THE ULTIMATE MARDI GRAS GUIDE

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MARDI GRAS HISTORY

The Basics of Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras means Fat Tuesday in French, and represents the season of Carnival celebration. Every year, Mardi Gras begins on Twelfth Night, which is January 6. Twelfth Night represents the Christian holy day of the Epiphany. The season, which represents a time of celebration before Christian Lent, lasts until Fat Tuesday. The length of the Mardi Gras season varies, but it typically lasts anywhere from a month and a half to three months. For a list of future Mardi Gras Day dates, see here.

The History of Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras originated in New Orleans the day Iberville stood on our land in 1699. Since then, balls have become a tradition of the season to represent members of society. From the past to the present, Mardi Gras is full of traditions.

Mardi Gras balls began in the 1700s and still exist today. At the Twelfth Night ball, a king cake was cut, and whoever found the bean (a precursor to today’s baby) inside would host the next ball. This would continue until Mardi Gras evening. Numerous balls still exist today, although they are often affiliated with various parades, organizations or krewes. The first ball was held in 1857 by the Mistick Krewe of Comus. Comus hosted the first parade, followed by Rex in 1872, which debuted the king of Mardi Gras. The Rex parade gave Mardi Gras the official colors of purple to represent justice, green to represent faith, and gold to represent power. The three colors were to represent the “king.”

In 1872, the city of New Orleans was struggling through years of Reconstruction. To help the city and promote tourism, proclamations of Mardi Gras were posted at train stations throughout the country. Rex commanded his subjects to gather and celebrate Carnival in New Orleans. From there on, Mardi Gras became a sought after tourist attraction.

For more in depth information on Mardi Gras history and traditions, see here. You can visit many Mardi Gras museums year-round as well.

What is Lundi Gras?

Lundi Gras, which means Fat Monday in French, is the day before Mardi Gras day. Some parades roll that night, including Proteus and Orpheus, while the day is often filled with festive lunches and celebrations, including the wonderfully creative Red Beans Parade. Zulu and Rex historically meet on this day as well and host various celebrations. To read more about Lundi Gras traditions, click here. 

MARDI GRAS LOGISTICS

When is the best time to go to Mardi Gras?

It is fun to be in New Orleans throughout the Mardi Gras season, but the biggest celebrations and parades begin the Wednesday before Fat Tuesday. On that Wednesday, the larger krewes (also known as parades) begin to roll. Prior to that Wednesday, various parades roll in neighborhoods across the city on weekends– beginning on Twelfth Night in January. Flights and hotels fill up fast, so plan your trip ASAP!

Mardi Gras is a free event! No tickets are needed to view parades. For a full parade schedule, see here. However, balls are invitation only or ticketed. You can also buy passes to watch parades on grandstands, located all along the route.

The most historic parades include Proteus  on Lundi Gras, and Rex and Zulu  on Fat Tuesday. The largest parades are Endymion on the Saturday before Mardi Gras and Bacchus on the Sunday before Mardi Gras. Other fan favorites include Muses  (an all-female krewe) on the Thursday before and Tucks, which rolls during the day on the Saturday before.

Where is it held? Where should I stay?

Where you stay during Mardi Gras depends on what you’re interested in seeing and doing. Parades roll in various neighborhoods, but the main route is from Napoleon Avenue in the Uptown Neighborhood to Canal Street in the Central Business District (just on the edge of the French Quarter). It is difficult to get around during Mardi Gras, so walking or biking is your best bet. You should look into a hotel or bed and breakfast along the route. Look for St. Charles Avenue or Canal Street.

If you’re coming with your family, the Uptown neighborhood is recommended for lodging and parade viewing. Some hotels closer to downtown offer balcony viewing or stands for guests.

Restrooms are hard to find during parades, although some port-a-potties offer a toilet for a fee. Having a room close to the route is a bonus for this reason. You can also usually find bathrooms at churches and schools along the routes for a small fee.

The mega-krewe Endymion rolls through Mid City and into downtown, while Krewe du Vieux and other smaller, walking parades, roll through the Marigny/Bywater and the French Quarter.

Contrary to popular belief, none of the major parades roll down Bourbon Street. Adults are still often found on the popular street in their own revelry. The Friday before Fat Tuesday is a popular time to hit Bourbon Street for various celebrations like Greasing of the Poles and festive lunches.

MARDI GRAS LOGISTICS

When is the best time to go to Mardi Gras?

It is fun to be in New Orleans throughout the Mardi Gras season, but the biggest celebrations and parades begin the Wednesday before Fat Tuesday. On that Wednesday, the larger krewes (also known as parades) begin to roll. Prior to that Wednesday, various parades roll in neighborhoods across the city on weekends– beginning on Twelfth Night in January. Flights and hotels fill up fast, so plan your trip ASAP!

Mardi Gras is a free event! No tickets are needed to view parades. For a full parade schedule, see here. However, balls are invitation only or ticketed. You can also buy passes to watch parades on grandstands, located all along the route.

The most historic parades include Proteus  on Lundi Gras, and Rex  and Zulu  on Fat Tuesday. The largest parades are Endymion  on the Saturday before Mardi Gras and Bacchus on the Sunday before Mardi Gras. Other fan favorites include Muses  (an all-female krewe) on the Thursday before and Tucks, which rolls during the day on the Saturday before.

Where is it held? Where should I stay?

Where you stay during Mardi Gras depends on what you’re interested in seeing and doing. Parades roll in various neighborhoods, but the main route is from Napoleon Avenue in the Uptown Neighborhood to Canal Street in the Central Business District (just on the edge of the French Quarter). It is difficult to get around during Mardi Gras, so walking or biking is your best bet. You should look into a hotel or bed and breakfast along the route. Look for St. Charles Avenue or Canal Street.

If you’re coming with your family, the Uptown neighborhood is recommended for lodging and parade viewing. Some hotels closer to downtown offer balcony viewing or stands for guests.

Restrooms are hard to find during parades, although some port-a-potties offer a toilet for a fee. Having a room close to the route is a bonus for this reason. You can also usually find bathrooms at churches and schools along the routes for a small fee.

The mega-krewe Endymion rolls through Mid City and into downtown, while Krewe du Vieux and other smaller, walking parades, roll through the Marigny/Bywater and the French Quarter.

Contrary to popular belief, none of the major parades roll down Bourbon Street. Adults are still often found on the popular street in their own revelry. The Friday before Fat Tuesday is a popular time to hit Bourbon Street for various celebrations like Greasing of the Poles and festive lunches.

Source:

https://www.neworleans.com/events/holidays-seasonal/mardi-gras/the-ultimate-mardi-gras-survival-guide/

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