Mardi Gras Plaza: Median on Veterans Boulevard, across from Lakeside Shopping Center
Friday, February 2; 5 p.m. until the Krewe of Excalibur reaches the plaza
Saturday, February 3; 11 a.m. until the Krewe of Caesar reaches the plaza
As its name suggests, this annual event is fun for the entire family—and absolutely free! Shop the art market, featuring framed artwork and photography by Louisiana artists, handcrafted jewelry, and much more. Children 12 and under will want to visit the Kids' Court, with a variety of activities such as face painting and interactive games. There will also be many food and drink options to choose from in the Flambeau Food Court. But, of course, the icing on the king cake will be the fabulous entertainment, showcased on the Family Gras stage. This year's artists include David Batiste and Deacon John on Friday, with the Imagination Movers and Remedy preceding pop-rock icons John Oates, Michael McDonald, and Cyndi Lauper on Saturday. Those wanting to get up close and personal (with backstage access and free meals) can purchase the two-day VIP Royal Pass for $125 at ticketmaster.com.
Mardi Gras Mask Market
Dutch Alley: Decatur Street at Dumaine Street
Friday, February 9 - Monday, February 12; 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Join artisan mask makers from all over the country for this 35th annual event in the heart of the French Market. Whether it's for the parades or those forthcoming masquerade balls, there's certain to be masks for all tastes available here. As with just about any New Orleans event, there will also be live music and great food and drinks for purchase.
Generations Hall: 310 Andrew Higgins Ave.
Sunday, February 11; 12 p.m. - 12 a.m.
The annual free Mardi Gras block party is back, where you can watch the epic superkrewe in style. Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow is Lundi Gras, and after this party stops, another one begins! Come jam to Mannie Fresh, DJ Taf, and DJ Wixx on the indoor Metro Stage, or rock out to live music by Flow Tribe, Category 6, The Top Cats, and Mungion on the outdoor stage. Either way, it's an event you won't want to miss, and you can bring the entire family. There will be tasty food options and great drink specials (21+), and as with most free festivals, you can kick it up an extra notch or two and purchase a VIP ticket that includes no-wait bathrooms and two premium open bars. Early bird tickets are $75, regular VIP is $100. You can purchase them at themetronola.com.
Thoth Party (and Mardi Gras Indian Experience)
Le Bon Temps Roule: 4801 Magazine St.
Sunday, February 11; 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Celebrate the amazing Krewe of Thoth with the world-famous Mardi Gras Indians at Le Bon Temps Roule. This krewe is celebrating its 71st anniversary, from its humble origins with a 50-member parade and only five floats, to the must-watch event that now consists of 50 floats and over 1,600 riders. Revel in the humanitarian nature of Thoth's founders, who designed an Uptown route that passed in front of no less than 14 institutions that cared for the sick and disabled. What better place is there to enjoy this one-of-a-kind parade than at the historic bar that has been there for every Krewe of Thoth parade since 1947?
Zulu Lundi Gras Festival
Woldenberg Park: 1 Canal St.
Monday, February 12; 10 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Zulu's 25th annual Lundi Gras Festival will continue its yearly tradition, which is to provide an exciting and fun-filled day of food, music, and arts and crafts along the breathtaking New Orleans riverfront. Featuring performances by the Rebirth Brass Band, Amanda Shaw, Dwayne Dopsie & the Zydeco Hellraisers, and many more, the day wouldn't be complete without a scheduled 5 p.m. appearance by the Zulu king and queen! This event, as always, is free and open to the public. That way, you can spend your hard-earned cash on the delicious food that will be sold from nearly 25 vendors such as Jack Dempsey's Restaurant, The Original New Orleans Po-Boys, and Dunbar's Creole Restaurant. For a full list of restaurants, activities, and entertainment, visit lundigrasfestival.com.
Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans: 900 Camp St.
Saturday, February 3 and Sunday, February 4; 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Do you like coffee? Is it an important, daily part of your existence? If you answered yes to either one of those questions, then you should come join this caffeine-packed weekend event, featuring one of two qualifying competitions (the other being held in Reno, Nevada) for the U.S. Coffee Championships in Seattle. Winners will then represent the U.S. at the World Coffee Championships. Coffee professionals from all over the country will compete as baristas, brewers, roasters, and tasters. This one-of-a-kind event also features a free café and roaster village, brewing demonstrations, a vendor marketplace, and so much more. Tickets are only $15 and are available online.
