Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Gather your costumes, your beads, and your bucket list as we approach Fat Tuesday, the climax of a fortnight of celebration, parties, debutante balls and parades. New Orleans is one of my favourite cities in the United States because it holds so many mysteries, so many unusual nooks and crannies. Mardi Gras fires up locals and visitors into a julep-fuelled frenzy. Between the booze and the beads, everyone gets swept up as the Krewes float their way through the downtown core. I was lucky enough to attend a debutante ball too, enjoying true southern hospitality as exceptional live jazz music played loudly into the night.

Length of Trip : 5-7 days. Most visitors arrive on the weekend before Fat Tuesday and leave mid-week.

Cost :
The parades are free, although you'll want to budget for accommodation, transport and entertainment.

Best time to go : Fat Tuesday is always the day before Ash Wednesday (47 days before Easter), typically in February each year.

Wheelchair friendly : Yes

Family friendly : Yes, although families should avoid the French Quarter which tends to get a little wild.

Where to eat :
For Creole-inspired fare:
Broussard's Restaurant
Mulates Capdeville
Toup's Meatery

Official Site :
Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Where to Stay : The Garden District Hotel Collection consists of three hotels with a classic New Orleans vibe, located close to the action.

Getting There :
Once you fly into New Orleans, it's recommended to rely on taxi and public transportation. Parking your rental car be very difficult to find during Mardi Gras, and not worth the headache. Click here for the year's schedule and routes.

Note from Robin :
Forget the movies. There are just a few hotels along the main parade routes that have rooms with balconies. According to the Mardi Gras website, they are "rented years in advance by corporations." Look to stay somewhere central yet away from the action, and be prepared to do a lot of walking. Speaking of which, you'll want to pace yourself. Those Hurricanes may taste sweet, but they pack a spiked punch. It can also get very hot, so remember to hydrate on something that won't tax your liver. Unless you're on a float, don't buy any beads before you arrive, as you'll be covered in them soon enough. And ss always: If you see a toilet, use it!

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