Experience a long-standing New Orleans tradition and take part in the parties, parades and festivities of Mardi Gras. See the city's historic districts and famous streets like St. Charles Avenue and Bourbon Street like never before, as people from all over the world gather to celebrate Fat Tuesday.
History of Mardi GrasMardi Gras has been in existence since the early 1600s and originates from the French practice of celebrating before Ash Wednesday and the Lenten season. Ash Wednesday and Lent required Roman Catholics and Christians from around the world to fast before the religious holidays, and Mardi Gras was invented as a way for people to feast at banquets and drink lots of wine before engaging in this religious ritual.
Over the years, Mardi Gras has changed from a simple day of celebrating to a worldwide party that can last up to two weeks before Ash Wednesday. Major cities all over the world host Carnival celebrations, but New Orleans is the United States' Mardi Gras capital.
Mardi Gras 2014Celebrations in New Orleans start in February, and the carnival atmosphere covers the two weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday - March 4, 2014.
Mardi Gras ParadesHuge floats and crowded city streets are a very popular sight in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. City businesses and organizations host their own parades that travel throughout the city. These parades feature large floats, tossed candy and goodies, and marching bands. It is not uncommon to see celebrities marching in the Mardi Gras parades.
Mardi Gras BallsMardi Gras Balls are huge parties complete with drinks, dancing and fine dining hosted by local organizations in honor of Mardi Gras. Many Mardi Gras Balls are exclusive events reserved for elite members of New Orleans society, but some balls such as the Bacchus Ball will allow anyone who purchases a ticket to attend.
Partying at Mardi Gras
Parades are popular sites throughout the day, but at night is when the party starts. Restaurants, jazz clubs and nightclubs host Mardi Gras events that keep locals and tourists partying all night long. You'll be able to find food and drink specials, and live entertainment at many of the bars and restaurants along the French Quarter. In fact, one of the most popular Mardi Gras events is bar or restaurant hopping along historic Bourbon Street .
Keep in mind, the French Quarter is not family-friendly during Mardi Gras, where parades are adult-themed and the atmosphere is not for kids.
Mardi Gras for FamiliesMost of the parades and festivities of Mardi Gras take place outside of the French Quarter. Do make Mardi Gras a family event in Uptown, where some of the biggest parades wind along stately St. Charles Avenue, or check out any of the many parades taking place in parishes all around New Orleans during the carnival season.
Mardi Gras might be all about celebrating, but after a long day of enjoying the festivities, you'll want to settle down in your own space. A New Orleans vacation rental is a great way to stay close to all the parades, concerts and events, but have a private house to turn to after a day out with the crowds in New Orleans during this unique and festive time of year.