Here at KEE, we love any excuse to throw an epic party and Mardi Gras is the perfect reason to gather with friends and family to celebrate! Our Production Manager Paula is a NOLA native and has celebrated Mardi Gras for over 30 years with friends and family. Keep reading for some of Paula’s best Mardi Gras Celebration Tips!
I love Mardi Gras. I have watched and ridden in Mardi Gras Parades and celebrated the holiday with family and friends for over 30 years. It is a such a magical time and can be a great place for people to have fun! The locals are welcoming and friendly - you won’t find a better bunch of people to show you the ropes if it’s your first time taking part in the biggest party ever!
Mardi Gras Décor
Mardi Gras Day has a moveable date and may occur on any Tuesday between February 3rd and March 9th, but it is always the day before Ash Wednesday and always falls 46 days before Easter. This year Mardi Gras is on Tuesday February 21, 2023. The parties and parades kick off January 6th on Kings Day, which is also known as Twelfth Night. This is when the locals bring out the decorations - we turn our Christmas trees into Mardi Gras trees and decorate our homes inside and out! While some folks go all out, I prefer a themed garland inside my home and a festive wreath on the front door. Purple, green and gold accents throughout the house are a Mardi Gras must have and I always love to include a festive flower centerpiece on my dining room table.
King Cake is a delicious Mardi Gras staple! It is a cross between coffee cake and French pastry and it is as rich in history as it is in its flavor. It’s decorated in the royal colors -purple for justice, green for faith and gold for power. Every home and office will have this yummy cake in their kitchen all season long! Inside each King Cake is a hidden plastic baby figure to represent Baby Jesus and Mardi Gras’ religious ties. Don’t forget - the person who gets the baby in their slice must provide the next King Cake! There is a debate among locals about the places with the best New Orleans King Cake, but my top local spots are Manny Randazzo Original King Cakes and Haydel's Bakery.
Parades + Celebrations
Mardi Gras is one of the biggest free shows on Earth and is known for the epic Parades floating through the streets of New Orleans every year. There are no sponsors allowed for these events – instead, it is funded by the individual Krewes, or groups of people that organize and host a Mardi Gras Ball, a Mardi Gras Parade Float, and participate in social events throughout the season!
Each float participating in the Parades has a theme and will have different Throws for the crowds– they can be anything from beads to glittery cups to stuffed animals and they toss them to the crowd as the Parade passes through the streets. The floats take all year to construct and stay hidden in secret “float dens” located throughout the city. There are more than 70 Krewes that parade each year, and yes, we crown Kings and Queens…why not?!
As the Parades make there way through the streets, behind every float is a spectacular krewe of dancers strutting their stuff to tunes that will have you dancing right along with them! Local high school and college Marching Bands join in the fun too, playing upbeat tunes as the Parade marches along. You can find parade schedules and times for the 2023 season here!
Parade Watching Tips
My biggest Parade watching tip is…find a perfect spot! Do your research and try to rent an Airbnb or hotel room that is on or near the Parade route. Staying nearby the Parade route will help to ensure you have all your necessities close by (bathroom, food, drinks, etc.).
People often think Mardi Gras is an adults only party– not true! Mardi Gras is very kid friendly and you are encouraged to bring the kiddos out to the parades for some of the most fun they will ever have. Although you can legally consume alcohol in the streets most people are very friendly and easy going.
There are also a few must have items when attending a Mardi Gras Parade! First you need a comfy outdoor chair so you can give your feet a break, a cooler on wheels to carry your beverages and water and finally a fun and festive tumbler to keep your beverage of choice cold! If you want to kick it up another notch, you can check out local shops like Fleurty Girl that sell fun and sparkly Mardi Gras clothing and accessories!
Most importantly, just go with the flow and “Laissez les bon ton roulette”(Let the good times roll)!