Streetcars, sazerac, and Saints- the city of New Orleans is known for many things, but what makes the Big Easy a worldwide attraction is Mardi Gras. The carnival season kicks off every January 6 with the celebration of Twelfth Night which marks the Feast of Epiphany when the Wise Men visited the Christ child. Parades, celebrations, and plenty of king cake feasting, go on daily throughout the city until the day before Ash Wednesday, which is Mardi Gras Day (Fat Tuesday). New Orleans is one big party all through carnival season, and these top 5 things to do in New Orleans for Mardi Gras are sure to be unforgettable experiences that will have you marking your calendars to be at Mardi Gras year after year!
- Parades– You don’t have to be in New Orleans on Mardi Gras Day to experience the iconic parades. Throughout the season, parades are held on weekends. Large float parades that are the symbol of Mardi Gras are often in uptown or mid-city. These parades are viewed from the sidewalk or a balcony, where you’ll catch “throws” (beads, cups, etc.), and the crowd styles vary at different areas of the city (i.e. the Quarter is an adult party scene). Smaller walking parades which offer a different element of fun are held in the French Quarter and various neighborhoods throughout the city. These parades are often quirky themes such as Krewe of Chewbacchus and feature artistic throws. The Friday before through Mardi Gras Day is when the mega krewes such a Rex and Zulu roll through the city. No matter how you choose to parade, it’s sure to be a blast!
- Eat King Cake– King Cakes are a New Orleans tradition that extends throughout the state of Louisiana to neighboring Southern states. A standard king cake is a large cinnamon sweet bread ring with a white glaze and Mardi Gras colored sugar (green, purple, and gold). But you can find king cakes topped and stuffed in an array of flavors from cream cheese to strawberry to praline. There are even savory king cakes stuffed with boudin and pepper jelly. Our advice- try as many varieties of king cakes as you can while you’re in New Orleans; you won’t regret it!
- Visit the French Quarter– On any given day, the French Quarter in New Orleans is alive with artists, music, and rich history. During Mardi Gras season, The French Quarter is a constant party of live music, seasonal cocktails, folks in costume, and all manners of naughty behavior. If you’re looking to experience the heart of Mardi Gras, buy a mask from the French Market, channel your alter-ego in costume, and let loose in the French Quarter.
- Attend an Event– Spend Mardi Gras morning in the Quarter for the Bourbon Street Awards (a.k.a. The most famous drag-queen contest in America”). Attend a swanky Mardi Gras ball like Endymion Extravaganza, a ticketed krewe ball in the Superdome where the floats roll in for an unforgettable night of live music and partying. Hit up a festival such as Algiers Mardi Gras Festival or Zulu Lundi Gras Festival. Catch the Greasing of the Poles at the Royal Sonesta to kick off Mardi Gras weekend. Reserve and host or attend a balcony party in the French Quarter. There’s no shortage of special events in New Orleans during Mardi Gras season!
- Tour Mardi Gras World– Learn the history of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and see where the magic is made at Mardi Gras World. This warehouse museum is home to artists and craftsmen who design and build the Mardi Gras floats New Orleans is famous for. Get up close with the incredible floats, and watch the process unfold with a peek behind the scenes at the work and artistry that makes Mardi Gras come to life.
Family fun to flashy and lewd, Mardi Gras in New Orleans has something for everyone! While you’re partying it up in the city, take a day to soak up the Louisiana landscapes on a New Orleans swamp tour or get your heart racing on a zipline excursion through the swamp with TourBigEasy.com! Laissez les bon temps rouler and cheers to more years at Mardi Gras in New Orleans!