Canine Carnival
If you find yourself in the French Quarter on Feb. 7 – as one often does during Carnival season – and you see a parade of dogs, don’t blame it on too much absinthe the night before. Remember that in New Orleans, especially during Mardi Gras, anything is possible, including an extensive, elaborate parade composed entirely of costumed canines and their human companions. This is the 17th annual Krewe of Barkus parade, a lighthearted tribute to our four-legged, tail-wagging friends.

The parade starts at 2 p.m. at Armstrong Park, winding its way through a 15-block route through the Vieux Carré. As is customary, the krewe will stop to raise a toast to their royal court at Good Friends bar on the corner of Dauphine and St. Ann streets.

Preceding the parade is the “Pawty” in the park, featuring live music and commentary from local celebrities.

The Barkus Ball, which is for humans only, is held on Feb. 5 at the Windsor Court Hotel. This soiree will feature cocktails, culinary delights, entertainment and other perks for the day of the parade.

For those dog lovers who wish to be a part of the Barkus parade, sign up on the Web site; membership dues also go toward benefiting homeless animal rescue and adoption.


Distinguished Dance
Dedicated to bringing the African-American experience and traditions to stages worldwide, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is making a stop in New Orleans, Feb. 26-27, to showcase its unique talent in “Revelations,” thanks to the New Orleans Ballet Association. Under the direction of Judith Jamison, the dancers are highly acclaimed and provide entertaining, thought-provoking performances while preserving and expanding upon African traditions. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has been in existence for more than 50 years and since its inception has been viewed as one of the most distinguished in the industry.

Information, 522-0996,

French Quarter Wine Festival
After Fat Tuesday you’ll have a couple weeks to recover before another festival albeit one that’s slightly more low-key. The Maison Dupuy Hotel will host the fourth annual French Quarter Wine Festival, showing off a diverse selection of dinners hosted by proprietors or winemakers and multi-course dinners by chef Michael Farrell. Wines from far-flung places ranging from California to Italy will be served. The festival kicks off with a party on Feb. 26 in the courtyard setting of the hotel, while guests are invited to sample more than 50 various wines. Rebirth Brass Band along with the Ya’Donna West Jazz Ensemble will perform, as well.

Information, 586-8000,

Nouvelle Vague in Nouvelle Orleans
There is a lot going on when Mardi Gras and Valentine’s Day collide, and the CBD/Warehouse District hotspot Republic adds even more to the eclectic mix of fun things to do. On Feb. 14, the club hosts French band Nouvelle Vague, a group that draws influence from the 1970s and early ’80s bands including The Clash, The Cure, Depeche Mode and the Dead Kennedys. Their style is a bit more mellow, sung by female vocalists, and over the past several years they’ve sold more than 500,000 albums. The show is sure to be a captivating one, and it might just be the perfect end to a Carnival weekend.

Information, 528-8282,

Mamma Mia
The catchy pop tunes of ABBA comprise the soundtrack for Mamma Mia!, a lighthearted musical featuring a soon-to-be-married sweetheart named Sophie who desperately wants to find her father before she marries. The problem is that he is one of three possible suitors her mother met decades before in a sort of “summer of love.” When Sophie invites all three men to the Greek island on which she lives, she discovers all kinds of stories about her mother, and she learns all kinds of lessons about friendships, family and love. This musical is part of the Broadway Across America tour and will be performed at the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts from Feb. 2-7.

You will hear some crowd-pleasers such as “Dancing Queen” and dozens of other wildly popular songs by the Swedish 1970s pop band, and you’ll probably be humming them for days afterward.

Information, 287-0351,

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