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Arts & Culture

How To Do Mardi Gras Like a Local!

The New Orleans Mardi Gras schedule offers many parades, marching clubs, parties, and activities to keep you busy like a local this Carnival season!

Twelfth Night has come and gone, and now we’re thinking about how to fit in all of the activities we need to properly celebrate Mardi Gras this year – or is that just me? In any case, it’s time once again to throw caution to the wind, wear your craziest costumes, and soak up the unique energy surrounding the city! Deciding what parades and events you want to attend can be overwhelming, no matter if you’re a newbie or a seasoned veteran. Sure, I’ve got my favorite events (I try to never miss Muses or Endymion), but there are also so many things going on and I want to eventually experience it all. To help round out your experience, here are some of the lesser known parades, marching clubs that never disappoint, krewe parties and balls that are open to the public (that means you!), and other activities & events going on this year.

mardi gras parade
Krewe du Vieux (Photo courtesy of Maggie Dyer)

Parades: I start to really get into the spirit with Krewe du Vieux – this parade is sarcastic and packs a hefty dose of political satire. This year, it rolls through the French Quarter on January 19. It’s followed by Krewe Delusion, a newer parade whose theme is kept secret until the day of the parade. January 26, check out ‘tit Rəx (say: ‘tit Rex), New Orleans’ only micro krewe – this one happens in the Marigny and consists of tiny but elaborate shoebox-sized floats. Afterward, you’re in the right ‘hood to watch the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus, a sci-fi, “green” parade that uses no petroleum at all. This year’s king is, fittingly, Peter Mayhew – otherwise known as the original Chewbacca. The next day, head to the Quarter to watch Barkus, an annual dog parade that’s been going on since 1992.

mardi gras krewe
Rolling Elvi(s) (Photo courtesy of Allen Boudreaux via Rick Viana)
new orleans marching club
610 Stompers doing their thing (Photo courtesy of 610 Stompers)

Marching Clubs: It’s always a pleasure to see the 610 Stompers, but maybe that’s because I have a thing for mustached men wearing jean shorts. They call themselves “ordinary men with extraordinary moves” and it’s a lot of fun watching them cut loose! The Krewe of Rolling Elvi, although technically not a marching club, are also worth mentioning and are exactly what you would expect: a group of men, all dressed up like Elvis and rolling around on scooters. Then there’s the Pussyfooters, who I love for their mission to empower women. This group of more than 100 female members fundraise and support local organizations like the Women’s Metropolitan Center. Can’t get enough of pretty ladies dancing? Keep your eyes peeled for the Camel Toe Lady Steppers and the “sexah monkeys” of the Organ Grinders, too! Note: Visit each group’s website to see what parades they will be in this year.

Activities and Events: Partied a bit too much? Head out to City Park on February 9 for the Mardi Gras Color Run, also known as “The Happiest 5K.” (I’ll be there!) Lundi Gras night (February 11), check out Galactic playing their annual show at Tipitina’s. And finally, if you’re not too tired, wake up on Mardi Gras Day and head down to Bourbon for the quirky 49th annual Bourbon Street Awards, where you’re guaranteed to see some pretty wild costumes.

mardi gras new orleans
Endymion Extravaganza (Photo courtesy of Brian & Jamie Parker)

Balls and Parties: Endymion is well-known for its after party, the “Endymion Extravaganza”: the krewe concludes its parade in the Superdome, throwing beads out to the attendees, then parties alongside them until the early morning. The headliner for 2013 will be Kelly Clarkson. Sound awesome? Orpheus (“Orpheuscapade”), Bacchus (“Bacchus Rendezvous”), Tucks (“Tucks Extravaganza”), and the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club Coronation Ball are also open to non-krewe members. Note: Check out each website for details; as these are likely sold out for 2013, but you may want to plan to attend next year.

Happy Carnival!

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