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. In February 2020, Washington, D.C., will celebrate 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.

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Mardi Gras District Wharf

Celebrate Fat Tuesday on February 22, 2020, from 4–7 p.m. 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. In addition, local restaurants will 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.

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Mardi Gras Fest

The bar Black Jack and TILT Side Bar in Washington, D.C., will host a five-day Mardi Gras Fest in 2020 with Creole-inspired cuisine and a Fat Tuesday-themed cocktail menu. An opening ceremony featuring food and drink specials kicks the festivities off on February 21. On February 22, guests can enjoy the Masquerade Ball with DJ Hiwa, a roaming photo booth, and a costume contest. To get invited to the February 23 Funk Brunch from 12–3 p.m., check with @blackjackbardc on Instagram: You'll experience an all-you-can-eat and bottomless mimosa brunch along with drag burlesque performances and music by DJ Nate. February 24 entails Indie-Gras with the band Angel’s Envy, special guest bartenders from Service Bar, tunes by DJ Nate, industry specials, and a family meal. ⁣The last day of events on February 25 features Crush Funk Brass Band and Fat Tuesday food and drink specials.

General admission to these events is free, though cocktails and food are priced per item.

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Mardi Gras Extravaganza

On February 25, 2020 (officially Fat Tuesday), those 21 and up can enjoy the fourth annual indoor Mardi Gras Extravaganza at Union Market's Dock-5 from 6–10 p.m. The $50 all-you-can-eat-drink-and-dance ticketed event will bring together some of the area's best chefs and over 12 top mixologists will compete for the best hurricane cocktails. Partygoers can also enter a costume contest and enjoy 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. 

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2020 Family Gras

Those looking for a child-friendly bash can head to the Family Gras at Capitol Cider House on February 23, 2020, from 10 a.m. to noon. For adults, there will be a happy hour with house cider, craft beer, wine, and cocktails. Children will be entertained with free balloon animals, face painting, crafts, and beads (thrown gently) from a cider house float. Look for full food and drink menus plus a king cake from the renowned New Orleans bakery Gambino's.

It is a good idea to buy tickets in advance as they go fast.

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Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball

Attend a black-tie, masquerade mask event for a good cause at the Perry Belmont House in Washington, D.C., from 7–10 p.m. on February 21, 2020. Those 21 and up will enjoy drinks, live performances from KC B. Yoncé & Lucy Black Entertainment, and interactive photo opportunities.

General admission ticket holders may arrive at 8 p.m. and will have access to a cash bar; VIP tickets include a 7 p.m. entrance and an open bar until 8 p.m. Both options feature Southern comfort food. The gathering benefits the National Mall park, which houses famous monuments, including the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.

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The Greater Washington Urban League Guild Mardi Gras Soirée

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 goes from 5 to 9 p.m. on February 28, 2020, at the African American Civil War Museum.

GWUL is celebrating Mardi Gras as a way to raise money to send kids to Camp Atwater in Springfield, Massachusetts, and to the Urban League Youth Leadership Summit. The dress code is cute and classy. Tickets for $65 are available online.

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Mardi Crawl

On February 29, 2020, in the U Street Corridor in Washington, D.C., guests can enjoy giveaways as well as hookah and drink specials at a Mardi Gras gathering. More than five bars will have free entry and deals on drinks. The event starts at at 3 p.m. at Brixton, a British restaurant with a pub on the first floor.

Advance tickets bought before February 15 are $20 and general admission tickets are $25. Since tickets are limited, attendees are urged to purchase them in advance.

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