New Orleans Mardi Gras, Louisiana
February 10, 2024
Mardi Gras is widely celebrated in New Orleans, and it’s not something you want to miss. Centered on Bourbon Street, you can find a ton of parades going on.
The Mardi Gras celebrations always kick off on the last day of the Carnival season, the day before Ash Wednesday. In 2023, it will be hosted on February 21st.
It’s an incredible spectacle to behold: tons of outrageous costumes, music, dancing, food, and drink— it’s all here.
The festival is organized by social clubs in the city. Objects like colorful plastic beads and decorated items like throw cups are thrown into the audience by those doing the parade to engage with them. Their traditional colors are purple, green, and gold, signifying justice, faith, and power, respectively.
It’s the biggest celebration in New Orleans and central to their culture.
Most of the Central Business District and French Quarter hotels require a four to five day minimum stay, and they steadily book blocks of rooms beginning in August. Make your reservations now!
Hotels are often solidly booked by December, so reserve ahead of time. Check out recommended hotels close to the action or Mardi Gras packages. If they are sold out, we also recommend the hotels that are listed on BestNewOrleansHotels.com.
Okay, so it’s January, and you decide you want to visit New Orleans on Fat Tuesday. Should you even try? Yes! It is worth it, but just be prepared to spend a lot of time on the phone. Keep calling. Hotels have cancellations, and there are waiting lists. If you are persistent, you just may find a place somewhere.
And remember, the parades and festivities start well before Fat Tuesday! Hotels often have rooms available when the parades first begin. This is a great time to visit New Orleans if you want to see some parades and get a great Mardi Gras experience without all the crowds.
Don’t Wait Until January To Start Planning Your Trip
Yes, we touched on this in the tip above, but it’s so important that it bears repeating. Waiting to make reservations usually isn’t a good idea if you have definitely decided to enjoy Mardi Gras in New Orleans. You might get lucky, but there is no guarantee. If you like to gamble and don’t want to reserve the minimum night stay required at most hotels, then you can wait and see if those hotels will relax their minimum night stay requirements if they have rooms that need to be filled. But there is no guarantee this will happen. You definitely don’t want to come to New Orleans looking for a room.
Know The New Parade Rules
- There can be no ladders or other personal effects, like grills and coolers, closer than 6 feet to the curb.
- Parking on Napoleon and St. Charles will be prohibited on BOTH sides of the neutral ground this year, not just the parade side, starting 2 hours before the parade.
- There is now a ban on roping off territory via chairs, tarps, or anything else if you are in the public right of way. This includes neutral ground and
- There can be no private portable toilets in the neutral ground or other public property.
Plan Your Transportation
If you are driving in for the day from a suburban hotel, remember that the French Quarter during Mardi Gras weekend is closed to vehicular traffic. Only French Quarter residents and hotel guests with special parking passes can get by the police barricades. Off-site commercial parking lots are expensive and fill up fast, so get there early! Make sure you know how far away your hotel will be and remember: There are surcharges with rideshares and taxicabs are more difficult to find at this time of year.
It is a good idea to get a map of the city and study the areas you’ll be visiting. New Orleans is a “checkerboard city” – safe neighborhoods can be within blocks of unsafe areas. Your hotel concierge or front desk can help you with route times, traffic and parking.
If you stay in an outlying hotel, don’t depend on them to supply you with transportation to the French Quarter or the parade routes. Although some have shuttles to New Orleans, they are often not in use during Mardi Gras season. Traffic during Carnival is unbelievably congested, and standard routes are often barricaded to redirect the traffic flow.
Even public transportation can be difficult – bus and streetcar routes/schedules often change during Carnival season, so plan ahead and make sure you know when and how to get there and back.
If you want to save yourself some walking, bring a bicycle. Bicycles provide a great means of transportation in areas where cars are not allowed or where parking is too difficult. Just be sure to be cautious when you get into the big crowds, and bring a chain to lock up your bike when you’re not using it.
Check all routes here