Mardi Gras
About
The city of New Orleans is the place to be for Mardis Gras, the last hurrah of the carnival season before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. While much of the focus of the event is on the rowdy, debaucherous crowd that takes over Bourbon Street in the French Quarter, there is arguably more (family-friendly) fun to be had in other neighborhoods throughout the city, where parade 'krewes' toss beads, cups, doubloons, and stuffed animals from elaborately-decorated floats to spectators that line the streets. Locals in the know stake out prime spots for the best parades up to 12 hours in advance!
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Erica M
4 contributions
Dec 2022 • Friends
If you are looking for some family fun or a night out on bourbon St, this is definitely the place be during February. When I was in high school, we performed in this really nice parade. Also visited another time to meet friends for an All star weekend in 2012. The entire weekend was full of fun. We didn't stop moving, we went so many didn't places around the city.
Written December 12, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

HenryChin
Naples, FL1,500 contributions
Feb 2020 • Couples
My wife and I viewed the parade from the Blake hotel balcony. Where we saw The Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club and Krewe of Rex. Lots of beautiful floats and marching bands. It was great to see the US marine marching band. Managed to catch a lot of beads. Only damper was a jerk who knocked over my wife twice to get at beads.
Written February 27, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

KMgibbs
London, UK110 contributions
Feb 2016 • Friends
Things to know; Parades routes are about 8 miles long and they move at 1-1.5 miles per hour (Zulu is slower than this). So, don't try and get to a parade based on start time. There are so many in down town, just turn up and see what is happening, otherwise you could be hanging around a long time with nothing happening. Secondly, don't just observe, look to catch the throws from the floats, as if you don't you will get hit in the face by a set of glass beads. In fact the police advise you to pay attention otherwise you will get hurt. Thirdly, avoid Bourbon Street and Canal street junction. Here are where all the crowds are but this isn't where all the fun is. From the French Qrt, exit via Royal or Decatur streets to Canal Street. From here you will still be in the fun of things. Avoid using Canal street for walking up and down, use the parallel street, when parades in running.
There are lots of parade monitoring apps. Don't be cheap, get a data package and make sure that you know where the front of the parade is and make you last minute plans from there (see point one for the basic planning).
It can be quite overwhelming, have a beer and calm down. Without a drink it can be too much but with a beer it makes sense.
The best days are Friday before and the Monday (Lundi Gras). Friday for the Parades at night which are spectacular, where as on Monday, go to the river front and the Zulu street festival, which is a free music festival. Mardi Gras day (Tuesday) finishes at Midnight, where the police and fire service close the city. This isn't the night to do drinking, have a good day and plan to be in somewhere when the big closedown happens for Ash Wednesday.
The whole thing can be done on a shoe string as everything on street is free and people will give you beads / get thrown them from floats. So, bring food and drinking money and stick to the CBD, Garden District and French Qrt. No exploring outside these areas until you are a confident traveller and have very little cash on you.
Enjoy!
Written February 18, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Elizabeth S
Irving, TX87 contributions
Feb 2016 • Couples
So much to say, so little time... MardiGras is fun, awesome, nuts, confusing, crowded, and slightly smells. I always get irritated at the "younger crowd" who drinks too much and gets gross, but just keep moving and it'll be in your rear view mirror. The parades are great - watch for times and get there early. The viewing of parades and ability to get close enough to grab beads & coins can be tough. Restaurants and Bars are crazy busy so keep the cups full! You don't need to take beads with you, you'll get plenty - and trading is fun! Yes, you can do certain activities for bead payments (fun to watch, but no thanks)... The golden rule at MardiGras is patience and good hearted fun, altho slightly raunchy at times. If you get uptight, don't go!
Written February 29, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

