Mardi Gras, New Orleans
Mardi Gras was a French holiday introduced to New Orleans some time around the turn of the 17th century (around 1699). Otherwise known as Carnival, Mardi Gras actually translates as "Fat Tuesday" in French, which is more or less a metaphor for the hedonistic excesses that are carried out during this festive time.
Mardi Gras can fall any time between February 3 and March 9, depending on the Lunar calendar used by the Catholic Church to determine the date of Easter. (Mardi Gras is always 47 days before Easter Sunday.)
If you know someone who can hook you up with a carnival Krewe ride, do so as it is a experience not to be missed.
Mardi Gras has changed quite drastically for the old timers, to the point that we do not really go anymore. But for those that have not made this trek, then Bacchus and Endymion cannot be missed. A nighttime festival of moving and blinking lights - prepare the eyes to feast on perception candy.
The major parades pass through downtown along Canal Street and St. Charles. The sidewalks are packed with spectators waiting to catch "throws" - beads toys and coins, which are tossed. Its quite a sight to watch adults scramble around and try to snatch cheap plastic beads.
Everyone should experience Mardi Gras at least once. Put on your jester hat, grab some friends, beads, and run around like an idiot for a week. Spend the next week recovering. You'll love it.
Check with www.neworleans.com to confirm the date of Mardi Gras (it varies year to year) and book your hotel room way in advance. The weekend before is just as much fun (maybe even more so because there are less people.) Mardi Gras ends abrupty at midnight Tuesday night, and if you are still lingering around in the wrong place, you may get hosed down by the cleanup crew.
The history of Mardi Gras actually began in ancient Rome. In mid-February the ancient Romans celebrated a festival then known as "Lupercalia." When Rome embraced Christianity, early leaders of the Church thought it better to incorporate certain aspects of celebration's rituals into the new faith rather than attempt to abolish them altogether. Carnival became a period of partying with reckless abandon and preceded the penance of Lent, thus tying together Christian customs and a monster of a party. A match made in... uh, heaven!
Mardi Gras came to America in 1699 with the French explorer Iberville. Mardi Gras had been celebrated as a major holiday in Paris since the Middle Ages. Iberville sailed into the Gulf of Mexico and up the Mississippi River. On March 3, 1699 Iberville set up camp about 60 miles south of where New Orleans is today. This was the day Mardi Gras was being celebrated in France. And so began the first Mardi Gras in the US!
First, you must come to Mardi Gras. Second, you must attend as many parades as your legs and liver can possibly handle! The parades are loads of fun, with major celebrities riding on the floats in the big parades. LOTS and LOTS of beads and assorted trinkets are thrown into the abyss of people lining the street. It has to be experienced firsthand! The Krewes that put on the parades go all out with their floats. Planning for a floats starts months before and some of the designs produced are spectacular! Most are Las Vegas-style with glittering, flashing lights and others are grand productions of some sort or the other. You will be suprised (maybe, excited?!) at what some people will do for beads! You may want to leave the kids at home for this one!
An unbelieveably good time will be had during the Carnival season in New Orleans. Be sure to check out the parades and the beauty of the whole city, not just the French Quarter. Mardi Gras is the day before Ash Wednesday
Night Parades. Even at night, the Mardi Gras parades are lively, colorful, and full of lights. At times, you can even get a peak of celebrities on the ride. I got to see Britney Spears back when she was barely famous!
MARDI GRAS PARADES! Here is my newly found friend Dirk and his buddy...Krewe of Thoth...helped me out a lot when I get there!
This is what Mardi Gras centers around...the Krewes and their fantastic floats! Best to see the floats in the Garden District where the atmosphere is much friendlier and more family-oriented. It's horrible in the city where everyone is rude and selfish and it stinks...
The biggest party in the US. I went this year to the endymion parade which is one of the best it was about three+ hours long and they threw lots of good beads.
(Ill put up picture when I develope them)
Heres a pic from www.nola.com
This is more like a must do. Plan your trip to be here during the world famous Mardi Gras celebration. This is a crazy time in New Orleans. While the crowds are huge during Fat Tuesday, the parades and celebrations start several days earlier. If you go at the beginning you will avoid some of the worst of the crowds, but still get some of the flavor.
This city knows how to party right all year round, but during Mardi Gras they kick it up a few notches (BAM!) Leave your inhibitions behind, but bring lots of beads, your camera and an extra bladder. During the day you can enjoy the parades and at night head for Bourbon Street and have some good natured fun.
MARDI GRAS...BURBON STREET...
NO RULES THE CITY BECOMES ONE BIG PARTY, BOTH OUTDOORS AND IN. I HAVE NEVER BEEN WITH SUCH A LARGE AND ROWDY CROWED IN MY LIFE.......I AM AMAZED AT THE LACK OF TROUBLE THAT THE LARGE CROWDS DON'T HAVE....
If you can go to MARDI GRAS! TALK ABOUT A PARTY! The carniville season starts in Jan. but picks up as it closer to fat tuesday. The parades are all over the city. You can pick up a event sch. almost anywhere. We were there the week before the kick off to the huge events but the town was gearing up & we did see a few of the first parades .Beads Beads buy those beads to throw.
Mardi Gras!!!!! is one of the most unusual events that take place in New Orleans of any place in the world for that matter. It definitely is adult oriented and I personally would not bring my children there, but for adults, you will see many sights and sounds that you will long remember. There is a party atmosphere that will overwhelm you.
If you want to bring kids to a Mardi Gras, I would suggest the ones in Baton Rouge or other smaller towns, as these are focused around the family.
The fountain was not spraying when we made our visit to New Orleans due to damage suffered during Hurricane Katrina. Still it was very interesting to see...