10 Dos and Don’ts for Celebrating Mardi Gras

Recently, I went to the most well-known event in Louisiana! Though I’ve visited New Orleans before and didn’t think I need to go again, I had to book a flight before my trip credit from a canceled American Airlines flight expire… The only event available in February near the holiday happened to be Mardi Gras, and I felt that it was now or never to visit (or years later, when Mardi Gras happens near the holiday again.) We knew we had to explore Mardi Gras for ourselves and see what it’s really about, and what we experienced showed how little we knew about it.

Here are some things I’ve learned while celebrating Mardi Gras from Sunday until Tuesday, the main event.

1. Don’t spend all your time at Bourbon Street and drinking since that’s not the main event and spirit of Mardi Gras.

2. Don’t just go to Canal Street for parades since it’s too crowded at times and messy. Of all the area, Canal Street was a stand-still traffic and most of the time, you end up behind a large group of people until people get tired towards the end.

Uptown, New Orleans

3. Don’t make elaborate plans since you’ll want to go to the parades and parades run on their own time for hours.

4. Don’t pack too much because you’ll end up with another bag if you did Mardi Gras the locals’ way. Bring an extra fold-up duffle bag or something.

5. Don’t always buy food/drinks at the parade because there are some cheaper ones outside of it, and there are restaurants nearby with amazing food.

6. Don’t wear uncomfortable shoes, and preferably do closed-toe shoes.

7. Don’t rent a car. Finding parking is difficult, and your car will be stuck in traffic or valuables might be stolen.

8. Don’t just go for one day because you’ll miss some great parades, and arrive at least half an hour early to get the best view (It’s might be really full by then too.)

9. Don’t stay at the French Quarter if you want affordable housing, and instead look around. It is also very peaceful outside of the area.

French Quarter

10. Don’t do things you don’t want on the internet (flashing, too drunk), and at the parades, which are outside of the French Quarter, it’s not very appropriate. You can also get beads easily… well by standing at the parade for a few minutes. We probably saw three hours of parade the two days before Mardi Gras, and we stayed at Mardi Gras from 8am until almost 1pm.

11. Do attend Mardi Gras with an open mind. Yes, there are crowds, loudness, and blinking lights, but you can always try your best to adjust to find the fun. There are people and trash, and things you can’t really control. If you don’t like something, you don’t need to express it in the moment. Enjoy the moment and hold your thoughts for later.

12. Do wear sunscreen and bring hats and a waterproof, light wind breaker. We found that it was warm during the day and a little cold at night.

13. Do keep hydrated and use the bathroom (especially if you see one or near the casino) and remember alcohol dehydrates you.

14. Do attend with a friend or someone special and even do it to celebrate special occasions.

15. Do spend time at French Quarter and French Market to get the New Orleans experience.

16. Do plan to spend at least three days, even almost a week is nice. Most people do 3-4 days. It’s a huge event! We only spent about four days and it was too short to see all the parades, although we did get to experience parades almost every day and was tired after the first krewe on Mardi Gras.

17. Do try New Orleans gumbo, alligator bites, etuofee, and jambalaya.

Crawfish Beignets

18. Do bring a simple Mardi Gras themed outfit if flying by plane, and bring a Mardi Gras outfit that you can fit in your car if by driving. You don’t need an elaborate costume and you can get by with a shirt and jeans, and you’ll get plenty of beads from floats. Also, doing glittered nail polish in Mardi Grad colors (gold/yellow, green, and purple) really adds to the outfit without needing to bring glitter.

19. Do also try doing your separate things once in a while. Someone might want to do something while another person might want to watch the parade. It’s an easy fix by adding some independence.

20. Do be a kind neighbor and pass around the festival throws, especially to those who couldn’t catch any.

They also had a great website about Mardi Gras, and it really helped for planning what we want to see and do!

Parade info: https://www.mardigrasneworleans.com/parades/

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