Mardi Gras New Orleans for the Family

by blackspanielgallery

Attending Mardi Gras can be rewarding, and it can be made into a family friendly event. But, it is best to know what to expect, and make the experience more enjoyable.

Mardi Gras is always on a Tuesday, forty days before Easter excluding Sundays. However, using the date for Easter from the Orthodox Church Calendar may be off by a week or so, since Easter does not occur for every religion on the same day. The exact calendar day varies annually, and can be in February, or in early March.'

The introduction image is my own image.

What Is the Weather Like?

Over the period leading up to, and including, Mardi Gras the temperature can range from the thirties to eighty degrees.  Bring both warm and cold weather clothing.  And, when it gets cold there is often a humidity factor making it seem much colder than it is.


Rain can occur.  Winter rain is usually single day events, and often precedes the passage of cold fronts.  But, New Orleans is in an area where fronts often stall, so several wet consecutive days is a possibility.   In most years rain will force the cancellation or rescheduling of just a few parades.  

When Are the Parades?

Many parades are at night, since a day parade might interfere with businesses.  But, on weekends day parades are common. 


The large parades start on a Friday night, twelve days before Mardi Gras.  The first weekend has quite a few parades, and they are less crowded since many people from out of town are not yet in. 

The night parades during the week are fewer than once were.  Many have disbanded, and new parades sometimes last only one or two years.  Parades are expensive, and the krewe, the group that holds the parade, must pay for the event.  There is insurance, floats, things to throw, bands, and other things that add to the cost.  Mardi Gras is free to attend, but someone does pay for it.  As the economy went down, so did the number, and in some cases the quality, of parades.

The Parade Route

The parade route has some minor variations in exactly where a parade starts, and how it gets to its disbanding area, but in between parades now travel along Saint Charles Avenue.  And, contrary to what might be believed, large parades with large floats are not allowed in the French Quarter.  This is because the streets are narrow and firefighting equipment is hampered by large floats.  Years ago parades actually rolled throughout the city, including the French quarter.  Some not main stream parades with small or no floats are all that now travel through the actual French Quarter.

The Weekend before Mardi Gras

There are some super krewes, large groups with extravagant parades.  There is sort of a competition between them, and surprises are the norm.  Starting with Saturday night is Endymion, the oldest of the super krewes.  Bacchus is the Sunday night parade, and Orpheus is the Monday night parade.  Celebrities can often be found riding in the super krewes.   Now, two female parades, Muses and Nix are being referred to as super krewes.  They go just before the others, occupying the Thursday and Friday night spots.  


Parking Is a Problem

Parking can be hard to find, and the closer to Mardi Gras it gets the more difficult finding parking will be.  If you can find close parking in a lot, expect to pay.  The price tends to go up as Mardi Gras approaches.  

Some Things Are Not the Same

If you plan a streetcar ride in New Orleans, expect the Saint Charles streetcar line to be shortened, and even the Canal Street streetcars cannot operate through the crowd.  So, get the ride in early in your visit. 

The Extravagant Balls

Most Mardi Gras balls are by invitation only.  Do not expect to buy a ticket and show up.  However, you can buy tickets to some.  You can join a super krewe at  a giant party for a price.

Mardi Gras Day

On Mardi Gras there are two parades, followed by truck parades.  The two parades are Zulu and Rex.  These are both day parades, and after Rex comes the truck parades where groups can decorate and ride flatbed trucks. 


There no longer is a night parade on Mardi Gras Day.  Locals go home after the last truck passes, or earlier.  

Lundi Gras

There is a Lundi Gras celebration where the krewes of Rex and Zulu meet and exchange greetings.  This is an event, not a parade.



Collectible memorabilia does exist.  No, the beads thrown to the crowd are not worth catching, although people act as though the beads are treasures.  The doubloons, if the parade has them, make a nice keepsake.  But, the quality collectibles come from the balls.  The invitations, posters, and favors, especially older ones, can be prized by collectors.  And, there is sometimes a special, fine silver, doubloon that is not thrown.  


The real collectibles are not tossed to the crowd.  Either you know someone in an organization, or you purchase it.  But where?   Amazon and Ebay are the best sources for Mardi Gras memorabilia.  

Mardi Gras Ball Invitations


Mardi Gras Favors

Collectible Ball Favors

Mardi Gras Silver Doubloons


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Updated: 12/18/2019, blackspanielgallery
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blackspanielgallery on 07/24/2015

Yes and no. The balls start early, and there are a few things like a group riding streetcars on January 6, but most activity is only over two weekends, and the time in between, then onward to the Tuesday itself. In other parts of the world things go longer.

sheilamarie on 07/24/2015

I've been told the Mardi Gras celebrations can go on for weeks. I've never been.

blackspanielgallery on 07/23/2015

Thanks for the comment.

happynutritionist on 07/23/2015

I'm not sure I'll ever get to a Mardi Gras, but if ever I plan to head to NO I will have to come back here and consider the information you provide here.

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