By Kevin Wilkerson, PubClub.com Nightlife Blogger
Mardi Gras in New Orelans is a big party in the Big Easy. But as with any big event, it is important to “know before you go” and here are five tips from someone who has been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Heck, I’ve even been in a few parades.
1.) The Parades Are Long
Actually, it’s not the pardes themselves that are long. Most are an hour to an hour and a half. But on the two big weekends there are three parades back-to-back-to-back. So you could be standing there for a long time, especially when you consider you are unlikely to see much of anything if you just show up at the start of one.
So plan ahead a bit and be sure to scope out a good place to use the bathroom and any neighborhood bars in the area. In New Orleans you can have drinks in your hand and get cocktails to go from the bars outside of the French Quarter during Mardi Gras.
2.) The New Orleans Mardi Gras Parades Are Free
Attending Mardi Gras parades in New Orelans are free. That’s right, there is no admission charge. you can simply walk up and take in the scene. It’s first-come, first-serve as to where and how close you get to the floats. There is paid grandstand seating – pricing ranges from $10-80 depending on the parade – and usually includes easy access to a bathroom. Your call. Pro’s Tip: If you are going to be moving around a lot then it doesn’t make sense to get a grandstand seat. If you want to plop down for a while then it’s your best option.
3.) New Orleans Mardi Gras Parades Are Not On Bourbon Street
There is a misconception among some first-timers that the parades are on Bourbon Street. They are not. Many are mid-town, some distance away from the street of drinking “sin.” Instead, the bars on Bourbon Street are packed and even charge for going onto their balcony. The routine for Mardi Gras veterans is to go see a parade and then head to Bourbon Street.
4.) Mardi Gras Parades And The Beads
The most coveted item for those attending parades are collecting beads. People on the floats toss them into the crowd. Collecting lots of beads is a New Orleans Mardi Gras tradtion dating to, supposedly, when a carnival king toss fake jewelry to his “loyal subjects,” in other words, people lined up along the parade route. Be sure and get close enough to the floats to collect as many as possible. Girls can “earn” Mardi Gras beads by flashing their breasts and many do it, especially on Bourbon Street. So guys, it’s part of the Mardi Gras tradition to have as many beads as possible!
5.) Pack For The New Orlans Mardi Gras Weather
This may be the biggest tip of all – check the New Orleans weather before you pack for Mardi Gras. It can be nice – sunny and in the 60s – or cold, into the 30s or even below at night. Or raining. So be prepared becuase you will be outside most of the time during Mardi Gras.
Finally, just let the good times roll. Or “laissez les bons temps rouler,” as they say in Nawlens.