Mardi Gras, better known in the US as "Mardi Gras", was declared a holiday in New Orleans in 1875 and is synonymous with colourful parades and boisterous celebrations throughout the city.
Carnival in New Orleans, Louisiana, is better known by the French catchphrase "Mardi Gras" ("Fat Tuesday"). An unmistakable reference to the days of feasting before Lent. From all over the United States, and now also from Europe, revelers flock during the Mardi Gras season, turning New Orleans into one big party mile.
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PICTURES: Carnival (Mardi Gras) in New Orleans
Photo gallery: Carnival in New Orleans (Mardi Gras)
New Orleans owes the tradition of Mardi Gras to the French who immigrated to the USA. Why New Orleans in particular had developed into a Mardi Gras stronghold is no longer one hundred percent comprehensible.
What is certain is that the Mardi Gras in New Orleans is now known worldwide and attracts thousands of visitors to the city every year, doubling the population during the Mardi Gras season. Among the most exuberant Mardi Gras destinations in New Orleans, where you will also find the most tourists, are Bourbon Street and the French Quarter.
Tip: If you want to be at Mardi Gras, you should book your accommodation months in advance, as rooms get more and more expensive as Carnival approaches. For a good spot to watch the parades go by, arrive about four hours before the start.
Mardi Gras in green, gold and purple
The first Mardi Gras parade was held in 1857 and 18 years later Shrove Tuesday was declared a holiday. The so-called "krewes" are still responsible for the organisation. To this day, every year the entire city dresses up in the official Mardi Gras colours of green (hope), gold (power) and purple (justice).
Young and old accompany the parade floats, elaborately decorated by the "krewes", through the streets with drums and trumpets. Despite wars and natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the people of New Orleans insisted on their party tradition.
Mardi Gras schedule in New Orleans
Mardi Gras begins with the traditional masquerade ball organised by the oldest "krewes". Already three weekends before Mardi Gras Sunday, the "Krewe du Vieux Parade" parades through the city, accompanied by musicians and bands.
Two weeks before Mardi Gras, there is a parade about every day, which become more and more splendid and exuberant towards Shrove Tuesday, until the peak of the celebrations is reached on Mardi Gras.
The exuberant parades are not as civilised as the carnivals in Cologne or Venice, but are more reminiscent of the Brazilian carnival celebrations in Rio de Janeiro or Salvador da Bahia.
A masquerade ball at the Marriott Hotel in New Orleans officially ends the colourful hustle and bustle, but unofficially, of course, they party the night away until Ash Wednesday.
Tip: All the shops in New Orleans are closed on Mardi Gras and the restaurants are usually hopelessly overcrowded. So either book a table in advance or bring your own food.
"International Show your Boobies Day
Those who can't handle too much permissiveness should stay away from the parades, because Mardi Gras is not called "International Show your Boobies Day" in insider circles for nothing. For the colourful chains of artificial pearls in various sizes that are thrown into the crowd from the parade floats, one or the other T-shirt is lifted or taken off completely.
And many of the costumed ladies handing out the pearl necklaces didn't even bother to take a top with them and just painted their torsos artistically - or not even that.
In addition to the colourful strings of beads, sweets and cuddly toys are also thrown into the crowd from the parade floats and competitions are held to see who can claim the most goodies. Ladies, don't worry, if you don't want to show your breasts, you can also attract the attention of the gentlemen on the floats with a loud "Throw me something, Mister!".