Mardi Gras in New Orleans
Tuesday, February 21 2023
Tips and Insipirations
As a tourist stepping into New Orleans, it is like stepping into another world. Unlike any other city in the United States, this city has a unique identity steeped in its vibrant Creole culture. The cobbled stone streets, the black wrought iron railings on balconies, the brightly colored buildings all showcase the rich history of New Orleans.
Perhaps what New Orleans is best known for is the annual festival of Mardi Gras.
When is Mardi Gras?
It always falls on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. This year Mardi Gras is on Tuesday, February 21, 2023, and the festivities will continue throughout the weekend.
Family Gras will take place from Friday, February 10 - Saturday, February 11. This is a free celebration held at Neutral Ground on Vets Hwy in front of Lakeside Shopping Center with live concerts and carnival festivities.
Mardi Gras Parades on Feb 21st 2023
The main parades of Mardi Gras in New Orleans are organized by social clubs called Krewes. Each Krewe has its own parade schedule and route, with many parading on the weekends leading up to Fat Tuesday. The most famous parades include Zulu, Rex, Bacchus, Endymion, Orpheus and many more. The parades are typically held in the Uptown, Mid-City and downtown areas of New Orleans. The parades usually starts in the early morning and can continue into the late evening. The main parades roll on the days before Fat Tuesday.
Krewe of Argus: The Krewe of Argus parade is known for its elaborate floats, marching bands, and throws, which include beads, cups, and stuffed animals. The Krewe of Argus parade is traditionally held on the Sunday before Fat Tuesday and rolls through the streets of Metairie. The parade starts at the corner of Severn and Veterans Blvd and ends at Clearview Pkwy.
Krewe of Zulu: The Krewe of Zulu is known for its elaborate costumes and colorful floats, as well as for throwing hand-painted coconuts, which have become a sought-after Mardi Gras souvenir. The Krewe of Zulu parade is traditionally held on Mardi Gras Day (the day before Ash Wednesday) and starts Uptown New Orleans at Jackson Ave and S. Claiborne Ave, and ends at Howard Ave.
Krewe of Folsom: The Krewe of Folsom begins at Magnolia Park on the corner of Olive Street and Garfield Street. The parade goes north down Olive Street for 2 blocks, then takes a right to go down Cleveland Street. After two more blocks, the krewe turns right down Orange Street (highway 25). The procession then takes a right at Jackson Street, and continues until it returns to Magnolia Park.
The Carnival of Covington begins at the intersection of North Columbia Street and Jefferson Street in Covington, Louisiana. The parade will follow North Columbia Street south until it reaches East Boston Street, where it will turn west. From East Boston, the parade will go southwest on South Jefferson Avenue. At the intersection of South Jefferson and East 15th Avenue, the krewe will turn northwest and follow 15th.
Many of the roads will be blocked off and parking is very limited so plan on taking public transportation or walking to the parade route.
What to pack?
Pack layers. The weather may fluctuate from chilly mornings to sunny warm afternoons. Most festivities are outdoors so pack comfortable shoes and casual outdoor clothes. If rain and thunderstorms are in the forecast, be sure to pack a raincoat. Lastly, pack a costume - the sky's the limit. Be creative!
What are the main events of Mardi Gras?
The two largest parades, Bacchus and Endymion, are on the Saturday and Sunday before Fat Tuesday. If you can extend your weekend stay, Monday the Orpheus parade takes place and Tuesday the Zulu Lundi Gras festival is an all-day event. Another activity you can plan for Fat Tuesday is touring the French Quarter and enjoy seeing everyone wearing masks and costumes.
