New Orleans, Louisiana, also known as the Big Easy, is well known for its gumbo, jazz culture, and Mardi Gras (or Fat Tuesday). Leading up to this day are numerous parades that locals and visitors can attend all across the city. Each of these parades has a different name to it, but the general vibe of each parade remains the same. At a Mardi Gras parade, lots of floats go by a designated route and toss out Mardi Gras beads, snack foods, cups, and other souvenirs. (Some attendees even create basket-like structures to encourage the people on the floats to toss souvenirs in their direction.) You can choose where on the route you’d like to watch the parade from. In addition to the floats, several instrumental bands will provide live music all along the route. There’s also a good variety of recorded music as well. Regardless of your music tastes, there is likely something that you will enjoy hearing.
As a college student who was in New Orleans for two Mardi Gras celebrations, I can definitely say overall that the Mardi Gras celebration lives up to the hype it portrays. I attended each parade with friends and as more floats and music ensembles go by your location, the excitement builds up and very much influences your mood. The parades are fun events with non stop excitement.
Another thing I enjoy about these parades is the fact that there are many restaurants nearby. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about food while you’re enjoying the parades. You can simply order food from one of these restaurants and eat it while the parade(s) happen. In addition, there is a good variety of restaurants within reach.
On the other hand, going to the restroom while watching the parades is not as straightforward. My advice would be to use the restroom right before going out to a parade. If you need to use the restroom while at a parade, you’ll either have to pay a small amount of money to use a porta potty. Otherwise, you’ll have to buy something at a store or order a small food item at a restaurant in order to access those restrooms. (Stores and restaurants strongly enforce this as the restrooms can be locked during parades.)
My recommendation would be to walk to the parades or else get a ride from someone else to take you to the parade location. This will be less stressful for you and will allow you to enjoy the festivities rather than being concerned about parking and driving to and from the event. If you choose to walk to and from one of these parades, it’ll be good exercise for you. However, if you prefer not to walk back home after the excitement of the parade, then you can use your phone to request a safe ride home via taxi or a ride sharing service. Regardless, be careful not to step on broken glass and various objects on the ground as it will be full of objects right after the parade.
While this may be strange to say regarding Mardi Gras in New Orleans, another piece of advice would be to make sure you take some time to rest. As human beings, we need time to rest and re-energize. This will allow you to fully enjoy each parade you decide to attend. In other words, listen to your body if it’s saying that you need some time to relax.
Note: This advice has been provided considering when circumstances were normal (before the pandemic). I was not present in New Orleans during the 2020 Mardi Gras season as I was living elsewhere completing an internship for school.