Last updated: 05:30 PM ET, Wed January 27 2016

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  • Leslie Straughan | January 27, 2016 5:30 PM ET

    Mardi Gras: What to Know Before Your Clients Go

    Mardi Gras: What to Know Before Your Clients Go

    Carnival season is in full swing and first timers may find all the festivities either exciting or overwhelming. Here is a list of practical tips from insiders to help your clients have the best possible time in New Orleans.

    Mardi Gras is not just one day

    Many travelers make the mistake of coming only for “Fat Tuesday” or Mardi Gras Day. While your client will surely have a great time, the majority of parades and festivities happen throughout the entire Carnival season.

    Always kicking off on Jan. 6, Mardi Gras begins with a small group or “krewe” called the Phunny Phorty Phellows who board a decorated streetcar Uptown and ride it through the City into the French Quarter. Jan. 6 is also the day when King Cakes, a cake made of sweetened bread and covered in icing or sugar, are readily available in bakeries and grocery stores all around town. It is almost a sacrilege to eat this delicious treat outside of Mardi Gras so many locals stand in long lines to get their first cake of the season.

    READ MORE: Explore New Orleans: The Warehouse/Arts District

    Parades roll every night two weeks prior to Mardi Gras Day in the Uptown, Mid-City, Marigny and French Quarter neighborhoods. Each Mardi Gras krewe has their own style and traditions, but all generously showering the crowds with “throws”— small trinkets that are thrown from a float or by a rider that usually consisting of items such as beads, stuffed animals, toys and more. Some of the most well-known parades roll up to two weeks prior to Mardi Gras Day; parades earlier in the season usually have smaller crowds.

    Find the spot that is perfect for your clients

    Mardi Gras is a major all-encompassing event for New Orleans. Knowing what your clients are interested in can really elevate their experience.

    Uptown accommodations are perfect for families or people who are interested in navigating the city by car. Many are located on or near the parade route. Locals claim their spot on the “neutral ground” (median) or side walk with camping chairs, ice chests and other tailgating-type supplies and wait for the parades to roll by.

    READ MORE: In New Orleans, Vacation to Your Own Tune

    Faubourg Marigny is an up-and-coming neighborhood perfect for clients interested in unique experiences. Many walking parades stroll through the Marigny with either satirical or bohemian spins on Mardi Gras. The Marigny neighborhood is definitely the place where the most non-traditional celebrations occur.

    The French Quarter & Central Business District (CBD) neighborhoods are perfect for the clients who are interested in seeing everything Mardi Gras has to offer, including a lot of interesting people-watching. The majority of parades do not go through the French Quarter anymore, but they do still roll through the CBD. The narrow 300-year old streets are too small for many of the modern floats. People can walk down to Canal Street, on the outskirts of the French Quarter to see the parades and catch coveted throws. Or, buy a ticket to a grandstand and enjoy the parades with catered food above the masses. Crowds are thick and full of excitement; the best way to navigate these neighborhoods is on foot. Which brings us to…

    Wear comfortable shoes

    No matter where your clients are staying in New Orleans, comfortable shoes are a must; catching the maximum amount of beads or throws means standing up in the crowd. Many times the easiest form of transport during Mardi Gras is your client’s two feet. New Orleans’ compact footprint means that it is one of the most walkable cities in the world. Clients can walk the downtown area seeing all the great costumed revelers, and then visit a nearby restaurant for a world-renown meal before making their way to a favorite live music venue to cap off the night.

    Your clients are bound to have a great time in New Orleans for Carnival.

    For more advices on Carnival or other major events in New Orleans, visit  


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Leslie Straughan The New Orleans Beat

Leslie Straughan Leslie has more than 25 years of experience working in the tourism industry, specifically with travel professionals and the cruise market. A native of New Orleans, Leslie enjoys listening to live music and traveling with her daughter.
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