mardi gras masks and fans

It’s Mardi Gras Y’All in Nashville!

Boogie and Blues and the cool sounds of jazz announce it’s time for Mardi Gras 2014 in Nashville. The New Orleans carnival celebration overflowed the banks of its bayous long ago, spreading a wild season of festivities before the ritual fasting of Lent that begins on Ash Wednesday.

beads and maskMardi Gras Y’all makes its debut at Riverfront Park this year, bringing all the fun of carnival to the heart of Music City. Hosted by Jack FM and produced by Hootenanny Events, the celebrations flow from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. on Saturday, March 1, with free entertainment all day long on three stages. A great lineup of musical groups will take Main Stage, while magicians, fire jugglers and more will keep the crowds entertained on the Mardi Gras Stage. If you stay late, you’ll be rewarded with a special appearance by the Music City Burlesque.

Cheer on those keen to show their talent on the Karaoke Stage. Mardi Gras is all about joining in the fun, keeping up the traditions of green, gold and purple decorations, Cajun dancehall and Zydeco music, and everyone bedecked in beads.

tabascoAll this music and fun can build an appetite, so satisfy your tastebuds with crawfish, gumbo and a kaleidoscope of dishes available from 15 food trucks parked alongside Riverfront Park. You’ll be able to quench your thirst in the beer garden offering 10 different craft brews.

Nashville’s rich diversity and flavor benefitted unexpectedly in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, when the unplanned migration of displaced Louisiana natives brought fresh Creole and Cajun culinary influences. During Mardi Gras, several authentic Creole and Cajun restaurants will be hosting parties and carnival celebrations.

king cakeBro’s Cajun Cuisine, owned by Darrell M. Breaux, is your best stop for a Mardi Gras Jazz Brunch, featuring shrimp etouffe, spicy chicken sausage gumbo, Louisiana Jambalaya, Cajun spiced red beans and rice, Bananas Foster, King Cake, and the traditional chicory blend coffee with a touch of steamed milk.

The origins of the King Cake, only baked for Mardi Gras, honor the three kings and symbolize the unity of faiths. The traditional colors are purple for justice, green for faith and gold for power. Inside every cake is baked a baby doll, representing baby Jesus.

crawfish boilIf you lust for that most famous of all Cajun traditions, the Crawfish boil, Bro’s will be serving one up on Ash Wednesday, the day after Mardi Gras. They can also arrange personalized crawfish boils to order in the Nashville area.

Patrick’s Bistreaux in the Berry Hill area is another of Nashville’s best Creole and Cajun restaurants, with a festive atmosphere and a great hangout spot. blues trumpet

For more lively late night entertainment, head to Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar in Printer’s Alley for a touch of New Orleans and some of the best blues in town.

The Bluebird Café, a Nashville legend, is hosting a Fat Tuesday celebration on March 4 (Mardi Gras), a night of beads, doubloons, Moon Pies and music. Les Kerr and the Bayou Band will perform at 9 p.m. Put on your mask and come ready to party!

yazoo beerIf you like a little more adventure, the Yazoo Brewing Company is promoting the annual Yazoo Mardi Crawl on Tuesday, March 4. Meet at Hooters in Downtown Nashville at 6 p.m. for a pub crawl to several bars on 2nd Avenue. Dress up, drink Yazoo beer and celebrate Fat Tuesday while making new friends. Yazoo Brewing Company, a locally owned brewhouse in the Gulch, will give away a trip for two to New Orleans at the end of the night.

Let Carnival time begin!

Share with us your favorite way to celebrate Mardi Gras in the comments below.

Hi! I’m Dayle Fergusson. As a transplanted Aussie living in Middle Tennessee since 1986, I have been a freelance travel...Read on

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