Mardi Gras is a large annual celebration held throughout the state of Louisiana, but the most famous of all is New Orleans Mardi Gras. The Mardi Gras celebration is a party with a long tradition that has been perpetuated in the population of the southern United States, especially in the state of Louisiana. Despite the fact that Mardi Gras refers to a single holiday, in New Orleans the celebrations begin even two weeks earlier.
Almost every day in the city there are various parades, these can be both large and small and are held by the social clubs known as Krewes. Mardi Gras in New Orleans has the particularity of becoming much more intense as one reaches the last 5 days of celebrations, including dances, parades much larger parades and other events.
The heart and soul of Mardi Gras are its guilds known as Krewes, groupings that hold large parades where they throw collars beads or sweets. These Krewes are large guilds in which people must pay a membership to be part of. Mardi Gras Krewes can be as old as the parties themselves, can even be extremely exclusive, accepting only elite people and, in addition, have secret meetings in which only members participate.
During Mardi Gras everyone stands on the sides of the streets in order to catch the traditional colorful beaded collars, everyone has competitions to see who catches the most. In addition, moon cakes, small toys for the children, Mardi Gras commemorative buttons, candy and traditional holiday candy are also flying through the air.
Despite having certain differences with the conventional Carnival celebrated in the rest of the world, Mardi Gras is held on the same days as Carnival. Shrove Tuesday is the last day of the season, as it always falls on the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. The best time to visit New Orleans during Mardi Gras is the extended weekend before Shrove Tuesday, when the biggest parades can be seen.
Mardi Gras can be traced back to medieval Europe, passing through Rome and Venice in the 17th and 18th centuries, including of course, the French House of Bourbon. The first Mardi Gras celebrated in the state of Louisiana was on March 2, 1699 by French-Canadian explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville, who arrived south of New Orleans, today known as Plaquemines Parish. Three years later, Mardi Gras had been established and celebrated in Mobile.
Mardi Gras continued to unfold in various areas of the region, some already creating societies that participated in the parades known as “Krewes.” The societies began to increasingly develop their presentations to be ever more impressive and memorable.
The first official Mardi Gras in New Orleans was held openly in 1730, but not with parades but with dances. These dances were the ones that would open the way to the modern dances performed today. Years later, they began to proliferate the various groupings and gremios in the city, elements that are still part of the tradition and is one of the identifying elements of Mardi Gras throughout the state of Louisiana.
In the late 1930s, New Orleans held street processions with masked people, transiting in carriages and men riding horses to celebrate Mardi Gras. In 1870 the tradition of throwing from floats began. Mardi Gras began to consolidate and become part of the newspapers, which announced with great excitement the starting dates. In these first editions, which talked about the carnival, they printed lithographs of float designs. Originally, these prints were small and difficult to see in detail due to the printing technology of the time, this changed with the expansion of chromatography years later.
The year 1872 saw the emergence of the firstMardi Gras King, who led the daytime parades of the event. This figure was taken as a reference to Alekséi Aleksándrovich Románov and the characteristic colors of Mardi Gras were introduced: green, yellow and purple. Later, in 1875, Mardi Gras was established as a public holiday. Celebrations over the next few years were somewhat intermittent due to wars and conflicts in which the United States was involved.
At the end of the 20th century, the government began to intervene in the guilds or Krewes so that they began to integrate more diverse members who were not influenced by race, gender or sexual preference, since those who were part of the guilds were mainly elite white men. The intervention of the clubs was a turning point for some guilds who decided to withdraw, as it violated the secret nature of the krewes. However, several older guilds continued to operate after the law.
Today, the Mardi Gras continues to develop and consolidate as elements of identity for the city. In addition, the Krewes have been in constant development, allowing for a much more diverse and plural party.
Mardi Gras is held in the city of New Orleans, Louisiana in the southern United States.
The city of New Orleans has a total area of 907 square kilometers and is home to some 400,000 people.
