Charleston lets loose for Mardi Gras with these local parties

The FollyGras parade on Center Street is Folly Beach’s annual Mardi Gras tradition.

Charleston may not be as well known for its Mardi Gras madness as another certain city in the South, but that doesn’t mean you have to leave town to find a good time this week. Here’s where the locals will be letting loose, Big Easy-style.

Saturday: During Folly Beach’s annual FollyGras Festival & Parade, Center Street is the closest the Lowcountry comes to New Orleans’ Canal Street. The main strip is closed to traffic at 9:30 a.m. for the parade at noon, which is followed by an all-day street festival with kids’ activities, local food and art vendors and live music by local bands, including Gaslight Street, Soul Fish, Jordan Igoe and the Shakin’ Martinis. For more information, check out the Facebook event at

Tuesday: Fat Tuesday is the biggest celebration of the year for Voodoo Tiki Bar & Lounge in West Ashley’s Avondale District at 15 Magnolia St. Local jazz drummer Quintin Baxter will lead a group to kick off the evening with traditional New Orleans-style jazz starting at 6:30 p.m., followed by a high-energy soul, funk and R&B performance led by singer Quiana Parler at 8:30 p.m. There will be New Orleans-themed cocktails such as Hurricanes, food specials, costumes and plenty of beads to be thrown around. For more information, check out the Facebook event at