What To Do In New Orleans In February – NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – FEBRUARY 9, 2016: Revelers pack Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras on February 9, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras in French, is traditionally celebrated before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Christian season of Lent.
Mardi Gras has been synonymous with New Orleans for more than a century: this year’s celebration, on Tuesday, marks the 160th anniversary of the city’s first parade. But Mardi Gras, also known as Carnival (named after the pre-Lenten festival season of the same name), has roots that can be traced back to medieval Europe, long before the Big Easy was founded in 1718.
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French-Canadian explorers brought the tradition to the United States just before the turn of the 17th century. In 1699, led by Pierre Le Moyne d’Iverville, they set up camp about 60 miles from today’s New Orleans and called the site “Point du Mardi Gras”, from that day, March 3 in Paris. Mardi Gras is celebrated.
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However, New Orleans wouldn’t exist for another 19 years, and it’s widely believed that the first New World iteration of the carnival took place in another area of French control — in Mobile, Ala., in 1703.
“What a joke that ‘[Mobile] had it first, but [New Orleans] told them where to put it,'” Arthur Hardy,
Said the author. “The men who started the first Mardi Gras organization in New Orleans were from Mobile, and they actually borrowed the Mobile Mardi Gras-style parade [from traditions].”
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The main difference, Hardy said, was that the mobile parade wasn’t originally for Mardi Gras: They ran on New Year’s Eve.
In the 18th century, when the French settled further in North America and New Orleans developed into a bustling port city with strong Catholic roots, the traditions of Mardi Gras – the Fat Tuesday celebrations that preceded the Lenten fasting period – are the last chance for holidays and joy. Starting the next day, Ash Wednesday – spreading across the region. Different cities had their own celebrations. Mass rallies were held in New Orleans, with participants wearing masks that defied strict social expectations. Spanish rule in the second half of the 17th century and the Louisiana Purchase by the newly formed United States in 1802 placed temporary restrictions on the festivities, but petitions by New Orleans residents led to the revival of the festivities in 1823.
That same year, the aforementioned men from Mobile founded the Comos organization – the first “krewe”, a sort of non-profit secret society that organizes Mardi Gras parades and galas. Comos members established a tradition of presenting a themed float parade to the public. A tradition that makes New Orleans’ version of Mardi Gras Gera is so sophisticated and sweet, Hardy said.
New Orleans Mardi Gras Weekend Trip; February 9 11, 2024
“[The parade] is like a six-mile family picnic,” he explained. “Anyone can go, and it’s an incredibly safe and healthy event. You’re not watching the Mardi Gras parade, you’re a part of it,” he said, referring to popular traditions such as wreath throwing that are part of Mardi Gras. Turns a parade into a participatory event. “There are very few entertainment venues where they give you a free show and free gifts to take home with you.”
With the introduction of the public parades of Comos, Mardi Gras celebrations were no longer limited to special galas, and more convos were formed throughout New Orleans, holding their own themed parades. At the end of the 18th century, the popular mainstays such as the Rex and the Proteus appeared, and as the city moved into the 20th century, new and diverse kraves such as the Zulu – a predominantly black organization – became prominent.
Today, Hardy estimates there are about 35 separate parades throughout New Orleans, and 50 if you count the surrounding suburbs. (However, none of them go through the French Quarter. While the neighborhood and its famous Bourbon Street often draw attention for its party antics and nudity, New Orleans fears fire on the area’s narrow streets with forbidden floats.) The Mardi Gras parade has been canceled only 13 times in the history of 160 years of tradition, mainly due to the civil wars, the world and Korea. In 2006, the lingering effects of Hurricane Katrina threatened to do the same, but officials decided to go ahead with the annual celebration.
Mardi Gras Parade New Orleans Editorial Stock Image
“People thought the city wouldn’t be able to embrace its culture and traditions after Katrina, but Mardi Gras proved to the country that [New Orleans] would come back,” said Mark Romig, New Orleans’ president of tourism marketing. PA announcer for the city’s NFL team, the New Orleans Saints, said.
And despite the debate over gentrification following the city’s redevelopment process, Romig insists that newcomers are always welcome.
“That’s the magic of Mardi Gras — it’s gumbo,” he said, referring to the famous Louisiana stew. “And they don’t water it down. They add wealth. “February hosts many events, celebrations and holidays. The month is marked by the beginning of the Vietnamese New Year (also known as Tet), Valentine’s Day is celebrated by lovers and communities across the country and Black History Month throughout the month. Celebrating African American history and trailblazers. While February is important from city to city, New Orleans sets itself apart in one special way: Mardi Gras!
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While the date varies from year to year, Mardi Gras Day, often referred to as Fat Tuesday, usually falls in the month of February. The days leading up to the most special Tuesday of the year are full of parades throughout the city. Some great ones to try are Krewe du Vieux, Muses and Endymion. Try to catch a coveted Zulu coconut or Marx beads on Mardi Gras day. See the full list of Mardi Gras parades here and check for future Mardi Gras dates.
In addition to the excitement of the Mardi Gras and Carnival season, there is much more to see and do in the Crescent City. The annual Tet Festival in New Orleans East celebrates the Vietnamese New Year. The festival features traditional Vietnamese food, performances, music and activities focused on New Orleans’ vibrant Vietnamese community.
Citywide events, performances, showcases and community service efforts continue throughout the month in celebration of Black History Month. Attend scheduled events or create your own with our New Orleans Black History Trail.
Mardi Gras 2024: Event Itinerary — Mardi Gras Insider Tours
New Orleans is full of opportunities to sweep your special someone off their feet. Choose from romantic dining options, live music and performing arts, riverboat cruises and more. Check out our Valentine’s Day page or our romantic travel guide for events and inspiration centered around this celebration of love. And if you want to celebrate the friends in your life, we also have a track for Galentine’s Day.
Like most things in New Orleans, the weather in February can be unpredictable. One minute you’re sweating trying catchphrases on the runway and the next you’ll be wishing you’d opted for long sleeves. Layers will be your best friend. Bring a light jacket that can easily be tied around the waist in case the weather changes.
The best method for Mardi Gras attire is to wear comfortable shoes and don’t mind getting dirty, especially in the official Mardi Gras colors of purple, green, and gold. Check out our page on Mardi Gras costume ideas to see what works best for you and be sure to check out our list of costume shops and boutiques (especially on Magazine Street) for all your carnival gear needs.
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Your top two food choices for February are king cakes and crab cakes. King cakes (and king cake-flavored items) are plentiful throughout the carnival season, and whether you’re a king cake lover or haven’t tried a slice, our guide to king cakes has everything you need. You need to find the dessert of your dreams. Although crawfish are available year-round, Mardi Gras and crawfish go together like peanut butter and jelly. Pick up a kilo or two at various restaurants around town. First time? Do not worry. This crawfish guide has everything you need including where to get it, how to shell it and even where you can host your own crawfish boil.
Crescent City has you covered this Valentine’s Day. From restaurants to tours, bars and even activities, New Orleans has everything you need to plan the perfect romantic getaway. If you put romance on the line and visit purely for the culture, we have that too! Celebrate the Vietnamese New Year with this roundup of our favorite Vietnamese restaurants or immerse yourself in black heritage with this itinerary and list of black-owned businesses for Black History Month and beyond.
However you choose to celebrate, know that there is a lot to do, see and experience in the Crescent City during the month of February.
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11/17/2023 – “A Better Life for Their Children: Julius Rosenwald, Booker T. Washington and the 4,978 Schools That Changed America” February Fun in New Orleans! The city is the most vibrant it will be all year round, full of places to jump to.
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