Celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans is on many people’s bucket lists. While I’ve always wanted to partake in the world-famous festivities, part of me wondered if it wouldn’t be a complete tourist-filled drunk-fest lacking any real culture.
I’m thrilled to say that, after experiencing Mardi Gras in New Orleans first-hand, it’s one of the best festivals I’ve ever been to!
Mardi Gras falls on a Tuesday (Fat Tuesday), but the festivities begin the weekend leading up to it. I arrived with my friend Matt, of Nomadic Matt, on the Sunday before Fat Tuesday ready to get my fill of jazz and gumbo!
We spent most of our time exploring the French Quarter where we were entertained by marching jazz bands, humored by the elaborate costumes and stuffed from delicious Creole & Cajun food.
Mardi Gras was both everything I had hoped for and nothing like what I expected. We’ve all heard of the festival being a scene with women flashing for beads and I totally expected the streets (especially Bourbon Street) to be filled with half-naked drunk people.
What I found instead, were elaborately dressed festival-goers of all ages celebrating, laughing and expressing themselves through music, art and dance.
It was not dissimilar to the infectiously liberating energy I felt at Burning Man.
While many costumes and signs were humorous and outrageous, I never once felt anything other than love and positivity around me.
One of the highlights from my experience was watching some of the parades. The Krewe of Bacchus parade lit up the streets of New Orleans with their incredible floats, marching bands and incredible light shows.
People lined the streets as the floats threw down everything from beads to stuffed toys.
Overall, it was one of the most unforgettable festivals I’ve ever had and just the right amount of weird. If you love music, food and a great party, don’t miss this experience!