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Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Louisiana

Updated on March 7, 2015
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Louisiana has many unique sites and interesting places to visit. Yvonne enjoys sharing her knowledge of local history, customs and events.

Queen Float With Shirley Jones - Way Back When

Source

Costumes, Feasting, Music and Fun

Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Louisiana is filled with lots of free fun. The parades start rolling in the Big Easy, as well as on the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain two or three weeks before the big day. Fat Tuesday is steeped in tradition with its King Cakes, Krewes, Grand Balls, Parades, Costumes, Throws (Doubloons, beads and other trinkets) and fabulous Music. This article celebrates the tradition, with all of its revelry and fun. Come join us to see the sights and hear the sounds of Mardi Gras in Louisiana.

Queen Float photo by Y. L. Bordelon, All Rights Reserved

Mardi Gras, the Biggest Free Show in the World.

Carnival Time by Al Johnson Vid

Play the video to listen to Carnival Time to give you some Mardi Gras spirit.

What is it?

Mardi Gras or Shrove Tuesday is a Roman Catholic celebration which begins on January 6th (Twelfth Night) and continues until midnight of Fat Tuesday. It is a period of revelry before the Christian time of fasting and prayer called, Lent. The date depends on when Easter is, but it is always on a Tuesday and falls between February 3rd and March 9th, 46 days before Easter.

At midnight on Fat Tuesday, all the revelers are moved out of the French Quarter and the solemn Ash Wednesday begins. Catholics all over the world go to mass to receive their "ashes" in the sign of a cross on their foreheads. The ashes are the burned, blessed palms from Palm Sunday.

Public Domain
Public Domain

Future Dates

The date for the celebration changes every year. Here is a schedule for the next few years.

February 9, 2016

February 28, 2017

February 13, 2018

March 5, 2019

February 25, 2020

February 16, 2021


New Orleans Mardi Gras Duel

What do you think of Mardi Gras in New Orleans?

It's great fun - love the parades and the people.

It's great fun - love the parades and the people.

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    • Kim 5 years ago from Yonkers, NY

      I've never been there but looks like tons of fun, plus I'm not a religious person I think its mostly B.S.

    • Louis Wery 6 years ago from Sarasota, Florida USA

      Would love to go!

    • Sami4u LM 6 years ago

      Hi,

      Great time Can't wait to go back :D

    • LadyJasmine LM 6 years ago

      I love Mardi Gras so much that I string beads into garland and hang parade throws on my yule tree! :D

    • Tamara Kajari 6 years ago from Zagreb, Croatia, Europe

      It's one of the things New Orleans is so special about and I love it. It shows the true spirit of people who live there.

    • missbat 6 years ago

      I've never been but someday I must celebrate Mardi Gras in New Orleans!

    • greenerme 8 years ago

      I love New Orleans, it's a really distinct city in the U.S. unlike any other.

    • anonymous 8 years ago

      Love the music, parades & friendly attitude of New Orleanians

    That heathen festival in the Big Easy - balderdash!

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      A Little History

      French colonists introduced Mardi Gras to the new world in 1766. The custom became popular among New Orleans Catholics and soon spread to other southern states. Today it is a legal holiday in many southern states, including Louisiana. The celebration in New Orleans is the most popular, but Mobile, Alabama claims to be the first to parade in the United States.

      The New Orleans celebration includes parties, parades, balls, and many other festivities. Social clubs called, Krewes, pay for and organize the parades and other activities. The most famous Krewes include: Comus, the oldest, which was founded in 1857, but no longer parades and Rex, the king of Carnival, which was founded in 1872. Rex selected the official colors of Mardi Gras (purple, gold and green) in 1872. Then in 1892, Rex assisgned a meaning to each. Purple represents justice, green stands for faith and gold signifies power.

      Hail, King Rex

      Rex, the king of Mardi Gras parades down Canal Street at 12 noon on Tuesday, Fat Tuesday. He stops at the viewing stand to toast his queen. King Rex is the only one of the Krewe of Rex, whose identity is known. All the knights and other male members wear masks and their identity is a secret.

      Rex King of Mardi Gras 1983

      Source

      Rex Ball 1890

      A favor from the Rex Ball of 1890.
      A favor from the Rex Ball of 1890. | Source

      The Rex ball, which is held on Shrove Tuesday night, is a grand affair that dates back to the early days of the festival. The invitations are prized possessions to many New Orleanians and the vintage ones from the Victorian era are true works of art.

      Enjoy the music as you peruse the lens.

      Mardi Gras Mambo video

      Carnival for Kids

      Mardi Gras can be fun for children if parents choose the right parades. The French Quarter is not the place for children on Carnival weekend or day. Parades in Jefferson Parish and on the North Shore in St. Tammany Parish are usually more family oriented.

      There are many well illustrated books about Carnival that children can enjoy. Other activities like King Cake parties and children's Mardi Gras parades can be planned.

      Gaston Goes to Mardi Gras

      Children love Gaston the Green Nosed Alligator and in this book, Gaston tells all about the traditions of a New Orleans Carnival. James Rice wrote many other Gaston books about various aspects of life in Louisiana.

      Customs and Tradition of the Celebration

      This ancient celebration is steeped with traditions and customs. Some of these include: the King Cake, Throws (like Doubloons and Beads), Krewes, Balls, Costumes and Masking, Parades and Floats and special Music. Mardi Gras is a time of celebration and fun for Catholics and others before the serious and solemn Lenten season begins. Some of the night life in the French Quarter can get a little bawdy, but most of the parades and other celebrations are meant for the entire family to enjoy.

