A typical Mardi Gras celebration involves gathering in the street for parades, brass music and boozy drinks. With the pandemic still wreaking havoc in the U.S., the party preceding the start of Lent moves to a mostly virtual setting, ensuring that the spirit of the special occasion lives on.
In New Orleans — where millions gather in a normal year to celebrate — the popular “Krewe of Bacchus” social club was one of many organizations forced to cancel its extravagant parade held before Fat Tuesday (Feb. 16). Instead, they unveiled an app called “Throw Me Something Bacchus,” in which fans can create an avatar, check out floats and marching bands, enter to ‘catch’ digital prizes and attend a virtual edition of the Bacchus Sunday Parade set to stream at 2 p.m. on Feb. 14.
And that’s just the tip of the gumbo pot with creative celebrations this year. You can order up a po’boy sandwich and hush puppies from San Francisco’s Queens Louisiana Po-Boys Cafe, or secure a delicious king cake from one of the local bakeries offering them this ear, including Arizmendi in San Francisco.
Here are a few ways to celebrate Mardi Gras in the Bay Area:
Healdsburg Jazz Winter Music Series: Rob Sudduth Trio
Saxophonist Rob Sudduth, bassist John Wiitala and drummer Ron Marabuto perform live jazz in the garden of Hotel Healdsburg. Seating at the Spirit Bar is limited and with a lineup like this will probably fill up fast.
5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 13. Free, with limited bar seating and no standing room. Hotel Healdsburg, 25 Matheson St., Healdsburg. 707-431-2800. hotelhealdsburg.com
Virtual Mardi Gras Soirée
Gather for Fat Tuesday and celebrate via Zoom during an online wine tasting and get-together with Ernest Vineyards owner Erin Brooks. Tickets includes wine and a small treat from Louisiana.
5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16. $100 per household. 707-687-9176. Reserve your ticket at bit.ly/3rJNUfT
15th Annual Mardi Gras, San Francisco style
The traditional event hosted by Village Project will be held virtually this year, bringing the historic Fillmore music district to life with live-streamed performances featuring Tia Carroll and Andre Thierry’s zydeco band, a second-line processional parade led by the Gumbo Band, creative costumes, colorful beads, and food delivery packages. Bay area award-winning playwright and dancer Robert Henry Johnson is set to serve as virtual grand marshal.
Curbside, no-contact pickup of your New Orleans-style meals by Nia Soul and optional wine/Champagne is available from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16 at Bruno’s, 1375 Fillmore St., S.F.
Singer Tia Carroll.
Grace for All: A Global and Inclusive Mardi Gras celebration
All are welcome to Grace Cathedral’s reimagined gala celebration with a program full of live-streamed performances that includes the Choir of Men and Boys and Zaccho Dance Theatre, speakers, a live online auction, community arts installation unveiling, and an online afterparty hosted by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Proceeds will support the cathedral’s early childhood education, music, arts, senior care and worship programming.
6:30 p.m. Feb. 16. $25-$2500. 415-749-6300. gracecathedral.org/carnivale
Aaron Germain Trio
The bassist-led jazz trio present a live-streamed show from Mr. Tipple’s Recording Studio.
Mardi Gras: Laissez les bons temps rouler
Born on the streets of San Francisco in the early ’70s, and streaming live on Fat Tuesday from the Sound Room in Berkeley, the Medicine Ball Band is set to feature violinist Mads Tolling; David Sturdevant on guitar, banjo, harmonica and vocals; and clarinetist John Stafford.
Fat Tuesday Beer & Dinner Pairing and Zoom party
Let the good times roll at home with San Francisco’s Old Devil Moon restaurant. With a variety of New Orleans-influenced bites and booze bundles that’ll take you right back to the French Quarter, hang out with host Chris Cohen during a Zoom tasting event and discussion.
7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16. Prices vary depending on order. Pick up food/drink bundles Monday-Tuesday, Feb. 15-16 at Old Devil Moon, 3472 Mission St., S.F. For more information, go to bit.ly/olddevilmoonmardigras
Anne Schrager is the calendar producer for The San Francisco Chronicle. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org