When in New Orleans...
How to Celebrate Mardi Gras Like a Local
Laissez les bons temps rouler! (Let the good times roll!)
Watch a parade - or better yet, be in one. Find someone you know who knows a guy. Contact your oldest friend from college who has ties to the Crescent City. In other words, search for a place where you can crash because hotel rooms will be booked to the max and prices jacked up the sooner it gets to Mardi Gras (known as Carnival to some). Find a New Orleans vacation rental in the Quarter to use as a home base. Otherwise, your best bet is to befriend a balcony reveler so you too can enjoy a birds-eye view of the festivities. Be aware that for an up close look at any of the Mardi Gras parades, you’re gonna have to go “upriver” on St. Charles and Canal Streets to be in the thick of it.
If dressing up in full paint and regalia isn’t your thing, at least you can eat like a local. Find out why New Orleans is a top destination for foodies, while still offering a lot of affordable down home fare that will give you a good base before a night of drinking and dancing. Sure there are plenty of five-star restaurants that will expect you to drop a couple of bills on a multi-coursed meal. But be assured there are also plenty of hole-in-the-wall places where you can get stuffed for cheap: Try Central Grocery for the best muffalettas around, cheap but big. Betsy’s Pancake is a good choice for a real diner breakfast. And when it doubt: Ask a local.
Help pick the belle of the ball (known as the Queen in Mardi Gras-speak) at one of several pre Mardi Gras balls held by various New Orleans social clubs leading up to the grand festivities. Think old fashioned Southern debutante balls where young ladies “come out” to society. These grand affairs usually take place after January 6 or Twelfth Night. Krewe balls are a Mardi Gras tradition. Needless to say, most balls are Invitation Only and your chances of getting one are about as good as surviving a night out on Bourbon Street, unscathed.
Have a Ball
Say after us: Purple Green and Gold. While they may not mean much to you, they have great symbolic meaning to Mardi Gras. With Purple representing Justice, Green representing Faith, and Gold representing Power. To really fit in with the people of New Orleans, be sure to flaunt these colors, whether on your outfit, on a flag or on a fleur de lis.
Show Your Colors
It’s always more fun to visit New Orleans with a group. Consider chipping in on a New Orleans house rental in the garden district or a centrally located apartment rental in the French Quarter. Vacation rentals make it easy to save some money; after all you don’t want to have to rely on Café du Monde for every breakfast. Consider cooking breakfasts at home. You all will appreciate the extra room to relax when you’re recovering before the next night of debauchery begins.
Get a Group On
That’s right. Bite a baby. If you’re not familiar with the custom of eating King’s cake, then relax. We’re not suggesting cannibalism. Each year, usually on the January 6th or Twelfth night, someone will serve King’s cake a confection covered in purple gold and green. Somewhere inside is a tiny plastic baby; whoever gets the baby in their piece hold the next year’s King’s Cake party; it’s a New Orleanian tradition.
Bite a Baby
Find out more about Carnival celebrations around the world or other festivals in New Orleans.