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Mardi Gras 2014 - Young Adults Looking for Some Crazy Fun

Phoenix, Arizona
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Mardi Gras 2014 - Young Adults Looking for Some Crazy Fun

First timer at Mardi Gras! Going with a group in our early 30-s... looking to have an epic adventure. Where do we stay? I've read about Balcony Parties - are they worth it? Your thoughts? Please give me any tips!

Greenwood, Louisiana
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1. Re: Mardi Gras 2014 - Young Adults Looking for Some Crazy Fun

Stay in the French Quarter-not necessary to get a balcony room-instead, just get yourself invited to a balcony party! At any rate, you'd better make your reservations soon-prices go up and availability goes down quickly for Mardi Gras.

College Station...
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2. Re: Mardi Gras 2014 - Young Adults Looking for Some Crazy Fun

The party extends throughout the City, but for a group in their early 30s looking to have an epic adventure, I agree with Poole, you will want to stay in, or at least fairly close to (within about 5 blocks of) the French Quarter. I enjoy balcony parties, but other than the social exchange with friends which can take place elsewhere, after a couple of hours I'm ready to go on to something else. Many folks think they will most enjoy being "above it all", but for me, I like to be "down and amongst 'em." Although Bourbon St., Canal St. and St. Charles Ave. can be VERY crowded, you can easily escape the crowds be merely walking 50 feet away from those streets.

College Station...
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3. Re: Mardi Gras 2014 - Young Adults Looking for Some Crazy Fun

Some tips. Plan on costuming at least one day (Fat Tuesday [Mardi Gras]); an epic adventure involves participation, not just observation. Order the 2014 edition Arthur Hardy's Mardi Gras Guide, available for order in December, ships early January, see:

http://www.mardigrasguide.com/store/

If your group is unfamiliar with New Orleans, order a 2014 edition general New Orleans travel guide; I like Frommer's New Orleans.

Make plans to watch some of the parades, but don't feel you need to see all of all of the parades. In the French Quarter you will have a chance to meet and visit with interesting people from all over the world. While preparing for your visit, don't pay much attention to folks not having actual FIRST HAND knowledge.

For some initial information you can go to:

neworleansonline.com/neworleans/mardigras/

and

http://www.mardigrasneworleans.com/

When you have specific questions, we'll be here for you.

Gilbert, Arizona
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4. Re: Mardi Gras 2014 - Young Adults Looking for Some Crazy Fun

Prince Conti Hotel (on Conti, half block off Bourbon) has reasonable rates and great location. Get a pass for the party at Bourbon View Balcony for a nite. Preferably one of the busier ones. Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon or Fat Tues. Believe me, it is a blast "down in the midst" of everything, but so relieving to be able to get out out of the crowd. Besides, they have an open bar with pass (to go cups let you refill and take down with you saving lots of bar $) and GREAT food included. Plus it's fun to be the one up on the balcony throwing beads instead of down catching.

Mitchell, South...
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5. Re: Mardi Gras 2014 - Young Adults Looking for Some Crazy Fun

FYI: I know of groups of young folks who never leave the French Quarter and think they have experienced Mardi Gras. Wrong! It's about the many activities outside the FQ.eg the parades, masked balls, music, family reunions etc

College Station...
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6. Re: Mardi Gras 2014 - Young Adults Looking for Some Crazy Fun

SoDacMac, I agree that many younger folks only receive a very limited exposure to Carnival and Mardi Gras, although those in or past their late twenties usually have a somewhat broader experience. That's why I often recommend the somewhat stodgy and cliche Author Hardy's Mardi Gras Guide. In addition to the accurate and comprehensive calendars and parade schedules, descriptions and maps, it opens the door to Mardi Gras history and the many and extensive Mardi Gras traditions.

True, many Carnival activities take place outside of the French Quarter, and outside of the City for that matter. Since most of the major parades go along a border of the French Quarter, I doubt very many multi-day French Quarter Carnival visitors fail to have at least some parade experience. Many of the family, friends and social organization (krewe) activities outside of the French Quarter are not open to the public. The super-krewe extravaganzas in the Convention Center and Super Dome can be a lot of fun if you know someone in the respective krewe, but I don't recommend the experience for a first timer. The traditional tableau balls are by invitation only and would be of little interest to those outside of krewe member families and the friends of those being honored.

