To understand the true power of a mask, you first need to know this: Mardi Gras masks were outlawed in the 19th century. Rowdy party-goers would cause trouble under the complete anonymity of a mask, and authorities banned them in an effort to control Carnival mayhem. But worry not, masks were reinstated in the 1920s and since then have become the visual hallmark of Carnival season.
A Mardi Gras costume can go from blah to beautiful with the addition of a simple, stunning mask, and there’s no better place to find one than the 2018 Mardi Gras Mask Market. Celebrating its 35th year, the Mask Market gathers artists from across the country in the French Market from Friday, February 9 to Monday, February 12.
Wandering through the Mask Market is like stepping into a Mardi Gras museum: there are hand-painted porcelain masks strictly for wall decoration and leather masks that hug your face like a second skin. Rainbow-hued masks shine with paint, and long-beaked bird masks make you look like a mythical creature from Homer’s Odyssey.
If you’re a Mardi Gras costume procrastinator, or perhaps a visitor in town for a brief few days, this is the perfect time to put together a costume while enjoying a day in the French Quarter.
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Dutch Alley, you can peruse the market while enjoying king cake, live music, and other Mardi Gras wares like second line umbrellas and jewelry. This is a great way to celebrate Mardi Gras while supporting and enjoying local artists.
If you can’t make it out to the Mask Market, there are plenty of other places to snag a mask in New Orleans. The Mask Gallery at 841 Royal St. has a great selection of handmade leather, Venetian, and feather masks. Maskarade at 630 St. Ann St. is another shop with a wide selection of masks for every occasion. Crescent City Mask Co. at 632 Pirates Aly has masks ranging in sizes and price tags. Just walking the streets of the French Quarter will lead you to some amazing mask shops.