Mardi Gras, New Orleans
Mardi Gras, aka "Carnivale" as celebrated in such places as Rio de Janeiro and Trinidad - has special terminology:
- Ball: these are private affairs, paid for and organized by the Parade Krewes. You can only attend a Mardi Gras ball by private invitation. Many are completely closed off to the rest of society, but others like the Bacchus Ball, are a bit easier to access if only because it is a more recently established parade and is sponsored mostly by businessmen and women. If you're an important client, you'll likely receive an invitation to the Bacchus Ball and believe me, it's a rowdy, bawdy affair.
The way people live carnival here is something that cannot be expressed with words. You have to see it with your own eyes because it’s AMAZING. I have never seen something like that in my whole life. There are thousands of parades, wherever you go there’s a parade (something similar to what happens in Malaga during Easter). The streets are as crowded as you can see in this postcard I bought. Each float carries around 20 people or so who throw beads, toys, and all the funny and spice staff you can imagine... It´s awesome. The funny thing is to pick as many beads, and things they throw as you can. You can end up like a christmas tree with so many beads hanged from your body.
The King cake is a delicacy and a rich pastry that is decorated with sugary icing in the Mardi Gra colors of purple, green, and gold.
Each cake contains one small plastic baby, and the person who finds the baby in her piece will host the next party. A tradition that goes on....
Yes, you might see naked people in the streets. Yes, you might see street-fornication. Yes, there are many bars that never close and yes, Bourbon street can be a madhouse. But people are very friendly in NOLA, and they're fun. My best experiences were a result of meeting locals and asking them to show me good places to eat and good bars to hang out in.
During Mardi Gras time...it's party party party!! Not only in New Orleans but all over...parades, barbeques, festivities everywhere. The people are great and the atmosphere in the air is incredible!! Be prepared to gain a few pounds while visiting Louisiana..it's totally unavoidable!! The food is so rich and sooooo delicious! ENJOY
If you hit up NOLA for Mardi Gras season, don't miss Barkus, the annual dog parade down in the Quarter, it's unique, and a great break from the typical crowded parade scene.