The Top Unspoken Rules of Mardi Gras Parades in New Orleans


Every year, New Orleans locals flock to the streets of the French Quarter decked out in glitter, feather boas, and beads to celebrate Mardi Gras. The city-wide party spans one month leading up to Fat Tuesday. It’s hard to imagine how anyone makes it through carnival season, but a few unspoken rules keep the parades moving and the good times rolling.

A Short History of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras in New Orleans has roots in the 18th century, coinciding with the arrival of explorer Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville. The Explorer established the City of New Orleans in 1718 and, many believe, Mardi Gras in 1719. As the years progressed, so did the eccentric Mardi Gras traditions and unspoken rules.

Get to the Parade Route Early

Throughout the day, law enforcement blocks off streets and places barricades, making motor transportation tricky. Local parade-goers arrive early in the morning to claim a prime space along the parade route and avoid traffic. During Mardi Gras, the party always starts early anyway.

Keep All Personal Items Six Feet from the Curb

Anyone enjoying the parade from the curb must keep all personal items out of the way. As floats pass, people will run up to them for beads, and marching bands take up most of the road. Locals know that anything within six feet of the curb is bound to get stepped on.

Don’t Get in the Way of Floats, Beads, or Marching Krewes

Like all personal belongings, people must stay out of the way of float drivers, krewes, and marching bands. With crowds of people, loud music, and throws in the air, it is essential to pay attention to prevent unwanted injuries or emergencies.

Eat Plenty of Food and Stay Hydrated

King Cakes and daiquiris on every corner in New Orleans make indulgence tempting. Although the locals know how to have fun, they still drink plenty of water and eat nourishing foods to ensure the party continues well after the parades are over.

Purchase a Bathroom Pass on the Parade Route

Public restrooms are few and far between on every parade route. Most places close their bathrooms completely during Mardi Gras season. The best investment for carnival season is purchasing a bathroom pass from a reputable business or parade stand nearby.

Dress Up in Mardi Gras-Themed Costumes

Krewes aren’t the only ones who dress up during Mardi Gras. New Orleans locals spend hours planning and hand-making their costumes in the months leading up to Mardi Gras season. Masks, feathers, and lots of glitter cover the people standing on the neutral ground and the sidewalks.

Don’t Move Anyone’s Things Along the Parade Route

It’s tempting to shift a chair or an ice chest a few inches to make room for family, but this is a huge faux pas. Avoid moving strangers’ things — they arrive at the parade route early to secure a good spot like everyone else.

Don’t Pick Up Beads that Fall in the Street

Don’t pick up beads that fall in the street, especially the ones that have been stepped on or left in grimy puddles. There is a neverending supply of free stuffed animals, doubloons, and beads during the Mardi Gras season.

Keep Mardi Gras Family-Friendly

Despite common belief, Mardi Gras parades are family-friendly events. Residential areas tend to be the most suitable for children, but many families still venture downtown. Locals know that fights, nudity, and stealing throws are frowned upon, and visitors should also abide by this unspoken rule.

Let the Good Times Roll

Never take Mardi Gras too seriously. Everyone gathers to have a good time and enjoy New Orleans’ carnival culture, not to stress about catching the most beads or getting the best spot. No matter what, let the good times roll.

Experience New Orleans Mardi Gras at J Collection’s Maison Dupuy Hotel

The J Collection represents a portfolio of independent and branded hotels in New Orleans. J Collection’s vast destinations ensure a hotel for everyone and any occasion. One of the best hotels to stay at during Mardi Gras is Maison Dupuy Hotel, located at 1001 Toulouse Street, New Orleans, Louisiana. Book a stay with Maison Dupuy and create one-of-a-kind New Orleans memories.