Mardi Gras is celebrated over several weeks and has distinctive elements that are part of the celebration. Everyone goes intoparty mode as the celebration approaches, especially during the last 5 days, when the biggest and most important krewes participate. Mardi Gras features the following celebrations that make it one of the most memorable and well-known parties in the world.
Krewes are groupings that are part of theMardi Gras celebrations. The dances and parades in New Orleans are organized by social clubs or krewes, which follow the same program and parade route each year. These clubs operate under memberships, whose fees can range from thousands of dollars a year per person to as little as $20 a year for smaller clubs. In addition, the criteria for accepting members vary similarly, ranging from exclusive organizations limited to relatives of previous members to krewes that accept anyone who can cancel membership.
Members of krewes generallyparticipate in the construction of floats, especially if they are small guilds and do not have considerable funds. In addition, their members must always remain masked, as it is a tradition to remain incognito during the festivities. Members believe that, under the mask, you are not the same, but become a completely different person.
For years, the name “super krewes” has been attributed to groups with more than 1,000 members. The best-known krewes are Krewe of Zulu, Mardi Gras Indians, Krewe of Bacchus, Krewe of Rex and Krewe of Endymion.
Mardi Gras Indians are African American andNew Orleans Indian participants who dress for Mardi Gras in costumes influenced byNative American ceremonial clothing. The initiative arose due to the refusal to have blacks and Indians in the krewes, for this reason, they decided to create their own groupings to mock the original krewes. There are about 38 tribes that vary in size at the celebration and are largely independent.
Parades are an important part of the Mardi Gras celebration. Since the creation of the Krewes, parade floats have played an important role in the history of the celebration. Some floats are extremely large, incredibly colorful and thematic, while others are funny and satirical. Many krewes have a theme for their parade each year, so the floats are created to reflect those themes. During the parades, members of the krewes engage in throwing some objects such as collars or thumbtacks, which have been part of the tradition for years.
The “Throw” is thecollective term used for objects thrown from floats to spectators. Originally, the krewes threw multicolored beaded collars of glass beads made in Czechoslovakia. However, for obvious reasons they were replaced by less expensive and more durable plastic necklaces.
Today, in addition to the colorful beaded necklaces coveted by everyone, plush toys, medallions, doubloons with Mardi Gras badges and candy are thrown.
One of the most famous and sought-after trows is the Zulu Coconut or Mardi Gras Coconut. This coconut has been part of Mardi Gras since 1910. Most coconuts have two decorations. The first is painted gold with some glitter and the second is painted like the famous black Zulu faces.
The colors traditionally associated with Mardi Gras in New Orleans are green, gold and purple. The colors were first specified in the proclamations of the Rex organization in 1872. Some accounts suggest that they were initially selected solely for their aesthetic appeal, rather than a symbolic meaning.
The colors used in Mardi Gras were always known for their symbolic representation, following the theory that purple represents justice, green represents faith and yellow or gold represents power. However, there is a theory that the colors are based on heraldry, science of the coat of arms, which limits that the three colors are composed to represent the reign of Rex, King of Carnival. Thus, purple was associated with royalty, adding green and gold to comply with the rule of dyeing.
The Flambeaux is a tradition that consists of parading with a antorcha during Mardi Gras. The tradition dates back to before electric lighting, as it served as a beacon for New Orleans parade-goers to better enjoy the spectacle during the night. Originally, those who carried these torches were slaves.
Today, the flambeaux are valued at the festival as a great spectacle and many participants make long walks carrying torches. Parades usually feature flambeaux with the participation of some Krewes.
Rex is the King of Carnival and each year the krewes are responsible for choosing him. He is one of the main figures of the carnivals and participates in the parades and dances.
If you decide to be part of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, we recommend planning your trip in advance, making a travel itinerary and booking your preferred accommodations in advance. Also, be sure to pack comfortable clothes so you can fully enjoy the carnival.
While it is not a rule to dress up for Mardi Gras, you can. However, costumes and masks are rarely worn publicly by members who are not part of a Krewe in the days leading up to Shrove Tuesday, with the exception of parties. During the day, remember that banks are closed and some businesses and public places require people to remove their masks before entering to avoid situations that compromise the safety of customers and the establishment.
