How Louisiana At Large Does Mardi Gras
There are unique celebrations in every corner of the state!
Even if you consider yourself a Mardi Gras expert, we're here to say you haven't seen anything yet! The celebrations outside of NOLA are as diverse as the state itself. If you know anything about Louisiana, we celebrate all our roots: Native American, French, Spanish, African-American, Cajun and Creole. Each city in each region of Louisiana has its own way of celebrating Mardi Gras.
We all love Carnival Season--the weeks of parades, feasts, family fun and revelry are part and parcel of every Louisianan's identity. It runs from Twelfth Night through Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. Want to join in? Explore the different regions, find a spot that speaks to you and book a trip! Laissez les bons temps rouler!
At the top of the boot, north Louisiana offers its own unique and distinct take on Mardi Gras. From fishing and game hunting to cards and dice to antiques, wine and culture, you can truly choose your own adventure here. And that's especially true during Carnival Season.
Those in east Texas or Arkansas can take a short drive to Shreveport for the festivities. One of their stand-out parades is the Krewe of Barkus and Meoux parade, which features a royal court of pets. Past parade participants have included turtles, donkeys, cats, dogs, goats, chickens and more! Bring the whole family over to Monroe for a kid's parade, pet's parade, a Mardi Gras 5K (complete with King Cake), and a traditional Mardi Gras parade with marching bands and colorful floats. Talk about something for everyone!
Come to central Louisiana to see all the wide variety of cultures in Louisiana come together. There's incredible music to enjoy, Civil War history to witness and visitors can even walk the same path taken by Solomon Northup during his 12 years as a slave.
The Alexandria Mardi Gras has been formally functioning since 1994. Locals celebrate with a variety of parades, including the Pineville Light the Night Parade. The illuminated floats coming over the bridge linking the two cities are stunning.
The Town of Woodworth Parade welcomes any and all entries from go-karts and wagons to horses, tractors or trikes. The Hixson Classic Cars and College Cheerleaders may be the area's best-known event.
As the home of Zydeco music, fantastic food and fais-do-do dance parties, locals of Lafayette, Houma, New Iberia and beyond take having a good time pretty seriously. When it comes to Carnival season, the area is most famous for the Courir De Mardi Gras. Though medieval France is where it all began, capitaines of Mardi Gras can still be found leading a courir (French for run) to this day. Each community puts its own spin on the run, but across central-southern Louisiana, you'll find hordes of participants all dressed up and running on foot, riding horses or trucks, going house to house, begging for ingredients to make a communal gumbo.
The first recorded celebration of Lafayette Mardi Gras was on February 14, 1869, but the first citywide Mardi Gras observance wasn't until 1897. All parades end at Cajun Field, where the annual Festival de Mardi Gras takes place with carnival rides, live music, and more. If you're a master costume crafter, you may want to partake in the Grand Marais Mardi Gras Association's annual ugly costume contest.
If king cake is your favorite part of the season, you'll find the sweet treat across the state with plenty of delectable options in Houma. No matter where you get your cake, everyone digging in will keep an eye out for the small plastic baby baked in. If you find it in your piece, you're responsible for buying the next cake-- and quick! Along with your sweet treat, you'll want to hang around for the extensive schedule of colorful parades rolling through the bayou region, both in Houma and nearby Thibodaux.
On the far west end of the state, you'll find Lake Charles enjoying the carnival season. This family-friendly Mardi Gras celebration includes over 60 krewes participating in their Krewe of Krewes Parade on Fat Tuesday. In addition, be sure to check out how local restaurants and bakeries embrace the season.
You will find that this area of the state is rich in history. These days, the diversity of the region can be seen coming together over jambalaya, classic cocktails and outdoor adventures.
In the capital city, Spanish Town Parade is a vibrant staple of the Carnival season. Started in 1981 in Baton Rouge, Spanish Town residents partake in a long-time tradition of kidnapping one of the fake lake flamingo decorations and relocating it to their own yard. For locals, the flamingos are a vibrant kick-off to this festive season!
Northshore Mardi Gras celebrations are quirky, creative and high-energy. Marching bands and ornate floats take to the streets. Fancifully decorated boats ride the waves, and costumed pups walk their people.
Founded in 1965, the 300-member Krewe of Olympia is the oldest in St. Tammany. Keeping the identity of King Zeus a secret, members ride on floats, trucks and horses interspersed with marching bands from across the Northshore. And yes--there is plenty of Abita Beer to be found!
A walking parade featuring man's best friends and their families puts some bark into the Carnival scene. Founded in 1999, the Mystic Krewe of Mardi Paws features dogs sashaying in costume along the Mandeville lakefront.
No matter what your favorite part of Carnival is or your past experience, there's something for everyone across greater Louisiana. Enjoy it like a local with great food and entertainment. Come experience the most authentic and diverse Mardi Gras you never knew existed.