Mardi Gras is almost here! Sometimes known as Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras is more than just a day, it’s a whole season. Fat Tuesday, the beginning of the Mardi Gras celebration, falls on the Tuesday 47 days before Easter, anywhere between February 3rd and March 9th.
In 2017, Mardi Gras celebrations in the United States will continue up through February 28. There’s still time to be a part of the tradition!
A Brief History of Mardi Gras
Originally, Mardi Gras referred to a carnival celebration following the Christian feast of the Epiphany, which would culminate on the day before Ash Wednesday. On the last night of these feasts, participants would gorge themselves on rich food. (This proximity to the feasting is, in fact, the origin of the appellation “Fat Tuesday.”)
Mardi Gras celebrations vary the world over, but most in the United States associate Mardi Gras with New Orleans, which holds annual society balls, parades, and non-stop celebrations for days. Other cities around the world that are famous for Mardi Gras include Quebec City, Rio de Janeiro, and George Town in the Cayman Islands.
During the Mardi Gras celebrations, official organizations (or “krewes”) such as Endymion, Bacchus and Orpheus throw the biggest parades in New Orleans. Visitors are encouraged to catch at least one of the major official parades, as these offer the most spectacle — but there are many smaller, unofficial parades that offer unique experiences as well. When attending Mardi Gras, a freewheeling attitude is almost always the best approach.
Visitors are also encouraged to wear a mask (or full costume), eat a king cake, and shout their lungs out for beads from passing parade throws. Anonymity and abandon are the name of the game! However, despite its reputation for debauchery, Mardi Gras is actually a kid-friendly affair, especially the daytime parades. The only exception to this is the French Quarter, which is strictly for adults.
Mardi Gras Safety Tips
- Pickpockets can and do take advantage of the crowds. Keep an eye on your valuables. Don’t bring or wear any expensive jewelry to the celebrations. Don’t bring a purse — a fanny pack under your shirt is a safer bet.
- Have a contingency plan for meeting up in case you get separated in the crowd, which is a strong possibility.
- Ladders are a common way for people to get a better view of the parade, but they must be six feet from the curb (like all personal effects) and should be monitored carefully.
- Outside of the French Quarter, Mardi Gras is a family-friendly event, and that’s enforced by the police.
- By the same token, the French Quarter is no place for children, so don’t take them.
Mardi Gras Bus Rental
The many parades and street-level celebrations happening during Mardi Gras make driving a losing proposition for any visitor to New Orleans. If you’re planning on taking a trip to the Big Easy for Mardi Gras, forget the rental car — a luxury coach, party bus, or shuttle van is the perfect transportation solution.
Interested in booking a trip to Mardi Gras? It’s not too late! Call Metropolitan Shuttle at 1-866-556-3545 or contact us for a quote and let’s get started!
And, as they say in New Orleans, remember to Laissez les bons temps rouler – let the good times roll!