Already been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans? Think you can scratch it off your bucket list? Not so fast! Before you say you’ve seen it all, here are some specific must-dos.
1. Hang at Krewe du Vieux
One of the earliest parades of the season, the Krewe du Vieux is the only parade that goes through the French Quarter or Vieux Carre. Adults only, it is famous for its wild satire, adult themes and for showcasing the city’s best brass bands. It’s a fabulous night with lots of humor. The parade “sub-krewes," including the Krewe of Underwear, Krewe of L.E.W.D., and the Mystic Krewe of Comatose (a spoof on the old-line Krewe of Comus). And if you love Krewe du Vieux, make sure you catch the other “micro-krewes.”
2.Catch a Muses shoe, a Zulu coconut and a Nyx purse
These are the most treasured throws of Carnival, so it won’t be easy. Just remember, at Mardi Gras time, greed is good. Don’t give up till you get what you want. And many specially made throws have hashtags from the people who threw them so you can tag them online and thank them for their artistry – and aim.
3. Wake up with North Side Skull and Bones Gang in the Treme
Since 1819, the North Side Skull and Bones Gang has been rising before dawn, costuming as skeletons and waking up the 6th Ward on Mardi Gras morning. It’s a bone-chilling tradition you shouldn’t miss.
4. Dance at the Endymion Extravaganza
While most krewe balls are “invitation only,” the Endymion Extravaganza after the parade is open to anyone who buys a ticket. Put on a ball gown or tux, and be there when the floats come rolling into the Superdome for the fun and then dance the night away.
5. Try king cake from at least three different places and Instagram your favorite
King Cake parties where everyone brings a cake from a different bakery are becoming a new tradition. Try three or more and become part of the “who makes the best king cake in town" discussion.
6. Come face-to-face with a Mardi Gras Indian on Mardi Gras day
Tracing their roots back to a time when Native Americans helped shield runaway slaves, the Mardi Gras Indians can be found parading down the streets on Mardi Gras day in their spectacular hand-sewn costumes.
7.Take in the Bourbon Street Awards
You need to find two things on Mardi Gras morning: A slice of king cake and a great spot to watch contestants in fabulously colorful costumes compete for top honors at the Bourbon Street Awards (a.k.a. “the most famous drag-queen contest in America”). There are group awards and individual awards and it’s always incredibly inventive.
8. Get down with the 610 Stompers and other fun dance groups
There are more than 30 wonderful adult dance groups that take to the streets during Mardi Gras, including the legendary 610 Stompers, the Storyville Baby Dolls, the Merry Antoinettes, the Muff-A-Lottas, the Pussyfooters, Roux La La and more you just have to see to appreciate.
9.Shake the paw of the king of the Mystick Krewe of Barkus
Yes. A parade of costumed dogs is also on our calendar. This canine Carnival parade is one of the most imaginative events of the season. Come see dogs and their people costumed to the hilt. Previous themes have included the “Wizard of Paws,”“Jurassic Bark”and “Tails from the Crypt.” Only dogs who were once homeless are eligible to be queen and the king belongs to a member of the krewe.
10. Don’t miss the Super Krewes
While the small krewes are wonderful, there’s nothing like the site of the Super Krewes (Orpheus, Bacchus and Endymion) rolling down the main thoroughfares of New Orleans with their enormous floats, celebrity guests and world-famous marching bands.