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Mardi Gras Is Back in New Orleans. This Is What It’s Like to Experience It

The streets of New Orleans are once again filled with glitter, music, parades, and people. Mardi Gras is back!

After a hiatus due to COVID-19, New Orleans’ beloved annual Mardi Gras has once again brought thousands to the Big Easy––and the costumes are more elaborate than ever.

Mardi Gras isn’t only about Fat Tuesday––although that’s the date most people have come to know it by. In New Orleans, Mardi Gras is a near month-long celebration featuring parades, elaborate floats, and plenty of sparkle. From giant parades rolling down St. Charles Avenue in the Uptown neighborhoods and house parties in the Bywater to black-tie galas at swanky nightclubs and drag shows at charming cafes, there are hundreds of events before the finale.

The costumes never get more elaborate than the French Quarter parades, which feature horse-drawn floats, towering wigs, plenty of glitter, and a lot of satirical sass. This year, we gathered up our favorite looks from Mardi Gras’ triumphant return to the streets of New Orleans, including the parades of Krewe du Vieux and the Krewe of Bohéme.

Mardi Gras has returned and no one is more excited than the locals––like Brittany Lee Schanzbach, pictured here. She’s a proud member and the Secretary of the Streetcar Strutters––an all-female marching krewe and philanthropic organization, founded in 2017.

Krewe du Vieux is the first major French Quarter parade for each Mardi Gras, and it’s a satirical and political parade with no punches held back. This year, it rolled on February 12th with more than 17 sub krewes, this parade features more than 1,000 people marching.

The theme of Krewe du Vieux this year was “Vaxxed & Confused,” and COVID costumes and pandemic puns were plentiful.

One man-sized mosquito walks along a float in Krewe du Vieux, poking fun at Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s lagging reaction to trash collection after Hurricane Ida.

Vintage fashion makes a serious statement throughout Mardi Gras, as do props like battery-operated lights and sunglasses.

Glitter, tulle, sequins, and wigs. Sometimes it’s all you need for the perfect Mardi Gras group ensemble.

The Krewe of Bohéme took to the streets of the French Quarter on February 11th with their passion for the arts of the Belle Epoch era and their celebration of drinks––particularly absinthe and champagne. The members of this krewe toss handmade throws and for this parade, there is no King or Queen––but rather a single nominated Green Fairy. Here, three ladies sip champagne at Grand Krewe wine shop, awaiting the lineup for the parade to start.

The Merry Antoinettes are a krewe that marches during multiple Mardi Gras parades, including the Bohéme parade this year.  Electric, isn’t she?

Two members of the Merry Antoinettes—Sarah Forman (left) and Alyssa Kraemer (right)—don the elaborate dresses and big wigs that have made this marching krewe one of the city-wide favorites.

“It takes months to put our costumes together,” Forman says. Founder of the public relations and marketing firm, Sarah Forman Studio, her nights during Mardi Gras are spent handing out bespoke throws, like tins of exquisite macaroons.

“I think our krewe and our costumes are particularly fun,” adds Forman. “They really range. There are homemade dresses, and then there are also members who outsource to tailors in France. It’s a really visually interesting mix.”

 

Feathers and fascinators add a moment of drama––like with this Merry Antoinette we bumped into mid-afternoon in the Marigny neighborhood.

If you can’t make it down in time for Fat Tuesday on March 1st, there’s always next year. And, you can always dress up and hoist a glass in your own town. A little New Orleans never hurt anyone.

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