New Orleans Mardi Gras
By Viator, January 2016
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.
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.
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
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Duration: 60 minutes