by Brian Clarey



It’s the Mardi Gras of the Carolinas

Well, it’s not exactly like Mardi Gras — it’s one night only as opposed to a couple weeks, there are no parades or throws, no partying in the street. But it is a full-scale bacchanal along the same lines. Perhaps it’s more like the MOMs Ball, the annual New Orleans fete thrown by the Krewe of Mystic Orphans and Misfits famous for its debauchery and costumed fun.

Where else are you gonna go?

This year’s event is on Saturday, Feb. 23, not quite spring so there’s still some of winter’s chill in the air. And while it’s true there may be a few other things going on around town, everybody who’s anybody will be out partying at the castle that night.

The grounds

Castle McCulloch was built on the grounds of an old gold mine, a real stone castle with a moat, drawbridge and many chambers. It’s surrounded by acres of woods, miles of trails and outbuildings that all play a part in the festivities. Over the course of the night, try to discover all 10 different party areas.

The music

Castle Carnevale features live music and electronica from some of the areas biggest names. This year’s line-up is still under wraps.

The entertainment

Offbeat acts come in from around the country for this one: fire-eaters, stilt-walkers, aerial acrobats, pole dancers, jugglers and other carnivalesque performers. All shows are free with the price of admission.

The sexy

This is a party for adults — the invite makes mention of a “bare-as-you-dare bohemian attitude,” meaning that people will be dressed in sexy, sexy garb. More on that in a minute. But there will be body-painted go-go dancers. There’s also a pole-dancing lounge, burlesque acts and a spanking booth helmed by some of the Triad’s sexiest burlesque personalities: Peachz de Vine, Queen April, Sasha von Shtupp, Toxic Tease, Stage Slave Gavin and Lefty le Blue.

The costumes

If you wear jeans and a T-shirt, you’re gonna feel like a tool. Think bustiers, masks, see-through anything, baroque and steampunk wear, wigs, platforms, furry gear, tear-away pants, fishnets, pirate wear, body paint… this list doesn’t even begin to cover it. The order of the day is to express yourself, the stranger — and sexier — the better.

It’s massive

It is no exaggeration to say that thousands of people come out to Castle McCulloch for Castle Carnevale. Almost 3,000 tickets have been sold as of this writing, and there’s room for thousands more.

You don’t need to drive

Two area hotels offer free shuttles to the event for their guests — see for more info on that. Plus plenty of alternative transportation options will be available on site, including cabs and limos. Parking is $5 this year, an even better reason to take a cab.

It’s easy

Tickets are now up to $19, but they increase $1 for every 500 tickets sold. You can get them at the Castle McCulloch office in Jamestown, the Ritz Costume Shop in Greensboro, by phone at 336.887.5413 or online at But get them soon — this event sells out every year.