Mardi Gras in New Orleans is the biggest free show on earth. With some planning and understanding of what Mardi Gras is really like, you and your entire family can have one of the best vacations of your life at Mardi Gras in New Orleans

First things first, Mardi Gras 2017 is on Tuesday, February 28, 2017. Mardi Gras always lands on the Tuesday that is 47 days before Easter. It is always the day before Ash Wednesday, which is the start of Lent. Carnival season refers to the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras, and officially begins on January 6 every year. Although Carnival season lasts more than a month, the parties, parades and fun kick into high gear on the Thursday before Mardi Gras. Here is a way to plan this year’s Mardi Gras celebration to make it an amazing experience for you and your family.


Make an early hotel reservation

Being the fact that Mardi Gras is so popular, it is advisable to plan and book a hotel to stay during the festive period well in advance. You can call a local travel agent to help you make the booking if you would like expert advice on arrangements to, from and in New Orleans.

You can explore our website to find a hotel room that meets your quality and price standard as well as has dates available for you when you want to be in town for the celebration. Search by dates, price and/or hotel name to find the right lodging for you. The ideal locations are in the French Quarter, Downtown/Warehouse District and Garden District, specifically hotels along the parade routes. About 80 percent of Mardi Gras happens within walking distance of these hotels.


Make your travel arrangements

Flights need to be booked as early as possible in order to save cost. You can also find out how you can rent a car to ease your transportation during the festive period.


Plan your parade schedule

The need for a parade schedule is very important in order to help you make effective use of your time during the festival. Below are the parade schedules.


Parade                                  Location                          Time
Zulu                                        Uptown                         8:00 a.m.
Rex                                         Uptown                         10:00 a.m.
Elks Orleanians                 Uptown                       follows Rex
Crescent City                       Uptown                      follows Elks
Argus                                     Metairie                      10:00 a.m.
Jefferson                              Metairie                      follows Argus
Elks Jeffersonians             Metairie                     after Jefferson
LryaWest                              Bank                             10:00 a.m.


Dress in costume

It’s the one season of the year when you can dress up as anything imaginable. There are contests for costumes in every part of the city, and the crowd-watching is as much fun as the parades. Bring an inexpensive camera, one you won’t fuss over or need to protect. A mask can also be worn, a mask not only signals to the float riders that you’re worthy of a few throws, masquerading is what makes Mardi Gras a loose, fun affair. If you want a full-blown costume, visit a New Orleans costume shop – just remember that whatever you wear, you’ll be wearing it All-Day-Long.  If you want to keep it simple (and we suggest that you do), invest in a wig or mini top hat from Fifi Mahony’s or a mask from Maskarade or head to the French Market for the annual Mask Market, when artists from around the country set up shop in the French Market to sell one-of-a-kind masks.


Bring the family

The city and suburban parades are for families, too (excluding the French Quarter). You can bring blankets and picnic baskets, and get there early to enjoy the day. As the parade time nears, the crowd will gather everywhere, and you’ll have to put up the blanket and ice chest. Don’t be surprised if someone jumps on your stuff to reach a pair of beads


Early Arrival

Parade routes can look empty, but the crow size can swell fast within an hour or two of the parade, making the front-row spot four or five people deep, so it is always advisable to get there as early as possible to get a good spot.


Catch Mardi Gras Throws

Enjoy jumping up to catch the beads, doubloons, cups, stuffed animals, etc! Yell, “Throw me something, Mister” at the float riders. Bring a large, sturdy plastic or cloth bag to hold all the treasure you’ll be catching.


Watch the parades

The best part of the celebration takes place on the parade route, where you can watch the crowds and the floats pass by. You can also enjoy special packages put together by businesses along the parade route that offer food and a front-row spot for the passing parade.

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