Mardi Gras isn’t just for folks in New Orleans anymore! Fayetteville has a surprising array of alternative celebration options for anyone on the hunt for their Fat Tuesday fix. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

The annual Fat Saturday Parade of Fools isn’t happening this year - though a 2023 return is scheduled - but there is still plenty happening in Fayetteville for Mardi Gras. Enjoy some cajun-inspired food from our local restaurants, imbibe with a classic Mardi Gras cocktail downtown, find yourself a king cake, or get out and attend a Mardi Gras shindig for the full Fat Tuesday in Fayetteville experience!

Mardi Gras Events

Fat Tuesday Masquerade Ball and Bead Crawl - February 26-March 1

Downtown Fayetteville bars Infusions, Ryleigh's, Bugsy's, Club Rush, Sideways, Pedal Pub, and The Piano Bar are teaming up to host the first ever Dickson Street Bead Crawl! Crawlers can visit any (or all!) of the participating bars to collect their traditional Mardi Gras beads between February 26 and March 1. Revelers are welcome to spread the joy by bringing their own beads to share!

At 5pm, the culminating Mardi Gras event at The Piano Bar will begin, leading up to the bead winner reveal.  The bar will be outfitted with Mardi Gras decorations for a crawfish boil with live Cajun music performances and carnival concessions. For the most festive attendees, there will also be a masquerade mask contest and Mardi Gras costume contest, complete with prizes. Expect a piano show to follow, hosted by local radio personalities Jon Williams and Hillary Bell. The official “weighing of the beads” happens at 11:59pm on Fat Tuesday - Tuesday, March 1. Participants that have managed to wrangle the most beads will be eligible for a cash prize!

Mardi Gras with Ted Hammig & The Campaign - February 25

Fayetteville-based classic rock-n'-roll band Ted Hammig & The Campaign is performing a concert at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church at 7pm the Friday before Mardi Gras, February 25. The show is free, though donations are accepted. There will be plenty of revelry and free king cake to be had by all!

Fat Tuesday Party w/ The Juice - March 1

The Juice, an infectious Fayetteville-based dance/party band, is taking over George’s Majestic Lounge on Fat Tuesday! The “Fat Juiceday” show, presented by BarstoolUA, is completely free and begins at 8pm. Get ready for a heavy dose of fun and comedy with this Mardi Gras party!

Mardi Gras Skate Parade - March 1

Join Arkansas Roller Skate Crew at Walker Skate Park for a Mardi Gras Parade through Fayetteville! All wheels invited - roller skates, skateboards, bicycles, unicycles, etc. If you'd rather be an observer (and catch that candy!), the parade will roll by Walker Skate park (~4pm), up Dickson Street (~4:45pm), and through the Fayetteville Square (~5:15pm). Whether you're participating in the parade or watching it go by, there will be beads and fun aplenty for all! Bold color costumes and sparkles are welcomed and encouraged.

Cajun & Creole Inspired Food Options

Cafe Rue Orleans

The ultimate Fayetteville stop for all things authentic New Orleans, Cafe Rue Orleans is a must-taste experience for the purists out there - or anyone that really loves delicious food with a Louisiana flare! Born and raised in New Orleans, Chef Maudie serves up heritage dishes bursting with cajun flavor that have been passed down by her family for generations. Expect to find all the staples here, from crawfish etouffee to beignets and beyond!

Arsaga’s Mill District

While Fayetteville staple Arsaga’s is not what we’d call a Cajun restaurant, they have several items on the menu that are certainly in spirit! Try the gumbo, red beans & rice, or a Po’ Boy - available in both catfish and oyster mushroom varieties - at Arsaga’s Mill District for a taste of New Orleans. They’ve been known to serve up Louisiana cuisine inspired specials, like Risotto Pontchartrain, so keep an eye out for Fat Tuesday offerings. 

Eat My Catfish

Priding themselves as having “the most craveable seafood culture” in Northwest Arkansas, it should be no big surprise that you can find a few New Orleans style dishes at Eat My Catfish in Fayetteville. This is the best (maybe the only?) place in Fayetteville to get reliable crawfish platters and boil buckets for a group - and you won’t regret it! They’ve also got Creole shrimp gumbo, po’ boys made with a variety of proteins, and a whole slew of other seafood options to satisfy your Mardi Gras cravings.

Other fun options to try: The Ragin’ Cajun at Hammontree’s, Cajun Pasta from Southern Food Company, Catfish Po’ Boy at Bottle Rocket Subs, Pasta Orleans from Cheers at the OPO, or a Fried Shrimp Po’ Boy at Mess Hall 45.

King Cakes

It’s not Mardi Gras without a king cake! The delectable purple, yellow, and green sweet treat is a classic, and we are lucky to have the ability to take one home with us right here in Fayetteville. Every year, Cafe Rue Orleans becomes a supplier for the most authentic New Orleans king cakes straight from the source. There are several flavors to choose from, including classic, praline, and bavarian creme. Local favorite Rick’s Bakery bakes their own version, which is available for purchase by the slice or as a full cake, in full, half, or quarter sheets.

Traditional Drinks

While there are a plethora of drinks that scream “New Orleans”, Louisiana locals love a classic daiquiri throughout the carnival season. You can try one for yourself at the Trophy Room (located within The Graduate hotel on the Downtown Square), from long-time locals at Maxine’s on Block, or with an upscale twist at Atlas. Continue the festivities at home with a DIY Daiquiri with local syrup from Pink House Alchemy!

For more thematically festive libations, we suggest the Mardi Gras Rita at Eat My Catfish - available only on Fat Tuesday.

You can even brew your own Fat Tuesday themed beer with a Mardi Gras Voodoo Saison beer kit from North Tunnel Brewing & Supply!

French-culture lovers, New Orleans natives, and fun-loving people everywhere can enjoy Fat Tuesday festivities throughout the season when they visit - missing out on Bourbon Street doesn’t feel so bad when Mardi Gras comes to you in Fayetteville!

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