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Where to celebrate Mardi Gras in Orange County (2022)

Mardi Gras is a celebration that is typically enjoyed by those in the southern United States, but many families in Southern California want to know where they can go to enjoy some of the festivities. While there are not many official events here in Orange County, there are still plenty of places that offer great food, music and fun for kids. Here are four recommendations for Mardi Gras celebrations near Southern California.

This month we’re sharing where to celebrate Mardi Gras in Orange County!!! Some of these places are completely kid-friendly and others you may want to bring your best friend instead. It’s an ever-growing list and we’d love to have your suggestions too – drop them in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

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Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is a celebration most celebrated by Catholics. Those who celebrate Christmas as Jesus’ birth will start preparing for the next big religious event – the crucifixion of Jesus that falls on Easter Sunday. This is a very special time for Catholics because Lent Season commences and it lasts 40 days. Lent starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday.

The time of Lent is usually a time of fasting for many and it is common among Latinos to give up eating meat during this time. Because Lent is considered a pretty serious time to prepare for the crucifixion of Christ, there is a day right before Lent where people party their butts off as a way to get it all out of their system before they start the period of Lent. This day is usually referred to as “Fat Tuesday” or Mardi Gras, or even Carnaval (which is a whole week of partying that ends on Fat Tuesday). This year, Mardi Gras falls on Tuesday, March 5th.

I have never been to New Orleans or Brazil to celebrate this popular holiday. However, this year you can have Mardi Gras come to you at any of these events:

Mardi Gras Events in Orange County

Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen at Downtown Disney

1590 South Disneyland Drive
Anaheim, CA 92802
(714) 776-5200

I went to this location to celebrate Mardi Gras because they had a special menu that day and they also had live jazz music. My friend and I sat at the bar with our masks on and beads around our neck. Bar seating was open and to sit at a table they recommended that you make reservations ahead of time. We sat at the bar which was very close to the live jazz music. 

Live music is available nightly at this establishment and will be available on Mardi Gras as well. Some of the food featured was creole jambalaya, mini king’s cake for dessert and an alcoholic drink named the Hurricane.The Hurricane drink is from New Orleans and is made with rum, fruit juice and syrup or grenadine.

King’s cake is a bread that is also native to New Orleans and it is usually stuffed with a small plastic baby. Whoever cuts the slice with the baby in it gets to host the next party.

Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen is a lot of fun and family friendly as well. In 2015, the restaurant was handing out beads to the children. If you are looking for a place that specializes in New Orleans’ cuisine then you can expect to try out some delicious food. The Mardi Gras party usually lasts all day, but expect it to get busier in the evening hours.

2022 Update:  New Orleans cuisine, beer & cocktail specials, live music, costumes encouraged. All day specials and live music at 6:00 PM on March 1. 

Bar Louie

2467 Park Ave
Tustin, CA 92782

Fill up on Fat Tuesday at The Orignal Gastrobar – with Burger Tuesday, Cajun-inspired flavors, and all the hand-crafted cocktails you can drink.

Pretend City

29 Hubble
Irvine, CA 92618

“Laissez les bons temps rouler!” is French for “Let the good times roll!” It’s one of the most popular sayings during Mardi Gras! Join us in The City and let the good times roll as we put on our own Mardi Gras celebration! Sing, dance, and bake your way through the museum and end the day with a festive parade down our city streets!  

Bourbon Street at Downtown Fullerton

110 E. Commonwealth
Fullerton, CA 92832
(714) 626-0050

Mardi Gras outside of Orange County

Carnaval Festivities in Ensenada

Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
Downtown Ensenada (Calle Ruiz, Bulevar Costero, Playa Hermosa)

