Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, always falls the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Steven’s mother lived in New Orleans for almost a year and she told us that the best time to go to experience Mardi Gras is the week before the actual Fat Tuesday. The parades lead by different krewes begin a month in advance, but the week before the festivities everything is in full swing and still geared towards the locals. The parades and events in the French Quarter and beyond are full of families and inappropriate antics are at a minimum.
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So, we took advice and spent a full week in the city before Mardi Gras. Celebrating Mardi Gras has been on our bucket list for years now and we are so happy we finally got the chance to check it off!
If you are into the party mood maybe we will recommend to stay for a total of 10 days. So you can get the pre-Mardi Gras experience and the actual Fat Tuesday events. We to many locals who say that both times are amazing, but it all depends on what type of experience you want.
Where to Enjoy Mardi Gras?
The French Quarter, specifically on Bourbon Street, is more for tourists while the are many family friendly parades around the city. Nevertheless, visiting New Orleans for Mardi Gras should be on everyones bucket list, regardless on when you plan on going.
We had an amazing week exploring the French Quarter, Magazine Street and of course watching different krewes parades. The way Mardi Gras works in New Orleans is each parade is organized and hosted by different social clubs, called krewes, each with its own royal court. Besides the krewe and their floats, each parade features local school’s marching band, humorous customs and of course lots of plastic beads, cups and themed trinkets.
We also participated in the all dog Krewe of Barkus walking parade with our chocolate labrador, Gordo. You do not need to march with your dog to enjoy the day, as the streets are lined with locals and their pets.
Beyond the Mardi Gras Festivities
While you are in New Orleans you must try creole and cajun food enjoy the endless stream of jazz music around every corner and in almost every restaurant.
In New Orleans the people are super nice and treat you like if they are your lifelong friend, even if you just met. I went to some of the parades by myself and I made so many cool friends while asking for beads or just talking about how cool are each of the colorful floats passing by.
Our favorite parade is the Krewe of Pontchartrain. Not only did we watch the krewe’s parade, we also went to an event they held in the French Quarter the day before their parade where they threw beads and more from balconies before a different krewe’s parade came through.
While we did not stay until the actual Tuesday of Mardi Gras, we were already taking home a suitcase full of beads, stuffed animals and exciting memories. There is never a bad time to enjoy Mardi Gras in New Orleans, just depending on what type of experience you want determines the best time to go.
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