Your Mardi Gras Parade Primer

What a lot of people who’ve never experienced Mardi Gras in New Orleans don’t realize is that the celebrations and the balls and the parades are spread out over a whole month, or even more. (Movies set here don’t really convey that—maybe because then it’d take weeks to watch each one!)

mardi-gras-crowd-courtesy-of-the-nocvbPhoto Courtesy of NOCVB

One thing that always stays the same is the start date of the Mardi Gras season: January 6, a.k.a. the Feast of the Epiphany. The end date is, as you might expect, Fat Tuesday itself, which is the day before Ash Wednesday. This year, Easter will be on April 16, which means Lent begins on March 1, which in turn means Fat Tuesday will be February 28. (Phew!)

new orleans mardi grasPhoto Courtesy of Cheryl Gerber

What this means for you, though, is that this year the Carnival season lasts nearly two full months. Most of the older, most established of the 62 Krewes—the social and charitable organizations that organize all the celebrations, and who parade through the city’s streets during Carnival—schedule their festivities in the last week before Mardi Gras itself. These include such “superkrewes” as Endymion and Orpheus and royal Carnival krewes such as Zulu and Rex (whose king presides over the entire shebang). But if you’re in town earlier, you can catch quirkier “micro-krewes” like the Krewe of Cork (whose costumes tend to involve grapes and wine bottles), the Krewe of Barkus (look for dogs, their people, and a parade of rolling doghouses), and the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus—we’re counting on seeing see a platoon of Princess Leias this year!

new orleans mardi grasPhoto Courtesy of Paul Broussard


Featured Photo Courtesy of Todd Coleman

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