The history of the celebration of Mardi Gras goes all the way back to medieval Rome and Venice before making its way to the lively city of New Orleans, Louisiana by the 1730s. The various parades that we see today didn’t pop up until the 1870s, which probably shines the brightest in all of the events that take place as well. This article is to help answer the question about whether it’s Worth It to Go To New Orleans For Mardi Gras. I hope to influence that answer to be yes because this lively, and colorful city really has a lot more to offer than you might think.
Part of what makes a tradition all that more fun is the history that’s behind it, and what has helped develop it to be what it is today. According to the History Channel, Mardi Gras first came to the United States “when the French-Canadian explorer Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville camped about 60 miles downriver from the future site of New Orleans. Knowing it was Fat Tuesday back in France, Iberville named the spot Point du Mardi Gras and held a small gala. A few years later, French soldiers and settlers feasted and wore masks as part of Mardi Gras festivities in the newly founded city of Mobile (present-day Alabama). To this day, Mobile claims to have the oldest annual Mardi Gras celebration in the United States.” It is also believed that the festivities you see even today “popped up solely as a result of the Catholic Church’s discouragement of sex and meat during Lent. Church reformers may have helped to propagate the pagan rumors, these experts say, in the hope of dissuading pre-Lenten hedonism.”
One thing that helps define such a flashy festival like Mardi Gras, even before Fat Tuesday, is the culture that surrounds it going all the way back to medieval France. The celebration of this Christian holiday welcomes the transition from winter to spring with carnival-inspired fun and celebration. Aside from the acts that walk the parade deemed unseen for other holidays, it’s probably best known for their extravagant masquerade balls. This explains why nowadays, maskers are often seen around Bourbon Street and other parts of the city.
What’s great about Mardi Gras is the more modern ways to get into the spirit of the national holiday. Even something as simple as the purple, green, and gold beads one can obtain for the celebration. In fact, one of the best-known traditions since the 1970s, which I would be careful about, includes women flashing their breasts to get some of those beads.
How many times should you go?
If you choose to attend the festive and upbeat celebration, just because you attend it once, doesn’t mean you have to keep attending it. In fact, just going that one time for the experience can be more than enough. This way, you can say that you’ve attended Mardi Gras, which is more than other people can say. But, for other people, it’s hard to know how to feel about such an event if they’ve only attended it once. If this is the case, the best thing to do would consider attending a total of three times. The first time for the general experience, the second time to look over what you experienced the first time and apply that to hopefully make this time better, and the third to convince yourself three times is enough.
Just a reminder: it is a big event
A few main concerns of attending Mardi Gras include how big the crowds are for such a town such as New Orleans. If you live in a bigger city such as Seattle, New York City, or Los Angeles, then you’re probably aware of the chaos that goes down at the parades, as well as other similar big events that take place. Streets are closed down, transportation has to work around it, and it’s an even bigger ball of stress for attendees and non-attendees. New Orleans is no different. Chances are, you run into more narrow streets. No matter what the situation, it’s important to plan your trip further in advance, be it weeks, or even months depending on how big your friend group is. Snag the best deals on hotels that are mere steps away from the various events happening on the main streets besides Carnival and the parade.
Of course, not everyone is big fans of stepping into the large crowds altogether. And, with a holiday like Mardi Gras, that’s pretty much what the parade and parties that follow it consist of; many large crowds of people who are probably very drunk almost anywhere you turn. Well, fear not, because that’s only half of what the state and surrounding states, of Louisiana, hold leading up to Fat Tuesday. Even other parts around the state of Louisiana, such as the state capital Baton Rouge, as well as Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, and Mobile, Alabama are throwing their own celebrations, just not as high key as a lively city like New Orleans. Although the New Orleans Jazzfest doesn’t happen around the time of Mardi Gras, that’s still a state-defining event worth checking out, especially. Even this calmer event than the parades has had artists including Snoop Dogg, Tom Petty, and Stevie Wonder pay a visit to the music state.
Even if the alternatives to the rowdy parades don’t even seem like an option to you, there’s no saying you can’t throw your own themed party. This way, you’d bring New Orleans to the comfort of your home and you can bring as many people as you want. Deck your house or apartment in purple, green, and gold, create a photo booth, make it a masquerade-themed party. Heck, you could even watch the parade live on television and just pretend you all got to the parade somehow.