Universal Studios Orlando Events

Mardi Gras - Universal Studios Orlando

"Colorful Cultures Around the World"
Saturdays & Select Weekend Nights February 8 – May 31, 2014


What's Mardi Gras? The Real One

Mardi Gras or “Fat Tuesday” is the day before the season of Lent begins. This is the last day of Carnival, the giant and sometimes outrageous party that starts every year on January 6 (also known as King’s Day). The official colors of Carnival are purple, green and gold, these signify justice, faith, and power. 

The festival of Mardi Gras dates back 5,000 years, but it didn’t come to America until 1699 with the French explorer, Iberville, and the first parades officially began in 1838. 

In New Orleans, each parade has a theme that is usually borrowed from history, mythology or Hollywood and a few of the big parades in New Orleans are Bacchus, Orpheus, and Rex. The parades are put on by private social groups, also known as Krewes, and they consist of 10 to 40 floats carrying krewe members that throw trinkets.  These coveted “throws” include beads, doubloons, small toys, and candy.  Local high school marching bands, dance groups, and costumed characters are also a part of the parade. New Orleans Mardi Gras is crazy fun with a wild reputation and people come from all over the world to join the locals for the carnival celebration. 


While the party in New Orleans can get wild and crazy, the Universal Studios Mardi Gras celebration is a much more family friendly event. While there is still a lot of drinking going on at Universal, it’s controlled very well and you shouldn’t feel unsafe in any way.

You will know it's Mardi Gras at Universal the second you enter the park. From the festive decorations in purple, green and gold and the traditional zydeco music, to the colorful street performers and stilt walkers, you will be immersed in the Mardi Gras theme.

The French Quarter Courtyard is the main hub of the celebration and it's located in the New York area of Universal Studios (near the Mummy and Twister attractions). Here's where you will find food, spirits, and musicians straight out of New Orleans (Nawlins). Be sure to sample some of the local New Orleans style cuisine including, jambalaya, shrimp gumbo, red beans & rice, and andouille sausage po-boys (Po-boys are subs or hoagies or sandwiches to the rest of the country).

While we can’t really compare the quality of food to what you would get in New Orleans, they do a good job and offer a nice variety.

One of the centerpieces of Universal’s Mardi Gras celebration is the parade. The Krewe of Dionysus Parade rolls out around 7:30pm or 8:30pm depending on weather and the date. 

The traditional Mardi Gras floats, which come directly from New Orleans, are the Riverboat, the King Gator, the Jester, the King & Queen float, the Boeuf Gras (the BIG beef), the title float (which lets you know the name of the krewe and the theme of the parade) and the Universal float. 

The floats are great, but the throws are limited to standard size beads and doubloons. If you want the really nice big, long beads, you'll need to purchase them at one of the several gift shops located throughout the park. Mardi Gras memorabilia such as jester hats, large yard glasses, feather boas, masks and t-shirts are also available for purchase.

The main event and highlight for many is the concert at the end of the night in the new Music Plaza, immediately following the parade. Universal brings in a great lineup of bands for these concerts (some of the ones in the past included Daughtry, The Go-Gos, LL Cool J, Kid Rock, Willie Nelson and Heart). Depending on the performer, this area of the park can get very crowded, very quickly and you should expect to be far from the stage if you wait until after the parade to choose your spot. You should choose your parade viewing location carefully as the best viewing areas for the concert fill very quickly, as soon as the parade ends. There are large viewing screens for those in the back of the crowd. 

If you find yourself wanting to continue the party, at the end of the night, head over to Universal’s CityWalk and continue the Mardi Gras festivities at Pat O’Brien’s.  It's a replica of the original Pat O’Brien’s located in New Orleans where you can enjoy a hurricane (a New Orleans traditional drink - it's strong!) on the patio or sing along in the Piano Bar.  At this location, it's Mardi Gras 365 days a year!

The best part about this whole Mardi Gras celebration is that it's free!! As long as you have admission to Universal Studios, you can participate in the festivities. Please keep in mind that the live concerts are held on Saturday and select Sunday nights. Go! You will have an awesome time.

Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler! That's "Let the good times roll!"


Mardi Gras Concert Schedule 2014

Live Concerts at the Main Stage

Showtimes for these concerts follow the parade.


Mardi Gras Event Dates Headliners (performing in the Music Plaza)
Saturday, February 8 Daughtry
Saturday, February 15 Barenaked Ladies
Sunday, February 16 Thomas Rhett
Saturday, February 22 Robin Thicke - cancelled due to illness
Saturday, March 1 Collective Soul
Saturday, March 8 Prince Royce
Friday, March 14 Cody Simpson
Saturday, March 15 Foreigner
Friday, March 21 A Great Big World
Saturday, March 22 Gavin DeGraw
Friday, March 28 Kelly Rowland
Saturday, March 29 Weezer
Saturday, April 5 Skillet
Saturday, April 12 Lynyrd Skynyrd
Saturday, April 19 Kool & The Gang
Saturday, May 3 Nelly
Saturday, May 10 The Wanted
Saturday, May 17 The Roots
Saturday, May 24 Cher Lloyd
Saturday, May 31 Huey Lewis And The News
Saturday, June 7 Robin Thicke

*All concerts are subject to change
Musicians Direct From New Orleans 2014

All French Quarter Bands will perform at Mardi Gras in Universal Studios then appear afterwards at Universal CityWalk.


Mardi Gras Event Dates New Orleans Bands (performing in the French Quarter)
Saturday, February 8 Remedy Krewe
Saturday, February 15 Soul Project
Sunday, February 16 Soul Project
Saturday, February 22 Rockin' Jake
Saturday, March 1 Big Al & The Heavyweights
Saturday, March 8 Daddy Mack Blues Band
Friday, March 14 Mississippi Rail Company
Saturday, March 15 Mississippi Rail Company
Friday, March 21 The Big Easy Playboys
Saturday, March 22 The Big Easy Playboys
Friday, March 28 Dirty Bourbon River Show
Saturday, March 29 Dirty Bourbon River Show
Saturday, April 5 John Lisi and Delt Funk
Saturday, April 12 Beth McKee & The Sliders
Saturday, April 19 Gravy
Saturday, May 3 Chris O'Leary
Saturday, May 10 T Bird & The Breaks
Saturday, May 17 Grady Champion
Saturday, May 24 Cha Wa
Saturday, May 31 Naughty Professor




Mardi Gras photos from past years' celebrations:

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