ProfessorOnzaga
Kenosha, WI681 contributions
Feb 2018 • Solo
There are so many adjectives that one can employ to describe Mardi Gras, yet unless you have "been there and done that" you cannot get a true understanding of its magnitude. It is, unarguably, one of the most unique celebrations that one can experience in his/her lifetime. Actually, the Mardi Gras season lasts for 3 weeks, but tourists tend to flock to New Orleans for the last long weekend into Fat Tuesday. The parades are unlike any in the rest of the USA: huge floats carrying predominately drunk people in costumes who throw, beads, toys, food, undergarments, etc., into the crowd; fantastic bands that play and dance their hearts out for miles; Royalty dressed in obscenely adorned gowns weighing no less than 25 pounds;and tens of thousands of spectators, most quite intoxicated, enjoying the show and those around them. These parades are much fun, but can also be overwhelming if one does not like crowds, drunk people, getting hit in the head with beads, etc. Then there is the French Quarter, which is jam packed with tourists, yet again drunk, either throwing beads from balconies or begging for them- sometimes in a manner that is not quite virtuous or chaste. Once again, if one does not like crowds or intoxicated people, stay clear of the Quarter. Lundi Gras (Monday) is a bit calmer, yet one can enjoy the tradition of Zulu and Rex, the two grand Kings of Carnival, meeting on the shore of the Mississippi. This is very interesting, but there is always a large crowd... although not necessarily as drunk. And then there is Fat Tuesday, the last and greatest day. I enjoy venturing into the Quarter in the morning, around 9-10 AM, when the locals, in particular, begin to come out dressed in some fantastic costumes. As the day progresses, more come out. By 4 PM, the tourists are coming back from the parades and the Quarter becomes much too crowded and bacchanalian for me, and I exit. If one remains, one can expect the highest level of partying until midnight, when the police on their horses ride through and clear the Quarter. The streets become still (not inside the bars and homes, however) and Carnival is officially over. I have wonderful memories of Mardi Gras from my youth, when I was in college. This year it was enjoyable, but I only participated in Endymion and Fat Tuesday. On the other days, I remained in the more quiet areas of the city. To fully enjoy the exuberance, titillation and joie de vivre of Mardi Gras, it is best if one is young (20-mid 30's) and resilient. We old people just can't take it! Nevertheless, it is an extraordinary experience and if you have the opportunity to join in the revelry, the I recommend that you do so. There is not place on earth like New Orleans during Mardi Gras. Laissez le bon temps rouler!
Written March 16, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Bucketlist
Mandeville, LA44 contributions
Feb 2017 • Friends
The Endymion extravaganza has gotta way to big and the setup makes it hard to find your table and friends at different tables. 1-tables are way to close. Maneuvering through with all the ice chests is impossible. 2-Wearing a long gown is ridiculous when the floor gets absolutely filthy. Best to wear or bring comfy shoes b/c you will be walking on beads and through slop by the end of the night. Bathrooms for ladies, may have stairs so that's a challenge for those wearing heals. 3-once the parade is there, take cover. The riders literally hum their beads with no regard for your face or teeth etc. They throw a lot but the beads are heavy and it's hard for them to see with all the lights. Everything and anything on your table will be demolished from the beads so best to move all glass underneath, try to cover food etc 4-It's fun to catch the beads but there really is no way to carry out your catches which leads to a huge amount of waste and leave behinds. There are beads and throws everywhere. 5-watch your belongings and favorite catches. Best to side strap a small purse rather than leave it on the table. We had several instances where people just walk around and take anything they want from your table. We had several people grab bottles of liquor and some of our favorite throws. 6-after the parade, the barricades are not lifted forcing you to once again, weed your way through the tight tables, ice chests, beads etc to get to an area to dance in. Not much of a dance floor. 7-Bands play throughout but the feature band is usually at the end so be prepared for them to start at 2am. So here are my suggestions: . 1-Wear a long dress that you can tie up so it does not hit the floor therefore no need to invest in an expensive dress. With all the beads you will end up wearing, no one sees the dress 2-bring comfy shoes. 3-Bring your own liquor, regardless of whether you do the food and drink option. Lines are long and they will only serve you 2 drinks at a time. You will inevitably drink both before reaching back to your table 3-get an uber parking is far and walk is long especially after the event when you are carrying excess 4-Don't leave anything of value on your table- EVER! 4-plan and buy tables close to your friends. You will NEVER "just" find them when you get there. 5-make sure to look at the table layout before you enter the dome. 6-dress code is adhered to(still think the dress code is ridiculous). You will not get in if your dress is too short or if your tux tie is not on when you enter.
Honestly- it's so not worth it.Standing along the route and enjoying the whole day with family and friends is a much better experience and way less expensive. The extravaganza has gotten way too big and they are trying to accommodate way too many people.
Written April 22, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Scott G
Los Angeles, CA486 contributions
Mar 2019 • Couples
Mardi Gras this year was three days before my 50th birthday, so I decided it was the perfect excuse for me to finally go! Stayed in The Pontchartrain Hotel in the Garden District right on St. Charles (the parade route street), and got a room with windows facing the parade. It was freezing this year- 36 degrees when the parades started on Fat Tuesday morning at 8AM- so having a hotel room right nearby and with viewing access from indoors (which we occasionally did) was a huge bonus. The crowds were very friendly, with lots of families and food booths. We never had trouble finding a spot, though it was crowded there was always room to get up close, in some cases even right in front, and people were friendly and polite.

