New Orleans Mardi Gras: Quick Guide

New Orleans

colorful graphic showing names of famous Mardi Gras marching groups

New Orleans is celebrating its Tricentennial, and with Mardi Gras here, we thought you'd like an easy reference guide of the biggest of its parades, historic taverns and what some of the spectacle means:

Important Dates

January 6th - February 13th, 2018.
Contrary to what most people think Mardi Gras is not a one day or even a one week affair, it extends over the course of the month.  Consisting of a number of parades and balls in various parts of the city that culminates on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday.  For 2018 that is February 13th.

6 (of 55) Parades:

There's an incredible 55 parades that take place; 28 are going to occur in the last weekend Feb. 9-13th.  Here are six of the most famous, all happening in the last days:

Bacchus - March and dance sums up this group's attitude exactly as their Greek God figurehead, Bacchus, would have enjoyed.  Parade route:  From south of Lee Circle to the Convention Center.

Endymion - This parade is famous for its celebrity grand marshal's, floats and costumes, followed by a major party for thousands in the Superdome.  Parade route:  From City Park to the Convention Center.

Orpheus - Started in 1994, Orpheus' theme is music and calls on the Greek God who was the sun of a muse.  Orpheus has major celebrity honorees, and follows in the party history of Mardi Gras.   Parade route:  From south of Lee Circle to Convention Center.

Proteus - The Greek Sea God who was also a shape-changer is the leader of this the second oldest parade of Mardi Gras.  The Proteus group members are also famous for their masked balls.  Parade route:  From South of Lee Circle to Canal & Chartres Streets.

Rex - The "King of Carnival" happens on Fat Tuesday.  Rex is the seminal iconic parade of Mardi Gras.  Here is where the famed tossed gold coins called Doubloon originated.  Rex's grand marshal is always a notable civic personage.  Parade route:  From north of Lee Circle to Canal & St. Peter's Street.

Zulu - Named for the famous African tribe, Zulu features fantastic costumes and great music.  Parade route:  From Jackson & Claiborne to N. Broad and Orleans Street.

See all 55 Parades with Dates & Routes:  NewOrleansOnline

5 Historic Bars

Arnaud's French Bar 75  since 1918.  815 Bienville St

Carousel Bar since 1886.  214 Royal St

Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop since approx 1732.  941 Bourbon St

Pat O'Brien's since 1933.  718 St. Peter's St  

Port of Call since the 1960s.  838 Esplanade Ave

Mardi Gras in 4 Lines

First Mardi Gras?  Happened in 1856.

What's a Throw?  Beads, coins, cups and the Zulu's Krewe's Golden Nugget (a coconut).

What's a Krewe?  The membership behind each carnival parade club.  Many of which do charitable work as well.

Where are the Mardi Gras Crown Jewels?  See them at Williams Residence, a historic building in the French Quarter. 

New Orleans 300 Years

Native Americans lived on this land first, but in 1718 French trader/explorer Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne came through and founded New Orleans. The city passed back and forth in possession from the French to the Spanish, until the United States got it as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.

Read more and purchase the Red Map New Orleans.
map of New Orleans showing the Mississippi Riverfront

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