Mardi Gras is one of the most well known and exciting festivals of the year. While Mardi Gras is celebrated all over the world, the most famous Mardi Gras happens in New Orleans, where weeks of parties and parades culminate on Fat Tuesday. But even if can’t make it to Nola, you and your friends can make a Mardi Gras celebration of your own!
EditGoing to a Mardi Gras Celebration
Find out when Fat Tuesday is this year. Fat Tuesday is the last and most festive day of the Mardi Gras celebration. It is celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of the Catholic celebration of Lent. Depending on the year, it can fall on any Tuesday between February 3rd and March 9th.
Some people make their plans for Mardi Gras years in advance. Here is a list of Fat Tuesday dates through 2027: 2019 – March 5; 2020 – Feb. 25; 2021 – Feb. 16; 2022 – March 1; 2023 – Feb. 21; 2024 – Feb. 13; 2025 – March 4; 2026 – Feb. 17; 2027 – Feb. 9 
Make your travel and accommodation plans early. During the week before Mardi Gras, the population of New Orleans doubles! If you are planning to go to New Orleans, book your plane tickets and hotels well in advance. 
There are Mardi Gras parades in cities all around the world. Ask around or use a search engine to find out if there are parades or organized celebrations near your hometown.
Make a plan for your trip. All Mardi Gras celebrations are not the same, and your Mardi Gras will probably be more fun if you know what kind of experience you’re looking for. Do you want to be with other tourists stumbling drunk around the French Quarter in New Orleans? That’s okay, but you might be missing out on very different local celebrations around the city.
There will be a different character in different parts of New Orleans and at different events, reflecting the style and values of the krewes that organize them. You can find a list and description of the more established krewes and on NewOrleansonline.com
Dress to be a part of the “Greatest Free Show on Earth.” Mardi Gras is a celebration that swallows the whole of New Orleans, and if you’re there, you are a part of it. So paint your face, wear a mask, and dress for the celebration.
The official colors of Mardi Gras are gold, purple, and green. Try to incorporate these colors into your clothes or makeup.
Watch or join a parade. On Fat Tuesday, and in the weeks leading up to it, there are dozens of different parades organized by “krewes” throughout New Orleans. Most of these parades will be advertised in advance, and listed here: www.mardigrasneworleans.com/schedule.htm.
Get to the parade route early! Bring food for a picnic and folding chairs to sit on.
In New Orleans, there is a tradition of bringing decorated ladders for children to sit on so they can get a great view.
It will be very crowded! If you go with friends, pick a time and place to meet up if you get separated. You might say: “If we can’t find each other, meet at the front gates of Louis Armstrong park on the hour.” That way, no matter what time of day you get lost, you’ll know when and where to be.
Catch “throws” and try to get a Mardi Gras Coconut. Along their parade route, different krewes will throw items to onlookers. These are called “throws.” Different throws can be beads, plastic cups, coins with the krewe’s logo on it, gold-painted walnuts, and the most prized throw, the Mardi Gras coconut.
You may collect all sorts of souvenirs throughout the day, so bring a bag or backpack to keep your hands free.
Celebrate your catches, and compliment others on their catches.
EditThrowing Your Own Mardi Gras Party
Send out decorative invitations. Sure, you can just text your friends and invite them over, but if you want this to be a special party, put some time into making special invitations. You can buy pre-made Mardi Gras cards in some stores or online. But if you have the time, try making your own invitations.
Encourage your guests to dress up and wear masks in the invitation, so they have time to get creative with their costumes.
Try having a costume contest. Let your guests know they will vote on their favorite costume and declare the winners the King and/or Queen of your krewe.
You’ll want these to go out a few weeks in advance so your friends know about it and don’t make other plans.
Make a Mardi Gras playlist. Mardi Gras is a musical celebration, and having the right sound will get you and your guests in the mood. Search around the internet for compilations and pre-made Mardi Gras playlists. Musical styles to look for include Zydeco, Brass, Bounce, and Gypsy jazz.
To get a feel for what to put on your playlist, listen to some classic Mardi Gras songs in the video below.
Prepare traditional Mardi Gras foods and drinks. Having the right food and drinks will make this a unique celebration for your guests — especially if they are not the things they normally encounter. Some customary Mardi Gras foods are King Cake, Po Boys, and red beans and rice. If your party will have alcohol, try making Mardi Gras Martinis and Sazerac cocktails.
Make your own masks, costumes, and throws. A great Mardi Gras party will feel like you and your guests have entered another world, one of music, celebration, and mystery. Invite your friends to wear costumes and their own masks, or supply them with craft materials to decorate masks at the party.
Find some beads, coins, or just about anything you want to decorate and turn it into your krewe’s unique throw.
Set the mood. Decorate your house, or wherever the party is, with gold, purple, and green. Turn on the music just before guests arrive so that they will walk into a party atmosphere.
Lead a parade. If there’s no Mardi Gras parade in your city, maybe your party will be the first! Have the King and/or Queen of your costume party lead your guests around your neighborhood. Have your friends bring instruments, or bring a portable sound system along, and spread some Mardi Gras spirit!
Decide if you want to have a permitted parade or an unpermitted one. Both kinds happen in New Orleans. If you decide to get permits, you’ll have to plan in advance and abide by your cities codes. If you decide to have an unpermitted one, you and your friends should know that there are risks associated with noise ordinances and other laws.
Dance and have fun. No matter how beautiful your decorations or tasty your King Cake, Mardi Gras is about celebration. So have a good time and share some joy with your friends.
If you are going to New Orleans, try to arrive a whole week early and see the parades that most people miss.
Bring or rent a bike in New Orleans. It will be much easier than trying to get around by car or public transport.
Don’t pressure people to expose themselves in exchange for beads. While this has become a sort of “tradition,” it creates a degrading and intimidating atmosphere for women.
EditThings You’ll Need
Food and drinks
Masks and costumes
Make a Mask out of Tin Foil and Tape
Make Cute Tea Party Invitations
Organize a Birthday Party for Kids
Handle House Guests That Stay Too Long
EditSources and Citations
Cite error: tags exist, but no tag was found