Also, be sure to pack something form-fitting in case you decide to go to a dance or are invited to a prestigious celebration.
New Orleans Mardi Gras has an intense schedule that not only includes the off-key events, but also some events are held beforehand. These events can be simply for the purpose of entertaining or symbolic ceremonies that kick off the carnival festivities.
Family Gras is a celebration that occurs one week before Mardi Gras and is held on Friday. It is afree event and focuses mainly on the family. Each year some 80,000 people come to enjoy shows, parades, food, art market, children’s games, face painting and free outdoor concerts by national and Louisiana artists.
During the event also participate some Krewes performing parades and some activities.
During Lundi Gras, a series of commemorative events are held one day before Mardi Gras; that is,Mardi Gras Monday. On this day, the mayor of New Orleans delivers the symbolic control to the Carnival monarchs. In addition, there are also some musical events and shows with the participation of some Krewes and recognized bands.
During Shrove Tuesday, the krewes of greater renown and size are presented. Below, we provide you with the list of who performs during this day. The order of the list coincides with the order in which the parade will take place.
Krewe of Argus
Krewe of Elks Jefferson
Krewe of Jefferson
Krewe of Zulu
The Krewe of Rex
Krewe of Elks Orleans
The Krewe of Crescent City
Covington Lions Club
Krewe of Covington
Krewe of Folsom
Krewe of Chahta
The parades at Mardi Gras occur since January, as the organization has a large number of guilds and not all of them can parade on the same day. Here is the list of the krewes that parade before Shrove Tuesday. The order of the list matches the starting order of each Krewes parade.
Krewe of Joan of Arc 7:00 pm
Société Des Champs Elysée 7:30 pm
Phunny Phorty Phellows 7:00 pm
Funky Uptown Krewe
Krewe of Chewbacchus 7:00 pm
Krewe Bohème 7:00 pm
Krewe du Vieux 6:30 pm
Krewe of Bilge 12:00 pm
Krewe of Poseidon 6:00 pm
Krewe of Little Rascals 12:00 pm
Krewe of Slidellians 1:00 pm
Krewe of Perseus
‘tit Rəx 4:30 pm
Krewe of Pearl River Lions Club 1:00 pm
Krewe of Nefertiti 1:00 pm
Krewe of Cork 3:00 pm
Krewe of Excalibur 6:30 pm
Krewe of Oshun 6:00 pm
Krewe of Cleopatra 6:00 pm
Krewe of Alla
Krewe of Eve 7:00 pm
Magical Krewe of Mad Hatters 5:00 pm
Krewe of Centurions
Krewe of Pontchartrain 1:00 pm
The Krewe of Choctaw
Krewe of Freret
The Knights of Sparta 5:30 pm
Krewe of Pygmalion
The Mystic Knights of Adonis 11:45 am
Krewe of Paws of Olde Towne 10:00 am.
Krewe of Titans 6:30 pm
Krewe of Tchefuncte 1:00 pm
Krewe of Olympia 6:00 pm
Knights of Nemesis 1:00 pm
Krewe of Barkus 2:00pm
Krewe of Atlas 4:00pm
Krewe of Kings
The Mystic Krewe of Femme Fatale 11:00 am
The Krewe of Carrollton
Krewe of King Arthur
Krewe of Dionysus 1:00 pm
Krewe of Push Mow 2:00 pm
Krewe of Druids 6:15 pm
Krewe of Nyx 6:45 pm
Knights of Chaos 1:00 pm
The Krewe of Muses 4:45 pm
Knights of Babylon 5:15 pm
Krewe of Bosom Buddies 11:30 am
Krewe of Hermes 5:30 pm
Krewe d’Etat 6:30 pm
Krewe of Morpheus 7:00 pm
Krewe of Selene 6:30 pm
Krewe of Iris 11:00 am
Krewe of Tucks 12:00 pm
Krewe of NOMTOC 10:45 am
Krewe of Endymion 4:15 pm
Krewe of Bush 9:00 am
Krewe of Isis 6:00 pm
Krewe of Athena 5:30 pm
Krewe of Pandora 6:30 pm
Krewe of Okeanos 11:00 am
Krewe of Mid-City 11:45 am
Krewe of Thoth 12:00 pm
The Krewe of Bacchus 5:15 pm
Krewe of Proteus 5:15 pm
Krewe of Orpheus 6:00pm
Parades occur almost every week since January 6. During the parades, the krewes appear at various locations throughout the city to present their chariots and parade their costumes. Each Krewe has a different theme through which they design their costumes. In addition, during the parade, each of the krewes sets out to throw collars with beads, stuffed animals or candy..
Once the parades are over, people generally disperse around the city to continue the festivities in local clubs, balconies or directly in the street. These micro-events also feature the traditional throws from windows and boast a celebratory atmosphere.
Parades occur throughout the city and usually the most important krewes take over the main thoroughfares. Each day a schedule is distributed for each krewe to parade their floats, costumes and perform their respective throws.
The main areas where the throws take place are French Quarter, Uptown, Marigny, Slidell, Pearl River, New Orleans East, Metairie, Mandeville, Westbank, Madisonville, Chalmette, Abita Springs, Mid-City, Bush, Folsom, Kenner and Lacombe.
Mardi Gras is a celebration like Carnival, which also features recipes and dishes that are traditional to the dates. In the case of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, it is traditional to consume Aguardiente de Ojén. Aguardiente de Ojén is a traditional Spanish aniseed-flavored liqueur produced in the town of Ojén. Many people make cocktails with this liqueur.
Another Mardi Gras classic is the King Cake or Rosca de Reyes. King cake is a doughnut made of wheat flour and filled with chopped nuts, nut paste, chocolate or cream. The product is ornamented and decorated with icing with some purple, green and yellow decorations. In some regions you can find a baby inside the donut, which fulfills certain meanings depending on the area.
In addition, the city of New Orleans also provides you with some food places that you can visit during Mardi Gras. Some of the most famous places are: GW Fins, Shaya, Criollo Restaurant, Atchafalaya, Irene’s, Restaurant R’evolution and Restaurant August.
Once you find yourself in the city of New Orleans, you can participate in Family Gras a week before the heaviest Mardi Gras festivities. In addition, on Mardi Gras Monday there is also the ceremony of conferring the powers to the monarchs of the city. During these events some shows, parades and food fairs are held.
Also, on Carnival Tuesday you can see the biggest parades in the city, so you will want to locate yourself in some specific point of the city so you can appreciate the whole event clearly. Also, that during almost every week there are parades of the various krewes that make up the festivities and despite being somewhat smaller than the main ones, they are just as spectacular.
Finally, during the week there are also private parties and celebrations at venues around the city, keep an eye out to be part of these and have a full Mardi Gras experience..
This is a military history museum that opened in 2000. Inside you can find a good amount of tanks, military tools, boats, cannons, cannons, vehicles, aircraft, documentation and photographic material of the Second World War.
It is a tourist attraction where you can see where the floats for Mardi Gras are made. In addition, the workshop includes a large number of floats and festive attire.
This is a venue in the French Quarter of the city where several national and city jazz bands perform. In addition, the venue also offers food and drink to accompany the great evening.
During the Mardi Gras celebration, the city has somewhat cool weather, with temperatures between 9 and 20 degrees Celsius. Also, remember to bring a warm coat, especially for the nighttime festivities.
The closest airport to the city of New Orleans is the Louis Armstrong International Airport, which receives a good number of flights from various cities in the country and from other regions of the continent and Europe. Once here, you can use the various means of transportation to get to the center of the city.
Through Amtrak stations you can reach New Orleans from Memphis, Chicago, Washington, Baltimore, Atlanta, Los Angeles and many other cities across the country.
From the airport you can take a bus directly to Carrollton, right in the center of the city. The ride is 30 minutes.
From the airport you can take I-10 E to downtown. The trip takes 20 minutes.
If you take a cab, the taxi fare can range from US$30 to US$40.