Mardi Gras: A Statewide Celebration
When you hear the phrase Mardi Gras, usually certain things come to mind. Parades, costumes, and people and food covered in purple, green, and gold – the official colors of Mardi Gras. But one huge misconception is often attached to this visions – the idea that it is exclusive to New Orleans and maybe even that it is exclusive to just Fat Tuesday – the last Tuesday before Ash Wednesday ushers in 40 days of your best behavior during Lent. While visiting New Orleans on Mardi Gras day is a guarantee of a good time, an entire season of events across the state offer unique and exciting ways to celebrate!
Mardi Gras is just one day, but Louisiana celebrates the entire Carnival season, which begins on the Feast of Epiphany and culminates on Mardi Gras. And all throughout that season, every corner of the state is celebrating in its own unique ways, and not just with the also stereotypical idea of booze and beads. Each Krewe (pronounced “crew” and in charge of organizing parades and balls) holds its own events and names its own royal court. Here are just a few ways Louisiana celebrates Carnival:
That’s right – though Mardi Gras tends to be thought of as an adults-only party, plenty of locations across the state offer family-friendly events. Family Gras in Jefferson Parish is free and offers Mardi Gras parades, authentic local cuisine, a kids’ royal court, and outdoor concerts.
Several cities host pet parades where pups take to the streets (leashed of course) in their own cute and crazy costumes with their owners. These events are a blast for both children and adults and some even raise money for local pet shelters.
In Lafayette, the Courir des Enfants and Lundi Gras Party is a festive children’s Mardi Gras parade. Children dress in costumes, play Cajun music, and go “begging” for gumbo ingredients. Parades featuring children as the court, musicians and bead-tossers can be found all across the state from Lafayette to Shreveport.
Mardi Gras family-friendly parades.
Mardi Gras events for all ages.
Courir de Mardi Gras
The Courir de Mardi Gras, or the running of the Mardi Gras, can be found in the rural areas of Cajun Country such as Eunice, Mamou, and Church Point. In this celebration, costumed locals go from house to house on horseback, performing tricks and stunts in an effort to impress residents enough to receive donations of chicken, sausage, vegetables, and rice to be used to make a massive gumbo for a community party. It also includes a traditional chicken chase, live music, street dances, cooking demos, and more. Learn more and check out some of the traditional Courir de Mardi Gras costumes.
Courir de Mardi Gras is celebrated in Cajun Country.
Elaborate Courir de Mardi Gras costumes.
A “throw” is anything thrown by krewe members to the parade-goers. Throws are typically beads, doubloons, cups, or toys. But some krewes are embracing unique throws that include everything from monogrammed toilet paper like in the New Orleans Krewe of Tucks parade to Spam and hot dogs in the Shreveport-based Krewe of Highland.
Learn more about the all the different Mardi Gras celebrations happening across the state.