Colorado is far from the Big Easy, and we can't promise New Orleans-magnitude parades. But we do like any good opportunity to celebrate.
If you're visiting Colorado over the Mardi Gras holiday, you won't be too disappointed.
Here are four ways to celebrate Mardi Gras in Colorado.
1. Enjoy authentic Cajun fare.
Mo Betta Gumbo in downtown Loveland (that's the city not the ski town) is an authentic Cajun restaurant set in a totally quirky atmosphere. On certain nights, hear live music, sip moonshine and feast on powdery, delicious beignets. Jambalaya is a given, as is chicken and andouille gumbo. But you might be surprised to also find a gluten-free menu here (with goodies, such as fried oysters and fried green tomatoes). That's gotta be the Colorado influence.
The flavored moonshine makes Mo Betta a great nightlife option, too.
The Lost Cajun in Frisco and Breckenridge promises authentic Cajun dishes, including gumbo and beignets. But 30-plus-year-old, locally run Lucile's Creole Cafe in Denver is a local fave, especially for breakfast. Here, you can start your day with cup of Southern Louisiana-style chicory coffee and a plate of a Cajun-flavored eggs benedict, all to the tune of Zydeco music.
Find five locations throughout the state.
2. Get green and purple in the mountains.
Breckenridge is known for its big annual Mardi Gras celebration. The ski town kicks off the celebration early February with an annual Mardi Gras parade and party, with live music, food, dancing and drink specials (of course, hurricanes). People wear their Mardiest of all attire, too: masks, beads, boas, the works.
If you're on the other side of the mountains, Steamboat also holds an annual Mardi Gras festival. Skiers can take a break from the slopes to enjoy free live music and watch parades. Foodies enjoy the Cajun BBQ and various Louisiana-inspired fare throughout the region. One awesome highlight for 2016 is a free Concert featuring the MarchFourth Marching Band.
Of course, Fat Tuesday is the highlight of the holiday — but Fat Tuesday, Colorado style, includes a snow sculpture contest. What else?
Aspen Snowmass is another popular destination known for its annual events. In fact, Aspen claims to have the mother of all celebrations amid the ski towns — in part because its party started with New Orleans natives. Here's how Snowmass does Mardi Gras: with a crazy, costumed uphill snowshoe race first thing in the morning, followed by live music, a parade, kid crafts, crawdad boils and King Cake giveaways.
The big ski towns aren't the only places that celebrate, though. Manitou Springs holds an annual free, family-friendly parade that anyone can join.
3. Call on Lady Luck.
It's no surprise that the Mardi Gras Casino in Blackhawk does the holiday big. Here, it's Mardi Gras every day. This casino is New Orleans themed, complete with Creole food to fuel your time on the 650 slots and video poker machines. Feeling lucky? Mardi Gras Casino boasts 15 blackjack tables and three poker tables.
4. Bourbon Street comes to Denver.
Every year, Denver holds a variety of different Mardi Gras parties, including the Kevin Larsen version, with live music, beads, video games, dancing, theatrical performers and more. Expect to see stilt-walkers, tarot readers and face-painters at this event, that also raises money for charity. Attendees are encouraged to come in costume.