As the run up to Mardi Gras 2013 fast approaches, the team here at Kreol Magazine reflect on last year’s amazing festival…
New Orleans’ Mardi Gras is something everyone should experience at least once! Louisiana plays host to one of the most unique and incredible celebrations in North America. Each year, the buzzing city of New Orleans stages a Mardi Gras celebration that rivals in time, size, and reputation the legendary carnivals and festivals of South America, particularly Brasil. No other celebration in the world (!!) goes on as long as Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
This year Mardi Gras falls on February 12th, but all Carnival events and parades begin on the 19th of January and last for weeks up until the big day throughout the state. Traditionally, the 12th night after Christmas marks the beginning of the Carnival season but by that time the parade organisations known as “krewes” are already well under their weight of preparations for the parades, costume balls and parties.
Fat Tuesday itself features non-stop processions by some of the biggest and oldest Carnival organisations in the state and the whole Carnival event and the events in the run up to Fat Tuesday are just a series of non-stop marathons of joie de vivre! New Orleans, particularly the French Quarter is already famous for the constant sound of live music filtering through the streets but during the Mardi Gras festivities New Orleans ups the tempo! Costumed revellers (both performers and not!) parade the street in a sea of colour, light and movement alongside the even more extravagant and colourful parade floats tossing beans and trinkets into the crowds.
Not only is Mardi Gras a time to party with friends, but in between and during the parades, we found ourselves in the company of thousands of costumed revellers including families who use the occasion as an opportunity to gather together to share food, music and that special Louisiana creole brand of fun!
The English translation of Mardi Gras: Fat Tuesday (NB learn your lingo before you head out there!) might almost be considered an understatement during Mardi Gras and the festivities would not be the same if it wasn’t for the incredible Louisiana dining surrounding you. Some restaurants do shut entirely for the festivities, but the ones that do stay open are open pretty much all hours and are packed for probably 23 of those 24 hours. The legendary Arnaud’s still sets the bar very high for New Orleans cuisine and even has a Mardi Gras museum.
Treme fans may want to stop by Dooky Chase, run by the legendary Ms Leah Chase, a long time creole and soul food favouris while Brennan’s remains the most celebrated spot for a lavish brunch! Sample the fantastic shrimp at Pascal’s Manale, oysters at Casamento’s a muffuletta sandwich which is to die for at Central Grocery and – of course – beignets and chicory coffee at Cafe du Monde.
And if you really want to get into it (which I hope all of our readers do!) by braving it with a mask (or even a swanky costume!) go to Uptown Costume on Magazine Street and you will find an unending array of things to wear. For a real look backstage at how the whole thing comes together, I can not recommend more swinging by Mardi Gras World (where the Kreol Mag team ambled around the more than mansized works for the floats!) where you can see these incredible artisans/engineers whatever you want to call them, fashioning the parade floats from scratch.