What does the Mardi Gras parade schedule look like?
Mardi Gras parades start rolling as early as January 6, when Carnival season kicks off. During the two weeks prior to Fat Tuesday, things really kick into high gear. More than 70 parades roll in the greater New Orleans area (not counting the impromptu second lines, walking krewes, and street parties that inevitably pop up). This year, Krewe of Minerva rolls in New Orleans East for the first time in 28 years. That’s just one of many highlights, so check the comprehensive parade schedule, and know that basically, parades roll from dawn till dusk during the final days leading up to Mardi Gras.
Routes vary, but most major parades in New Orleans proper follow the time-honored St. Charles Avenue-to-Canal Street route. (Definitely avoid these streets; they’ll be blocked off by police barricades and thousands and thousands of revelers.) And because delays happen, it’s always a good idea to download a parade tracker app and check the Regional Transport Authority’s map of detours.
Wait, what’s a krewe?
Simply put, krewes are secret societies of like-minded people who throw Mardi Gras events. Without them, there would be no Mardi Gras. Because corporate sponsorship for parades is forbidden by city law, krewe members pay for parades and balls out of their own pockets. Dues can range from zero to thousands of dollars, so whether you’re an Uptown blue blood or a broke Pokemon trainer, there’s a krewe for you. When it comes to joining, it’s kind of like the Masons -- to be one, ask one. Does this sound a little Eyes Wide Shut? That’s because it is. And yes, there’s definitely at least one orgy krewe. This is Mardi Gras, after all.
What's the New Orleans weather forecast?
A word to our out-of-town guests: February is a mixed bag. The weather can be balmy, sunny, and conducive to a costume consisting of nothing but body paint. Or it can be cold, wet, and dreary. One thing that you’ll almost never see in New Orleans, however, is snow. February’s average high is 64 degrees. Right now, Mardi Gras Day is predicted to be 72 degrees and rainy, but that’s obviously subject to change.
What kind of Mardi Gras outfit should I wear?
Dress for an event that’s half masquerade ball, half endurance race. You’ll be walking, standing, catching beads, drinking, and dancing outside for hours on end, so comfortable footwear, sunscreen, and water are a must. Note that drinking on the streets is legal in New Orleans, meaning you might want to bring a flask, too. A small backpack can come in handy, and if you plan in advance, you can incorporate it into your costume.
A costume, by the way, is a must. Almost everyone dresses up in costumes on Mardi Gras day, and you’ll stand out like a sore thumb in jeans and polar fleece. Even if it’s just a mask and a T-shirt shop boa, make some effort to dress up -- that’s half the fun. In the event of cold weather, a wig, layered tights, and colorful coat are your best strategies when it comes to looking festive but feeling cozy.
And it should be said that although the NOPD generally turns a blind eye to flashing, they aren’t so forgiving when it comes to public urination -- that’s an express ride to Central Lockup. Also, it’s just gross. Don’t do it.