Super Bowl LII Viewing Party
Gordon Biersch: 200 Poydras St.
Sunday, February 4; 5:30 p.m.
Looking for a place to watch the big game between the Pats and the Eagles? Like many Americans, you're either ready to watch Tom Brady obtain his sixth ring or see the Eagles triumph by winning their first-ever Lombardi Trophy. Whatever your outlook, head on over to Gordon Biersch Brewery and Restaurant where you can enjoy the game on over 10 huge televisions, while simultaneously lamenting the end of the Saints season by indulging in one or all of their handcrafted signature brews! Oh, and their menu is to die for, and you can choose from such delectable fare as the Gorgonzola Ribeye and the Kobe Cheeseburger.
New Orleans Fair Grounds: 1751 Gentilly Blvd.
Friday, February 23; 5 p.m.
Come check out Starlight Racing at the New Orleans Fair Grounds, celebrating their 146th season of Thoroughbred racing. This year's events feature an improved Miller Lite Beer Garden, featuring a Cheers replica bar with eight specialty brews on tap, as well as a stellar assortment of wine for lovers of the vine. Musical entertainment for the evening will be provided by Amy and Paul of Roux the Day at 6 p.m. in the Starlight Tent, and The Mixed Nuts at 7 p.m. in the Clubhouse. Hungry? Don't worry, as there will be an assortment of popular local food vendors on hand to satisfy your cravings. General admission is $5, and tickets to the Clubhouse/Starlight Tent are $10. You can purchase them online at fgno.com/tickets.
Pensacola Bay Center: 201 E Gregory St., Pensacola, FL
Friday, February 23; 1 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Saturday, February 24; 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Sunday, February 25; 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
If Wizard World New Orleans only whetted your appetite for celebrities and comic books, Pensacola is only three hours away, and they're about to celebrate Comic-Con, Florida-style. Take a road trip down the coast to Pensacon for their 6th annual event and meet the original Incredible Hulk—Lou Ferrigno. He'll be joined throughout the weekend by none other than Greedo (Paul Blake)—you know, the Rodian bounty hunter that Han did or didn't shoot first, depending on what cut of Star Wars you've been watching. Also appearing are Adrienne Barbeau (Swamp Thing, Creepshow), Chris Sarandon (Fright Night), and pro-wrestler Amy Dumas (legendary WWE diva Lita). This four-venue event will also spill over into the Pensacola Grand Hotel, and the Rex and Saenger Theatres (yes, they have one too!). For a complete list of events, visit pensacon.com. Tickets are available to purchase at showclix.com, where one-day passes range in price from $35-$45, with three-day passes only $75. Children 10 and under get in free.
St. Vincent: Fear the Future Tour
The Civic Theatre: 510 O'Keefe Ave.
Monday, February 19; 7 p.m.
Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) has one of the most distinctive artistic voices of her generation. Hailed as "the first truly 21st century guitar hero" by Guitar World magazine, she is the recipient of the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award and the Q Maverick Award, both recognizing outstanding innovation in the arts. Her self-titled fourth album has won Album of the Year awards from six major publications, including Entertainment Weekly, and placed in the top five in Time and Rolling Stone. In 2017, she released Masseduction, which hit #1 on the year-end list in the New York Times. Judging from these accolades, the "future" looks very bright for St. Vincent and her rapidly expanding fanbase. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets for the 8 p.m. performance are $39 in advance, $169 VIP, and are available at ticketfly.com.
Dead & Company
Smoothie King Center: 1501 Dave Dixon Dr.
Saturday, February 24; 7 p.m.
Fans of John Mayer and the Grateful Dead can rejoice, because their show, rescheduled from December 5, is nearly here. In the fourth year of their highly successful collaboration, Mayer and original Dead members Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, and Bob Weir are taking the Grateful Dead's storied music catalogue to new heights and delivering it to old and new fans alike. You'll want to catch them now, because the closest their just-announced summer 2018 tour will bring them to the Crescent City is Atlanta. Tickets for the canceled show in December will be honored at this performance. For all other fans, tickets start at $47 and can be purchased at ticketmaster.com.