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6 Pieces of Advice for Surviving Mardi Gras, USA

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After a week long celebration in Brazil at the Carnival of Rio de Janeiro, I traveled thousands of miles to the USA to celebrate one the most popular and well known festivals there, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The name Mardi Gras is French, with the translation “Fat Tuesday,” which gets its name due to the fact that its the last day before Lent to enjoy pleasures (food, alcohol, sweets etc).

The tradition of this party began in 1699, when Louisiana was colonized by the French.

The traditional colors of this carnival are purple (justice), gold (power) and green (faith). Mardi Gras is considered a traditional, religious and family-centered party, but their fame is quite the opposite. Internationally it is seen as a wild party where women run through the streets showing their breasts in exchange for beads.

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From my experience, this reputation is not too far from the reality. Although there were children and families all throughout the streets, that did not stop the craziness. Drunks lined the streets at every hour of the day and night and women worked with all of their effort to obtain as many beads as possible by showing their breasts or doing something provocative.

These days it is forbidden to show your breasts in exchange for beads and the police can actually fine you if they catch you. Although this is the case, the police are pretty relaxed on this rule.

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After traveling to New Orleans for this crazy party, I was able to learn from personal experience the do’s and don’t when attending Mardi Gras. Based on my experience and that of others, I have created a list of advice for surviving your experience when attending Mardi Gras:

1. Wear Comfy Clothes

You have to be very careful with the type of footwear that you wear, due to the large amount of glass throughout the streets. In addition, one has to constantly watch out for horse poop, vomit and urine. Flip flops are absolutely PROHIBITED.

When it comes to clothes, its important to know that if you are not looking to draw attention, its better to dress a bit more conservative. Any time men see you in a low cut shirt they will scream for you to show your breasts in exchange for beads. If you are traveling alone and are wanting to be more discrete, dress more modest.

I always love to dress up in something typical when attending festivals. In Mardi Gras its very typical to wear some type of mask, feathers or halloween costume. The crazier you look, the more you will fit in!

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2. Watch out for your head!

As I mentioned earlier, the women (and men) lift up their shirt in order to receive beads. When you are walking down the street, its important to always look up towards the people in the balconies. If you are not careful they will throw beads down on your head without giving you any sort of notice. The smaller beads don’t hurt too much, but some of the beads are quite large and can knock you out.

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3. Find the Festival Schedule

In this carnival its important to know the schedule of activities, since there are lots of activities throughout the day. If you want the complete experience, its better to attend the parades, outdoor barbecues and see the typical southern culture of the people in addition to the party. You can also visit several sites in the French Quarter and take a walk along the beautiful riverwalk.

4. ALWAYS keep an eye out for your belongings

I highly recommend wearing a hidden travel pouch to carry your cards, money and ID. New Orleans is known for having many pick pocketers, so keeping all belongings hidden is key. I spoke at a conference during Mardi Gras week and left my stuff inside my Uber (taxi service). I instantly contacted my driver when I realized the problem and he refused to return it. I lost my computer, camera and all valuables in a matter of 5 minutes, so not only watch out for your belongings, but check twice before leaving a taxi, restaurant or any place you go with your possessions.

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5. Look for accommodation in advance

Just like my experience in the Carnival of Río de Janeiro, you must look for accommodation months in advance in order to get a really good deal or somewhere close to the party for a decent price. There are people that book their accommodation up to 1 year in advance for big parties like this in order to get a good deal.

6. Control your alcohol intake

Mardi Gras is one of the most crazy parties in the world, full of tourists and people that only go to party all day and night. In the case that you plan on drinking, do so in moderation. The party lasts many days and if you are not careful you will find yourself in the best hours of the party too drunk to enjoy the experience.

 

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Don’t forget to check out: 

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Have you ever attended Mardi Gras?

Would you like to attend?

Share below!

 

 

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