Mardi Gras in Seattle, Washington

by Alana Armstrong

Despite its distance from New Orleans, Seattle knows how to celebrate Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday. The annual holiday is a last hurrah before Lent, the pre-Easter period of fasting observed by Christians. Traditional Mardi Gras activities have a general theme of indulgence and include anything from eating and drinking to partying in the streets -- usually all of those things together. Here's how local and visiting revelers shrug off the last chills of winter to take part in Mardi Gras, Seattle style.

Music and Nightlife

Seattle clubs and venues go into full swing for Mardi Gras with a night of live music straight from the American South. Some of the biggest parties include Fat Tuesday Blues and Brass at the Musicquarium, A Hazy Mardi Gras (cabaret) at Amore, and the annual Mardi Gras dance party at Star Bar.

Pioneer Square

Celebrations at Pioneer Square were reinstated in 2011, after a 10-year hiatus that resulted after a riot broke out on the eve of Mardi Gras, 2001. The frenzy left one man dead and many more injured. Pioneer Square is home to many restaurants and night clubs including The New Orleans Creole Restaurant, and it serves as a natural gathering place for many party-hoppers, especially on the hedonistic night of Mardi Gras. Now that Pioneer Square is once again open for Mardi Gras, locals and visitors can head to The Last Supper Club, McCoy's Firehouse Bar & Grill, Tiki Bob's Cantina-Seattle, J&M; Cafe and The Comedy Underground for some of the biggest parties in the city.

King Cake

Seattle is now a contender in the King Cake game thanks to some of the locally beloved bakeries and restaurants. King Cake, for the uninitiated, is a sweet bread cake that can contain any number of ingredients inside, including chocolate chips, custard, nuts or fruit. Also buried inside is a small trinket, or toy -- usually a baby to represent the baby Jesus. Seattle's Sugar Bakery and Cafe has concocted a cake that's filled with pecan praline, but of course it has the traditional toy hidden inside. Likewise, Where Ya At Matt has also started to offer up the indulgent treat during the epiphany season. Seattle Weekly's Leslie Kelly says, "It's not over-gooey-fied, but the perfect level of sweet, kissed by cinnamon and finished in creamy frosting, with those essential Mardi Gras colors (purple, green and yellow) sprinkled on top."

Getting Hitched

Ok, so Mardi Gras weddings aren't exactly a tradition. But they're becoming one in Seattle. Shotgun Ceremonies is at the helm of it all, offering 24 hour marriages - as in, the marriage only lasts for 24 hours - during the evening of Mardi Gras. Celebrants tour the Seattle hot spots, mostly in Pioneer Square, to conduct the ceremonies that come with their own commemorative certificates. Maybe not a good idea for a first date, but a great way for friends and fiancees to test the waters.

About the Author

Alana Armstrong started her writing career in 2005, covering street art and graffiti. She currently works as a freelance writer, photographer and artist in Toronto. Armstrong has a diploma in photojournalism from Sheridan College and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photo media from the University of New South Wales.

Photo Credits

  • Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images