This weekend was a wild, funky and exciting adventure in Eureka Springs . . . It was Mardi Gras weekend. This town knows how to have fun!
With a five day extravaganza filled with marching kings, queens and dukes, wild parade floats and masks, to beads, beads, beads, o’plenty flying at you from all angles – Mardi Gras Eureka Springs is alive and wild. Starting with the Hookers and Jokers Ball on Thursday, leading into the Coronation Ball on Friday, the Eureka Gras Parade (right through the middle of town), the Beax Arts Ball at the Basin Park Hotel, and onto the Jazz Brunch at the 1886 Crescent Hotel – this wild and wacky and FUN celebration is a great way to prepare for Fat Tuesday and the fast the follows.
Along with the Mardi Gras festivities there are the many interesting lounges, eateries, shops, live music venues, and people watching that completes gives a traveler a constant flow of entertainment and new adventures to find.
My explorations started with my stay at the Eureka Inn – Best Western (at the top of the hill) where the staff are unbelievably friendly, the rooms clean and nice and a great mix of classic with new. Plus the location is great for the “walker” types who can work off the great food and beverages before they get to the hotel for the next gathering.
It’s a pleasant walk down the hill and you are first greeted by some of the lounges and restaurants. First stop was the Cathouse Lounge. It was packed, busy, and loud . . . and it was noon. Costumed revellers, bikers, hikers, and all in between bellied up for pints and great bar food. The service was fantastic and very friendly.
Next was the Local Fare restaurant – but only for a moment. Very busy, very popular – it was a recommendation from the hotel – and the aromas were out of this world. But, no time, the parade was about to stop.
I approached the main street area, Springs street and soon the crowd started coming into view. Crowded on both sides of the street, singing, clapping, and smiling they were waiting for the show to start. I planted myself outside the Basin Park Hotel, essentially the center of it all. Soon a line up of convertible cars crawled through carrying the Kings Court – waving, laughing and throwing beaded necklaces by the thousands. Next the incredibly decorated floats came through – all very different and colorful. Some were filled with dancers, others with high school bands (playing ’80s tunes – I think I heard Men without Hats’ “Safety Dance” – cool), others with the waving court or bead throwing, masked partiers.
Diner that evening was at the Rogue’s Manner restaurant. A nice calming, incredible restaurant and Inn just around a couple corners on the main street. Seafood, usso bucco style pork shank, oysters, wines, etc. in a darkly lit, intimate venue with a lot of character. Did i mention service? Top notch!
After dinner was the Beaux Arts Ball at the Basin Park. AS we approached the hotel you can see the liveliness of the ninth floor from the street. Pumping sounds and flashing lights making it a disco ball in the middle of town. Inside were tables filled with partying revelers, a great live band, and great ood and drink. Then the Kings Court came in and soon the dancing and conga line started. It continued on into the late hours.
For change of pace the Voulez Vous Lounge is an incredible live music/ burlesque venue (adults only please) that has the high class atmosphere of a time gone way by. The decor and old style (Vegas style) lounge is impeccable and the place was packed with a happy, smiling, and hospitable crowd that just loved having fun.
As a final, eloquent finish to the weekend, we experienced the Jazz Brunch in the Crystal Ballroom at the 1886 Crescent Hotel. Like a step through a time machine we enter this incredible hotel and ballroom. Wood floors, chandeliers, huge windows, and art deco atmosphere . . . I felt like I needed my top hat and tux. But today, jeans and Mardi Gras beads will do just fine. The food (French Toast from Heaven, melt in your mouth prime rib, etc. etc.) is fantastic. Top it off with a glass of champagne and A1 service from Dolly and the brunch becomes an unforgettable experience.
To find out more about the location listed see below: