Put simply, Mardi Gras in New Orleans is pure magic. The typical images of beads and booze might have you believe otherwise, but locals know that the real spirit of the city comes alive during Carnival. Creativity ignites, families gather, revelry ensues, and new life is given to old traditions. From fabulous Mardi Gras Mask markets, to exuberant marching bands – there are endless opportunities to explore and unmask the city during this time. This year, Fat Tuesday lands on February 25. Better to experience than explain, but we’ll try our best. Here are 25 things to do each day leading up to Mardi Gras, so you can enjoy the most wonderful time of the year in New Orleans like a local.
1. Celebrate the season with a king cake cocktail at one of these spots.
2. Revel with the maskers at the Society of St. Anne parade on Mardi Gras Day.
3. Get your gown (or tux) and go to a Mardi Gras Ball.
4. Find your Mardi Gras Zodiac with our guide.
5. Catch a purse at Krewe of Nyx.
6. Vie for a coveted coconut at Zulu.
7. Marvel at the out of this world creativity of Chewbacchus.
8. Get your last minute Carnival costume together – here’s some ideas.
9. Go to the Mardi Gras Mask Market at the French Market.
10. Create a costume out of red beans (preferably Camellia Red Beans) for the Red Beans parade.
11. Order Popeye’s chicken before, during, or after the parades.
12. Sip French Truck Big Chief Blend Coffee on the parade route.
13. Get dressed up and head to one of these iconic French Quarter restaurants for dinner during carnival, (make a reservation!).
14. Browse over a dozen king cakes at the King Cake hub or visit one of these New Orleans bakeries.
15. Get a daiquiri and roam the streets.
16. Don’t be shy, revel in the carnival spirit and make new Mardi Gras friends on the parade route.
17. Lose yourself in the sounds of the St. Aug marching band in the parades.
18. Explore the Mardi Gras Art Market at the Music Box Village.
19. Catch Freedia Gras at One Eyed Jack’s.
20. Share a batch of crawfish with your Mardi Gras krewe.
21. Get in the creative spirit and learn how to make a Mardi Gras Headdress.
23. Go beyond the beads and help turn throws into jobs – volunteer at the Arc of New Orleans.
24. Get a first-hand look at Mardi Gras Indian culture and learn how to hand bead at NOMGI Sip & Sew.
25. Discover carnival’s best kept secret – the North Side Skull & Bone Gang.