This Small-Town Mardi Gras Is Big on Big Fun

Nevada City's funky charms shine bright when the beads are flying on Broad Street.

Nevada City Chamber of Commerce

BASKING IN BEADS? It's a spirited pastime that isn't easily performed when Fat Tuesday draws closer. For while it may seem as though every single Mardi Gras celebration should be fully awash in beads, and masks, and celebratory sights, coming across that magical combination can take a bit of searching, especially if you're not visiting Bourbon Street in New Orleans. But there is a bead-beautiful bastion in the north part of Gold Country, and it happens in one of California's most handsome and historic hamlets. It's Nevada City, a town that looks as though it was pulled straight from a sepia-toned postcard. It's a place that respects its tried-and-true traditions, from Victorian Christmas to the warm-weather Bicycle Classic, and one of the biggest? It arrives just ahead of Mardi Gras each year. It's the...

MARDI GRAS PARADE & STREET FAIRE, and it will roll on Sunday, Feb. 16 right through the picturesque center of Nevada City. That means you'll want to find your way to Broad Street ahead of the 2 o'clock start time, though if you prefer to keep close to the Street Faire, you should alight at N. Pine and Commercial Streets earlier in the day. That's happening for five festive hours, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., while the parade falls somewhere in the merry middle. However you choose to spend your visit, know that you'll likely rock a string of beads, or six, at some point, and you'll feel the small-town sparkle that Nevada City exudes in such an effortless fashion. And if you arrive a day early, on Feb. 15? Oh lucky you: There's a Mardi Gras Ball at the Miners Foundry, so plan on wearing your fanciest yellow, purple, and green feathers and/or finery.

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