Anyone can celebrate Mardi Gras regardless of location. But for a truly authentic Fat Tuesday experience, you simply must go to New Orleans. There’s nothing quite like experiencing Mardi Gras in the party capital of the South, New Orleans. Around 1.4 million tourists visit the city each year for Mardi Gras. That number is impressive, but it’s even more so once you realize that the current population of New Orleans is a little less than 400,000. Mardi Gras falls on March 5th this year, although Carnival season begins in early January. Here’s what you need to know about the (in)famous annual party in New Orleans.
When to Go
The 2019 Carnival season officially begins on January 6th. That day is known as both the Twelfth Night and Epiphany. Carnival and Mardi Gras are actually two separate things, although Mardi Gras on March 5th marks the end of Carnival and the beginning of Lent.
If you don’t know a lot about the New Orleans area, you may not know that it’s a time of celebration before Lent. New Orleans is a place with heavily Catholic traditions, and Mardi Gras is a way to party and eat a lot of unhealthy foods before the 40 days of fasting that begin on Ash Wednesday, aka the day after Mardi Gras. It didn’t start out as an excuse to throw beads and eat king cake. Not everyone who celebrates is religious, of course, and you don’t have to be to visit New Orleans and take part in a parade.
A Krewe for Everyone
When you go to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, you can expect to hear a lot about krewe. The spelling looks a little funny, but it’s pronounced like “crew.” When you hear someone talk about a krewe, they’re usually talking about a group that puts on a parade, although they may also be referring to organizers of a Carnival ball.
It’s possible to have a lot of adult fun in New Orleans, but, believe it or not, you can also take the family. Not everything is about getting drunk and going crazy. Head to places like St. Charles and Napoleon streets if you’re seeking a more kid-friendly experience.
If you like dogs in costumes (and really, who doesn’t?) you’ll want to check out the Krewe of Barkus. The 2018 parade theme was “Game of Bones,” which meant there were tons of dogs decked out as characters from Game of Thrones. It was every bit as cute as it sounds. In 2019, the Krewe of Barkus Rolls is slated to make its way through town on February 24.
And no vacation is complete without photos and videos to share with everyone back at home. Make sure that your phone has the features needed to quickly nab high-quality footage of the gaudiest Krewe floats. There are plenty of AT&T stores in Louisiana that can help you with your current phone or allow you to purchase a new one so that you will be ready to post great content from your trip to the Crescent City on your favorite social sites.
Other Things to Know
The parties may feel wild and spontaneous, but you don’t want to wait until the last minute to book your trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Many people begin booking plane tickets and hotel rooms in the fall, a good six months before Fat Tuesday. If you haven’t made plans yet, you should right away.