6 Crucial Guidelines to Doing Mardi Gras in New Orleans Like a Pro

Article by: Eden Saltzman

Wed February 07, 2018 | 12:10 PM

So, you've decided to head to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, and have therefore made one of the greatest decisions of your life. Go you! Side note: We should be friends, because it is clear that you understand how to have a good time. Before you head to the Big Easy, take note of these essential tips so you can enjoy a successful Mardi Gras.

Do Not Get Arrested

Mardi Gras New Orleans 2017 Linka A Odom   29

Photo by: Linka A Odom

In other words: Do not pee in public. New Orleans takes its safety very seriously during Mardi Gras, and NOPD is especially no-nonsense during this time of year. No blind eye will be turned to a person peeing in public—this is an offense that will land you in the clink until Wednesday morning. You heard me right; there’s no opportunity to post bail until the day following Mardi Gras, so I’d recommend not getting arrested… or at least saving it for Tuesday. There are plenty of port-a-potties on the routes. Fancy ones may cost a buck or two to use. Plus, you can also get a drink in a restaurant in exchange for bathroom privileges.

Also, don’t pet the police horses.

Do Explore Beyond the French Quarter

Mardi Gras New Orleans 2017 Linka A Odom   29

Photo by: Linka A Odom

Mardi Gras does not exclusively happen in the French Quarter. I’ve spent my years watching the parades Uptown on St. Charles or in the Warehouse District, and it’s the perfect balance of friendly families and trashy twenty-somethings. Of course, you have to respect the kiddos—try not to knock them out of their ladders, and let them have all the stuffed animals you catch, because you’ll soon realize they’re super annoying to carry around all night.

Speaking of throws…

Do Not Pick Up Beads Off the Ground


When a bead hits the ground, it’s dead. Give the light-up ones a moment of silence, but you can’t pick that sucker up. Trust me, you don’t want to be the dork picking dirty beads off the ground and throwing them over your head. ‘Tis a sad sacrifice indeed, but you have to respect the game once you enter.

By the way, if you find yourself with a purse, shoe, plunger, or coconut at any time throughout Mardi Gras, you should take the liberty to rub it in everyone’s faces… and know that I am jealous.

Do Drink in the Streets

Mardi Gras New Orleans 2017 Linka A Odom   29

Photo by: Linka A Odom

...But make sure it's not out of glass. Open carry is just as liberating as it sounds, but make sure you’re not drinking out of a glass bottle. It’s pretty dangerous to everyone around you—and illegal (See: Tip 1).

While we’re talking drinks, I’m gonna pull the worried mom card and remind you that Mardi Gras is a marathon, not a sprint. You’ll be pretty upset waking up with a raging hangover on Saturday morning when the parades start to roll at 11 am and don’t stop 'til the late hours of the night.

Do Use a Fanny Pack

Mardi Gras New Orleans 2017 Linka A Odom   29

Photo by: Linka A Odom

If you thought fanny packs were handy during music festivals, you will be bowing down to the invention come Mardi Gras. In your Amazon cart of metallic leggings, sequined jackets and body glitter, you must add a fanny pack. As if taking off all your beads at the end of the night isn’t difficult enough, imagine getting a cross-body purse strap tangled in the mix.

Do Not Take Your Shirt Off

How Not To Do Mardi Gras Corey Balazowich Creative Commons

If at any point your breasts are exposed, you are doing Mardi Gras wrong.

I could list of dozens of recommendations to have a kickass New Orleans Mardi Gras – concerts to enjoy, bars to hit, food to eat – but these six tips are extremely important for a successful Mardi. Stay safe, enjoy all the city has to offer – definitely indulge in a gas station po' boy, Dong Phuong’s king cake, and a frozen Superior Seafood pomegranate mojito – and live it up! Time to Pardi! (I am so sorry I just said that… see you on the parade route.)