Detroit Riverfront Conservancy’s Winter at Valade Celebrates Mardi Gras  

Mardi Gras comes to Detroit as the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy’s Winter at Valade celebration concludes its winter programing season with a festive weekend February 25-27 weekend at Valade Park. 

Mardi Gras will include a Caribbean and New Orleans feel featuring masquerade mask making, a mardi gras costume contest, America’s Thanksgiving Parade Float, Creole-themed food, Parade Company big heads, and more. There will also be marching band parades, and DJs spinning, and live bands performing NOLA jazz, zydeco, funk, and R&B.    

Presented by Huron-Clinton Metroparks, Winter at Valade started in December and provides visitors to Valade Park with a plethora of winter fun every weekend through February 27.  Winter at Valade features oversized outdoor fires, marshmallow roasters, hot seasonal alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, delicious food, sledding, synthetic ice curling and great programming from fitness classes to dog walking for all ages every weekend.   

Mardi Gras is the fifth and final special themed weekends during the Winter at Valade celebration in which the Michigan winter is re-imagined through ice sculptures, cultural events, live music and more.  

Robert C. Valade Park is located at 2670 East Atwater along the East Riverfront in downtown Detroit. The hours for Winter at Valade each weekend are 4 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Noon to 9 p.m. on Saturday and Noon to 7 p.m. on Sunday.  

The weekend starts at 5 p.m. on Friday with live bands and DJs performing everything from steel pan drums to NOLA bounce. There will also be a carnival showcase, parade and foods trucks. 


Saturday will start with activities for the whole family including masquerade mask making with Arts & Scraps, Parade Company Big Heads, and an artist showcase from TEAD One Memorial.  Saturday evening will be straight out of Bourbon Street with a Second Line Parade with Gabriel Brass Band, a costume contest for adults and live New Orleans funk and zydeco music. Sunday will also include crafts with Arts & Scraps in addition to the Detroit Party Marching Band and traditional live jazz and rhythm and blues.   

Live Music All Weekend Long   

All weekend long, there will be performances by musical artists from throughout the Detroit area. A variety of bands and DJs will perform Caribbean and New Orleans music including brass band, jazz, zydeco, steel pan, and bounce. Featured entertainers include Gabriel Brass Band, Sky Covington, Aaron Bravesoul Parrott, DJ Jewels Baby, and the Detroit Party Marching Band.  

Food Trucks & Creole-themed Food  

Mardi Gras will offer an array of delicious food and drinks featuring Louisiana favorites like gumbo, beignets, jambalaya, hurricanes, and rum cakes.  The event will feature Big Bo’s Food Truck and Detroit’s Original Seafood Truck, along with Smokey G’s Smokehouse and Geisha Girls, two eateries that operate out of The Shed at Valade Park year-round.  



Masquerade Mask Making and Costume Contest     

Winter at Valade Mardi Gras offers the chance to partake in some hands-on fun for the whole family.  Children and parents alike can get creative on Saturday and Sunday with masquerade-making with Arts & Scraps and the Parade Company, which will have their Big Heads on display. Saturday will include a Mardi Gras-themed costume contest for all ages with a chance for participants to win a weekend stay at Soaring Eagle Casino. The TEAD One Memorial Artist Showcase featuring live painting by Detroit artist Richie Blanko on Saturday.  

The TEAD One Memorial Fund is a non-profit organization that was founded by the family of Jordan Vaughn to continue his artistic legacy and seek opportunities that support a diverse culture of art in Detroit and the surrounding communities. 


All weekend long, curling and box hockey, both of which have been extremely popular among Valade Park visitors this winter and last, will be available for guests to enjoy.  

Winter at Valade Has Something for Everyone Every Weekend This Season 

Every weekend features hands-on activities and winter games, including curling on synthetic ice and box hockey. The “Sled Shed” is sponsored by Chip and Sarah McClure and when weather permits, it will provide free sleds for visitors to use while at the park. Several giant outdoor fireplaces are placed throughout the park to help keep guests warm.  

There will be no shortage of delicious food and drink every weekend during Winter at Valade. The Shed Bar will feature hot seasonal alcoholic and non-alcoholic classics for purchase like hot chocolate and cider and Granny’s Hot Toddys. Marshmallow kits for roasting at the park will also be available for purchase.   


The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority announced in 2020 the details of a partnership that will leverage the unique assets of the two organizations while strengthening regional outdoor recreation opportunities for youth throughout southeast Michigan. 


The 2020-21 winter season marked the debut of Winter at Valade programming for the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. The Conservancy team is building upon the successes of last season’s events by bringing back some favorite amenities and introducing new ones as well this season.  So far this winter season, more than 25,000 people have attended the enhanced Winter at Valade celebrations, which include Holly Jolly Riverfront in December, the Fire & Ice and Winter Around The World festivals in January and Motown Love in mid-February. 

“The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy is proud to provide a variety of programming for people to enjoy year round,” said Rachel Frierson, director of programming. “Through the tremendous success of Holly Jolly Riverfront, Fire & Ice, Winter Around The World, and Motown Love festivals we’ve been encouraging Detroiters to embrace winter. Mardi Gras at Valade is a great way to say farewell to another epic season of fun on the Detroit Riverfront.” 


The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy is grateful to all sponsors that are supporting Winter at Valade. Sponsors to date include: Presenting Sponsor: Huron-Clinton Metroparks; Fire and Ice Festival Sponsor: Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort; Winter Around the World Sponsor: Visit Detroit; Sled Shed: Chip and Sarah McClure; Cozy Community Sponsors: Scott M. Delcomyn, Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center, Janine Pixley & Bryan Parkhurst, Goyert-Treadwell Family Fund, Matt Grimes & Elle Schroeder, Meijer Rivertown Market, MI Building & Construction Trades, Russell Development Company, Barbara Senatore, Walker-Miller Energy Services, Wendy Lewis Jackson, Scott Wickens and Wolverine Packing. Activity Booklet Sponsors include Banner Sign Co, Detroit Segway and Means Group Inc.   

The safety of all riverfront visitors is of paramount concern to the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, so social-distancing protocols will be in place for all activities during Winter at Valade.   

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