Throughout the city, there will be plenty of exciting, affordable events taking place over the coming days that are guaranteed to draw huge crowds of partygoers. From genuine New Orleans musicians to bevies of drink specials, Manhattan is poised to take its place as the second-best city in which to celebrate the spirit of the “The Big Easy” with four unique festivities.
What: Sixth Annual NolaFunk.com Mardi Gras Ball
Where: Hiro Ballroom (88 Ninth Ave. at 16th Street)
When: Saturday, Feb. 18 and Sunday, Feb. 19, 7 p.m. doors, 8 p.m. show
Tickets: CEGPresents.com, ticketweb.com, (866) 468-7619
This year, the NolaFunk Mardi Gras Ball will offer guests not one, but two chances to celebrate the spirit of New Orleans in the company of some of its most talented musical acts. The “authentic musicianship” sets this ball apart from others in the city, as it will bring in big names such as New Orleans royalty Kermit Ruffins and his band the BBQ Swingers, hybrid vintage funk, rock, and jazz band Bonerama, and renowned keyboardist Marco Benevento. Hiro Ballroom event promoter Howie Schnee said that the NolaFunk Ball provides “a pipeline from New Orleans to New York, and vice versa.” He said that this ball is perfect for New Yorkers searching for a real New Orleans-style musical experience. “Besides the décor, beads, party atmosphere, what our Mardi Gras Balls have that the others don’t is the authentic musicianship directly from the Big Easy,” Schnee said of event’s musical offerings. Music has always played a starring role in Mardi Gras festivities, and the NolaFunk Ball promises to live up to this legacy with their exciting set lists over the course of the weekend.
16th Annual Second Avenue Mardi Gras Stroll
When: Saturday, Feb. 18, 1-9pm
Tickets: Must be 21+. Register at TG Whitney’s (53rd Street between Second and Third avenues) from 1-6 p.m., walk-up tickets $15
The only thing better than a day of bar-hopping is doing so within three blocks of Midtown East. The Second Avenue Mardi Gras Stroll offers guests the chance to kick off their revelries with exclusive food and drink specials, and of course, loads of free beads, while joining over a hundreds of fellow partiers in the merriment. “Last year’s Stroll had over 850 people in attendance! This year’s ticket sales are pacing faster than ever, so we’re expecting over 1,000 people this Saturday,” said vice president of operations of the event Josh Weiner. Party lovers from all over the city seeking an escape from their busy schedules are encouraged to attend: “New York knows how to have a good party, no matter when it is,” Weiner said. In an effort to add some goodwill to the fun, guests are encouraged to bring two canned goods to be donated to City Harvest, a program that seeks to feed those less fortunate in the NY area, and will receive $5 off admission by participating. Weiner says the event is ideal for its cheap price, good location, and free beads. “We got the beads. It’s all about the beads!”
Third Annual Two Boots Mardi Gras Ball
Where: Le Poisson Rouge (159 Bleecker St. between Sullivan and Thompson Streets)
When: Tuesday, Feb. 21, 7 p.m. doors
Tickets: $20 in advance at girlsclub.org, $25 at the door. VIP tickets available for $100 including open bar until 10 p.m., catered food by Two Boots, and reserved seating.
In search of a Mardi Gras event that has it all—the music, the drinks, the beads, the costume contest. Look no further than the Two Boots Mardi Gras Ball. With Nuyorican Boogaloo of Los Po-Boy-Citos flying in straight from New Orleans, the Raya Brass Band on the dance floor, and The Girl’s DJ Collective spinning through the night, no dull moments will be found at this authentic downtown fête thrown on Fat Tuesday itself. In addition to the musical entertainment, local art star Anthony Zito, a costume contest, and a raffle to win a trip to New Orleans will bring the event to life. “Two Boots celebrates the culture and cuisine of New Orleans every day at all of our stores, so throwing the city’s best Mardi Gras party is a natural fit,” Two Boots owner Phil Hartman of the event said. Presiding over the party will be writer and Warhol favorite Taylor Mead as King and actress and founder of The Living Theatre Judith Malina as Queen. The Ball will be produced and underwritten by Two Boots, with all proceeds going to support the Lower Eastside Girls Club. “Our goal has been to not only raise money for the Lower Eastside Girls Club, but to defeat the ‘boobs for beads mentality’ that seems to have taken over Mardi Gras,” said Hartman.
Harlem Mardi Gras Masked Ball
Where: St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 521 W. 126th St.
When: Saturday, Feb. 18, 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: $20 in advance, $25 at the door
Those seeking to celebrate Mardi Gras in costume while supporting a good cause need look no further than just down the street at the St. Mary’s Episcopal Church Mardi Gras Masked Ball. Now an annual event returning for a second year by community members’ popular demand, this festival promises its masquerading attendants great food, great music, and great company. Though St. Mary’s is known at Columbia for its protests against the Manhattanville campus, this weekend, it will take on a more upbeat purpose, with live music from the Swingtones and DJ Kymmy along with Cajun-style food and raffle contests offer an “occasion to not only have a lot of fun, but also fundraise for street outreach to the homeless,” according to the Rev. Earl Kooperkamp. All proceeds from the ticket purchases will go to local food pantries to support homeless and low-income residents, building on the church’s long-standing tradition of community involvement and development. Kooperkamp said the event both brings together community members and offers a great time to all involved: “People getting together and having fun gets them out of the pressure of everyday life ... Everybody enjoys getting dressed up and trying to figure out who’s behind which mask.”