The famous Mardi Gras Carnival is one of the biggest events in the New Orleans calendar, with everything from spectacular parades to extravagant balls, it's one not to miss.
- When? 13 February 2018
- Where? French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana.
- Price: Free
Roll up, roll up for the biggest carnival event in New Orleans; Mardi Gras.
Carnival in New Orleans refers to the period between Epiphany (January 6th) and Mardi Gras. Carnival season is a time to feast and have fun before lent and is recognised with huge parades, balls and other celebrations. These celebrations lead up to Mardi Gras, which is always held the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.
Mardi Gras originated in medieval Europe and has been celebrated in New Orleans since the 1730's. Elegant society balls were held around this time, laying the foundations for the New Orleans Mardi Gras balls we see today. The Carnival parades begin in January but the busiest time to visit is the extended weekend before Mardi Gras, when the most popular parades take place.
The so-called 'Mardi Gras throws' consist of items like beads, doubloons, cups and stuffed animals being thrown from the floats into the crowds. It's commonplace to shout 'Throw me something, Mister' at the float riders to ensure you get something directed your way. You can expect floats featuring everything from traditional masked jokers to huge clown faces and even giant crocodiles.
Food is also a big part of the celebration, have you ever heard of King Cakes? Buttery layers of puff pastry coated in rich frangipane and laced with bright, sugary icing are the perfect parade snack. Once you've worn out your sweet tooth, try some Gumbo or Jambalaya - you're in New Orleans after all.
If you're planning your New Orleans trip around Mardi Gras, it's a good idea to book hotels well in advance as they always fill up quickly. For transportation during the parades, walking or cycling will be your best option as many of the streets are closed and parking will be limited. If you want the full, interactive Mardi Gras experience get tickets for Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World to see how the magnificent floats are made, dress up in Mardi Gras costumes and feast on King Cake before the parades begin.
Let the good times roll at Mardi Gras Carnival - or as they say at Mardi Gras, laissez les bons temps rouler!
For more information, visit the official Mardi Gras New Orleans website.
- Get there: Fly into New Orleans and then walk/cycle around the city.
- Stay: Read our where to stay and how to watch the parades guide for our top picks.
*We do our very best to verify the dates of our events but please check with the official event provider before booking your flights. We would hate for you to be disappointed!