Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, commences this year on Tuesday, February 21, 2023. But while the New Orleans holiday and the city’s famous parade prove far from Denver, the Mile High City has plenty of ways to celebrate right here.
For starters, get a king cake. Next, hit up a crawfish boil and dig in like they do in the South. Or, join one of the many fetes around the city, beads and masks encouraged. Laissez les bons temps rouler!
Where to Get King Cake
Before there were beads and copious amounts of booze there was king cake. In fact, this treat has been around since the Middle Ages, used as a way to celebrate the Catholic holiday, Three Kings Day (January 6).
Today the rich dessert is often made with a sweet buttery pastry and coated in green, yellow and purple frosting. The colors have meaning too, green symbolizes faith, purple is power, and yellow stands for justice.
There’s also a little plastic baby inside the cake, and who ever finds it is crowned king for the day and is said to have extra luck all year.
The Lost Cajun
The mini chain has five locations in Colorado and, aside from classic Cajun food, king cake is on the menu. But only for a limited time, once February 22 hits, king cake all but disappears until next year. Visit the restaurant near you to have a slice, or take a whole cake home.
For $29.98 you can take home a traditional king cake in four festive flavors including cinnamon, strawberry cream cheese, almond and plain cream cheese. The cakes come with a plastic baby to hid inside, and beads to help you celebrate. As a bonus, a portion of all king cake purchases gets donated the local Red Cross. 5721 Olde Wadsworth Blvd., Arvada.
Maggie and Molly’s Bakery
Find a gluten-free king cake laced with cinnamon at this Denver bakery. Unlike a traditional king cake, which is yeast cake style, Maggie and Molly’s $42 version has more of a coffee cake flavor and texture. But it does come with colorful icing and lots of beads on the side. 2908 E. 6th Ave., Denver.
Katherine’s French Bakery & Café
Given that Katherine’s is a European-style bakery and the king cake came to New Orleans via France, it’s not surprising the Denver staple makes one. Customers muse pre-order the cake, and can pick it up from the bakery. Filling flavors include cinnamon-sugar, raspberry chocolate, pecan or almond fillings. Each cost between $45 and $51, and come complete with a feathered mask, beads, and the iconic plastic baby. 728 S. University Blvd., Denver.
Top Mardi Gras Events
Denver may not be as exciting as New Orleans when it comes to Mardi Gras, and really, who is, but there are many ways to celebrate the carnival season right here.
From full blown parties to a parade to a Mardi Gras murder mystery, hit up one of these events on and near the holiday.
Mardi Gras at the St. Julien Hotel & Spa
Head to Boulder and the classy St. Julien hotel for a FREE Mardi Gras party. It’s the property’s first, and guests can check it out in the hotel lobby and enjoy New Orleans music along with food and drink specials.
Festive attire is encouraged. Come either Friday, February 17 to hear Voodoo Lilies, or Saturday, February 18 to hear The Rampart Street Rompers.
Both parties run from 6 to 9 p.m., and seating is on a first-come-first-served basis. 900 Walnut St., Boulder.
Parker Mardi Gras 2023
Reserve a spot for the Mardi Gras fete at The Council of Arts, Science & Culture in Parker. The fun commences on Friday, February 17 from 7 to 11 p.m. and tickets are $50 each.
While on the pricey end, the fee supports the center and all the free programing it does throughout the year. Admission includes Cajun-style nibbles, live music and dancing. 11020 S. Pikes Peak Dr., Parker.
Denver Harlequins Presents Mardi Gras 2023
On Saturday, February 18 from 6 to 9 p.m. not only can you celebrate Mardi Gras with drinks, appetizers and a silent auction, but proceeds from the $40 ticket goes to the Denver Harlequins rugby team.
Expect contests and rugby-themed games as well. The event is at Town Hall Collaborative, and guests can book a ticket via Eventbrite HERE. 525 Santa Fe Dr., Denver.
Mardi Gras Party at the Louisville Underground
Join the FREE Mardi Gras party in Louisville on Saturday, February 18, and hear No Hands Brass Band starting at 8 p.m. The live band is followed by DJ AdamAntium, and the celebration will go until closing. Just make sure to register your spot via Eventbrite for a free ticket. 640 Main St., Louisville.
