Guide to NOLA: The Mardi Gras edition

If there is ever a time to visit a southern state and New Orleans in particular, then Mardi Gras is the perfect reference for where you should start. Louisiana is a state that appears to be overlooked mostly from a UK perspective. Home of jazz and soul music, delicious creole and cajun food, a melting pot of mixed cultures and of course the biggest festival you’ll find – Mardi Gras. Whatever the weather, expect a colourful, vibrant and dynamic city when you arrive in New Orleans.

Disclaimer: My recommendations are solely based off my experience and time during Mardi Gras 2020.  I won’t be mentioning voodoo – understandably it’s a big part of the New Orleans culture and some blogs and people may recommend visiting the famous cemeteries but I mean Google is free for the curious.

During my trip, I didn’t participate in any ghost tours or anything like that purely because I don’t believe in seeking out spirits or disturbing the dead. There may be a big culture of voodoo however, again this was not something I wanted to seek out and discover more about on this trip.

girl sitting down on bench in museum in new orleans

Where to stay

As Mardi Gras is a massive festival it’s recommended booking your accommodation months (in some cases a year) in advance. The dates to Mardi Gras will vary year to year so be sure to check accordingly. I recommend staying on Canal street as it’s close enough to catch the festivals (and beads) day and night and hit the iconic party vibes on Bourbon Street. I stayed at the JW Marriott which provided impeccable service. Every need that I had was addressed quickly and I was made to feel comfortable every second of my stay. Good accommodation will always enhance the experience and put you at ease but for a trip like this, it’s important to stay comfortable and stay comfortable and safe – no compromising for anything. 

Food & Drink

Whatever you’ve heard about southern food is true. One word: ah-maze-ing.


In terms of the best parades, this is where my lack of knowledge kicks in. Except for the big Shrove Tuesday parade I managed to catch amazing bands throughout the days. A schedule is published leading up to the week of Mardi Gras so if you’re interested in any specifics it’s worth visiting the website here.


Finding somewhere to party in New Orleans during Mardi Gras will not be a problem. The streets are inundated with bars. Each night provides something different, so my best advice is to go with the flow. Walk the streets, dance to the music, make friends, catch some beads and let your body move to the rhythm of the night! Some bars may charge a fee for entrance which I can’t say will be recommended or not – but the night is always young. You’ll find all the activity takes place down on Bourbon street and often spilling into side roads.


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