Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday) has been celebrated in the Southern states for centuries, particularly in Louisiana, Alabama and of course Florida.
As its name suggests, it is always on a Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, as a precursor to Lent and is always 47 days before Easter Sunday. In 2021, Mardi Gras falls on February 16.
If you are in Central Florida, then the biggest celebrations take place at Universal Studios and Busch Gardens.
You don’t have to go to New Orleans to immerse yourself in Mardi Gras, there are plenty of places in Florida to celebrate Mardi Gras
Universal Studios Florida
One of the biggest Mardi Gras celebrations in 2021 takes place at Universal Studios every evening from February 6 to March 28 where you can experience authentic Cajun and Creole cuisine including Catfish, Jambalaya, Shrimp Gumbo, red beans and rice, beignets and Andouille Sausage.
You can listen to the authentic sounds of the Big Easy and in previous years you could watch a special evening Mardi Gras parade with 12 authentic New Orleans style Mardi Gras parade floats when multi-coloured float riders and stilt-walkers would throw strands of beads and doubloons into the crowds as they passed in true Mardi Gras tradition.
There also were special live concerts featuring world famous acts on select nights.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the concerts have been cancelled this year and instead of a parade, the floats have been positioned at various locations throughout the park where you can go and see them close up and collect beads.
The Mardi Gras celebrations are included in the standard park admission plus you get free admission to selected venues at Universal CityWalk® including Pat O’Brien’s which is an exact replica of the famous New Orleans bar, so you can party away until 2 o’clock in the morning. The rides remain open until normal park closing time.
Read more about the Universal celebrations of Mardi Gras.
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Last year Busch Gardens hosted a Mardi Gras weekend but this year they are running a full blown Mardi Gras festival on select days from January 16 to February 16.
You can enjoy live New Orleans music and entertainment plus indulge in New Orleans cuisine and drinks.
Admission is included with your standard day ticket, annual pass or Fun Card but reservations are still required.
Read more about Busch Gardens Mardi Gras celebrations.