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Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, is a New Orleans icon, filled with music, parades, picnics, floats and excitement—it’s not only the culmination of the festival season before Lent, but an immense annual event and important cultural tradition. During the celebration, all businesses and roads practically shut down as the people and parades take over the city. Crowds of spectators gather, dressed in purple, green, and gold, with long beads dangling from their necks. Similar to Carnival in Europe and South America, New Orleans Mardi Gras is a unique and spectacular celebration in its own right, with rich and interesting traditions and history. As they say on the bayou, “Laissez les bons temps rouler!” Let the good times roll.
While Mardi Gras in Milwaukee is definitely on a different level than New Orleans, there are plenty of local events and festivities to enjoy; that is, if you know what’s happening and where to find it. Allow us to guide you to Carnival this year in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Mardi Gras may mean Fat Tuesday to most. However, the festivities begin the weekend leading up to it. Check out these events throughout Milwaukee showing that the Cream City knows how to party.
Make-A-Wish Wisconsin will host a Mardi Gras-themed event at the Marcus Performing Arts Center in downtown Milwaukee. Enjoy an evening of live music from the Extra Crispy Brass Band, a silent auction, live artists, New Orleans appetizer stations, King Cake, casino tables, festive masks and beads, interactive entertainment, and more! Ticket prices include two drink tickets, appetizer stations, 21+ admission, and Mardi Gras beads. This event will take place from 7 to 11 p.m. on Friday, February 17. If you enjoy the performance by the Extra Crispy Brass Band, they are playing at Maxie’s on both Monday and Tuesday, February 20 – 21. Enjoy the festivities while supporting a fantastic cause by aiding Kaylee in her life-changing wish to visit the Florida Keys.
Maxie’s, at 6732 W. Fairview Ave., has been one of Milwaukee’s favorite places to celebrate Mardi Gras. They’ve been expanding the celebration recently by hosting a weekend of New Orleans-inspired dining. Enjoy the excitement of the Carnival season and take your taste buds on a journey. Maxie’s Mardi Gras menu will be available Friday and Saturday, February 17-18, and again on February 20-21. Classic NOLA party favorites such as Crawfish Étouffée, Duck Gumbo, Crispy Boudin Balls, and many more will be available. Dessert features everyone’s favorite, Beignets, as well as Mini King Cakes. For table seating, reservations are strongly recommended; you make them online or over the phone.
Bar 360 within the Potawatomi Casino Hotel features a line of Mardi Gras drink specials. Casino-wide drink specials will include a Hurricane, our famous Bloody Mary, and the Rainbow. Drink specials will be available February 17-21. Bar 360 can be found inside the Dreamcatcher side of the Casino. With an elevated view of the casino floor, it’s a fantastic location to celebrate this year. Maybe you’re looking to try something a little different. If so, Canal Street Café inside the hotel at Potawatomi provides a new and exciting mimosa experience. Five new mimosa specials will be available, strawberry, grapefruit, cranberry, pineapple orange, and The Classic (orange). When you might think we’ve covered everything, RuYi also provides an exciting new cocktail special list. Whatever you may be thirsty for, there’s no shortage of delicious drinks available here at Potawatomi Casino Hotel.
With all the festivities, electricity and excitement that Mardi Gras brings, it’s also a great time to get a little creative. Create lasting memories of your Mardi Gras experience at Vibez Creative Arts Space. On February 17, they will be putting on a paint-and-sip event; pricing is $35 and includes your canvas, materials, and even self-guided instructions. This experience will take place from 5–7 p.m. and will be located right in the Bayshore mall.
Another way to express your creativity this Mardi Gras could be through food. Suppose you’re like a lot of us, always looking for the next way to spice up your culinary repertoire; then this next experience is perfect for you. Chef Michael Solovey is hosting a cooking class at Glorioso’s Italian Market. This hands-on cooking class will have you making traditional New Orleans dishes, such as Chicken and Andouille Gumbo with Herbed White Rice and Bananas Foster. Finishing it off with delicious French Vanilla Ice Cream, you will be left with the ability to deliver authentic flavors to your family and friends. The class begins promptly at 5:30 p.m. on Fat Tuesday, February 21, and will cost $89; Glorioso’s is located at 1011 E Brady St, Milwaukee, WI 53202. So why not spend your Fat Tuesday expanding your culinary ability and tasting the history of a long-lived tradition!
February 26, head on down to the Italian Community Center in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward for The Great Lakes Hemophilia Foundation annual Milwaukee’s Best Bloody contest. Milwaukee-area bartenders will showcase their signature Bloody Mary recipes while guests enjoy beer chasers and appetizers and vote for their favorite Bloody. Proceeds help the Hemophilia Foundation educate, support, and advocate for the Wisconsin bleeding disorders community. Tickets are priced at $50, including samples from every participating bar and restaurant. They also offer a designated driver admission for $25, including nonalcoholic Bloody Mary samples. Event hours are 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Enjoy local craft Bloodies while supporting a great cause.
Milwaukee may not have New Orlean’s French Quarter, but we do have a wealth of options for celebrating Mardi Gras right here in our home town. From delicious Cajun dishes to lively cocktails, Milwaukee-area restaurants, bars, casinos, artists and special charitable events bring the Mardi Gras party to the Cream City, and put their own unique spin on the spirit of Carnival.