Mardi Gras 2015 is almost here and revelers are gearing up for a fun and exciting carnival season that includes various krewes parades, masquerade balls, king cake parties and tons of those glorious and coveted Mardi Gras beads. Event planners begin planning the following year’s Mardi Gras basically as soon as the last one is complete; therefore it’s almost showtime!
The Mardi Gras season begins on Epiphany, January 6, and increase in size and elaboration until the actual day of Mardi Gras which is 2015 is February 17. Also known as Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras is actually a state holiday in Louisiana.
For more Mardi Gras fun, check out:
- Mardi Gras carnival cupcakes
- Mardi Gras Family friendly trivia questions and answers
- Mardi Gras King Cake
- Mardi Gras Ham and Corn Beignets recipe
- Mardi Gras coloring pages
When is Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras 2015 falls on Tuesday, February 17. Parades will begin on February 6th. The most popular time to visit New Orleans is the extended weekend before Mardi Gras (February 13- 17). Come then and you’ll be sure to catch the most popular parades, like Endymion, Bacchus, Zulu, Rex and all of the festive celebrations throughout the whole city.
Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday,” is the last day of the Carnival season as it always falls the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Most visitors will plan to arrive no later than Saturday, February 14, 2015 in order to enjoy an extended weekend of festivities.
Family Gras 2015 will be Friday, February 6 – Sunday February 8.
What is Mardi Gras?
Wikipedia explains: Mardi Gras (meaning “Fat Tuesday”) is an annual Carnival celebration in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. The New Orleans Carnival season, a variation of the traditional manner of preparing for the start of the Catholic season of Lent, starts after Twelfth Night, on Epiphany (January 6). It is a season of parades, balls (some of them masquerade balls), and king cake parties. It has traditionally been part of the winter social season; which at one time was when parties for Southern Society women, débutante balls, were arranged.
Celebrations are concentrated for about two weeks before and through Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras in French), the day before Ash Wednesday. Usually there is one major parade each day (weather permitting); many days have several large parades. The largest and most elaborate parades take place the last five days of the season. In the final week of Carnival, many events large and small occur throughout New Orleans and surrounding communities. Neighboring communities also hold Carnival celebrations.
Where are Mardi Gras parades and what is the parade schedule:
- MONDAY/TUESDSAY – JANUARY 5TH/6TH: January 5th is the official date of Twelfth Night, the day that begins the Carnival Season. Phunny Phorty Phellows will run on January 6th. Streetcar Route, 7:00 p.m. Krewe of Jeanne d’Arc – French Quarter
- SATURDAY, JANUARY 31ST: Krewe du Vieux – French Quarter, 6:30 p.m., Krewe Delusion – French Quarter, 7:15 p.m.(follows Krewe du Vieux)
- FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 6TH: Krewe of Cork – French Quarter, 3:00 p.m., Oshun – Uptown, 6:00 p.m.
- SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 7TH: Krewe of Pontchartrain Uptown 1:00 p.m., Krewe of Choctaw – Uptown, follows Pontchartrain, Krewe of Freret – Uptown, follows Choctaw, Knights of Sparta – Uptown, 6:00 p.m., Krewe of Pygmalion – Uptown, 6:45 p.m.
- SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 8TH: Krewe of Carrollton – Uptown, 12:00 p.m., Krewe of King Arthur – Uptown, 12:30 p.m., Mystic Krewe of Barkus – French Quarter, 2:00 p.m. All members of this parade are dogs.,
- WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 11TH: Krewe of Ancient Druids – Uptown, 6:30 p.m., Mystic Krewe of Nyx – Uptown, 7:00 p.m.
- THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 12TH: Knights of Babylon – Uptown, 5:45 p.m, Krew of Muses – Uptown, 6:30 p.m., Krewe of Chaos – Uptown, 6:30 p.m.
- FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 13TH: Divine Protectors of Endangered Pleasures or DIVA French Quarter, 1:30 p.m., Krewe of Hermes – Uptown 6:00 p.m., Le Krewe d’Etat – Uptown, 6:30 p.m., Krewe of Morpheus – Uptown, 7:00 p.m.,
- SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 14TH: NOMTOC – Westbank, 10:45 a.m., Iris – Uptown, 11:00 a.m., Tucks – Uptown, 12:00 p.m., Endymion – Mid City, 4:15 p.m.
- SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 15TH: , Okeanos – Uptown, 11:00 a.m., Mid-City – Uptown, 11:45 a.m, Thoth – Uptown, 12:00 p.m., Bacchus – Uptown, 5:15 p.m,
- LUNDI GRAS – MONDAY, FEBRUARY 16TH: Proteus – Uptown, 5:15 p.m., Orpheus – Uptown, 6:00 p.m., Lundi Gras Celebration – Downtown, 3:00 p.m.
- MARDI GRAS DAY – TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 17TH: Zulu – Uptown, 8:00 a.m., Rex – Uptown, 10:00 a.m., Elks Orleans – Uptown, follows Rex, Crescent City – Uptown, follows Elks
The Mardi Gras Krewes:
Krewe of Zulu: Home page of the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club, well-known for its interesting history and “golden nugget” (coconut) parade throws.
Mardi Gras Indians: The Mardi Gras tradition often considered our “Black Mardi Gras”. See the beautiful beaded and feathered costumes they hand-design and create throughout the entire year!
Krewe of Bacchus: Krewe of Bacchus features national celebrity monarchs each year, and draws hundreds of thousands of visitors. Its yearly exclusive Rendezvous can be seen live. Re-broadcasts now online!
Krewe of Rex: This parade krewe is the origin of many traditions of Mardi Gras, including the Carnival colors of purple, green and gold, as well as the collectible doubloon coins (introduced by Rex in 1960).
Krewe of Endymion: Endymion quickly emerged as one of Carnival’s ‘Super-Krewes’ in 1974 with the inclusion of more floats and celebrity guests.
What about the Mardi Gras masquerade balls?
- While most people think of parades when they think of Mardi Gras, there are plenty of other traditions too. The King and Queen of each krewe work all year long for the big, spectacular ball. Their identity is a closely guarded secret and part of the mystique until the night of the Ball.
- Most of the balls are a formal and private affair for the krewe. Debutantes are introduced at the Ball Tableau as a formal introduction to society. The climbing of the social ladder starts for the children serving as pages to the court. Women dress in ball gowns and hope to be issued a “call-out” card. If a debutante is fortunate enough to receive one, she is seated in a select area and waits her turn to be “called out” for a dance by the krewe member who sent the card. A night of dining and dancing with a prince in formal attire – what a dream!
- Attendance at the older, more aristocratic balls is by invitation only. No one really feels left out if they don’t receive an invitation, though. Lots of folks aren’t invited, including some governors who wanted to attend. Originally, ball invitations were die-cut and printed in Paris; they continue to be quite colorful and valuable works of art. These invitations are also collectors’ items, often framed for their beauty, and are interesting conversation pieces.
“Super Krewe” Balls
- Some large parades produce an indoor extravaganza the night of their parade. While all balls are exciting events, Bacchus, Orpheus, and Endymion, the three “super krewes,” put on the best balls by far!
- In Greek mythology, Bacchus is the god of wine and vegetation—and they host a celebration fitting of its namesake god. Mardi Gras balls were exclusive events closed off from most people outside of New Orleans society, until this krewe revolutionized the event. In 1949, Edward Brennan Sr. created the krewe, a carnival Ball open to tourists. As they say, the first is the best because this event has become the talk of the town for tourists and locals alike!
- The largest of all krewes, including the “super krewes”, the Krewe of Endymion hosts an after parade extravaganza that rivals any event of its kind. Held in the Superdome, the krewe hosts top name performers for entertainment with tens of thousands in attendance.
- The appropriately names Krewe of Orpheus puts on a black-tie affair full of music and merriment at the Convention Center. It was the first of the super krewes open to both men and women. The Lundi Gras spectacle is legendary for having top notch entertainment from some of the hottest superstars.
- This is a wonderful way to experience Mardi Gras. Everyone dresses formally and enjoys the parade, entertainment, and food all night long
Mardi Gras Masks
Whether they cover the wearer’s eyes or whole face, masks add an element of mystery and intrigue when worn, especially around this particular holiday in the city. It’s safe to say that masks are one of our favorite Mardi Gras traditions.
When did the mask tradition start though, and why?
Masks have been worn by different societies for centuries. Some groups wear them for rituals, some for celebrations, and still others for the performing arts. Mardi Gras masks in particular originated in ritual celebrations. New Orleans has been celebrating Mardi Gras for hundreds of years, and is the largest masked party in North America.
