktails

February 5, 2013

The annual Mardi Gras Parade through Clarendon and Court House features floats, live music and plenty of bead tossing. (Photo by Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

This post has been updated.

If you're wondering which Mardi Gras events are worth your time, here's a quick guide to some of the top celebrations on Fat Tuesday:

If you want …

A moveable feast of music and dance

Adams Morgan doesn't have a formal parade with floats, but there will be music in the streets on Mardi Gras. From 6:30 to 10 p.m., music and dance groups, including the LaRue Horns (Dixieland), Alafia Dance and Drum (Cuban) and ZeZeh Brazil Dancers (Brazilian) will take turns performing at five different neighborhood bars: Bossa, Chief Ike's Mambo Room, the Grill from Ipanema, Jack Rose and Rumba Cafe. When a group is finished at one location, it'll march to the next one, dancing and playing on the way. (This is all weather-permitting, of course.)

A parade, but you feel like you're too old for Bourbon Street
Clarendon's annual Mardi Gras parade up Wilson Boulevard is a family affair, with float-riders tossing beads to the crowd; marching bands; clowns; and music played from the back of flatbed trucks. The route runs from North Barton Street, near the Court House Metro station, to Washington Boulevard, near Clarendon station. The parade runs from 7 to 9 p.m. when the party spreads to nearby bars. Make tracks to Iota, where the Grandsons will be playing their mix of New Orleans funk, R&B and Americana with no cover charge.

To party like you're still in college
The 12th annual Bourbon Street Bash will spend another Fat Tuesday at Rumors, which is one of those places you swear you'll never revisit once you turn 25. Make that 26. Or 28. It's perennially crowded with hundreds of young professionals taking advantage of the cheap drinks ($2 Coors Light, $4 Bacardi, $5 Hurricanes); snacking on jambalaya and red beans and rice; and wearing feathered masks and too many Mardi Gras beads. The Higher Hands funk band performs, interspersed with a DJ playing '80s and Top 40. There's a $5 cover charge at the door.

A gourmet block party

Bayou Bakery chef David Guas is hosting a tented block party outside the Court House restaurant with live music, traditional Mardi Gras grub, Abita beer and a costume contest. The best-dressed couple will ride on Bayou Bakery's float in that night's Clarendon Mardi Gras parade. Not into New Orleans fare? There will be oysters from Rappahannock River Oysters and cocktails by Gina Chersevani of Hank's on the Hill and Buffalo and Bergen. The party starts at 5 p.m. and runs until 11.

Delicious beer and Cajun food
Dogfish Head Alehouse's Mardi Gras Beer Dinner pairs traditional cuisine with its acclaimed beers. Think chicken gumbo with Indian Brown Ale; fried green tomatoes and shrimp with the aged Burton Baton ale; or a crawfish boil with Hellhound on My Ale Imperial IPA. All-inclusive tickets are $65 for the Tuesday night dinner, but the number of seats is limited.

To combine Mardi Gras (Tuesday) and Valentine's Day (Thursday)

Central Michel Richard is extending its usual Mardi Gras celebration through Valentine's Day. Everything kicks off Tuesday night with a special New Orleans menu, themed cocktails, beads, masks and swinging live jazz by Laissez-Foure. The oysters, jambalaya and drinks will be offered through Thursday, along with champagne deals and a special "chocolate heart for two."

To see lots of live music
Bayou is featuring plenty of funk, brass and jazz from noon to midnight. Join the horns of Yamomanem at Dupont Circle at 4 p.m., and they'll parade to the Foggy Bottom restaurant. (The band performs there from 5 to 8 p.m. when the Dixie Power Trio takes over.) Bayou offers an all-you-can-eat buffet of New Orleans fare for $20 from 5 to 9 p.m.

Fritz Hahn has written about bars, drinks and nightlife for the Washington Post Weekend Section since 2003, but he also writes about everything from Civil War battlefields to sailing classes. A product of Prince George's County public schools, Fritz majored in journalism at the University of Maryland and lives in the District.
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