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How to Experience Mardi Gras in New Orleans


How to Experience Mardi Gras in New Orleans
Hi, I'm Lydia!

Lydia Schrandt is a writer, editor, and award-winning photographer currently based in Houston. She’s a contributor for USA TODAY 10Best and serves as the first chair of the Editors Council of the Society of American Travel Writers. Her work has appeared in Draft, Time Out Beijing, Travel+, USA TODAY, San Francisco Chronicle, and others.

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New Orleans' Carnival is famous around the world—and rightly so—but there's more to Mardi Gras than its rowdy reputation. Debutante balls, elaborate float-making, and Christian traditions mark the months of festivities leading up to Fat Tuesday. Here's what you need to know about visiting New Orleans for Mardi Gras.

When to go

Mardi Gras dates and the best time to arrive.

Mardi Gras celebrations in the Big Easy take place throughout the two weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent), usually in February or early March. Things really get going on the Thursday before Fat Tuesday, when some of the best parades—those by Endymion, Zulu, Rex, and Bacchus Krewes—take to the streets of the city. The oldest and most influential Krewe leaders typically put on their shows on Lundi Gras, also known as Fat Monday.

How to go

Top Mardi Gras experiences for all travelers.

Visitors to New Orleans during this exciting time of year have several options for their Mardi Gras experience. Book tickets to watch the parades pass by from an exclusive viewing stand, take a tour of the city's famous parade routes and French Quarter party spots, or go behind the scenes at Mardi Gras World to learn about the hard work that goes into this colorful Louisiana festival.

Get into the festive spirit during Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Photo: Viator

Things to know

Top tips for attending Mardi Gras.

  • New Orleans hotels sell out months in advance of Mardi Gras, so it's a good idea to book early.

  • Plan to visit during the first week of Mardi Gras to enjoy the parades and atmosphere without the crowds.

  • The French Quarter is closed to vehicular traffic during Mardi Gras weekend, so plan to arrive early or arrange an alternate form of transportation.

  • Weather during Mardi Gras can be unpredictable, so dress in layers and wear comfortable shoes.

More things to do in New Orleans during Mardi Gras

Hi, I'm Lydia!

Lydia Schrandt is a writer, editor, and award-winning photographer currently based in Houston. She’s a contributor for USA TODAY 10Best and serves as the first chair of the Editors Council of the Society of American Travel Writers. Her work has appeared in Draft, Time Out Beijing, Travel+, USA TODAY, San Francisco Chronicle, and others.

Keep exploring
See all New Orleans tours
559 tours & tickets
Things to do in New Orleans
See all things to do in New Orleans
New Orleans Neighborhood Guide
5 Must-See New Orleans Neighborhoods and How to Visit