Mardi Gras Gone Wrong, a Murder Mystery
Death from beads? Or maybe it was the Hurricane cocktail. You can only find out by attending this extra special murder mystery party hosted by LandLocked Ales on Saturday, February 18 at 6 p.m. Tickets are $20 a person and include light snacks and that first pint of beer (more can be purchased).
It also includes your very own character to play as you unravel the Mardi Gras mystery. 3225 S. Wadsworth Blvd., Lakewood.
Mardi Gras Happy Hour!
From 4 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, February 18, join the team at Blake Street Tavern for a Denver-style Mardi Gras party. Register via Eventbrite for FREE and enjoy appetizers, beads, masks and drinks for purchase. 2301 Blake St., Denver.
Nola Voodoo Tavern
On Fat Tuesday head to one of the biggest Mardi Gras parties in the city. The tavern opens at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, February 21 and the owners plan to celebrate like they did in their hometown of New Orleans.
There will be a Louisiana crawfish boil, drink specials, live music and more. Entry is FREE, but reservations are recommended. 2231 Bruce Randolph Ave., Denver.
Double Tree by Hilton’s Mardi Gras Take Over
While the fete at the DTC hotel isn’t cheap, starting at $125 for rooms at the hotel and tickets ranging from $49 to $150, it is less expensive than heading to New Orleans.
In fact, the property wants to make guests feel like they are in NoLa, and on February 25 at 8 p.m. until 1 a.m. the next day, the entire hotel will be dedicated to Mardi Gras.
Expect festive cocktails, costumes, Cajun food, marching bands, tarot readers and more. All you need to do is book a ticket via Eventbrite, and visit the hotel’s website for room reservations. 7801 E. Orchard Road, Greenwood Village.
Mile High Mardi Gras at Dairy Block
Join the absolutely fabulous for the 5th Annual Dairy Block Petite Parade on Sunday, February 26 from noon to 2 p.m. Go just for fun or register to make your own mini parade float (form and details HERE). There will be prizes.
Also expect festive entertainment by Denver’s Handsome Little Devils and live music by the Tivoli Brass Band. The event is FREE and open to all, and will take place inside The Maven’s Windsor Room. 1850 Wazee St., Denver.
Traditional Mardi Gras Feasts
Aside from king cake, the other traditional food eaten in New Orleans at this time is crawfish. Namely, a crawfish boil. We already mentioned Nola Voodoo Tavern is having one during it’s all-day fete (and the crawfish come in fresh, straight from Louisiana), but here are some other spots dishing out the shellfish.
Stoney’s Bar and Grill 13th Annual Crawfish Boil
Get your crawfish boil on at this lively bar where 1,000 pounds of Louisiana crawfish will be served on Saturday, February 18 starting at 1 p.m.
Orders come in two- and five-pound increments ($25 to $50), and come with corn, sausage, mushrooms, and potatoes.
Join the party for FREE, crawfish or not, and hear Blue Krewe play live from 1 to 4 p.m. If looking to eat, make sure to get a ticket asap, the event sells out each year. 1111 Lincoln St., Denver.
Crawfish & Country Music
Rockabillies in Arvada is pulling all the stops for its Saturday, February 18 feast, which takes place from 1 to 5 p.m. Pre-order a box of crawfish for $36, which also includes corn, sausage and potatoes.
Or, book a table for, which also includes four drink tickets as well as the single, three-pound box.
Reservations and tickets can be made HERE via Eventbrite. 12363 West 64th Ave., Arvada.
Crawfish Boil at School House Kitchen & Libations
Tickets to this Fat Tuesday feast run $45 a person, or $22.50 for kids, and include three pounds of crawfish, shrimp and sausage, plus all the fixings.
There are four seatings on Tuesday, February 21 starting at 5:30 p.m. and every 30 minutes after that.
Get your ticket via Eventbrite HERE. 5660 Olde Wadsworth Blvd., Arvada.
More Mardi Gras Events
Get Some Mardi Gras Bling
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