In the beginning, masks worn during Mardi Gras allowed wearers to escape society and class constraints. When wearing a mask, carnival goers were free to be whomever they wanted to be, and mingle with whatever class they desired to mingle with. However, they were also considered to be a diversion for poor people, and women who wore masks had their reputation questioned.
Today, everyone wears masks during Mardi Gras. In fact, float riders are required to wear masks by law. On Fat Tuesday, everyone is free to wear masks, adding to the excitement and magic of celebrations throughout the city.
While many masks are simple, there are those who put a lot of pride behind creating elaborate and beautiful ones. One such place is Maskarade, located in the French Quarter. Maskarade carries an extensive collection of masks from local and national artists. They even have some handmade Italian masks created in the old traditional Venetian style. If you’re looking for a mask that’s unique or special, then that’s the place to go.
15 Things to know when your attend Mardi Gras:
- When visiting New Orleans during Mardi Gras, try to make your reservations at least eight months in advance. If you come to the city thinking you will get a hotel when you get here–you’ll be sleeping in your car, which is not recommended, not to mention rather uncomfortable.
- Do NOT bring expensive jewelry to the city. Do NOT wear it to parades or leave it in your car or hotel room. Utilize your hotel room’s safe or bring a piece of luggage that locks to place your valuables when you leave the room for the day to go to parades.
- If your license plate says “North Carolina”, you can be sure that Mr. Sticky finger knows you are from out of town with lots of treasures in the truck (not to mention your hubcaps or even the whole tire!) He also knows that you will be away from your car long enough for him to make off with all of it!
- Ditch the purse/wristlet. Put what you need in your pocket or your socks. Don’t give a thief a chance. Fannie packs on the other hand are a great alternative. Be sure to bring it, strap it on tight, and try to tuck it under a jacket or shirt. A passport carrier, with minimal cash and ID, which slides under your clothes, is an even better choice.
- Mardi Gras Day is mostly a cash event. Places that offer quick food, snacks, and drinks don’t usually accept credit cards. Let everyone in your group carry some “I need that!” cash.
- The minute you reach your Mardi Gras destination (the place you will be watching parades), make a plan for if your group gets separated. Agree on a meeting place, a time, and synchronize your watches!
- Be a follower of the crowd. Don’t think you will avoid traffic by using side streets you know nothing about. Don’t venture off the main roads either on foot or by car. Its best to relax, enjoy the people and the incredible diversity you see, and be safe. There IS safety in numbers so stick with the crowd.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes. Make sure they are supportive with plenty of cushioning. Bring the old, beat-up pair you wear to do yard work–your shoes will be covered with funk by Ash Wednesday!
- Pack snacks and lunch. Bring disposable pre-moistened towelettes. Your hands will get dirty and its hard to find a sink on Mardi Gras. Some people pack an ice chest and use a wagon to haul it around. (Note: Don’t do this if you are going to the Quarter. Only do this if you are staying outside of the Quarter to watch the parades. There are too many people in the Quarter to haul a wagon through. It is literally shoulder to shoulder for blocks. It’s an experience, and a lot of fun!)
- Bathrooms are few and far between. The song “There Ain’t No Place To Pee On Mardi Gras Day” was inspired by a carnival goer. Private restrooms are usually restricted, Port-O-Lets experience heavy traffic and public restrooms are hard to find. Try to locate a place near you that offers restrooms–and if they want $5 per person to use their facilities all day, don’t make a fuss, just pay it. It is well worth the money to avoid the discomfort of not having a place to relieve yourself. Also, it is not a good idea to relieve yourself anywhere you please. This is the quickest way to get in [costly] trouble with the law!
- And if you have children that are not 100% potty-trained, put them in pull-ups for the day! If your children are recently trained, put them in pull-ups to start with. It also goes without saying, bring an extra change of clothes in case of an accident:)
- Bring plastic garbage bags, the type with a handle. The amount of trinkets, beads, cups you will catch will amaze you and you’ll want to keep everything!
- Bring water or a container to hold beverages with a handle or strap that you can put on your body so your hands are free to catch trinkets.
- Book reservations for Spot at puppy camp. Between the crowds,sounds and sights, this is not a good environment for your pup.
- See everything you can, make some fabulous memories, and remember to scream… “Throw me something, Mister!