I know this celebration is a bit far from Southern California but I guarantee it will be worth it! I attended this event many years ago when I was in my mid-20’s with a best friend of mine and her family. I know many people in SoCal who travel to Ensenada as a quick getaway and I can’t imagine a better time to go than during “Carnaval.” You can expect to see parades, coronations, music, dancing and vintage cars. This is a weeklong celebration that ends on Fat Tuesday. When I went, I stayed at a family’s condo, but there are plenty of hotels you can stay at close to downtown. They sell out fast so the sooner you book them, the better. When I went, we were able to see the parades that take place during the day and in the evening they had stages set up with music and the people danced on the closed streets. All the local bars were open as well such as the world famous Papas & Beer and they offer great drink specials. When we went to Papas & Beer, a bartender was walking around giving tequila shots to the crowd. They were complimentary and intended to get the people in a party mode. Don’t worry though, if you plan on going with children, there is plenty to do that is kid friendly. I would advise that you go during the day and stay away at night because it can get rowdy in the streets.

After we had lunch at one of the local restaurants, we encountered a grupo which is a band of 3-4 men who play mariachi type music to you in the street for tips. We danced in the streets and sang along with the grupo while we recommended songs for them to play for us. It was so much fun and unforgettable. I guarantee that you will love it. I plan on going again in the future because I loved it so much.

Mardi Gras At Farmers Market

The Original Farmers Market
6333 W. 3rd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 933-9211

Join us Saturday, February 26th, Sunday, February 27th and Fat Tuesday, March 1st as New Orleans comes to LA once again during one of the Market’s most colorful celebrations. Mardi Gras will be back with Zydeco and Blues bands, kids crafts and a beignet pop-up tent. Complete the festivities with a big bowl of gumbo or jambalaya from The Gumbo Pot. 

San Diego Fat Tuesday Masquerade

Gaslamp Mardi Gras
835 5th Ave, San Diego, California 92101
Facebook event page

Come celebrate Fat Tuesday at San Diego’s #1 Mardi Gras Club Celebration in your festive attire! This is a 21+ event. Your ticket includes FREE ENTRY to 10+ award winning bars, restaurants & clubs along the famous 5th Ave, including American Junkie, Tin Roof & Whiskey Girl. Additional highlights include: • Hosted Drink Tickets • Exclusive Extended Happy Hour • DJs-Dancing • Live Music • Finale Parties • After-Party • Hotel + F&B specials. Opening Party kicks off at AMERICAN JUNKIE 6-9pm!

Mardi Gras at Santa Anita Park

Santa Anita Park
285 W Huntington Dr, Arcadia, CA 91007

It might not be the French Quarter, but The Great Race Place is THE place to get a good old-fashioned Mardi Gras celebration outside of Louisiana. Join the festivities with live music and grub on authentic Cajun eats during an exciting day of Thoroughbred racing.

Online sales end at 10:00 am. Walk ups are welcome while supplies. 

$12 Lunch from Ragin Cajun
$7 Craft Beer

Get a slice of New Orleans right at Santa Anita Park!

It might not be the French Quarter, but The Great Race Place is THE place to get a good old-fashioned Mardi Gras celebration outside of Louisiana. Join the festivities with live music and grub on authentic Cajun eats during an exciting day of Thoroughbred racing.

This event is rain or shine! 

Get $10 off  by joining SA’s Text Loyalty program. Text beads to 48421 to receive your promo code for $10 off! (Text message rates apply. Opt out anytime.)

Your $33 Mardi Gras Package includes:

  • Cajun Meal (your choice from menu below)
  • One (1) Craft Beer (12oz)
  • $5 Betting Voucher
  • Club House Admission
  • Racing Program
  • Tip Sheet
  • Trackside Seating

Note: Must be 21 and over to purchase this package. Live music from Cajun band.

Originally published on March 5, 2019. Last Updated on February 25, 2022 by Pattie Cordova

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Belinda Espinoza is a Santa Ana native who grew up speaking Spanish to her abuela and Mexican parents. She went to college to become an educator and continues to work in the field of education. She also has ten nieces and nephews and she enjoys spending time with them. Her blogging career started in 2014 when Pattie Cordova invited her to join the team. Little did she know how much she would develop a passion for writing. She loves attending date night events, business networking events, local travel and writing about things to do with family and friends. She also loves going to food festivals for date night and trying out new restaurants. Finding a new adventure is always fun and getting to write about it is even better!

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