What do New Orleans and New England have in common? Well... they both start with "New" and have the same number of letters. Oh, and they both have fabulous Mardi Gras celebrations! Granted, New England can't truly hold a candle to New Orleans when it comes to Mardi Gras revelry and debauchery. (This may have something to do with the fact that it's still incredibly cold in New England in February.) That said, if you find yourself up north as Fat Tuesday approaches (February 12 in 2013), there are plenty of places where you can feast on Cajun delights, snag some beads, sip intoxicating beverages and celebrate a memorable Mardi Gras.
March 1-3, 2013, Burlington, Vermont. Magic Hat Mardi Gras rolls into Burlington, Vermont, for the 18th year, promising to transform the city's chilly streets into a lively scene for three fun-filled days, starting with Friday's kickoff party with the Rebirth Brass Band at Higher Ground. Music, costumes, a parade, beads and beer are all integral to this New England-style Mardi Gras celebration, which is geared for all ages. Don't miss the Grand Parade down Main Street on Saturday. Proceeds from the event benefit HOPE Works of Chittenden County.
February 8-10, 2013, Ogunquit, Maine. Maine's rocky coast doesn't exactly resemble the New Orleans bayou, but that doesn't stop Mainers from making merry come Mardi Gras season. Ogunquit's weekend-long celebration features a competition to determine the king and queen, a hat and mask making party, ice sculptures, a parade, musical entertainment and more. 207-646-2939.
February 8 and 9, 2013, T.T. the Bear's Place, 10 Brookline Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts. The annual Mardi Gras Ball is a rockin' Boston tradition, and it's been expanded to two nights in celebration of its 20th anniversary in 2013. Purchase tickets online for this musical revue featuring Shaun Wolf Wortis and the Legendary Vudu Krewe All-Star Mardi Gras Band and other guest artists playing New Orleans rhythm and blues. Proceeds benefit the New Orleans Musicians' Clinic, which provides medical care to musicians in the Crescent City.
February 23, 2013, Rhodes on the Pawtuxet, 60 Rhodes Place, Cranston, Rhode Island. Buy tickets in advance or at the door for this annual Mardi Gras Ball, held from 6 p.m. until midnight. Featured bands include Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, Jeffrey Broussard & the Creole Cowboys and Andre Thierry and Zydeco Magic. 401-783-3926.
February 9, 2013, Faneuil Hall and Surrounding Area, Boston, Massachusetts. It's billed as the "hottest Mardi Gras Bash North of the Bayou." From 2 to 8 p.m., dress New Orleans spicy and participate in a pub crawl featuring specialty drinks, king cakes and prizes for best costume and most beads. Registration begins at 12:30, or buy tickets online in advance. Tickets are $20 and include a free T-shirt.
February 12, 2013, Black-eyed Sally's BBQ & Blues, 350 Asylum Street, Hartford, Connecticut. If you're looking for a place to party all day on Fat Tuesday, then head for Hartford. Black-eyed Sally's serves up an all-you-can eat southern lunch buffet. There'll be happy hour specials and free vittles. The evening features N'awlins menu specials and the bayou sounds of River City Slim & The Zydeco Hogs. Plus, there'll be beads, stilt walkers, balloon artists and more. 860-278-7427.
February 9 and 10, 2013, Mount Snow, 39 Mount Snow Road, West Dover, Vermont. The Bud Light Mardi Gras transforms Mount Snow in southern Vermont into the Big Easy for one raucous weekend. The event features music, beads and Apres Ski parties at all of the ski resort's bars. 802-464-4191.
February 2, 2013, Grappone Center, 70 Constitution Avenue, Concord, New Hampshire. Let the good times roll... for a good cause. New Hampshire Catholic Charities' 8th annual Mardi Gras-themed dinner dance raises emergency assistance funds for New Hampshire residents in crisis. Tickets are $95 per person for this black tie optional event. 603-669-3030.