How to Experience Mardi Gras Year Round in New Orleans

Scratch Mardi Gras Off Your Bucket List!


New Orleans is an ongoing party. You can experience the Big Easy any time of year and gain an understanding of its life and spirit. However, many will tell you that in order to know New Orleans fully, you must spend Mardi Gras with the city. Mardi Gras in New Orleans frequently appears on bucket lists, but for some travelers, they never get down to Louisiana in time for the almost month-long celebration. While Mardi Gras is already in full swing down in New Orleans, building up to the fattest of Tuesdays on February 12th, you can still experience this city’s biggest party no matter the time of year. Built into the New Orleans identity are a series of attractions and establishments that seem to be in a permanent Mardi Gras mood.

Visit a Mardi Gras Museum or Two: New Orleans has no shortage of Mardi Gras museums that the traveler can visit any time of the year. Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World is perhaps the biggest and loudest of those Mardi Gras museum spaces. The studio is actually responsible for creating most of the floats, sculpture and props that you see during Mardi Gras. This Mardi Gras World takes you not just through the colors, music and floats of Mardi Gras but it also gives you the chance to see Mardi Gras in the making as the artists work on their creations.

For a more historical take on Mardi Gras, the Louisiana State Museum, within the Presbytere, hosts the exhibit Mardi Gras: It’s Carnival Time in Louisiana. The exhibit traces the historical side to the event. You can also expect to see loads of costumes and even some crown jewels.

Dine at Arnaud’s Restaurant for a Taste of Old Mardi Gras: Dining at Arnaud’s Restaurant in the French Quarter often feels like a trip back in time. Count Arnaud Cazenave started the restaurant in 1918 with the goal of providing fine Creole cuisine. The main dining room feels more like dining in an old New Orleans mansion. However it is Arnaud’s connection with Mardi Gras that adds a hint of celebration to every bite. In fact, the restaurant boasts the Germaine Cazenave Wells Mardi Gras Museum. Germaine Cazenave Wells was Arnaud’s daughter and reigning queen of 22 Mardi Gras balls from 1937 to 1968, the most of any woman in the history of Carnival. The museum boasts many of her Mardi Gras costume and even a few of king’s costumes worn by the count himself.

Consume a Hurricane at Pat O’ Brien’s: The drinks are always flowing in New Orleans, but for a Mardi Gras experience year round, Pat O’Brien’s makes for an easy choice. The converted speakeasy grew up around its Hurricane drink, a fruity rum cocktail. Pat O’Brien’s lends an air of being trapped in Mardi Gras round the clock with its massive bar area. The Hurricane is served in a glass shaped like a hurricane lamp, a Pat O’Brien’s signature.

Let’s Eat King Cake: Throughout Carnival season in New Orleans, you can find a wealth of bakeries serving up slices of king cake, the famous Mardi Gras cake with the tiny plastic baby baked into someone’s piece. Perhaps one of the most famous establishments to grab a king cake is Manny Randazzo’s. This New Orleans staple opened back in 1965 and quickly garnered fame for its secret recipe for king cake. Today they will deliver king cakes all over the country. If you can’t be in New Orleans, you can still order up a freshly baked king cake for your own Mardi Gras celebration.
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