Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Mardi Gras 2024

By James | Last updated May 9, 2024

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In 2024, the Mardi Gras celebrations at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay take place over eight long weekends (Friday thru Sunday) from January 13 to March 3.

In 2021, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay introduced its first full Mardi Gras event. Like the Mardi Gras celebrations at Universal Studios Florida, the offering from Busch Gardens includes Cajun inspired music, entertainment, food and drinks.

Admission is included with your standard day ticket, annual pass or Fun Card. Bronze annual pass holders and Fun Card holders are not affected by blockout dates as they don’t start until after the Mardi Gras event ends.

In 2020, Busch Gardens held a single Mardi Gras Weekend in the courtyard around the Moroccan Palace Theater and over the last couple of years it has been expanded to run for eight weeks in the Bird Gardens section, from noon until park closing each festival day.

As you approach the Mardi Gras area at the Bird Gardens, you are greeted by jazz music through the speakers and decorations in the Mardi Gras colours of purple, green set the mood. Even Iron Gwazi takes on a Mardi Gras theme at night.

Busch Gardens Mardi Gras Entertainment

A Mardi Gras parade runs from near the Zagora Café, through the Festival Village gates to the Coke Canopy Stage and back several times a day during event hours.

Look out for entertainers, stilt walkers, belly dancers, a giant alligator and musicians to get everyone into the Mardi Gras spirit.

The Coke Canopy has been themed as Rue Bourbon, Kings Square and a band plays short sets featuring blues, jazz and zydeco music several times each festival day. The entertainment this year includes:

  • Sweet Beignet Brass Band playing Bourbon Street beats and jazz classics at the Coke Canopy Stage

You can check for show times in the daily park schedule.

Running concurrently with the Mardi Gras event is the Busch Gardens Real Music Concert series with tribute bands playing Tuesdays to Sundays.

Mardi Gras would not be Mardi Gras without beads so make sure to visit the “Bead Balcony” near the Coke Canopy Stage for a chance to catch some beads. Open at select times during event hours.

Beads, masks, feather boas, shirts and hats are also for sale at various outlets throughout the festival area including Xcursions.

Busch Gardens Mardi Gras Food and Drink Offerings

There are nine food and drink stations located in the Festival Area of the Bird Gardens near the Xcursions gift shop, the Garden Gate Café and Coke Canopy. Some are permanent like Xcursions and the Springs Taproom and the rest are pop-up cabins. They are open from 12:00 p.m. to park closing time.

Prices typically range from $6.99 to $11.99 for entrée food items, $3.49 to $10.99 for desserts and from $4.99 to $15.99 for drinks.

There is a good range of New Orleans spiced entrée specialities including:

  • Andouille Sausage Po’Boy Sandwich — French baguette with andouille sausage, remoulade and shredded lettuce
  • Crawfish Etoufee — spicy Cajun style stew, crawfish and vegetables
  • Dirty Rice & Beans — Louisiana dirty rice, beef, green bell peppers, celery and onion
  • Gumbo — chicken and andouille sausage
  • Jambalaya — Cajun/Creole rice with andouille sausage, onions, celery and bell peppers
  • Muffuletta – sandwich with salami, capicola, mortadella, mozzarella cheese, provolone and Creole olive salad
  • Shrimp Creole — Creole style shrimp, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and celery

There is a Big Easy rum bundt cake as well as four signature Mardi Gras jumbo cupcakes, for $7.99 each:

  • “Brace Yourself” Hurricane Cupcake — marbled orange and strawberry cake with a citrus buttercream twist topping
  • Chocolate Flambeaux Cupcake — chocolate cake infused with Louisiana hot sauce topped with flaming Cheetos buttercream
  • Lemon & Lime Krewe Cupcake — layered lemon and lime cake with a buttercream swirl topping
  • “Let The Good Times Roll” Cupcake — vanilla cake with blackberry jam and diced mango topped with lime buttercream

The cupcakes can also be purchased as a four pack flight (one of each) for $14.99.

You can also find beignets with traditional powdered sugar, King Cake donuts and Mardi Gras Parfaits.

If you like bourbon and whiskey, you can buy a single pour for $13.99 or for $21.99 you can sample four different varieties.

The Springs Taproom offers a range of alcoholic beverages including wine, beers and hand crafted cocktails as well as mocktails and a few snacks .

Annual pass holders can get discounts when purchasing food and drinks.

Busch Gardens Mardi Gras Food & Beverage Sampler

As well as purchasing individual food or drink samplers, you can also buy a sampler lanyard that is valid on nearly all Mardi Gras festival food and drink items within the Mardi Gras Festival Area.

Exclusions include the Whiskey Tasting Package; you can only use the sampler for a single shot and the 4 pack of Mardi Gras Signature Cupcakes; you can only use the sampler on a single jumbo cupcake.

A 5-item sampler costs $40.00 plus tax and a 10-item sampler costs $60.00 plus tax. Annual pass holders can get a 12-item sampler for the price of a 10-item sampler.

Note to purchase alcohol, the guest must be 21 or over and show proper identification.

To get the best value for money, try to decide how many items you intend to try before hand and if you want more than the number of punches on your lanyard, use the sampler lanyard for the more expensive items and just pay cash for the lower priced items.

Remember that sampler lanyards can be shared between guests, each time you “purchase” an item, the server punches out one of the numbers on the sampler. The lanyard is good for the entire Mardi Gras festival and expires after March 3, 2024.

Busch Gardens Mardi Gras VIP Tour

For the ultimate experience you can purchase a Mardi Gras VIP Tour which gives you a guided walking tour through the Mardi Gras section of the park for up to 8 guests.

On the tour you get to enjoy:

  • up to 5 samples of the food and drink offerings
  • one time front of line access to a roller coaster
  • a complimentary cup of food to feed to the Lorikeets and the Kangaroos

Tours can last up to two hours and a park admission ticket is also required. Price is $99.99 plus tax per person.