For those of you that have never been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, it's something special. Here you'll find a little history, schedules, pictures, video and other coverage of the madness from Uptown, Downtown, and the French Quarter in New Orleans.
The Start of the Carnival Season
For most of the country Mardi Gras is a one day affair celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday (Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday). Yours truly lives in the heart of “The Gras” New Orleans where the party rages for almost a month. The Carnival season officially starts on the 12th day of Christmas with the running of the Phorty Phunny Phellas street car parade. Over the next few weeks, all sort of organizations, known as Krewes, host a variety of balls, parades, and other activities. The point of all of this is to live it up before Lent.
The First Major Weekend
The first weekend of Mardi Gras is pretty much like the second weekend except there are a lot less tourists and punk college kids. The parades are not as fancy, but they are pretty close. Many of the popular local musicians play shows and tickets are easy to buy. Hotel rooms are cheaper; all-in-all, it's very nice.
Dude, it's time to go head down to "The Gras."
If you grew up in the south, chances are at one time you and your buddies jumped in the car and headed for "The Gras". Thursday to Sunday the last week of the Mardi Gras, New Orleans turns into the world's largest free party. The streets fill with college kids and hooligans sleeping in their cars and Winnebago's partying throughout the nights. The town has cleaned up this image somewhat; but it's still no place for your kids. Sunday, most "College Spring Breakers" go home and the party turns more family-friendly.
Lundi Gras and Mardi Gras
While I have been to Mardi Gras 7 times, I have never made it to Lundi Gras, much less Mardi Gras. (Lundi Gras in Monday) Its more for the locals and the adults that have money to buy things like hotel Rooms, plane tickets, rental cars, etc. (Not part of my plans the first 7 years that I went.) Last year I lived in NOLA for Mardi Gras but I still didn't make it to Lundi. Sunday night I had to raise the white flag on Mardi Gras. This year I am going to try to leave town for a few days in the middle as to make it to the finish line, Business is always picking up at Nolasurf, so we will have to work a lot harder this season and have a little less fun.
About the Krewes
If you want to join one of the Mardi Gras Krewes you will need to know a local who can hook you up. At a minimum you have to buy your own throws (the beads) which cost anywhere between a few hundred dollars and a few thousand. Some of the more famous Krewes you just won’t be able to join unless you marry into it. Good luck.