You need plenty of comfortable clothes that will keep you warm and dry while you dance through the streets. Comfortable shoes are a must, too. We recommend wearing flat-soled dress shoes or sneakers with no heels. This way your feet won’t get sore after all those hours on their feet.
What Is Mardi Gras?
The Mardi Gras holiday is one of the most exciting holidays in New Orleans. It’s also one of the biggest parties of the year! You can expect to see crowded streets, day and night parades, beads, costumes, parade floats and lots of fun.
The day before Mardi Gras, people celebrate by throwing beads into the street as a symbol of freedom. They also wear masquerade masks and other outrageous costumes.
The next day, Mardi Gras begins. That’s when everyone gets dressed up in crazy handmade costumes, bright body paint and throws beads at each other. Some people even throw objects like eggs or pies. Masks are worn again, but they’re usually more elaborate.
After Mardi Gras ends, it’s time to clean up. People take down the decorations, wash off the paint, and return everything to its normal state.
What To Do During Mardi Gras?
Mardi Gras is a big deal in New Orleans. People dress up in crazy costumes and throw beads everywhere. But there’s more to Mardi Gras than partying.
Here are several things you can do during Mardi Gras:
- Visit the French Quarter. This area has tons of bars and restaurants that stay open late. If you are looking for a place to relax after a long day of partying, this is where you should head first.
- Go to a parade. Mardi Gras is best enjoyed by watching people dance and watch the floats roll by. Some parades start as early as 6am, but most begin around 9am. Check the schedule ahead of time to plan your trip.
- Visit the Audubon Zoo. This zoo is located right in the heart of the city. It’s free, and offers exhibits like the Living River, which features live animals and plants. Watch them swim and play together.
- Take a boat tour. Take a cruise along the Mississippi River. Visit the famous St. Louis Cathedral. See the beautiful architecture and learn about its history.
- Check out the art. Mardi Gras means “Fat Tuesday” in French. That’s why many artists create works of art. They celebrate the end of Lent, the 40 days of fasting before Easter. Many of these pieces are on display in museums and galleries. Don’t miss seeing these amazing works.
Popular Destinations For Mardi Gras Celebrations
The city has several options for Mardi Gras celebrations. If you’re looking for a party atmosphere, head to French Quarter where you’ll find plenty of bars, restaurants, and clubs.
For a quieter experience, visit Uptown New Orleans where you’ll find fewer crowds but still tons of great food and entertainment. If you want to stay close to home, check out Mid City, which has a lot of local businesses and shops.
Mardi Gras Packing List
If you plan on taking part in the biggest parades, make sure you have something light and easy to wear so you don’t end up soaked by the time they finish. Also, be prepared to stay out late because the partying continues well past midnight.
- When packing for Mardi Gras, remember that you’ll want to bring along some comfy clothes that will keep you cool and dry. The weather in New Orleans tends to be hot and humid, so you may want to pack a few extra layers in case.
- A good pair of shoes is essential too. If you’ve never been to New Orleans, we suggest wearing flat shoes or sneakers with no heel. This way your feet will not hurt after walking around all night.
- A hat is another important thing to consider. Make sure you pack one that covers your ears and keeps the sun out of your eyes.
- You might also want to pack sunglasses if you plan on going outside during the daytime.
- An elaborate costume is optional, but we do recommend bringing them if you plan on attending a parade. You can find these outfits at local costume shops or online.
- Bring a hat. The sun in New Orleans is strong, so you’ll want to protect yourself from getting burned.
- Bring sunscreen. Even though it’s cloudy most days, the sun still shines bright. Be careful about exposing your skin to direct sunlight.
- Bring a camera. There are many opportunities to capture special moments during Mardi Gras.
- Bring water. The heat and humidity in New Orleans can be intense. Make sure you have enough water for your much-needed drink.
- Bring money. Most stores close early on Mardi Gras Day, so you’ll need cash to buy souvenirs or food.
- Bring an umbrella. Or rain ponchos. There is a huge chance of rain during Mardi Gras, especially in April and May. A compact umbrella will help you avoid getting wet. You can also bring rain boots.
- Bring a change of clothes. When you get home, you’ll likely want to change out of your festive costume.
- Bring a flashlight. A flashlight will come in handy if you find yourself lost.
- Bring a pillow. You’ll want to sleep soundly while you party.
- Bring earplugs. Noise pollution is very common during Mardi Grasse. Try bringing some ear plugs to block out the noise.
- Bring bug spray. Mosquitoes love Mardi Gras, so make sure you have some bug spray.
- Bring a towel. You’ll want to wipe off your face before you go to bed.
- Bring a trash bag. After the parade, you’ll want to pick up garbage left behind. Make sure you have a trash bag to carry it in.
- Bring toiletries. You’ll want to freshen up before heading back to your hotel room.
- Bring a backpack. You’ll want to take this with you when you leave the parade route.
- Bring a book. Reading a book will give you something to do while waiting for the next parade.
- Bring a journal. Writing down ideas or memories will help you remember what happened during Mardi Gras later.
- Bring a pen. Write down notes or draw pictures to remind you of the experience.
- Bring a map. Having a map will help you navigate safely through the streets of New Orleans.
- Bring a list of emergency numbers. Include 911, your hotel number, and any other phone numbers you need to call.
Mardi Gras Packing Tips
Pack light. The weather will be hot and humid, so it’s important to keep hydrated. If you plan to stay overnight in New Orleans, pack comfy shoes, a hat, sunscreen, and bug spray. Also, don’t forget your camera!
Make sure you bring enough money. Most stores close early during Mardi Gras, so you may want to save some cash for souvenirs.
Don’t forget your passport. If you’re coming from outside the U.S., you’ll need a visa or an ESTA form. Make sure you fill out both forms ahead of time.
Don’t forget your ID. Bring your driver’s license, state ID card, and passport if you’re traveling outside the U.S.
Bring extra batteries. Or lightweight, ultra-fast battery charger. Many businesses will shut down during Mardi Gras. So you might find yourself running low on power.
Keep track of your belongings. Keep a small notebook or piece of paper in your pocket that lists all of your items. This way, you won’t lose anything.
Tips If You’re Planning To Attend Mardi Gras
- Dress comfortably. Mardi Gras means dressing up and having a lot of fun. Don’t forget to pack comfortable clothes that will keep your body warm and dry.
- Wear layers. You never know what kind of weather you’ll encounter, so it’s best to prepare for everything.
- Keep your valuables safe. Lock them away when you’re not using them.
- Don’t overpack. Leave room for souvenirs, gifts, and snacks.
- Don’t leave anything behind. If you lose something, you could miss out on all that good food.
- Be prepared for a big crowd on parade day. Mardi Gras attracts thousands of visitors every year. Expect long lines at restaurants and museums.
- Have fun! Mardi Gras is supposed to be a celebration, after all. Enjoy the festivities, and alcoholic drinks!
If you’re planning to attend Mardi Gras, it’s important to remember that this is a big party. Bring plenty of water and snacks, and don’t forget your camera. The best way to capture all the action is by using a drone.
You can learn more about Mardi Gras history, culture, and tradition at the Louisiana State Museum. Stop by to get information about upcoming events, exhibits, and programs. Or take advantage of the free admission offer.