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?
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:
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.
❌ 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!
❌ 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.