Annual Events: New Orleans' trademark festival originated as a religious holiday, but it's best known for its spectacular parades and frenetic party scene. Locals know that Mardi Gras isn't just a day, it's a season that officially begins on Twelfth Night, or January 6. The always irreverent Krewe du Vieux is the first major parade to roll about three weeks before Fat Tuesday, with more than 60 parades in neighborhoods all around town leading up to Mardi Gras day. The major processions travel the family-friendly route from Napoleon Avenue to St. Charles Avenue and Canal Street. More than 15,000 masked riders toss buckets of bead, throws and dubloons to the crowds.
Local Expert Beth D'Addono Says:
Annual Events: "The smaller neighborhood parades are magical. One not to miss is 'tit Rex (short for Petite Rex) a smaller-is-better parade of cigar box-sized floats that kicks off at St. Roch and N. Robertson around 5 pm the two Saturdays before Fat Tuesday."
Best for Annual Events Because: While the lore and pageantry of Mardi Gras runs as deep as the mighty Mississippi, the bottom line is, this is some party.