One item on many Bucket Lists is to experience Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Thanks to the hospitality of my lifelong friend, this year I had the chance to do exactly that. What I’ve compiled here are my top tips for a first-time Mardi Gras attender to help you have a fun, memorable, and sane experience.
This is a lengthy post, so if you’d like to jump ahead use these links:
Before we jump in, here’s some crucial lingo:
- Krewe: A purposeful misspelling of “crewe” coined in the mid-1800s as an archaic affectation (fake old-sounding word). Krewes lead parades throughout the Mardi Gras season. Some parades consist of multiple small Sub-Krewes (Krewe Delusion, The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus) but most run their own independant parades.
- Reveler: A person who has paid to gain membership to a Krewe and is therefore required to participate in the parade. Revelers are all required to wear masks — some resemble those worn by French clergy and some are classic masquerade masks).
- Royalty: Krewe members who have made particularly large contributions and therefore ride on individual floats at the beginning of the parade. Some parades have only a King/Queen and some have Dukes, Duchesses, Paiges, Maids, and more.
- Throw: Items thrown by revelers to parade goers. Typical throws include classic Mardi Gras beads, Krewe-themed beads, medallions, doubloons, plastic cups, and special hand-decorated throws.
- Ball: Krewes throw exclusive parties after their parades where attendees are able to see the floats go by in a special location and are sometimes treated to a concert by the parade’s celebrity marshall. Tickets to these parties are hard to come by and can climb upwards of $500.