Mardi Gras Events in the West

Celebrate Fat Tuesday with some 'Nawlins flare at these Mardi Gras events.

a float passes down a crowded street in New Orleans during the Mardi Gras parade, picture
Mardi Gras is New Orleans's biggest celebrations, but local events make it easy to celebrate back home. 
GTS Productions / Shutterstock

New Orleans may be over 2,000 miles away from the West Coast, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a slice of king cake or accessorize with some purple, green, and yellow beads during Mardi Gras. From San Francisco to Salt Lake City, here’s how the West is celebrating. (All events are on Fat Tuesday, March 5, unless otherwise noted.)

San Francisco

It’s only appropriate that if you’re in San Francisco, you celebrate Mardi Gras in the Fillmore district, formerly known as the Harlem of the West for its prominent jazz scene. Fat Tuesday in the Fillmore begins with a free blues concert at the Fillmore Center Plaza and ends with a procession through the neighborhood.

In some parts of the city, Fat Tuesday marks the beginning rather than the end of celebrations. Carnaval’s 2019 season kicks off with an evening of costumed samba dancers and drummers throughout the Mission District at multiple venues. Costumes, masks, and beads are encouraged but not required.

San Jose

On March 9, San Jose Jazz is hosting the Mardi Gras Gala with New Orleans glamour and a live performance by multi-instrumentalist, singer, and dancer Gunhild Carling. Proceeds benefit San Jose Jazz’s flagship program, Summer Fest.


Get in on the fun the weekend before Mardi Gras at the Firefighters Burn Institute’s annual Mardi Gras Crab Feed & Cajun Boil. Put on your best Mardi Gras costume and enjoy fresh cracked crab, local beer, and live music on March 2.

San Diego

The historic Gaslamp Quarter gets all gussied up on Saturday, March 2, for the Big Easy Bites & Booze Tour. Participants will feast and drink while hopping between 20 participating bars and restaurants. Pick up beads at each stop and you can redeem 10 of them for a ticket into the VIP after party.


Celebrate Mardi Gras and donate to a good cause at the Rotary Club of Reno Mardi Gras celebration. Local restaurants will dish up their best bites and attendees can sip wine, beer, and spirits while they wander the Reno Ballroom.


For some family-friendly, NOLA-inspired fun, check out Portland’s Mardi Gras Parade on Mississippi Avenue, which invites folks to dress up and dance. Before the parade’s 7 p.m. start time, kiddos can show off their Mardi Gras fashion at the 6 p.m. costume contest.

Salt Lake City

Don a mask and head to Salt Lake’s Mardi Gras Gala at the county library for an early celebration on March 2. The lively event promises good eats, music, contests, and—of course—plenty of beads.


This article was published in February 2019.