As a Tulane alumna, it is my duty to pass on words of wisdom for how to KILL IT on Mardi Gras. I did attend the festivities four years in a row. The big event is this Tuesday (Well, this weekend really), so there’s no better time for me to share my tips with you.
If you’ve never been to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, you might want to consider booking a trip ASAP. Starting Thursday night with the Krewe of Muses parade (they throw beads and shoes from floats–that’s all you need to know), the city turns into a place where it is acceptable to wear gold leggings three days in a row and eat pizza for every meal. Doesn’t that sound like where you want to be for the next five days? If you’re making the trek to NOLA for Fat Tuesday, here is how to have the most incredible time of your life:
1) Pick a crew
You should make plans with a group to spend the day with. Once you go out into the land of Mardi Gras, there’s no hope to meet up with other people. It’s nearly impossible to find a cab and the streetcar doesn’t run past a certain point since it’s on the main parade route. You’ll find yourself walking. A lot. Which is good since pizza and fries will be your primary food group of the weekend.
2) Use the Buddy System
This goes along with picking a crew. Chose ONE friend in the group who you know won’t leave your side (and you won’t leave theirs). There’s a lot of people in a lot of places and you want to make sure you don’t wind up getting separated and stranded alone on Bourbon Street. (See above about difficult travel.)
3) Eat a big breakfast
When you wake up, you should eat a really filling breakfast–something to soak up everything you’re about to drink. You’ll be out most of the day, going from parade to bar to parade to…you get the idea. 8pm will roll around and you’ll suddenly remember that you haven’t eaten since the morning. You won’t want to go home and cook (for many reasons) and restaurants get PACKED. So you’ll end up grabbing something on the go, like the individual Dominos pizza slices they sell on the parade route.
4) Watch out for flying beads
True story: my friend was coming out of a restaurant and her face was assaulted by a bag of beads. She wasn’t even close to the float! So don’t say I didn’t warn you about flying beads! Watch out for them no matter where you’re standing on the parade route. Bags with literally hundreds of plastic necklaces get thrown out into the crowds.
5) Take a day off
Since you’ll likely be celebrating all weekend into Monday and Tuesday morning, it’s OK to take a day off to re-charge. The same routine of waking up, eating and day drinking starts to get old, not to mention, extremely tiring! Thursday, Friday and Saturday are exciting because everyone is really getting into the festivities. Then Monday (Lundi Gras) is actually the best part. It’s a tradition to stay up all night and go to the two biggest parades, Zulu and Rex, on Tuesday morning. There’s usually a few big concerts going on Monday night to keep you awake, like Tiesto (if EDM is your thing) or Galactic (classic NOLA group). So yeah, Sunday is the best day to spend in bed watching Netflix.
6) Pace yourself
This is the most important rule to follow. As we say down in NOLA, “Mardi Gras is a marathon, not a sprint.” Parades go on for a month before Fat Tuesday and the weekend leading up to the big day is a non-stop party of parades, beads and booze. That being said, please make sure to pace yourself. You don’t need to be partying every.single.second. to have a good time at the ‘Gras.