If there’s any time of the year that sums up New Orleans culture best, it’s Mardi Gras. Although frequently misunderstood by tourists, Mardi Gras encapsulates the best that New Orleans has to offer with food and drinks, unique culture, rich tradition, and most of all, having fun. Although the observation of Mardi Gras in the United States dates back as early as the 17th century, it has evolved over the years to reflect changes in culture. But with so much to see and do during the entire Carnival season, it can be a bit overwhelming to know where to begin. While it would be nearly impossible to see everything the Mardi Gras season has to offer, you can at least experience some of the more well-known krewes.
Krewe of Rex
One of the oldest krewes in New Orleans, Rex has held more parades than any other organization in New Orleans. While they may not use as much cutting-edge technology as other parade krewes, it is without a doubt one of the most culturally rich krewes in the city. Rex’s floats are typically entirely hand built and use the same techniques that have been handed down over generations. Because of its rich tradition and ornate designs, many people consider Rex’s parade to be the highlight of the Mardi Gras season.
March 4 (Mardi Gras day) at 10:00am; Uptown
Krewe of Bacchus
Bacchus, among the most well-known of the so-called “superkrewes” due to their spectacular size and production, is certainly a spectacle. As opposed to Rex, which favors a more traditional approach, Bacchus relies much more heavily on modern approaches and technology to create bigger, more elaborate floats. Bacchus is also well known for its celebrity appearances. The first krewe to feature celebrities as kings of the parade, Bacchus celebrity kings have included Drew Brees, William Shatner, Elijah Wood, Will Ferrell, and many others.
March 2 at 5:15pm; Uptown
Krewe of Iris
While perhaps not as well-known as some of the bigger krewes in New Orleans, Iris is notable for being both the oldest and the largest all-female krewe in New Orleans. Like Bacchus, Iris also adheres more closely to the traditional Mardi Gras customs, wearing white gloves and full-face carnival masks. Iris parade throws include unique items such as cups, dolls, medallion beads, and doubloons, as well as the Krewe Captains own special doubloon which is a coveted item each year.
March 1 at 11:00am; Uptown
Although most festivities take place in New Orleans, you can also find Mardi Gras parades in Metairie and surrounding areas. If you feel a little adventurous or you’ve got extra time in your hands here’s the full Mardi Gras parade schedule.
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