Today is Mardi Gras, which, if you’re in New Orleans, means parades, beads, king cake and jubilant, brassy music.
Looking for the Mardi Gras spirit in the D.C. area? Try one of these Tuesday parties.
Free king cake at Franklin Square: If you work downtown, the state of Louisiana wants to get the party started before lunch, for anyone dying to laissez les bon temps rouler. The Pelican State’s tourism office is pushing a new marketing slogan, “Feed Your Soul,” and it’s kicking off promotions by bringing a Mardi Gras-themed food truck to Franklin Square from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Beyond serving free king cake, the truck’s staff will give away beads and Mardi Gras cups, play New Orleans music and, of course, offer a selfie station.
Mardi Gras at the Wharf: Washington’s most buzzed-about development marks its first Fat Tuesday with a parade along the waterfront Wharf Street, live brass band music, a dance party on the District Pier and a fireworks display. Restaurants and businesses at the Wharf are sponsoring (and tossing beads from) parade floats, as well as offering food and drink deals. 6 to 8 p.m. Free.
Mardi Gras Extravaganza at Dock 5: The all-you-can-eat — and drink — party returns to Union Market’s Dock 5 for a second year. A bevy of D.C. food and drink pros, including David Guas, Spike Mendelsohn and Gina Chersevani, are cooking up a Louisiana-style feast, while local mixologists compete to see who can whip up the best hurricane. Don’t forget to bring your best mask and beads for the costume contest. Proceeds benefit D.C. Central Kitchen. 6 to 10 p.m. $65.
Clarendon Mardi Gras Parade: The Clarendon Alliance’s annual parade along Wilson Boulevard features floats staffed by local businesses, marching bands and firetrucks, with participants tossing beads and throws into the crowd. The parade begins at North Barton Street, near the Court House Metro station, and ends at North Irving Street in Clarendon, although festivities continue afterward in neighborhood bars. 7 p.m. Free.
Paczki Day at Ivy and Coney: Fat Tuesday is celebrated a little differently in the Midwest, where Polish immigrants in Chicago and Detroit feast on sweet filled doughnuts called paczki. Ivy and Coney, which celebrates Detroit and Chicago, marks the day by giving away paczki and pierogi (“while supplies last”) and serving Poland’s Zywiec beer. Na zdrowie!