I just got back from spending 8 days in NOLA and now it’s Mardi Gras time – Chicago-style that is!  Here’s a quick low-down of this weekend’s Mardi Gras events:

Are you ready for one of the wildest pub crawls of the year?  The creators of TBOX bring you BeadQuest Mardi Gras Bar & Food Crawl this Saturday (12:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.) for a Mardi Gras-themed stampede through Wrigleyville.  Registration starts 11:00 a.m. at Brickhouse Tavern (3647 N. Clark St.), with the ending party at 7:30 p.m. at Rizzo’s.  Your ticket includes a sampler at the Kickoff Crawfish Boil at Rizzo’s (12:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m.), 12 free Cajun food samplers throughout the day, specials on Southern Comfort Hurricanes and SoCo Black mixed drinks, prizes for collecting all the beads at each participating bar, and much more!  Come drink and eat the afternoon away, N’awlins-style!!

You can then continue your Mardi Gras celebration at the Mardi Gras Party at Bourbon (On Division) Street (Saturday, 8:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m.).  Join 100 people at Bourbon on Division Street (2050 W. Division St.) in the Wicker Park neighborhood for an insanely fun time!  Don your beads, mask, and/or Mardi Gras costume.  Your ticket includes one complimentary drink, limited light appetizers, Hurricane drink specials all night, and a costume contest!  Chicago brings New Orleans to you!!

Perhaps you’d prefer cruising aboard a three-story, 140-foot, luxury yacht with breathtaking views of Chicago’s iconic landmarks from Lake Michigan.  The Anita Dee Yacht Charters (200 N. Breakwater Access) on the Near East Side is hosting a Mardi Gras Booze Cruise this Saturday (8:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m.).  Ticket includes a DJ, dancing, Mardi Gras mask & beads, giveaways, and more aboard one of Chicago’s best cruises!!

In celebration of Fat Tuesday, join Brü Chicago (1562 N. Milwaukee Ave.) in the Wicker Park neighborhood as they attempt to bridge the cultural divide this Saturday (2:30 p.m.-4:00 p.m.) by hosting Pączki vs. King Cake: Battle of the Mardi Gras Pastries.  Ticket includes a round of pączki, king cake, coffee, beads, a tiny baby doll, recipes, and two informative talks!

The tradition of Carnivale is celebrated in a wide variety of ways throughout the world.  Learn how these different countries and cultures celebrate Carnivale at Global Connections: International Carnivale Celebration this Saturday (1:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.) at the Aon Grand Ballroom, Navy Pier (600 E. Grand Ave.) in the Streeterville neighborhood.  This event features art, music, dance, food & drinks from Italy, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, New Orleans and more!

Finally, Sunday brings us the 19th annual Chicago Polar Plunge at North Avenue Beach (1600 N. Lake Shore Dr.) in the Lincoln Park neighborhood benefitting Special Olympics Chicago!  There are two options:  take the challenge and jump in Lake Michigan knee deep, waist high, or take the full plunge; or watch from shore and join the after party with music, food, and a cash bar.  Be #FREEZINFORAREASON and support the 7,500 Special Olympians who compete year-round!!

Are You Ready to Mardi Gras?  I AM!