We arrived Monday night and saw the Orpheus parade, then saw Zulu and Rex on Fat Tuesday. Would have liked to arrive a few days earlier and seen Bacchus, but worked free airline miles and Monday was the only date I could arrive. FYI the parades on Fat Tuesday, the Mardi Gras "closing" parades, are at 8AM and 10AM, so be prepared for an early start! There are night parades in the days leading up to Tuesday, but none on Tuesday itself.

We walked out at about 8:30 AM on Tuesday and were able to find a spot near the front, right by our hotel. Caught lots of beads, both Monday night (Orpheus) and Tuesday (Zulu and Rex). Seemed like it was important to lock eyes with the thrower- I think that helps them know they aren't going to give you a head injury! Almost all the beads I caught were when I managed to maintain eye contact with someone on a float.

Each parade has about 40 floats, which are numbered, and they seemed to last a lot longer than the scheduled two hours. Of the three we saw Orpheus had the most elaborate floats- a dragon they had was my favorite, though Rex had a really cool bull that snorted out smoke that was my second favorite. Zulu had a lot of entertainment themed ones (Simpsons, Marvel, DC, etc.). Honestly the level of floats varied widely, some felt like highschool style floats, and it can feel a bit repetitive after awhile... but then along comes a giant bull snorting out steam and you start shouting for beads like a 5 year old again! (I caught a toss from the bull one, a bull pendant). Interspersed between the floats are energetic highschool marching bands, dancers, dudes in very weird colorful outfits including capes and masks, groups of old men wearing the same color jackets, and dudes wearing outfits that in any other context would look like KKK paraphernalia!

It was loud and colorful and chaotic and fun, everything I wanted. I never saw people fight over beads, and in fact the street and trees were covered with beads to be had. (tip: don't stand near an overhanging tree, it will catch the throws instead). If you can get there early and bring a chair, that will hold your spot the entire time, whether you're with the chair or not.

I saw no nudity during any of the parades. Just unlucky that way, I guess. ;) I also went to Bourbon Street Fat Tuesday night just to see it, and was mildly disappointed. It was PACKED wall to wall with people, but again no nudity or even any colorful costumes. No one falling down drunk either, no pushing, everyone was very civil, which was great. I will say that I didn't stay there too late though, I left around 11PM. I went in a few bars and was able to get served right away. In fact my fears about not being able to get in anywhere to eat or drink during Mardi Gras were completely unfounded, we had no trouble at all from the day before Fat Tuesday to when we left on Thursday.

One final suggestion: make sure you don't just see Bourbon Street. Try to experience the Garden District, Magazine Street, Frenchmen Street, and a swamp tour too, to get the full range of what New Orleans has to offer while you're there. I loved it before and I love it even more now. I had a great time, laissez les bon temps rouler!
Written March 15, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

NancyPale
Deer Park, NY3 contributions
Feb 2016 • Couples
1st off you need to know the city management encourages drinking at every possible opportunity. Bourbon Street reminded me of NYC Times Square, before Rudy cleaned it up. I'm sure there is a place which needs a "Larry Flynt's Hustler Mens Bottomless Club" but three (3) of them on the same street? Get real.

