How to Celebrate Mardi Gras in Seattle in 4 Simple Steps

You won't find parades, bead-throwing or Bourbon Street in Seattle for Mardi Gras, but there are plenty of reasons to celebrate here in the Emerald City. If you're looking for a guide to making the most of this once-yearly excuse for (nearly) complete debauchery, look no further. In four easy steps, you can have a Mardi Gras to remember (or not!).

gnuckx via Flickr

Get Dressed Up

Some people may turn up in their every day clothes, but a true celebration of Mardi Gras takes commitment, planning, and most of all, a great look. Skip the normal costume shops and go for the real deal: rent a costume from Vintage Costumers or buy one to keep from Red Light Vintage and Costume. Don't forget to snag a Venetian-style mask: A Masquerade Costume in Bellevue has a whole section devoted to the many beautiful kinds you can choose from. Also, don't skip on a few strings of beads -- you'll make lots of friends that way!

vxla via Flickr

Eat Well

Mardi Gras is a celebration of culture, in its many forms: in order to have enough stamina to enjoy them all, it's best to ensure you're properly fueled with some delicious cajun and creole food. Marcela's Creole Cookery or Toulouse Petit offer delicious options, and don't forget to snag some beignets from Mardi Gras Donuts for dessert. Don't have time for a sit-down meal on this one night of fun? Jemil's Big Easy food truck is a city-wide favorite -- even the Seahawks love Jemil's authentic N'awlins food!

Bonus tip: If you're a King Cake fiend (who isn't?), Restaurant Roux is the place to find it. If you're lucky enough to get the king in your slice, you get a free order of beignets, or another slice!

Jimmy Baikovicius​ via Flickr

Enjoy Live Music

Seattleites love good music -- we've been pioneers in several genres, but nothing beats authentic New Orleans jazz bands around Mardi Gras time. The Royal Room has several shows lined up for Fat Tuesday, including both funk and jazz acts. The Triple Door will have live music including a live Dixieland swing band. Or, keep it chill with jazz pianist Loston Harris at Dimitrou's Jazz Alley. Whichever sound you prefer, you can find it at one of the many cozy jazz clubs around town.

Mark Gstohl via Flickr


If you're feeling ambitious, start your Mardi Gras celebrations early with the downtown Mardi Gras Pub Crawl the weekend before. On Fat Tuesday itself, opt for the Mardi Gras Extravaganza at Nectar Lounge (including a strong influence of Brazilian Carnival happening at the same time), or head to Columbia City Theatre for Morbid Curiositease genre bending "Mardi Gras Mayhem" party. Or... do all three! Indulgence is what Mardi Gras is all about, after all.

Valerie Stimac is a Seattle-based travel writer who celebrated Mardi Gras in New Orleans in 2010. She has also contributed on AFAR, Yahoo Travel, and Matador.