Written By; Jessie White
Let’s make one thing clear: Mardi Gras is a timeless tradition that is made famous by the annual festival that takes place in New Orleans, Louisiana. We are in no way blurring that line, but we are absolutely saying that Chicago will be celebrating this yearly tradition in 2020. It may seem strange that Mardi Gras festivities are taking place in the heart of the Midwest but when you’re sipping on a “Hurricane” and collecting beads around your neck, you begin to care less about the distance. Mardi Gras is a Christian holiday and mainstream cultural phenomenon that was made famous by the extravagantly spectacular parades and celebrations that have taken place in New Orleans since the late 1800’s.
At this point in time, alcohol has become an element of the holiday’s traditions with many drinks becoming synonymous with the event. If you know anything about Chicago, it is that this city will accept any reason to grab a drink (or two). Mardi Gras celebrations in Chicago are surely smaller and less extravagant than the New Orleans festivities, however these Chicago events are 100% likely to provide less humidity, less debauchery, but all of the same amazing flavors and drink specials to take advantage of while dodging city prices.
Just because you’re in the Midwest for Mardi Gras doesn’t mean that you have to hang up your favorite masquerade mask. Check out any of these awesome Mardi Gras events taking place in Chicago this month to take advantage of everything Fat Tuesday has to offer.
Mardi Gras at Time Out Market
916 W Fulton Market
Chicago’s Time Out Market is bringing the spirit of New Orleans to Chicago for its very own Mardi Gras celebration. Hosted by Tony’s Rooftop Bar by Marz Brewing with rotating pours of some of the brewery’s fan favorites. A full Louisiana jazz band will be traveling throughout the market with live music throughout the festivities with some special culinary surprises in store as well.
Guests can enjoy doughnut-flavored ice pops from Pretty Cool and King Cake from Sugar Cube while jazzin’ throughout the market. Enjoy Marz Brewing’s tap takeover while enjoying Mardi Gras at the same time for a little taste of what the holiday is all about.
3:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Mardi Gras at the Time Out Market is free to attend!
Wrigleyville Mardi Gras Extravaganza
Clark Street in Wrigleyville
Celebrate Mardi Gras surrounded by the energy of the Chicago Cubs at the Wrigleyville Mardi Gras Extravaganza. The Saturday before Fat Tuesday, Clark Street will be transformed to Bourbon Street in honor of the timeless holiday traditions of Mardi Gras. The Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce has arranged for a party that Chicago’s never seen, with a full brass band, juggling jesters, and more beads than you’ll be able to fit around your neck. Participating venues on Clark Street will offer exclusive Mardi Gras menus as well as $6 “Hurricanes” and $4 budlights. A jambalaya contest between participating venues will be providing tastings galore with a chance to vote for your favorite recipe.
At 5:30 there will be a Finale Party in which the King and Queen of Mardi Gras will be crowned, so make sure that your Mardi Gras outfit is in tip-top shape!
12:00 pm – 7:30 pm
You can purchase tickets to the Wrigleyville Mardi Gras Extravaganza here!
Mardi Gras Feast at Nola Bar + Kitchen
3481 N Clark St
Everyone knows that one of the best elements of celebrating Mardi Gras is the fantastic flavors that originate along the New Orleans bayou. Luckily, Chicago has a resident favorite that gives locals access to these cravings no matter what time of year it may be. Nola Bar + Kitchen is a family-owned New Orleans bar that boasts some of the best Cajun dishes north of Louisiana with a daily happy hour that makes this spot a local treat.
On Fat Tuesday, Nola will be celebrating the Mardi Gras holiday the traditional way with a special feast that takes place all day beginning at noon! Nola will have specials on their famous “Hurricanes” and sangria so if you’re craving an authentic New Orleans Mardi Gras, you’ll want to check out Nola on everyone’s favorite Tuesday.
12:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Check out Nola’s full menu and additional specials here.
Need Hotel Accommodations?
The Willows Hotel
Located at the edge of Lakeview and Lincoln Park, accessible via Brown Line train
The City Suites Hotel
In the heart of Northalsted (formerly Boystown), accessible by the Red Line train
The Majestic Hotel
Located in the heart of Wrigleyville, accessible via Red Line train
The Ivy Hotel
Located near the Magnificent Mile in Chicago’s Loop