Guide to Mardi Gras in Washington, DC: Festivals, Events, Things to Do

Party the Night Away in the Nation's Capital

A bar decked out with beads for Mardi Gras
Courtesy of Black Jack

The nation's capital may be more than 1,000 miles away from New Orleans, but locals and visitors can still honor Mardi Gras in a variety of ways. Every year Washington, D.C., celebrates Louisiana-style with a festive parade along the waterfront at the Wharf Street District Pier. There are also many local Mardi Gras events—including fundraisers for special causes, parties, bar crawls, balls, and family days which entertain and provide a sense of community.

In 2021, many Mardi Gras events have been canceled. Check the organizer's official websites for the latest updates.

01 of 07

Mardi Gras District Wharf

This event has not been rescheduled for 2021.

You can typically celebrate at the Wharf Street District Pier in Washington, D.C., with a colorful parade along the waterfront, followed by a dance party on District Pier and a spectacular display of fireworks. Local restaurants will also have special treats in honor of Mardi Gras and there will be crafts and activities for kids as well as s'mores at Caps Campfire at Camp Wharf.

02 of 07

Mardi Gras Fest

This event has not been rescheduled for 2021.

The bar Black Jack and TILT Side Bar in Washington, D.C., typically hosts a Mardi Gras with Creole-inspired cuisine and a Fat Tuesday-themed cocktail menu. In the past, the opening ceremony kicked off festivities, and later in the week, there was a Masquerade Ball with a roaming photo booth and costume contest. Guests could experience an all-you-can-eat and bottomless mimosa brunch along with drag burlesque performances in addition to music sets by DJs and local bands.

03 of 07

Mardi Gras Extravaganza

On February 16, 2021, instead of the typical Mardi Gras Extravaganza, Washington, D.C., restaurants are coming together to offer free dishes to unemployed restaurant workers.

Usually, the annual Mardi Gras Extravaganza takes place at Union Market's Dock-5 and offers an all-you-can-eat-drink-and-dance event that brings together the city's best chefs and mixologists. There is also a costume contest and live music. Proceeds benefit DC Central Kitchen (DCCK), a group working to fight hunger by educating the homeless on the culinary arts so they can gain employment and change the cycle of poverty. 

04 of 07

Family Gras

This event has not been rescheduled for 2021.

Those looking for a child-friendly bash can usually head to the Family Gras at Capitol Cider House. For adults, is a happy hour with house cider, craft beer, wine, and cocktails. Children will be entertained with free balloon animals, face painting, crafts, and beads tossed from the cider house float. In the past, Cider House has offered a full food and drink menu, plus King Cake ordered from the renowned New Orleans bakery Gambino's.

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05 of 07

Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball

This event has not been rescheduled for 2021.

Attend a black-tie, masquerade mask event for a good cause at the Perry Belmont House. Those 21 and up can enjoy drinks, live performances, and interactive photo opportunities. There will be southern comfort food on the menu and VIP tickets typically grant access to the open bar. The gathering benefits the National Mall park, which houses famous monuments, including the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.

06 of 07

The Greater Washington Urban League Guild Mardi Gras Soirée

This event has not been rescheduled for 2021.

Attendees can look forward to music, Cajun treats, and a festive environment as well as being part of an important cause helping youth at The Greater Washington Urban League (GWUL) Guild Mardi Gras Soirée. The event typically takes place at the African American Civil War Museum. GWUL celebrates Mardi Gras as a way to raise money to send kids to Camp Atwater in Springfield, Massachusetts, and for the Urban League Youth Leadership Summit.

07 of 07

Mardi Gras Bar Crawl

This event has been postponed until February 26, 2022.

Organized by Bar Crawl Live, this themed bar crawl takes participants on a tour of the bars of Dupont Circle, U-Street, and Surrounding Areas. You'll be encouraged to don a mask and wear a costume and your ticket includes cover charges, free beads, 50 percent off of drinks, and 30 percent off of food. There will also be a costume contest so dress to impress.

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