Photo via Busch Gardens Tampa
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay’s first big event of 2022 is all about letting the good times roll.
The Tampa park’s Mardi Gras event, running Jan. 8 through March 6, features live music from local bands, a festive parade, a bead garden and half a dozen bars and food stations to indulge in “Big Easy” offerings.
Much of the Mardi Gras activities are situated near the Bird Gardens section of the park, with nine stations along the walkways near the Garden Gate Café, the flamingo habitat, the Coca-Cola stage and the Xcursions gift shop.
Xcursions will have two- or four-packs of Mardi Gras cupcakes as well as themed crafts and rum tastings. Across from the Coca-Cola stage will be a Hurricane bar serving up traditional Hurricane cocktails. Nearby is the Jackson Square booth with Impossible Dirty Rice, reimagined shrimp and grits and Creole-style jambalaya.
The Esplanade Street Bites around the corner from the stage has smoked pepper brisket with chipotle cream and New Orleans kettle chips and po’boys with smoked chicken or shrimp.
You can also get a smoked Bloody Mary there.
Of course, Mardi Gras wouldn’t be complete with beignets and the Sweet Beignets station has traditional with powdered sugar, ones with Woodford Reserve chocolate drizzle and banana’s foster beignets. Wash it all down with a smoked bourbon peach sour cocktail with Woodford Reserve.
For more sweets, the Nola Creamery has specialty ice cream concoctions include a French Quarter chocolate amaretto cheesecake waffle cone, the Mardi Gras waffle cone sundae and the Bourbon Street cream and cookie. Beyond the Bird Gardens area, there are additional Mardi Gras food and beverage locations at the Giraffe Bar in Egypt and Twisted Tails in Pantopia. The Garden Gate Café also turned into Bayou Beverage with draft beer and a selection of frozen cocktails.
Besides food and drinks, there’s a Mardi Gras Parade of stilt walkers and musicians around the Bird Gardens, a beard garden to catch as many strands of colorful plastic beads as you can, a brass band performing throughout the event and local outfits playing New Orleans style tunes on the stage.
Mardi Gras runs noon to 8 p.m. every weekend and selection dates through March 6.
Most Mardi Gras dates also coincide with Busch Gardens’ Real Music Series with performances in the Stanleyville Theater near the SheiKra coaster. Mardi Gras entertainment is included with Busch Gardens admission, but food and drink purchases are separate.
Find more information and buy tickets at buschgardens.com
Check out the lineup for the park’s Real Music Series here