Mardi Gras French Quarter celebrations are known for several different things. These things include a massive amount of revelers, parties that spill out onto the district’s various balconies, and colorful parades. Bar hopping in the French Quarter district of New Orleans is understandably popular during Mardi Gras, not to mention at other times of the year, and it is also common for Mardi Gras costume contests to happen in the area. It should be noted that things can get rather debaucherous in the French Quarter during Mardi Gras. Most of the debauchery, however, is contained to just a few blocks on Bourbon Street.
Parades Image: brad.coy (flickr)
New Orleans Mardi Gras parades tend to happen during the daylight hours, and since the parade season starts a few weekends before Mardi Gras Day, there is more than one opportunity to observe, or perhaps, even partake in one. The various parades are organized by Carnival krewes – local groups that organize parades and balls – and they often feature eye-catching floats. It is customary for float riders to toss beaded necklaces, doubloons, and other things into the crowd. It is important to note that since 1972, the Mardi Gras French Quarter parades have been moved to other parts of town. The narrow streets of the district and its overhead obstructions are reason for this. Nowadays, the major parades originate in the Mid-City and Uptown districts and follow routes along Canal Street and St. Charles Avenue. These routes are on the upriver side of the French Quarter.
Hotel Balconies Image: Rande Archer (flickr)
Various New Orleans hotels that are found on or near Bourbon Street offer rooms with balconies. From these balconies, guests can view the Mardi Gras French Quarter action just below. It’s a front-row seat to one of the world’s largest free parties. As you might imagine, the balcony rooms can be hard to come by when Mardi Gras is in full swing. Those who are interested will want to book as far in advance as possible. An example of a hotel that offers balcony rooms on Bourbon Street is the Royal Sonesta Hotel New Orleans. It offers 483 comfortable guests units, not all with balconies, and is often referred to as the "Jewel of the French Quarter."
Bars abound in the French Quarter, and they are certainly targeted by many party-minded people who are looking to have a good time during Mardi Gras. It’s not uncommon for these people to do some bar hopping, as there are plenty of bars to choose from, each with their own atmospheres and reputations. At the Crescent City Brewhouse, for example, you can sip on your beverage of choice while eating fresh-shucked oysters and admiring all the shiny wood and copper. Over at the Carousel Piano Bar & Lounge, the 25-seat bar rotates at a rate of one revolution every 15 minutes, while the Polo Club at the Windsor Court Hotel offers plenty of five-star charm. Add in all the other fantastic bars in the French Quarter, and it could be argued that the district is one of the world’s very best bar hopping destinations.
Top image: brad.coy (flickr)