But I disagree that "It's about the many activities outside the FQ," if you mean to the exclusion of the MANY activities inside the French Quarter. Fact is, many locals, but certainly not all or even most, have very little FIRST HAND knowledge regarding what the French Quarter is like during the last five days of Carnival ending with and including Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), relying on hearsay and local news, which is more interested in attracting viewers than accurate reporting.

The Friday morning Greasing of the Poles in front of the Royal Sonesta is the official kick-off for the big weekend. Most all the major parades pass by the French Quarter. During the days preceding Fat Tuesday there are almost double the usual number of French Quarter weekend street performers. In the French Quarter many people costume Saturday through Tuesday. There are organized activities around Jackson Square and along the Riverfront. Although most locals enjoy the parades Uptown with their usual circle of friends, within and around the French Quarter there is a communal atmosphere shared by visitors from all over the world. Krewe gatherings and annual gatherings of regular Mardi Gras visitors are taking place everywhere within the French Quarter. I consider the intersection of Canal St. and St. Charles Ave. to be the epicenter of North American Carnival.

On Fat Tuesday many walking krewes with brass bands, including Pete Fountains Half Fast Walking Club, KOE, and Societé de Saint Anne, converge in the French Quarter. You can walk over to Basin St. and catch a litlle Zulu, then stroll up to Canal for a little bit of Rex. The noon Bourbon Street Costume Contest is a true spectacle. Although many miss it because they're recovering from the previous day's festivities, my favorite part of all of Carnival is wandering the French Quarter between 8 AM and Noon on Fat Tuesday.

I've been fortunate to have experienced Carnival both inside and outside the French Quarter, including Uptown and in Lafayette. I love it all. But for adults not yet friends with locals, it's hard to beat the French Quarter and immediately surrounding areas. Because of the actual enforcement of the 21 year old drinking age on Bourbon St., many of the unfortunate activities associated with underage drinking have been moved out of the French Quarter and up St. Charles Ave., much to the dismay of older Lower Garden District revelers and families. The French Quarter is a LOT more than just drunks and booby flashers, although you got that too!

San Clemente...
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7. Re: Mardi Gras 2014 - Young Adults Looking for Some Crazy Fun

any recs on hotels?

Plymouth, Minnesota
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8. Re: Mardi Gras 2014 - Young Adults Looking for Some Crazy Fun

We are going Wed-Sat before Fat Tuesday and staying at Hotel Provincial and got a really, really good rate. I'd check them out!

College Station...
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9. Re: Mardi Gras 2014 - Young Adults Looking for Some Crazy Fun

For Saturday through Fat Tuesday rates will be high, but there seems to be continuing availability. Don't expect any bargains during the last 4-5 days of Carnival; the hotels are very much aware of the situation. For Mardi Gras most any location in or close to (within something like 4-5 blocks of) the French Quarter will get the job done, with locations along St. Charles Ave. between Jackson Ave. and Canal St. also being quite desirable, but you probably don't want to be more than a block Northwest of Basin/Elk/Loyola/Rampart streets, or more than a block North of St. Charles Ave. if Southwest of Hwy. 90. The corner of Canal St. and St. Charles Ave. is probably the center of activity. Most of the top 100 TripAdvisor ranked hotels will be at least decent as relates to cleanliness and maintenance, but not necessarily location.

Consider the blind or "secret" booking or bidding sites such as Hotwire or Priceline. The hotels designated 3 and 1/2 stars or better, and located within the area designated "French Quarter - Canal Street" will be reasonably nice and well located; hotels of lesser ranking and/or in other areas MAY be OK, but also may not. If you can wait until ten days or less in advance to decide whether you're going or not, during SOME years you can pick up a great bargain through these sites during those last ten days.

CT
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10. Re: Mardi Gras 2014 - Young Adults Looking for Some Crazy Fun

Mardi Gras 2014- woot woot! I'm mid 20s going with a group of friends. This is my second time there for Mardi Gras and cannot wait! I agree, be sure to check out life outside of Bourbon Street. I enjoyed attending a service at St. Augustine Catholic Church the last time I was there, and plan to do it again. Also enjoyed a bike tour with Confederacy Cruisers. Do plan some things to see New Orleans and life outside of Bourbon St because there is so much there, but also just as importantly- leave plenty of time to go with the flow. The flow in New Orleans is a beautiful thing.