Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Carrie Riches

Mardi Gras


New OrleansThough its origins lie outside of the city, Mardi Gras has become synonymous with New Orleans, which was founded in 1718. Over time this dynamic city became home to American, French, Creole, Irish, German and African populations, creating a society that is truly multi-cultural and multilingual.

Mardi Gras ParadeMardi Gras began as the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, which upon the advent of Christianity turned into a time of merriment that occurred before the 40 day period of Lent. This carnival-like event involved the wearing of masks, feasting and celebrations. The practice spread throughout the European continent and eventually made its way over to the New World. These pre-Lenten festivities were common in New Orleans during the late 1700’s, although they were briefly discontinued while the city was under Spanish rule.

Mardi Gras MasksIn the 1820’s, masked balls and street celebrations were again permitted. Mardi Gras in New Orleans begins on January 6 with a masked ball and the parade season starts three weeks before Mardi Gras Day. In 2014, these lively festivities will reach their zenith on March 4, when everyone dons their masks and beads, and the revelers flood the streets. At the stroke of midnight on Ash Wednesday, after a formal ball, the city’s police force will announce that Mardi Gras has officially ended.

Destrehan PlantationVisitors coming to Mardi Gras in New Orleans can also explore the city’s fascinating attractions, including the historic Destrehan Plantation, which features costumed tour guides, exhibits and folk art. There is also the French Market, an open-air marketplace that was established in 1791.

Saint Louis CemeteryNew Orleans also has beautifully constructed cemeteries with ornate above-ground tombs, the oldest of which is the Saint Louis Cemetery, which is only one block away from the famous French Quarter. After the Great New Orleans Fire, the French Quarter was rebuilt in what was then a more modern Spanish style, with vibrant colors, decorative ironwork and flat tiled roofs. The French Quarter is home to famous sites, including Jackson Square and Bourbon Street. The hotels located in this historic area range from small bed and breakfasts to grand hotels like The Astor Crowne Plaza French Quarter New Orleans. New Orleans has a variety of hotels to suit any budget, including the O'Keefe Plaza Hotel, La Quinta Inn and Suites New Orleans Chalmette Area, Hotel St. Marie and many more!

So head to the Big Easy, put on your mask and let the good times roll at the exciting Mardi Gras in New Orleans!