History lesson: Mardi Gras first entered the U.S. as a French-Catholic tradition of the 17th-century Louisiana settlers. And while some still honor the religious and cultural underpinnings of “Fat Tuesday,” most U.S. citizens have embraced the holiday for its kitschy costumes and gluttonous eats. But even if beads aren’t your thing, the Queen City has five events to let you celebrate your way. Eat, drink, and be mardi!
1. March 4 & 5: MainStrasse Village Mardi Gras
Get a taste of Bourbon Street with this outdoor fete fit for New Orleans natives: Cajun foods, live music by Naked Karate Girls and 4th Day Echo, and oodles of beads (how you “earn” them is up to you). Admission: $10 one night; $15 two-night pass. Fri & Sat 8 pm–1 am. Main and Sixth Sts., Covington, www.mainstrasse.org.
2. March 8: Mardi Gras for Homeless Children
Put your Mardi Gras partying to good use with this festive fundraiser benefitting Bethany House Services, Brighton Center’s Homeward Bound Shelter, Welcome House of Northern Kentucky, Inc., and Mercy Franciscan at St. John. Sway to the smooth New Orleans jazz sounds of Robin Lacy and DeZydeco during both silent and called auctions. Presented by Northern Kentucky Restaurant Association. Tickets: $55. Tues 6:30–10 pm. Northern Kentucky Convention Center, 1 W. RiverCenter Blvd., Covington, (859) 431-8717.
3. March 8: Know Theatre’s Mardi Gras Party
Cincinnati’s only Cajun New Orleans Gypsy Band, Lagniappe, busts out rousing beats to accompany an evening of light fare, raffles, and beads o’ plenty. Be sure to sample the rum and fruit flavors of the signature New Orleans-style “hurricane”—in the name of culture, of course. Admission: free; suggestion donation $10. Tues 5:30–8:30 pm. Know Theatre of Cincinnati’s Underground, 1120 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 300-5669.
4. March 8: Fat Tuesday/Fastnacht Celebration at Hofbräuhaus Newport
Akkordeon-Meister Nick Gulacsy and the Enzian Tanzgruppe dancers rev up the stage with Fat Tuesday dance and music numbers. Don your best purple-gold-and-green gear and don’t forget the feathers—prizes are awarded to the best Mardi Gras costume wearers. Presented by German-American Citizens League of Greater Cincinnati. Tues 6 pm. 200 E. Third St., Newport, www.gacl.org.
5. March 10: Mardi Gras with Ricky Nye, Inc.
For a tamer take on the typically raucous routines of other celebrations, this event lets you feel the regional rhythms of Mardi Gras when Big Easy pianist and vocalist Ricky Nye and company bring authentic New Orleans blues and ballads. Sample Cajun goodies before the show and during intermission. Tickets: $19. Thurs 7:30 pm. The Carnegie Visual and Performing Arts Center, 1028 Scott Blvd., Covington, (859) 957-1940.