This year, the festivities go into overdrive a little earlier as Fat Tuesday falls on February 13, 2024. It seems like we finally got to exhale after the winter holiday season and take a break from the festivities, but it’s time to buckle up and switch gears to all things purple, green and gold.
The temps are pleasant, the city is buzzing, and the always spectacular and unforgettable experience awaits. Here’s what you need to know about kicking off this Mardi Gras season.
Twelfth Night (January 6, 2024)
The first day of the carnival season, known as Twelfth Night, or the Epiphany, kicks off with three annual parades (always on January 6). Phunny Phorty Phellows rides the streetcar from Uptown to Canal Street and back starting at 7 p.m. They are followed by the Funky Uptown Krewe that will be taking the same route.
The beloved walking Krewe of Joan of Arc parade rolls at 7 p.m. from JAX Brewery in the French Quarter, and the Société Des Champs Elysée parade takes place starting at 7:30 p.m. on N. Rampart Street and Esplanade, going to the CBD. Like in previous years, it follows the N. Rampart/St. Claude streetcar route.
Must-See January Parades
Saturday, January 20, 2024, 7 PM (Bywater, Marigny)
The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus will walk-n-roll with yet another sci-fi theme and the usual menagerie of mythical creatures, space monsters, movie characters, and lots and lots of Princess Leias. The krewe hasn’t capped the membership, at least not yet (with 900 members and 150 sub-krewes), so expect a long procession of walking sub-krewes with out-of-this-world floats and other creatively decorated contraptions that include bikes, trailers, and even shopping carts.
The krewe eschews using petroleum products, preferring greener methods to power their floats. Most throws are also handmade, including the custom bead medallions, stuffed animals, and the Sacred Drunken Wookiee stickers. Chewbacchus starts in the Bywater, on Franklin Street and St. Claude Ave, spending the bulk of the parade walking down St. Claude and Elysian Fields avenues. It ends at Conti Street and Decatur Street in the French Quarter.
Friday, January 26, 2024, 7 PM (Marigny, French Quarter)
This new-ish marching parade, started in 2019, rolls through the Marigny and the French Quarter, led by a Green Absinthe Fairy (in place of the usual king and queen) and followed by several inner krewe marching clubs, including Krewe of Goddesses, the Merry Antoinettes, the Bayou Babes, and Glambeaux.
Saturday, January 27, 2024, 6:30 PM (Marigny, French Quarter)
Note: May not be suitable for children.
Krewe du Vieux (KDV) is infamous for its biting political satire, adult themes and irreverent takes on the city’s daily struggles. Its 17 sub-krewes are mostly the walking kind, interspersed with small-scale floats and some of the best brass bands in the city. KDV rolls in the Marigny and the French Quarter and has some of the carnival’s most creative handmade throws.
Sunday, January 28, 2024, 4:00 PM (Bywater/Marigny)
This micro-krewe parade is unique in a way that it takes an opposite approach to the super krewes competing to set records for the extravagance as well as the number of floats, riders and throws. Instead, this walking parade capped its float number years ago and focuses on all things small-scale.
All miniature floats (around 35) have shoeboxes as their base, similar in concept to what the local kids make for school projects, but to a much more advanced degree of artistry. There were elaborate double-deckers in the past years, as well as puppets and even a helium balloon-powered float.
The floats are hand-pulled by about 120 unmasked, formally dressed members. All throws are handmade and tend to be miniature (the bead throws, for example, are usually the size of a bracelet or smaller).
Over the years, the parade had acquired a loyal following, with the spectators setting up miniature scenes of dolls partying on ladders along the route. The parade is generally kid-friendly, although there’s an occasional raunchy take on the theme, and always a lot of political satire.
The parade rolls in the Bywater and the Marigny, starting by the St. Roch Tavern and ending at the AllWays Lounge for the annual ball. (The parade’s name comes from the Cajun abbreviation of petite, used as a prefix.)
Sunday, January 28, 2024, 7 PM (Marigny, French Quarter/CBD)
The krewedelusion parade followed KDV along the same route for years, but branched out recently and now rolls on a different day and on a different route. This satirical parade krewe is comprised of “inner krewes” including Krewe du Jieux, The Baby Dolls, Krewe of Bananas, and more. Krewe’s slogan is “Organization is Delusion.” The theme is kept secret till the day of the parade.
The inner krewe, The Trashformers, will collect unwanted beads, cans, plastic cups and other parade debris in an attempt to reduce the parade’s already pretty small carbon footprint. The parade begins at Franklin Avenue and Royal Street in the Marigny, proceeds to the French Quarter, and ends up at The Howlin’ Wolf for its annual ball.
Book a Hotel Close to the Action
When it comes to experiencing New Orleans Mardi Gras fully, it’s all about location. Since the majority of the action is just steps from the parade routes, the ideal New Orleans hotels are located in the French Quarter and downtown (or, in our case, in Tremé, just steps away from the French Quarter).
If you’re looking for historic French Quarter hotels that capture the timeless beauty of New Orleans and are located in the heart of Mardi Gras activities, The Brakeman, Place d’Armes Hotel, Prince Conti Hotel, Hotel St. Marie, and French Market Inn are perfect places to stay. But you’ve got to plan ahead because the best Mardi Gras hotels book up quickly. So, make your New Orleans room reservations today to secure your spot!
Eat King Cake
Widely considered the official dessert of Mardi Gras, this is an absolute must-try if you’re in town for the Carnival.
Choose from several different types of King Cake at the Bywater Bakery (3624 Dauphine Street). The flavors may change, but in the past years, there were pecan praline, cream cheese, strawberry, custard, and cinnamon apple stuffed cakes featured.
If you ask New Orleans natives and long-time transplants, a large percentage of them will count Manny Randazzo King Cakes (3515 N. Hullen Street) on the top of their list, and you would have to trek to Metairie to get your hands on these cakes. However, many local supermarkets and grocery stores carry different brands of King Cakes, with a staggering variety of fillings (or lack thereof for the purists among us), so finding this delicious seasonal treat won’t be difficult.
More Mardi Gras Fun
Can’t get enough Mardi Gras? We got you. Here are some additional guides and tips to steer you in the right direction.
- Check out our tips on how to dress for Mardi Gras so you’re warm and comfortable, but still oh so fabulous.
- Familiarize yourself with the official ordinances and rules for Mardi Gras to stay safe and out of trouble, plus read our take on the unofficial etiquette tips and informal guidelines so you won’t have to move your setup during the parade and be judged by fellow revelers.
- Here’s our guide to experiencing Mardi Gras like a local, including where to eat and drink, must-see parades, and more.
- If you are staying with us or anywhere in the French Quarter, this Mardi Gras in the French Quarter guide is for you!
- The long weekend leading up to Fat Tuesday is, some argue, the best six days of the year to be in New Orleans. Here’s all that happens between Thursday and Ash Wednesday.
- Traveling with kids for Mardi Gras? Read our guide to exploring the French Quarter with kids.
- See the full 2024 parade schedule to plan your attendance.
Happy Mardi Gras, y’all!