One of America’s most famous carnivals, the New Orleans Mardi Gras is a festival of masquerades, music, parties and parades. Mardi Gras is a celebration which has taken place since 1699 and an integral part of New Orleans life. Organised by social clubs known as krewes, extravagant processions take place through the main streets, starting on 6th January right up to Fat Tuesday, with the penultimate weekend featuring the best-known parades. Huge crowds gather to witness the long procession of elaborately decorated floats, with costumed participants throwing beads and toys to the spectators. The main krewes often feature celebrities on their floats, with Dolly Parton, Bob Hope and the Beach Boys all making an appearance in the past.
The carnival season commences on Twelfth Night, 6th January, each year when a masked ball is held by The Twelfth Night Revelers - one of the oldest carnival krewes. From then, balls, exhibitions and parties are held around the city with the parades beginning a couple of weeks before Mardi Gras Day, this year on 28th February. The main areas to head to are Canal Street and Bourbon Street. If you’re planning on attending the carnival, the nearest airport is the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, eleven miles north of the city centre. The most convenient way to get into town from there is via the Airport Shuttle which costs $24 one-way.
The Mardi Gras floats are a truly magical affair. Usually headed up by flame-carriers or flambeaux carriers lighting up the way, the floats typically feature masked members of the krewes wearing colourful costumes throwing trinkets to the spectators. If you’re planning on attending Mardi Gras, jump right in and dress up in the most colourful costume you can get your hands on. But don’t forget to wear plenty of layers - it can get pretty chilly in February in New Orleans!
Make the most of your trip to New Orleans for this amazing festival by staying in the best rental accommodation for you, tailored exactly to your tastes. If you book with Eventful Stays, you can choose to stay in penthouses, bed and breakfasts, studios, apartments, townhouses or boats…all within easy reach of all of the carnival festivities via public transport. Check out our accommodation in New Orleans.
If you’re travelling to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, you’ll find plenty of things to see and do in this historic city, including: St. Louis Cathedral; Jackson Square; and the beautiful New Orleans City Park.
To find out more information about one of the greatest festivals on Earth, please check out the city’s official website where you’ll be able to find out about the 2017 Mardi Gras parade schedule, where to watch all the festivities and what time they start.