Bourbon Street Festival Brings New Orleans Mardi Gras to Cockatoo Island

Bourbon Street Festival Brings New Orleans Mardi Gras to Cockatoo Island

It’s not every day you step onto Cockatoo Island to be greeted by a wandering brass band.

But when you do, you know what time it is: Bourbon Street Festival time.

This weekend, coinciding with our own Mardi Gras season, The Island Bar is being transformed into our very own French Quarter, in an Australian take on the legendary New Orleans Mardi Gras.

Beaded necklaces and sequinned masks are compulsory attire – you’ll be given some when you arrive by staff gambolling about in colourful togas and jester hats. Next stop is the bar, festooned in a rainbow of lanterns, and if there’s no little umbrella in your drink – be it a mint julep awash with Maker’s Mark, or a sensitively named “Hurricane” mango and Cruzan rum slushie – then you’re not doing it right.

The usual summer atmosphere created by The Island’s striped umbrellas and bright yellow deckchairs became the centre of the party last night when the Saints – and by saints we mean the funky, irreverent Blue Tongue Brass Band, all the way from North Sydney – Came Marching In and took up a few seats, encouraging everyone around them to clap along for the saxophone soloist, before they returned to the stage to honk and bellow out an old jazz number.

Hang out for the food, too – from traditional Creole pizzas from the onsite woodfire oven, unique Louisiana “hot dogs” and spicy Cajun chicken strips to that New Orleans classic, gumbo (highly recommended). Banana crepes and banana fritters are the order for dessert, prepared with a sprinkle of cinnamon in front of you.

The party starts at 12.30pm today and tomorrow (Saturday 16-Sunday 17th Feb), with classic New Orleans jazz, blues and soul music and street performers making it impossible for you to sit still until long into the night.

Shake the rain off your dancing shoes, get on over there and shake your tail feather.

The Bourbon Street New Orleans Festival at The Island Bar, Cockatoo Island

Festival dates: Friday February 15-Sunday February 17 from 12.30 ‘til late

Cost: Entry to the Bourbon Street party is free; a large range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and food are available from $5

Transport: Cockatoo Island is just a 12 minute ferry trip from Circular Quay. Contact Transport Info on 131 500 or Water taxis are available by request.

Main photo by Marc Pagani, others credited in gallery

profile of Eliza Goetze