      Many of the photos seen here can be purchased in LALagniappe's Zazzle Shop as print-on-demand products such as posters, cards, apparel, mugs, etc.

      Mardi Gras, Music and New Orleans, You Can't Get Any Better Than That!

      Go to the Mardi Gras by Professor Longhair

      Mardi Gras in New Orleans 1
      Mardi Gras in New Orleans 1

      The classic Mardi Gras album. A must have for all those who love the Music.

       

      The Music

      Music is our favorite part of the celebration and besides being a home grown New Orleanian, my husband is a music collector and enthusiast. He has personally selected his favorite Carnival music and has given a little of the history of each song. Here is his list of the Best music of New Orleans.

      The Best

      Carnival Time by Al Johnson (1960) - Recorded by a local New Orleans artist is, in our opinion, the all time Mardi Gras Classic Tune.

      Mardi Gras Mambo by The Hawketts (1954) - Art Neville and other Booker T. Washington classmates recorded it at Cosimo's Recording Studio in the French Quarter in 1954. It was arranged by local radio DJ, "Jack the Cat".

      Go to the Mardi Gras by Professor Longhair (1959), with Dr. John on the guitar and Earl King whistling, gets more plaing time than any other song during Carnival Season.

      Street Parade by Earl King, another famous New Orleans musician was recorded in 1972.

      Second Line by Stop, Inc. was first recorded by the Skyliners in 1962, but the master was lost. It was recreated by Stop, Inc in 1974.

      New Suit by the Wild Magnolias (1970) was recorded in Jazz City, Camp Street, New Orleans. The "New Suit" is the elaborate costume that each member of the various tribes of Mardi Gras Indians designs and constructs each year, to be worn on Mardi Gras Day. See this post from Home of the Groove for the history of the African American Mardi Gras Indians.


      Songs Which Have a Similar Beat to Mardi Gras Music

      Don't You Just Know It by Huey "Piano" Smith and the Clowns. This song which features a great New Orleans pianist, with Bobby Marchan as lead vocalist was recorded in 1958.

      Oh Poo Pa Doo by Jessie Hill was recorded by this local artist in 1958.

      Iki, Iko was first recorded by the New Orleans group, Sugarboy and the Cane Cutters in 1953. Then by the Dixie Cups in 1963. The 1972 version by Dr. John Follows Sugarboy's original format.

      Electric Boogie by Marcia Griffin, a Baton Rouge artist, was adopted by the Krewe of Bamboozer's (of the Spanish Town Mardi Gras Parade)as their favorite dance.

      Hey Pocky A-Way by The Meters (L. Nocentelli/A. Neville/J. Modeliste/G. Porter, Jr.) from Rejuvenation, Reprise, 1974

      Electric Slide

      Wild Tchoupitoulas Mardi Gras Indians Documentary Video

      Indians of Mardi Gras consist of "tribes" (with names like, "Creole Wild West" and "Mohawk Hunter") of African American men dressed in ornate feathered costumes that they constructed themselves. This abridged documentary is about the history and tradition of these groups which dates back over one hundred years and is an integral part of the New Orleans celebration.

      King Rio says, "Let the Good Times Roll"

      Source

      Bags for all of your loot are Mardi Gras essentials. They can also be used to carry drinks and snacks for the parade.

      © 2008 Yvonne L. B.

      Throw Us Something, Mister!

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        • JoyfulReviewer profile image

          JoyfulReviewer 5 years ago

          This is so colorful ... looks like a lot of fun.

        • BlogsWriter profile image

          BlogsWriter 5 years ago

          Louisiana celebrates Mardi Gras in a big way, love the colorful parades.

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          Kim 5 years ago from Yonkers, NY

          Cool lens including on my Favorite Lenses lens

        • Sami4u LM profile image

          Sami4u LM 6 years ago

          Hi,

          Beads, Beads, and Blessed

        • Tamara14 profile image

          Tamara Kajari 6 years ago from Zagreb, Croatia, Europe

          I've never participated or even seen it live, but would definitely love to. Great lens!

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          anonymous 6 years ago

          I would love to go once to see Mardi Gras, hmmm, glances down, maybe Susie will take me LOL but I agree, someone in the background, not a huge crowd gal either - Kathy

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          anonymous 6 years ago

          It would be so much fun to go to Mardi Gras. I would want to take a back seat to watch it all. Not real big on crowds, but I'd have fun taking picture of you dancing in the streets.

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          missbat 6 years ago

          Laissez les bons temps rouler!

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          VarietyWriter2 7 years ago

          Looks like good times :)

        • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

          ElizabethJeanAl 8 years ago

          Welcome to The Totally Awesome Lenses Group.

          Lizzy

        • bigjimj profile image

          bigjimj 8 years ago

          Very nice lens. Interesting, informative, engaging. Excellent job. N'awlins is one of the coolest cities in the world and your lens is worthy of being associated with it. Angel blessing for you.

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          Joan4 8 years ago

          I was in New Orleans in 1960s - and have wanted to return for Mardi Gras! Will put this on my Bucket List! Beautiful pics!

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          Achim Thiemermann 8 years ago from Austin, Texas

          New Orleans is only 9 hours away from Austin, Texas. I should go sometime and let your lenses guide me through a great experience of fun and good food. 5*s and a hearty SquidAngel Blessing thrown atcha... :)

        • TheInfamous7 profile image

          TheInfamous7 8 years ago

          Now that's a BIG Lens!! Great Work Naturegirl!

          Blessed!! x

        • greenerme profile image

          greenerme 8 years ago

          Great work! This lens looks almost as fun as Mardigras! I haven't been to New Orleans in quite a while, but would love to go back someday.