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Counting Down to Mari Gras

Jaclyn Hughes

Oh Mardi Gras, how incredibly fun you are. If you have yet to experience this fabulous week long celebration of parades and decadence, start looking for flights to New Orleans immediately! Mardi Gras is French by definition meaning the commonly used phrase, “Fat Tuesday”- which is essentially fattening up prior to the start of the Lent season as a religious celebratory feasting.

New Orleans is the prime location for all of the Mardi Gras extravagance, and time is ticking away at getting your travel plans finalized. Believe it or not, this week of parades and parties is so popular that residents from out of town start booking their hotels and flights over six months prior to February. You may want to weigh the pros and cons of taking along your little ones to this festival as some parents aren’t too keen on the alcoholic induced parade goers mingling with their kids along the streets. Especially at night, you may want to use caution where you tote your children as Mardi Gras is notorious for women flashing people on the street {mostly in the French Quarter} in order to collect as many ropes of beads as they can.

The fun begins the week of February 6th, when the first parade begins. For a very detailed parade schedule, check out the Mardi Gras homepage for further info on the Mardi Gras Schedule Visit Here.

The main party time is during the weekend of February 13th through the 17th.  If you’re interested in participating in the fan favorite parades, check out any of these:

  • Bacchus
  • Endymion
  • Zulu
  • Rex
  • Family Gras 2/6- 2/8 {fun for all ages and free concerts}

Even though it’s January, you can still get your Mardi Gras trip planned so don’t panic! If you just look online alone you may not find all of the options for rooms available. Always pick up the phone and make contact that way because often the big hotels will get cancellations and have open rooms but the websites don’t reflect those openings immediately.

Some other useful tips for your first Mardi Gras experience:

  • Do not park blocking driveways or where it is prohibited you will get towed!
  • Respect what the police ask of you, they have no hesitation arresting those partying too much
  • Arrive early for parades if you want a good view
  • The French Quarter will be closed so arrange your parking plan before leaving your hotel
  • Plan on eating before or after the parades, most eateries are full during the parades
  • Pack snacks, sunscreen, wear comfortable shoes, and take water bottles
  • Have a spot to meet up with your crew in the event any of you get lost
  • Keep the kids out of the French Quarter area (adult behavior only)

Do make sure if you have time during your trip that you visit the rest of the city as New Orleans is a lovely place full of life!