Breaking out the beads: Celebrating Mardi Gras in Indy

Break out the beads, your elaborate mask and as much purple, yellow and green clothing as you can because Mardi Gras is here again. Although Mardi Gras is unfortunately always on a Tuesday, there is no reason you can’t enjoy yourself this weekend instead. Here are some suggestions for your Mardi Gras festivities.

The parties begin on Friday, with the Mass Ave. Mardi Gras Mambo downtown. Running from 6-10 p.m., Mardi Gras Mambo offers typical celebrations with an artful twist in the way only Mass. Ave. could. You can walk along the avenue and take in some art with the Indianapolis Downtown Artists & Dealers Association First Friday Art Tour, all while collecting beads and listening to live entertainment.

If you’re feeling like something with a bit more energy, then the Athenaeum Theater is the place for you. High Energy Band and DJ Cassio Ferrari will be playing Brazilian style Carnival music for your listening and dancing pleasure.

For those 21 and older:

When it comes to dance parties, no place does it bigger than the Vogue in Broad Ripple. On Saturday, this Mardi Gras party will feature all the dancing you could want, plus cash prizes for whomever has the most beads at the end of the night.

If going to dance clubs is not your thing, or you’re looking for something a little more authentic, then the Indianapolis Carnival Brazil at the Jazz Kitchen on College Ave. is the place for you. Beginning at 10 p.m. Saturday and running until 3 a.m. Sunday, this party will make you feel as if you’ve stepped straight into Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. The Indiana University Brazilian Ensemble, a group of 20 or so drummers who specialize in the rhythmic beat of Brazilian Carnival music, will be there along with Flores do Samba, a samba dance group. DJ Kyle Long will also be there mixing Carnival music for a memorable dance party.

If you get tired from all the samba dancing, you can just sit down and enjoy videos of the actual Carnival festival in Rio de Janeiro or an exhibition of photos and videos of Rio de Janeiro from Brazilian artist Artur Silva.

While taking in the sights and sounds of the party, be sure to sample some of the Brazilian dishes, appetizers and drinks the Jazz Kitchen will be serving, including Brazil’s national cocktail, the caipirinha, and the country’s national dish, feijoada. Tickets cost $10 for students and $12 for general admission.

When Mardi Gras actually does come around on March 8, be sure to have your King Cake ready to eat. Pick one up at Fresh Market on College Ave. and enjoy the traditionally cinnamon roll-style cake. When eating the cake, do not be surprised if you find a small trinket in it. According to some traditions, the person who finds the trinket in their slice has good luck for the year. However, other traditions say that person has to buy the cake next year—you choose which tradition to follow.

If you’re feeling a little adventurous this year, we support that and fully encourage buying a spontaneous plane ticket or jumping into your car for 18 hours and heading down to New Orleans for the next week—just don’t tell your professors we gave you the idea.

After all, New Orleans is the be-all, end-all of Mardi Gras parties. We’re pretty sure it’s supposed to be on everyone’s bucket list, and there is no time like the present.