Now, all the trash on Bourbon Street stays on Bourbon Street. One block West and you are on Royal. Small shops, folks speaking French and restaurants worth the trip. Top notch is "The Court of Two Sisters". Like seafood? This is the town for it.

I have a family member who hails from the area and gave me a list of places to go for sights and dining. I did not find the Court by chance.

Her advice was simple, anyplace with a Chef name you recognize, avoid them. She likened it to the NYC tourist trap joints around midtown. Same advice for any Cajun which covers their seafood in spices making it unrecognizable.

Regarding the towns legendary Beignets, Here in NYC we call em Zeppoles. Only theirs are generally flat and triangular.

Their other "Must Do" is the Muffaletta. If they served this on 86th street in Brooklyn, the clients would be shouting 'Where is the meat?' It's a bread meal. Good bread but still, mainly bread.

To do, go in an organized Cemetery tour. The history of common English phrases we take for granted will surprise you. Go drink on the Steamboat Natchez during a river trip.

Best drink is the Sezerac and Oysters Rockefeller at Antoine's. Allegedly, they invented both and this is the same pre-civil war building.

Honestly, I'd go back just for Antoine's and The Court.
Written January 19, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

GeorgiaPeach321
Smyrna, GA186 contributions
Mar 2019 • Couples
This was a bucket list item for my husband and me. I was a bit nervous, since we're mid forties and anticipated a crowd of rowdy college students. However, we had a fabulous time! I'll share a few tips on how we "managed the madness."

1. We stayed at the Ritz, which was a block away from the French Quarter. When we were done with the chaos, we had a short 1/2 block walk back to peace and quiet.

2. We rented grandstand space for the parades. We were able to sit and wait for the parade to arrive, and there was plenty of space for us to maneuver around to catch the throws. Tip 1: don't sit under a tree. The tree will catch more than you. Tip 2: book your space early enough to have your tickets mailed to you. That way you don't have to worry about crossing the parade route to retrieve them from the box office.

3. We rented balcony space on Bourbon St. Rather than joining the crowds of revelers moving through the streets, we were throwing the beads from up above. We booked late, but Felix's and Bourbon Cowboy still had space available. Both of these come with unlimited booze, food and clean bathrooms. It was a wild time. "Boobs for beads" is a real thing at Mardi Gras and we were amused to see a little grey-haired lady in the balcony across from us who would dangle her beads and demand to see boobs before she'd toss them!

4. The Zulu parade rolled past the Ritz, so I bought two stadium chairs from Walgreens and went out early to stake out our spots. I thought it was early - at 7 a.m., people already had their chairs, tables, tents and grills in place. I did find some space and used the carry bags to attach our chairs to the barricades. We went back to the room and watched the app to determine when the parade was approaching. When it was time to go out, our front-row spots were there waiting for us.

5. With the exception of Acme, we only ate at places where we could make reservations on Open Table, and we weren't disappointed. We never had to wait to be seated. Every place we selected was amazing - House of Blues, RedFish Grill and Mr. B's Cafe were most memorable.

I highly recommend doing Mardi Gras at least once. There's no experience like it.
Written March 9, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Bea C
Anaheim, CA19 contributions
Feb 2016
This was our first time in New Orleans and Mardi Gras. We knew there were going to be parades and non stop partying but had no clue it was going to be as awesome as it was! If you are planning on attending the parades make sure that you arrive hours in advance to get a good spot because if you don't you will not have a good view. There are thousands and thousands of people everywhere and police officers everywhere so you feel safe. The first two nights were Friday and Saturday and were so crowed you could barely walk through Bourbon street, although there are police officers everywhere you cant prevent theft so don't bring any valuables with you. My sister got her phone stolen right out of her front pocket on the second night. Sunday, Monday and Fat Tuesday were the best nights! The crowds were not as packed and we ended up on the balconies tossing beads which was so much more fun! So much better then being squished on Bourbon St. Im pretty sure anyone can get access to most balconies by purchasing beads. Enjoy!!
Written February 17, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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