Dunedin Mardi Gras
The Downtown Merchants Association takes the party seriously starting at 5 p.m. Tuesday with live music, drinks and Big Easy style food. There will be music from Lil'Malcolm & the House Rockers from 5:30-7:30 p.m. and Waylon Thibodeaux from 9-11 p.m. In between will be the parade, complete with floats, bands and beads. Free, but as you walk along Main Street in downtown Dunedin, you can buy food and drinks. de-lightfuldunedin.com/mardigras.php
Mardi Gras Ball
A flamboyant "Big Easy" style ball with Cajun food and music, door prizes. Elegant Mardi Gras costumes encouraged. Proceeds benefit Pinellas Hope and H.E.A.T., a Pinellas schools project that assists homeless children and their families. Part of the Gulf Beaches Kiwanis Club's Month of Mardi Gras events. 7-11 p.m. Fri. Gulfport Casino, 5500 Shore Blvd. S, Gulfport. $20. (727) 415-8326. kiwanisgulfbeaches.com.
Mardi Gras at Universal
Street party with parade, costumed characters, Cajun and Creole cuisine and live performances. Headliner on Sat. Heart; on Sun. Kool and the Gang. $49.99 after 5 p.m. any Mardi Gras event date. Universal Studios, 1000 Universal Studios Plaza, Orlando. Single-day admission to either park: $79.88, $67.10 ages 3-9 (includes tax). Florida resident, other discounts online only. Toll-free (800) 837-2273. uescape.com.
Mardi Gras at Cajun Cafe
A large celebration featuring accordion driven dance music by JB's Zydeco Zoo, dancing, beads, hats, door prizes and Cajun food. Costumes optional. Gates open at 6 p.m. Sat. and 1 p.m. Sun. Zydeco dance lessons begin at 6:30 p.m. Sat. Event runs 7-11 p.m. Sat.; 1-6 p.m. Sun. $15. The party continues on Fat Tuesday at 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m., with dancing and live music by Gulfport Ramblers Cajun Band (6-9 p.m.). Cajun Cafe on the Bayou, 8101 Park Blvd., Pinellas Park. (727) 546-6732. cajuncafeonthebayou.com.
Mardi Gras Party at The Living Room
Jesters will fit in at this party with Creole and Cajun cuisine, craft beers and Cajun-inspired cocktails and live music by the Black Honkeys (7:30-11:30 p.m.). Reservations suggested. 5 p.m.-1 a.m. Tue. at The Living Room, 680 Main St., Dunedin. Free (before 7 p.m.), $5 (7:01 p.m. to closing). (727) 736-5202. thelivingroomonmain.com.
Fat Tuesday at Donatello
Donatello brings the feel of Fat Tuesday in the Piazza San Marco to Tampa with belly dancers, magicians, costumed servers and traditional food. Costumes and masks encouraged but not required. 6-11 p.m. Tue. Restaurant at Donatello, 232 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. $50 advance, $60 after Sat. (includes dinner and a glass of wine). (813) 875-6660. donatellorestaurant.com.