Louisiana was founded by explorer Pierre Le Moyne D’Iberville on Mardi Gras Day 1699 and the party hasn’t stopped since. Mardi Gras Day - also known as Fat Tuesday - marks the final day of Carnival Season! It is always the day before Ash Wednesday, and is the biggest day of celebration during Mardi Gras. Zulu and Rex parades roll, but other parties and city-wide celebrations occur as well. Grab some king cake and a costume, and Mardi Gras Mambo through our suggestions below! See our Ultimate Mardi Gras Survival Guide here.
Start your morning with the North Side Skull and Bone Gang in Treme. For over 200 years, this group has gathered before sunrise to wake up neighbors on Mardi Gras Day by spreading a message of peace. Their skeleton costumes and drums attract visitors and locals alike. The journey begins at 5 am at the Backstreet Cultural Museum.
The Society of St. Anne take over the streets on Mardi Gras morning in elaborate costumes. This walking krewe is mainly made up of home-made creations. Join the group in the Marigny around 10am. Mimi's is a good place to start, and it is free and open to participate.
Head to Bourbon Street and St. Ann to see the ultimate costume contest. Known for the elaborate drag queen costumes, the Bourbon Street Awards attracts large crowds each year. The contest begins around noon. From there, walk around the Quarter and join in on the revelry.
Named after the fiercest of the African tribes, Zulu is one of the most-loved parading krewes. They are the first parade of the day, and are known for their highly sought after coconuts. If you're lucky enough to catch one, be sure to hold it close. The parade begins at 8am, but depending on where you stand, rolls for hours throughout the day. You will spot some Mardi Gras Indians as well!
Following Zulu, rolls Rex, one of the oldest parading krewes. The leader, "Rex", acts as the king of all of Carnival. This krewe started the tradition of purple, green and gold, the official colors of Mardi Gras. The boeuf gras float continues to be one of their most famous, but many of their signature throws are coveted. The Rex ball is invitation only and takes place that night.
Pro Tip: Stay around Canal Street to be in on all the action.
Fat Tuesday is a one-of-a-kind experience, embodying New Orelans culture. Book your trip early, and check out our bucket list for some must-dos. View our FAQs here.
Be sure to educate yourself with all things Mardi Gras!