In the face of tragedy a city strives to moves forward with rebuilding on many years of history, and continuing the 300 year tradition of Mardi Gras, and New Orleanians are known for many traditions, but by far Mardi Gras is one of the most popular as it dates back to 1699 coming from the French heritage it is so famous for. Explorers celebrated this French holiday right on the banks of the Mississippi River, and the people of New Orleans have added to the celebration every year since its beginning. Parades and balls are sponsored by organizations, and they have the ability to draw crowds in from all over the world just to get a taste of the lavish entertainment the locals have come to know so well.
History and facts
From 1835 to 1837, New Orleans experienced the taste of the first Mardi Gras float, and then not until 1856 did the locals get to see a convoy of floats parading down the main thoroughfare, ending with a ball that hosted 3,000 guests. Mardi Gras is always celebrated 47 days before Easter Sunday, so the date can fall between February 3rd and March 9th, depending on the Lunar calendar, used by the Catholic church to determine the date of Easter. The actual season of Mardi Gras begins on January 6th and continues through to “Fat Tuesday” or more commonly known as Mardi Gras, the day before Ash Wednesday.
The event is started with the Zulu Parade with the king and queen of the organization arriving on a Mississippi river boat. This officially kicks off the Lundi Gras riverside outdoor festival. Over the course of about ten days New Orleans parades can be enjoyed by everyone. The parade begins on the uptown route starting at Napoleon Avenue to St. Charles and ending at Canal Street. Along with the parades are nonstop festivities and the traditional throwing of the beads. Cajun and Creole food can be found simply by following the tantalizing wafts drifting through the air.
Mardi Gras has had many tragedies that stopped her from going on, but only temporarily. The 1861-1864 Civil War halted festivities, the rain out of 1933, and freezing temperatures in 1899, but despite these obstacles Mardi Gras was declared a legal holiday in Louisiana in 1875. In 1872 Mardi Gras received its official colors as well. Purple stands for justice, and gold stands for power, and green stands for faith. Millions of people travel to New Orleans every year to be part of the Mardi Gras tradition, but there is so much more that this hospital community has to offer. The locals are friendly and the food is like no other in the world.
Places to stay during Mardi Gras
The Maison Dupuy-New Orleans Hotel with its beautiful fountain and courtyard is located in the French Quarter, just two short blocks from Bourbon Street.
The charming Dauphine Orleans Hotel sits one block from Bourbon street in the heart of the French Quarter, and offers guests package deals that include Mardi Gras beads, a continental breakfast with a welcome drink.
The French Quarter has an atmosphere like no other, and you can be at the heart of it by staying at the French Quarter Landmark Hotel. Within walking distance of this hotel you will find the Jackson Square and the French Market, a must see for first time visitors of New Orleans.
Places to Eat
New Orleans offers visitors an array of restaurants from fine dining to casual, and most of them are in the company of Cajun musicians. Louisiana is famous for its cajun and bbq entrees which can be found at just about every corner.
The Zea Rotisseri and Brewery offers diners award winning dishes at super cheap prices. The best thing about this restaurant is its many choices of fine food and its location, which is only a short walk from the French Quarter.
The 5 O’ Clock Grille is new, but they have captured the very essence of New Orleans with their premium pit barbeque that brings the finest tasting, premium quality slow-cooked beef, ribs, pork and chicken to the city. Located on Bourbon Street in the heart of the French Quarter.
In the mood for a cruise while you enjoy your lunch or dinner? The Steamboat Natchez offers a buffet jazz cruise to diners with gorgeous views of the Mississippi River. This one is a definite place to visit if you are a romantic.
Other sites to see in New Orleans
Westwego Swamp adventures is enjoyed by adults and children, and it is only 20 minutes from New Orleans. Kids will love riding through the swamp on a custom built swamp boat, and observing Louisiana animals such as swamp owls and raccoons up close. Children with no fear can hold a baby alligator in their hands.
A streetcar tour of the Garden District is scarcely complete without a ride on the oldest continuously operating streetcar in the country. The former streetcar lines out to suburbs like Desire that have been abandoned for decades, but the main line still operates up St. Charles Avenue. This unique tour will give you a feel of a different era as you will witness grand structures from another time.
At its heart is Jackson Square you will discover a public garden defined by the striking architectural symmetry and daily cultural chaos that surrounds it.
Signature attractions in the Upper Quarter is what tourists equate with New Orleans. The boisterous crowds and noisy bars along Bourbon St contrast wildly with the more sober antique shops and galleries that line Royal St. This section of New Orleans offers some of the oldest Creole restaurants in the city.