What is Mardi Gras?
The name "Mardi Gras" means "Fat Tuesday"
in French. Mardi Gras is always celebrated on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, with
the idea being that you have an obligation to eat, drink, and be as merry as you possibly
can before the Lent season of fasting and repentance sets in. The Lent season
lasts from Ash Wednesday until Easter.
Mardi Gras is a carnival. The name Carnival is
Latin in origin (from carnisvale, meaning "farewell to flesh"). The
carnival season is the period from January 6th to Fat Tuesday. The Carnival season
is officially opened by the Krewe of the Twelfth Night Revelers ball.
The official colors of Mardi Gras are purple, green and gold.
Mardi Gras Colors
When is Mardi Gras?
Mardi Gras is 46 days before Easter, and can
be any day between 3-February and 9-March. The 46 days include the 40 days of the
Lent season and six Sundays.
||6-Jan thru Fat Tuesday
||Fat Monday (day before Fat Tuesday)
||Fat Tuesday (46 days before Easter)
||Wednesday immediately following Fat Tuesday
||Ash Wednesday thru Easter
When is the best time to go to
The best time to go to Carnival is generally during the
two weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras). Make sure to be there on Fat Tuesday! See
the chart below for key periods.
When will Mardi Gras be held in the future?
Future Mardi Gras
What are some good Mardi Gras
- Don't bring high-value cameras unless you're
on some type of photo assignment (like yours truly). One wrong bump or a spilt drink could
signal the end of your pricey camera. Use the disposable ones!
- Before jumping into the party "head-first," talk a
little walk around the French Quarter and familiarize yourself with the locations of
restaurants, pay phones, first aid centers, and last but not least - porta-potties. Make a
mental note of these locations.
- Walk at the same pace as the rest of the crowd. If you need
to slow down or hurry to get somewhere, get out of the main flow of foot traffic. The main
foot traffic is on the sidewalks and in the very middle of the streets.
- If you accidentally bump into somebody, apologize
immediately; otherwise you could be mistaken for a pick-pocket or someone trying to pick a
- Hold your drink and cigarette (if you are a drinker and/or
smoker) in front of you while walking through the crowd, and never to your side. The drink
will accidentally get knocked out of your hand, and the fire from your cigarette could
easily make you the new owner of someone else's' expensive clothes. Likewise, don't
wear expensive clothes!
How should I prepare for my trip to
You can NEVER prepare enough; however I feel the
tips listed below are the most important.
- If you don't already exercise regularly, it's
time to get in shape. Most likely, you'll be doing a lot of walking and dancing at Mardi
Gras. I've known a number of people who have had to "sit out" for an entire day
because they were SORE!
- Bring several extra changes of clothes for
the weather and possible accidents you might be involved in. The weather in New
Orleans can change drastically, so be prepared for whatever the weather has to offer.
Also, you never know when somebody is going to spill a drink or barf all over you.
Finally, be advised that I have seen SOME beads lose their color in the rain
guess where the color ends up?
- If you are on prescription medication and are
required to carry it with you at all times, leave some stand-by in your hotel room.
Chances are, you will not have your pockets picked or your purse stolen; but if you do, it
would be nice to know that you still had extra medicine tucked away back at the hotel.
- Make sure to bring a hat. Standing out in the
sun for long periods can be draining.
- Bring comfortable shoes. Whether you plan to or
not, you will be doing LOTS of walking, and maybe even some dancing.
Where can I learn all the Mardi Gras
The best to learn the Mardi Gras "lingo" is to
attend and learn as you go along. By the time you've read your hotel guide, Mardi
Gras showcase guides, newspaper articles and other sources, you should pretty much be an
expert. Well, surprise! Mardi Gras Man has decided to give you a little,
"jump-start" on the Mardi Gras "lingo." Click here for our crash course!