During Mardi Gras, about 1.4 million people flock to the streets of New Orleans, Louisiana, to participate in historic festivities and parades. While the festival is celebrated around the world, New Orleans boasts unique Mardi Gras customs that make the event renowned. Traditionally, carnival celebrations begin on January 6—the 12th day of Christmas—and continue through the end of the liturgical Epiphany season. Festivities include parties, parades with floats and dancers, and balls organized by krewes, which are local social clubs. This year, charter a flight to the “Big Easy” to experience one of the largest parties in the world for yourself.
When is Mardi Gras?
In 2019, Mardi Gras falls on March 5.
To mark the official opening of the Carnival season in January, the Phunny Phorty Phellows Streetcar Ride gathers 50 costumed men and women in a decorated streetcar to begin the Carnival Countdown. Mardi Gras ends at the stroke of midnight with police officers and the mayor riding through the French Quarter on horseback.
Throughout the Carnival season, krewes throw a series of parades and parties. The biggest parade is on Mari Gras day.
2019 Mardi Gras Themes
- Knights of Sparta: “Beyond the Sea”
- Krewe of Centurions: “Festive at 40” commemorating the 40th anniversary
- Krewe of Bacchus: “Starring Louisiana” to celebrate the times the state appeared in films and on TV
- Krewe of Endymion: “Wonder Tales of Science Fiction”
- Krewe of Choctaw: “A Celebration of Life”
- Krewe of Cleopatra: “Cleopatra’s Animated Adventures”
- Krewe of Excalibur: “A Knight of Wonders”
- Krewe of Iris: “Iris Through a Child’s Eyes”
- Krewe of Isis: “Under the Sea”
- Krewe of Thoth: “Thoth Salutes the Greats”
- Krewe of King Arthur: “And the ARTHUR Goes To”
- Krewe of Carrollton: “Treasures of the Seas”
Best Places to Stay During Mardi Gras
Location is everything during Mardi Gras. The best hotels are those that place you near the festivities as it can be difficult to drive and find parking during the celebrations.
Hotels Near or On Parade Routes
In the Historic Lower Garden District, Close to Uptown Parades and Streetcars
In the Garden District, On a Parade Route
- Hotel Indigo: Request a room facing St. Charles Avenue to watch parades in comfort
Near the French Quarter in a Less Hectic Area
- Christopher Hotel: On Magazine Street, near the Warehouse District and French Quarter
In the French Quarter
- Hotel Provincial: A luxury boutique hotel
- Maison Dupuy Hotel: In the middle of the action with a historic home feel
- Royal Frenchmen Hotel & Bar: In the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood
Explore more hotel recommendations.
Mardi Gras Tips to Ensure You Have a Great Time
- How long to stay: If visiting New Orleans specifically for Mardi Gras, go during the six days leading up to the festivities to give yourself time to parade-watch and sightsee.
- Going to Café du Monde: The 24-hour café is popular for its chicory blended coffee and beignets. Save time by queuing in the take-out line instead of waiting for a table.
- Getting the best view: If your hotel room doesn’t have a view of a parade, ensure you get a great view by securing your spot a few hours early. For the biggest parades, arrive about four hours early.
- Check the weather forecast: It can be cold or warm during Mardi Gras. Dress in layers and wear comfortable shoes.
- Parade throws: Parade float riders throw enough cups, stuffed animals, beads and doubloons to fill a large bag. If someone in front of you catches the loot, don’t worry. You’ll have more opportunities to catch throws. If you see an item on the ground, avoid reaching for it until you know for sure your hands are safe from accidental stomping.
- Have a meeting spot: If traveling with others, assign a meeting spot in case you are separated. Don’t rely on mobile devices since service isn’t always guaranteed in large crowds.