1. Galactic Lundi Gras (FREE 5AM Mardi Gras Sunrise Set)
Galactic Lundi Gras is an event that takes place in New Orleans, Louisiana on the Monday before Mardi Gras Day (Fat Tuesday). The event features a free 5AM sunrise set by the popular band Galactic, and is held at Woldenberg Park, which is located along the Mississippi River in the French Quarter. Lundi Gras is the last day of the traditional Mardi Gras celebration and the event is considered as a last hurrah before the end of the Carnival season. The event typically features live music, food vendors, and a festive atmosphere, and is attended by locals and visitors alike. It is a good opportunity to enjoy Mardi Gras celebration before the main day and also catch a glimpse of the sunrise over the Mississippi River.
Book your tickets now at: Galactic Lundi Gras (FREE 5AM Mardi Gras Sunrise Set)
During Mardi Gras, the French Quarter is closed to vehicular traffic. Surrounding parking lots will be reserved early and tickets will be very expensive during the Mardi Gras season. Taxis are difficult to find as well. Plan ahead and study a map of the surrounding neighborhoods and parade route times. While Public transportation is an option, during Mardi gras changes are made to routes and schedules. Your best options are walking or biking. If you're biking be sure to bring a lock if you plan to leave it in a public area.
10 facts about the history of Mardi Gras:
- Mardi Gras translates to fat Tuesday in French.
- New Orleans has been celebrating Mardi Gras since 1837.
- The Mardi Gras colors are purple, gold and green. Purple symbolizes justice, gold stands for power and green represent faith.
- Mardi Gras marks the end of carnival season and the beginning of Lent; a time of fasting.
- The parade is all privately funded by krewes. Once secret societies, the anonymous society members pay dues and meet to fundraise and plan the annual parades.
- No tickets are needs for the parade also known as The Greatest Free Show on Earth. However, if you know you will tire from standing for an hour or longer, you can purchase a Grandstand seat ticket at Mardi Gras Grandstand Tickets
- Since the 1870s the tradition of stuffed animals, beads, cups and more are thrown to the crowd from the floats in the parade.
- On February 24, 1857, the first parade for Mardi Gras was held in New Orleans.
- Another tradition of Mardi is the King Cake. It is a coffee cake with cinnamon sugar, topped with purple, gold and green icing sugar. Whoever receives the piece of cake with the plastic figurine of baby Jesus, is destined to have a good year and is responsible to host next year’s Mardi Gras party.
- The masks were worn on Mardi Gras originally encouraged uniformity amongst classes and allowed everyone to forget about social status and freely socialize during this festive time.
- Open alcoholic containers are okay to carry in the streets. Make sure not to carry glass containers.
- Park responsibility to avoid parking tickets and having your car towed.
- Arrange a meeting place with your party in case you get separated in the large crowds.
- Plan to arrive 4 hours prior to the parade in order to get a good location along the route.
- Be careful around the floats. Don’t run into the street after thrown trinkets. Wait until the floats have safely passed before picking up trinkets from the ground.
- Make restaurant reservations ahead of time as everywhere will be packed. Street vendors might also be an option for quick eats. If you are looking for more inexpensive options, pack your own snacks, sandwiches and water bottles. Don’t forget to include wet wipes or hand sanitizer!
Other Must Activities to do in Nola:
- Cemetery and Voodoo Guided Walking Tour (Tomb of Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans), get your tickets at Musement.com Walking Tour: Cemetery and Voodoo walking tour
- Ghosts and spirits Guided Walking Tour, Find out why New Orleans has been referred to as "the most haunted city in America", get your tickets at Musement.com Ghosts and spirits walking tour
- Entry to more than 25 of New Orleans's most popular attractions and tours Bus tour, Skip-the-line entry to museums and more, get your tickets at Musement.com New Orleans Pass: admission to sights and attractions
- Hop-on Hop-off Bus New Orleans, get your tickets at Tiqets.com Hop-on Hop-off Bus New Orleans
- Recovery from Hurricane Katrina and Half-day tour combines architectural, natural, cultural, and historical elements of New Orleans Viator.com City of New Orleans and Katrina Recovery Tour
- Two hours cruise on a riverboat with captivating views of French quarter and Jazz music, get your tickets at New Orleans jazz sightseeing cruise
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