Travel Ideas

Mardi Gras

Despite the reluctance of rich America to do jack-shit for the people of New Orleans, the city has been repopulated and, though things will never be the same again, Mardi Gras in New-er Orleans is still on.

Whilst many head to Brazil for Carnival at the onset of Lent, a first world alternative is the party held in New Orleans with its own street processions, public nudity, jazz, drink and drugs.

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Mardi Gras has been the highlight of the year in New Orleans for hundreds of years and despite the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the festival goes on, a celebration of life and the courage of the New Orleanians to get on with their lives.

Mardi Gras really begins on the 12th Night (January the 6th) with the first balls and parades happening weeks before Mardi Gras Day itself – Fat Tuesday that falls before Trash Wednesday (on account of all the debris left by partiers) and Lent. Mardi Gras Day itself is when all the tourists turn up, hoping to coax women into showing their breasts in the French Quarter but for the locals it’s all about the build-up.

The parades of elaborate floats are what catch the eye though as it costs a bomb to ride on these, they have tended in the past to be dominated by the privileged classes. Likewise, whilst all the tourists head for Bourbon Street and the French Quarter, there’s plenty more to Mardi Gras in New Orleans and if you get there a week or two earlier then you’ll be able to learn from the locals the best way to celebrate the festival.

New Orleans was totally fucked by the hurricane. Numbers in yellow paint are still to be seen on the sides of houses, indicating the number of dead there. The population from the city is down from 500,000 to no more than 200,000 and plenty of people are living hand to mouth with their homes and families gone forever.

But fuck it. The poor have always known that the rich never gave a damn about them in America and they get on with their lives anyway. Head to New Orleans, support the local economy and listen to the stories you hear of loss, suffering and celebration of life against the odds. – get the lowdown.