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New Orleans Mardi Gras

By Viator, February 2014

4.5 15 Reviews | Add your review

The New Orleans Carnival season is justly famous around the world, but there’s more to Mardi Gras than its rowdy reputation. Carnival has its roots in Christian traditions and the phenomena of debutante and masquerade balls.

Needless to say, New Orleanians have long-since placed their own spin on the holiday. Revelers dress in elaborate garb and parade through the city every day for the two weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.

While many tourists center their festivities on Bourbon Street and the French Quarter, locally organized parades have steered clear of the Quarter since the early 70s due its narrow streets. Instead, major parades proceed along St. Charles Avenue and Canal Street, on the upriver side of the French Quarter.

Weekend Before Fat Tuesday

The weekend prior to Mardi Gras is when things really start to heat up. The population of the city reputedly doubles during this time. Thursday night starts off with an all female parade, The Krewe of Muses. Friday features the Krewes of Hermes and D'État, as well as smaller, neighborhood parades like the Krewe of Barkus (features dog costumes) and the Krewe of OAK.  Saturday and Sunday feature daytime parades and the first major Krewes kicks off with the celebrity-led Bacchus parade on Sunday night.

Lundi Gras

Otherwise known as Fat Monday, Lundi Gras is the series of parades that precede the final festivities the following day. The monarchs of the oldest and most influential Krewes arrive by boat on Canal Street, where an all-day party is staged. Several other major parades ensue.

Mardi Gras

Revelers have maintained a tradition of exhibitionism throughout Mardi Gras, but its predominant role in the celebrations has been greatly exaggerated and is largely confined to the tourist areas.

Festivities begin with the Zulu parade, followed by the Rex parade. A number of smaller parading organizations with truck floats follow the Rex parade. Numerous smaller groups and walking clubs also parade around the city. Famous local musical groups ramble from bar to bar in the French Quarter from noon to dusk. Groups of Mardi Gras Indians, local dance troupes populated by revelers dressed in elaborate costumes inspired by Native American ceremonial apparel, parade their finery.

The end of Mardi Gras is officially decreed at the stroke of midnight, and New Orleans police officers traditionally make a show of clearing Bourbon Street, where the majority of out-of-town revelers gather.

Tours & Tickets

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Mardi Gras World: Behind-the-Scenes Tour in New Orleans

4.5 star rating: Recommended 14 Reviews

Get a unique behind-the-scenes look at the makings of Mardi Gras with this all-access tour of Mardi Gras World in New Orleans. Perfect for the whole family, ...  Read more

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Duration: 60 minutes (approx.)

From USD $19.95

Viator Exclusive: Mardi Gras Parade Premium Viewing Stands

Treat yourself to a fantastic view of the merry madness of New Orleans' Mardi Gras from a private viewing stand along a parade route. With this Viator ...  Read more

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Duration: Varies

From USD $93.75

Viator VIP: 4-Day Ultimate Mardi Gras Experience

Experience the thrill of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras in comfort and style with this 4-day Viator VIP package that includes a gourmet buffet, open bars and access ...  Read more

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Duration: 4 days

From USD $1,243.99

New Orleans Mardi Gras Segway Tour

Celebrate Mardi Gras in style while exploring New Orleans by Segway! The Mardi Gras season is filled with parades, wild costumes and music, and on this Segway ...  Read more

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Duration: 2 hours (approx.)

From USD $65.00

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