Living in Las Vegas definitely comes with its perks. In a way, New Orleans is like a sister city to Vegas, both enjoy a reputation for throwing some of the best parties around the country. Mardi Gras is probably the biggest and wildest celebrations and can only truly be experienced in its home town.
Not everyone can make it to Nola for the festival though, or would rather sit out such a large-scale bash. However, we did have our own little taste of the Big Easy right here in Vegas over the weekend. The third annual Mardi Gras Vegas kicked off the beginning of lent last Saturday, February 6 at the Springs Preserve.
The best part of the festival had to be the band. Howlin’ King Crawdad played live on the amphitheater’s main stage the entire day and they really knocked the roof off the place, figuratively speaking. The classic Cajun tunes sounded straight off the streets of Vieux Carré at times and conjured mental images of the bayou at others. Their performance alone was certainly worth the cost of admission.
The other big draw to the event was the food. This was the place to get some of the best New Orleans staples outside of Louisiana. The shrimp po’ boys and the chicken gumbo both seemed authentic and were quite popular. The selections were a bit more limited than one would’ve expected though, for instance jambalaya and the very spicy food Louisiana is known for were nowhere to be found. Of course it wouldn’t be a Mardi Gras party without Hurricanes; they looked good, but this festival-goer had to abstain and so cannot vouch for their taste.
This was a very family-friendly event. There was a face painting booth for children, a small game area for them to play, and plenty of characters about to entertain them. A stilted juggling jester inspired awe in the young children when they laid eyes on him. Naturally, a few were initially afraid of him, but that all vanished once they realized he was as friendly as could be and quickly brought smiles to their faces with his antics.
The festival felt a little confined within the amphitheater area, however. The layout could have been a little better and it was a little disappointing that entry to the event did not include access to the preserve area. Each attraction was great, but a less congested layout would have improved the event overall.
All in all, the Mardi Gras Vegas festival was a great way to spend the afternoon. A great live band, delicious creole food, and mild temperatures—what more could you ask for? It was a great way to celebrate the things we all love about the Big Easy and refreshing that the event organizers understood that the best part of Mardi Gras is the city it takes place in and that it is not simply a day of drunken debauchery. The food music, and culture of New Orleans is what we love about it, and that is what this year’s Mardi Gras Vegas celebration was all about. Anyone that loves New Orleans should definitely mark their calendars for next year’s Mardi Gras Vegas!
The Springs Preserve is located at 333 S Valley View Blvd, Las Vegas, Nevada 89107. Admission to the Mardi Gras Vegas 2016 event was $6.00 (children 2 and under free) and it went from noon to 6 p.m.