New Orleans: Five Mardi Gras Myths

About a year ago, we experienced one of our best Tuesdays ever!

How you ask? Well, we attended Mardi Gras in New Orleans! :O

As some of you might know, Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday”

Traditionally, this is the practice of the last night of eating fatty and decadent food before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which starts on Ash Wednesday.

We spent almost a week in New Orleans, and as you can see in the photos we had a blast! Our biggest discovery about the celebrations?

We found our new dance troupe in New Orleans

It’s not all about booze, beads and boobs…

There was an endless amount of things to see and to do. Every day was an all day party for sure, but for the most part, it was all in good wholesome fun (well, except for Bourbon Street…)

Aside from the all-day parties, our curious selves also got excited about all the myths and truths we discovered while we were there:

Masks everywhere!

5 Popular Mardi Gras Myths

Myth: Mardi Gras is just one day
Truth: Celebrations actually start from January 6 all the way to midnight on Fat Tuesday

Carnival celebrations begin every year on January 6, also known as Twelfth Night, since it’s the 12th night after Christmas.

Dates may vary throughout the Christian world, but January 6 is also recognized as the Feast of the Epiphany, dedicated to the Three Wise Men.

Bret Michaels (above), Harry Connick Jr., KISS, Earth Wind & Fire, Jim Caviezel were just some of the celebrities who participated in Mardi Gras the year we were there

Myth: There’s one big parade, organized by one committee
Truth: You’ll see parade after parade all day during Mardi Gras season

Most of the major parades happen on the week before Fat Tuesday, but plenty of parades already happen almost every weekend starting January 6. There can even be as many as a dozen parades per day in 3-4 separate locations!

Each parade is organized by an independent “krewe” or a social club with its own traditions and rules for entry. Certain krewes require each participant to donate or to raise thousands of dollars every year, going towards the cost of the floats and beads. Then there are the other krewes that require some crazy initiation rites for you to get a slot.

Some major krewes also invite celebrity guests every year. In the past, celebrities like Bob Hope, Dolly Parton, William Shatner, Will Ferrell, Dan Aykroyd, Stevie Wonder, Carrie Underwood, Whoopi Goldberg and Sandra Bullock have accepted invitations to participate during Mardi Gras.

Kids — like the girl on the left — get the most beads!
Myth: It’s one wild party all about booze and beads — for adults only!
Truth: There’s a *very* family-friendly atmosphere, especially in the residential areas

The common perception is that Mardi Gras is one huge wild party. While that is true in certain areas of the city, for the most part, it’s actually a pretty fun event for the whole family.

Most tourists immediately go for the French Quarter and Bourbon Street area, which definitely has the rowdiest crowds. But venture just a little bit uptown and you’ll have just as much wholesome fun, with a better chance of getting beads!

For most of the Mardi Gras parades, we decided to stay within the uptown area. Conveniently, it was also the perfect spot for us since our Airbnb was located just two blocks from St. Charles Avenue, a major street where most of the parades pass through.

Out there, they had such a great community atmosphere—since most of the people were locals, some were even holding their own parties, picnics and cookouts.

And being that it’s a family-friendly area – of course, the kids usually get the most beads!

If you’re an adult, don’t fret, you’ll probably have a better chance to get beads here too since there are less barricades there than in the downtown area. So you have a better chance of getting close to the floats!

This dude was the only flasher outside of the French Quarter
Myth: You have to expose certain body parts just to get beads
Truth: Just yell “throw me something mister” and you’ll get just as lucky

Thanks to Girls Gone Wild and other movies about New Orleans, flashing people is probably one of the most widely-known modern traditions from Mardi Gras.

While that tradition still holds true in some areas in the more adult areas of New Orleans, namely, Bourbon Street and the French Quarter, the strategy to get beads is actually simpler in real life.

The popular way of catching krewe members’ attention is actually to yell “throw me something mister,” as floats pass by. Once they hear you yelling, Krewe members will happily toss you beads and toys. Be warned, those on walking on the parade route sometimes expect a friendly peck on the cheek in return for the beads.

Myth: Mardi Gras is only celebrated in New Orleans
Truth: Carnival is celebrated in US states and countries with large Roman Catholic populations

Mardi Gras is a state holiday in Alabama, Florida and eight parishes in Louisiana. Some actually argue that Mobile, Alabama was actually the first area to celebrate Carnival in the USA, which started in 1703. This was fifteen years before New Orleans was founded, although today their celebrations are much more widely known for all the current traditions such as masked balls, parades, floats and throws, which were first created there.

Visit our Facebook page to see more of our crazy Mardi Gras photos:

How about you? Have you been to Mardi Gras anywhere in the world?
Tell us all about it in the comments!


  1. Stella Jane

    I’m glad you liked Mardi Gras in New Orleans. You took some great photos! My mother is from New Orleans and we used to celebrate the holiday together. I’m glad you learned that it is a family friendly holiday. Local high school marching bands spend months practicing to perform in the parades!

  2. Lisa

    Mardi Gras looks like so much fun! I’ve been to the US many times, but not yet to New Orleans. I know a little about the myths surrounding the festivities, so it was great that you debunked a few of these. Love the photos, especially the guy wearing the boobs!

  3. lisa

    New Orleans… the only place in America that calls me! This looks like allot of fun, I usually like to attend these sort of things and then make my mind up myself but this post was really helpful with some really interesting facts and information. Looks like you guys had an awesome time!

  4. Cat Lin

    How fun! We also had Mardi Gras in Canada but not as big of a celebration as in New Orleans. I didn’t know a lot about Mardi Gras, to be honest, because I grew up in Asia. After learning about it from this post, I want to go check it out in New Orleans myself!!

  5. candy

    I used to live so close to New Orleans and sadly never went to Mardi Gras. I didn’t realize that there were “Family Friendly” areas during Mardi Gras! I always thought it was an ALL adult event 🙂

  6. Paige Wunder

    Great post busting those common misconceptions. I’ve heard that the neighborhood parades are not only more “wholesome” but more laid back and fun all together. I also didn’t realize that the Mardis Gras celebration started on Jan. 6th. I knew it was more than just actual Fat Tuesday but no idea it was that long. Way cool!

  7. Vibeke

    This looks so much fun. I would love to visit New Orleans and would be amazing during Mardi Gras. It is good to learn about the facts and myths. I didn’t know it could be family friendly. This is a very useful post, especially for foreigners and people that don’t know much about it. Thank you for sharing 🙂

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