Carnival in California: The Top Mardi Gras Events in The State

Carnival in California: The Top Mardi Gras Events in The State

By Oliver Jenkyns February 07, 2020

Mardi Gras might be considered a New Orleans tradition, but California’s many Carnival celebrations give it a run for its money. This year, Fat Tuesday falls on February 25, giving you plenty of time to take advantage of the festive Mardi Gras decorations, sparkly beads, and delicious bites the season provides. And with everything from Cajun-inspired culinary creations, to live music, to festive parades on offer, you won’t want to sleep on the Golden State’s Mardi Gras 2020 events. 

California’s Top 2020 Mardi Gras Celebrations

California's Mardi Gras celebrations include parades, live music, and Cajun cuisine that you won't want to miss.

Mardi Gras Parade and Street Faire

Where: Nevada City
When: February 16

Join the festivities in downtown Nevada City for the 28th annual Mardi Gras Parade and Street Faire. The fun begins at 11 a.m. and continues until 4 p.m. on Sunday. Get there by 2 p.m. to watch the floats cruise down historic Broad Street. 

Every year, the planning committee nominates a Mardi Gras King and Queen as well as a Grand Duke and Duchess—locals who have made positive impacts on the community—and this year’s selectees are sure to be impressive. 

Before you leave, make sure to peruse the faire booths, where you’ll find plenty of beads, Mardi Gras masks, and colorful shirts to go around. 

Gaslamp Mardi Gras Big Easy Bites Tour

Where: San Diego
When: February 22

San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter hosts Southern California’s ultimate 21-and-up Mardi Gras party. Complete with creative concoctions, Mardi Gras beads, and plenty of walking, this California culinary tour will get you acquainted with the neighborhood’s foodie hot spots and make you feel like you’ve flown to New Orleans. 

Tour the town between 1 and 5 p.m. on Saturday, sampling 20 Southern-inspired bites such as fish and chips, Cajun meatballs, and authentic jambalaya. While it’s easy to get wrapped up in a food coma while partaking in this culinary crawl, don’t forget to collect beads along the way—10 stings will be your ticket to the VIP Carnival after-party, where you’ll dance the night away. 

Grab your tickets to the Carnival and Mardi Gras tour now and skip out on the day-of price increase. 

Don a festive outfit, throw on some beads, and get ready to celebrate Mardi Gras all weekend long. Photo courtesy of The Original Farmers Market.

Farmers Market Mardi Gras Celebration

Where: Los Angeles
When: February 22–23

The Original Farmers Market in Los Angeles is celebrating Mardi Gras all weekend long, so you never know what you might see. This year’s event will be filled with Cajun and Zydeco Mardi Gras music, tons of Southern cooking, more beads than you could count, and the highly anticipated attraction: the “Mutti Gras” Pet Parade. 

Seek out all your Cajun favorites—like po’ boys, jambalaya, gumbo, and boiled crawfish—and welcome Mardi Gras the right way at Third Street and Fairfax Avenue in L.A. While you’re in town, check out the top museums and galleries, best coffee shops, and dreamy surf destinations.

Can’t make it to these epic events? Look forward to the parties in San Francisco; Sacramento’s annual Mardi Gras Ball; and dozens of Mardi Gras parades happening throughout the state this month. 

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