You might think that being in the insurance industry, we’d be the “fun police” when it comes to Mardi Gras. You’re wrong! Mardi Gras can be a fabulous family experience and a safe place if you know where to be and what to avoid! So here it is, our guide to a family-friendly Mardi Gras!
When to arrive:
Carnival season actually begins on January 6th, which is the Feast of the Epiphany, also known as King’s Day. Most people think of Fat Tuesday when they hear Mardi Gras and New Orleans, which is actually the end of the season and is always the day before Ash Wednesday.
For visitors looking to partake in the final days of Carnival and Fat Tuesday, you’ll want to arrive in New Orleans no later than the Saturday before Mardi Gras day and stay through Ash Wednesday.
If you’re looking for a taste of the festivities but the Bourbon Street parties are not your style, the city has multiple parades throughout the season. The official parade schedule helps to detail locations and shows that will quench your thirst for this New Orleans tradition.
Bring the family:
It’s not all bead throwing and drinking in the streets. Family Gras is a two-day celebration just outside the raucous of downtown New Orleans. With crowds surpassing 80,000 each year, it’s big family fun that captures the spirit of Carnival. Families can enjoy Mardi Gras parades, authentic New Orleans cuisine, and free outdoor concerts by both national and local artists. Past performers include big names like Taylor Swift and Wilson Philips.
However, avoid the French Quarter. No full-size parades pass through there anyway, and that really is where the ‘beads get thrown.’ Spot the parades when they begin on St. Charles Avenue near Napoleon. Parades can last until 11 p.m., and if you view them further down the route, your little ones may not make it that far past bedtime. The Garden District portion of St. Charles is an area where you will see many families taking in the sites and sounds of Carnival.
The biggest parades:
The weekend before Fat Tuesday hosts the Bacchus and Endymion parades. When you think Mardi Gras and look online for pictures, chances are the images are from these events, two of the biggest parades of the season! Orpheus, another big parade, steps to the streets on the Monday night before Fat Tuesday, while the Zulu Lundi Gras festival goes on all day.
Now that you know when and where to go don’t forget to order your King Cake and make the most out of this fabulous New Orleans tradition!