Colorado is far from the Big Easy, and we can’t promise parades of magnitude in New Orleans. But we like any good opportunity to celebrate.
If you visit Colorado during your Mardi Gras vacation, you won’t be too disappointed.
Here are four ways to celebrate Mardi Gras in Colorado.
1. Enjoy authentic Cajun food.
Mo Betta Gumbo in downtown Loveland (that’s the town, not the ski town) is an authentic Cajun restaurant set in a totally quirky atmosphere. On certain nights, listen to live music, drink alcohol, and enjoy delicious powdered beignets. Jambalaya is a given, as is chicken and andouille gumbo. But you might also be surprised to find a gluten-free menu here (with goodies, like fried oysters and fried green tomatoes). That must be the Colorado influence.
The flavored moonlight makes Mo Betta a great nightlife option too.
The Lost Cajun in Frisco and Breckenridge promises authentic Cajun dishes, including gumbo and beignets. But Lucile’s Creole Cafe, 30+ locally run in Denver, is a local favorite, especially for breakfast. Here, you can start your day with a South Louisiana-style cup of chicory coffee and a plate of Cajun-flavored Eggs Benedict, all set to the beat of Zydeco music.
Find five locations across the state.
2. Get green and purple in the mountains.
Breckenridge is known for its grand annual Mardi Gras celebration. The ski town kicks off the celebration in early February with an annual Mardi Gras parade and party, featuring live music, food, dancing, and drink specials (hurricanes, of course). People also wear their most charismatic attire: masks, beads, boas, works.
If you’re on the other side of the mountains, Steamboat also hosts an annual Mardi Gras festival. Skiers can take a break from the slopes to enjoy free live music and watch parades. Foodies enjoy Cajun barbecue and various Louisiana-inspired dishes throughout the region. An incredible highlight for 2016 is a free concert with the MarchFourth Marching Band.
Of course, Fat Tuesday is the highlight of the holiday, but Colorado-style Fat Tuesday includes a snow sculpture contest. What else?
Aspen Snowmass is another popular destination known for its annual events. In fact, Aspen claims to have the mother of all celebrations in the middle of ski towns, in part because its party started with the natives of New Orleans. Here’s how Snowmass does Mardi Gras: with a wacky, costumed snowshoe run uphill first thing in the morning, followed by live music, a parade, kids’ crafts, crawdad boils, and giveaways from King Cake.
However, the big ski towns are not the only places that celebrate. Manitou Springs hosts a free, annual family parade that anyone can join.
3. Llama a Lady Luck.
It’s no wonder the Mardi Gras Casino in Blackhawk makes the holidays big. Here, it’s Mardi Gras every day. This casino has a New Orleans theme, complete with Creole food to fuel your time at the 650 slot machines and video poker machines. I feel lucky? Mardi Gras Casino has 15 blackjack tables and three poker tables.
4. Bourbon Street comes to Denver.
Each year Denver celebrates a variety of different Mardi Gras parties, including the Kevin Larsen version, featuring live music, beads, video games, dancing, theater performers, and more. Expect to see stilt walkers, tarot readers, and face painters at this event, which also raises money for charities. Attendees are encouraged to come in costume.