Durham has been showing central NC how to do Mardi Gras since 2011, with thousands taking part in the biggest and craziest Fat Tuesday for miles around. In the last few years, we’ve had everything from kids’ costume extravaganzas to the Big Parade to amazing bands with dancing and carousing into the wee hours. We’ve had the best in food and music from Louisiana and North Carolina.  

We’re just getting started though. Our aim is to create an annual Durham Mardi Gras that takes the best of New Orleans tradition and adds a big helping of North Carolina flavor. Most people in the Triangle have never been to Durham Mardi Gras.  They’ve never marched in the parade, never built a float or dressed up or listened the music, never tasted the jambalaya or even come down and had a beer.  We aim to change that.  

Did you know that past Fat Tuesday events have been to be free to all?  No entry fees or cover charges? How about more information?  Here’s a radio interview of Steve Cowles and Kathy Violette on WPTF 850 radio with Demetri Ravanos in January 2014.

If you’d like to be a part of this effort, there are many ways you can get involved:
Volunteer.  Donate. Form a kreweParade with us.  But, most of all:

Let the Bull times roll!


“Bullerina” in CCB Plaza decked out in his Mardi Gras finery, courtesy of the League of the Tutu, Mardi Gras 2013


Durham Mardi Gras of years past:

Fat Saturday Style, Samedi Gras 2016

Mardi Gras 2016
Fat Saturday Style,

In 2016, With snow flurries in the air at 4pm, Durham Mardi Gras 2016 wasn’t going to be denied a second time.  Our luck held out, the white stuff moved on and the festivities returned to downtown Durham, all of them…and all of you!


Beaded Bullerina, Snowdy Gras 2015

Snowdy Gras 2015 Beaded Bullerina

In 2015, Ah, Snowdy Gras. Mother Nature pulled a fast one by dumping an icy, snowy, wintery glop on Mardi Gras Eve, closing roads, schools and businesses on Mardi Gras Day. Still, a walking-distance crowd came out to Motorco, Geer Street Garden and FullSteam for food and music by the Bulltown Strutters. Snow is officially a four letter word around here.



Mardi Gras 2014
King Katherine

In 2014, The Durham Mardi Gras Celebration came back but this time with a permitted, city-sanctioned street parade and with 10 music groups on 5 stages. The Mardi Gras king and queen were chosen with an open nomination and voting process using Facebook and a Doodle Poll.  Piles of revelers braved the near freezing, windy weather to participate this year – all for free, no entry fees and no cover charges.


Durham Mardi Gras 2013 Events Poster by Jamie Wolcott

Mardi Gras 2013 Events Poster by Jamie Wolcott

In 2013, the Bulltown Strutters catalyzed a larger Durham Mardi Gras Celebration with Samedi Gras parties, another sidewalk parade and live music with 7 groups on 3 stages. The Mardi Gras king and queen were chosen with an open nomination and voting process using Facebook and a Doodle Poll.  About 1000 revelers participated in all events:  parading from CCB Plaza to the DIY area, dancing to parade musicians at the Rigsbee and Geer St intersection, and then again enjoying free live music in clubs. 


Durham Mardi Gras 2012 Fullsteam

Mardi Gras 2012 Fullsteam Brewery

In 2012, A Durham favorite, the Bulltown Strutters became involved as the hosting band and brought the 2012 party together. A sidewalk parade on Mardi Gras began at the CCB plaza, complete with krewes, sidewalk floats and a Mardi Gras King and ended on Rigsbee Avenue where free live music ensued in local venues.


In 2011, Durham folk musicians Chris Turner and Rachael Maloney met other musicians at Fullsteam Brewery and led a small sidewalk parade which meandered through downtown Durham. Independently, the newly formed Bulltown Strutters participated in their own Mardi Gras events at Papa Mojo’s and Lloyd’s Lounge.

Before 2011, there were a number of Mardi Gras themed private parties and neighborhood parades around the time of Mardi Gras.