Every February and March, destinations around the globe celebrate the start of the Lenten season with Carnival and Mardi Gras festivals. In Brazil, you’ll find massive, colorful parades and people dancing through the street, and in New Orleans, you can see huge floats and collect all the beads you can carry.
You might be surprised to find out that one of the best Mardi Gras parties is actually in Florida — at Universal Studios. This year, the Orlando theme park is celebrating its 25th year of Mardi Gras celebrations from Feb. 1 to April 2. For nearly two months, park guests can enjoy live music, nightly parades, and Creole dishes at Universal’s Mardi Gras.
This year, The Roots, TLC, Diana Ross, Earth, Wind & Fire, and other artists will be performing at the festival, and the entertainment doesn’t stop there. Every night, a parade complete with 12 floats (created by the same studio that makes New Orleans’ famous Mardi Gras floats), dancers, and performers on stilts will pass through the park. This year, the celebration has a “Treasures of the Deep,” theme, so expect mysterious marine decorations woven throughout the parade. Annual passholders even have the chance to sign up to ride the floats and toss beads out to the crowds.
No Mardi Gras celebration would be complete without delicious food. During this event, you can enjoy Cajun dishes like jambalaya, gumbo, and gator bites for dinner before grabbing some king cake or beignets for dessert. Stop by Schwab’s Pharmacy for “float floats,” over-the-top ice cream floats inspired by the parade floats. Plus, this year, Universal introduced a tasting tent that will feature a new menu every two weeks, featuring flavors from Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, and Louisiana.
Universal’s Mardi Gras festivities are included in the price of admission to the park. Check the Universal Studios website for parade and concert times.