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Mardi Gras New Orleans Itinerary 2021

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Updated on November 21, 2020

New Orleans is one of our most favorite cities in the United States. It has its charm hard to describe. Maybe it is a mix of mystery linked to voodoo tradition, the omnipresence of jazz music, not only in the clubs and restaurants but also on the street, slavery history, closure of the Mississippi River, and excellent food and drinks. Weather is also usually favorable. However, all of us remember Kathrina Hurricane for sure. All of the above makes the city unique and worth visiting. The only question is when to do it? We believe that the best time is Mardi Gras, and thus we created this Mardi Gras New Orleans Itinerary 2021 for you to prepare for this trip.

This article may contain affiliate / compensated links. For full information, please see our disclaimer here.

new orleans mardi gras tram

Best Time to Visit New Orleans

So the main question is, what is the best time to go to New Orleans? We have already mentioned the best time to visit New Orleans – it’s February when Mardi Gras happens in the city. In 2021, Mardi Gras Day is February 16. But if you can’t plan your visit in February, try months like March, April, or May when the weather is comfortably cool or December/January when the city is calm, and it’s easier and cheaper to book your lodging. So, the best time to visit New Orleans is from December to May.

If you can’t visit NOLA during Mardi Gras, check our ultimate New Orleans 3 days Itinerary for any time of the year.

New Orleans Weather

If you plan to visit New Orleans for Mardi Gras, you would like to know what New Orleans weather in February or March is? We have prepared two weather charts for you – one shows average temperatures through the year and the other average precipitation in inch.

new orleans average temperatures
new orleans average precipitation

Where to Stay in New Orleans?

If you are visiting just the city, it doesn’t make sense to rent a car. It’s better to take a taxi or Uber from the airport to the New Orleans city center. And if you are staying downtown, almost everything is reachable by walking distance, so it’s best to stay in this area. If you would like to reach some more remote city areas like a city park or some cemeteries, it’s good to take a taxi or Uber or even a tram or bus.

Probably the first choice for most people is to stay in the French Quarter. It’s the most charming option and a very luxurious one and within walking distance to the best restaurants and drink bars. But also it will be more usually more expensive than other parts of the city. And if you are traveling by car, expect a parking problem.

Another best areas to stay in New Orleans are Marigny, Central Business District, Treme, Arts District, and Warehouse District. You can also consider Algiers on the other side of the river, a little bit remote, but lovely Garden District or even Lakeview near City Park. But those recent ones will require to commute by Taxi or Uber.

PRO TIP: In 2021, Mardi Gras Day is February 16. The most popular time to visit New Orleans is the extended weekend before Mardi Gras when you can catch parades, like Endymion, Bacchus, Zulu, Rex, and all of the festive celebrations throughout the whole city. Mardi Gras Carnival is a popular time, so book your accommodation for several months in advance.

hotel monteleone new orleans

For us, the best area to stay in New Orleans is, of course, the French Quarter. And we selected some of the lovely places to stay below.

Hotel Royal New Orleans ($$) – This hotel combines old charming style with affordable price and great location. It even offers private parking in case you need it. It’s located almost in the middle of the French Quarter and less than 10 minutes’ walk to the riverbank. Click here to book Hotel Royal New Orleans.

Hotel Le Marais ($$$) – This hotel is one of our favorite in the French Quarter. It’s really well located (only 5 minutes’ walk to Bourbon Street) and has everything you need, including the gym, pool, and fantastic drink bar – Vive!. In the morning, you will have an excellent breakfast that you can eat inside or outside of the lobby. Click here to book Hotel Le Marais.

Hotel Provincial ($$$) – Located closer to Marigny District this charming hotel allows you to reach French Market or fantastic Jazz Museum quickly. Still, the place is not far from the main action of the French Quarter or even a riverbank or Jackson Square. We love this hotel for its very stylish design, excellent boutique-style rooms, and amiable staff. Click here to book Hotel Provincial.

Hotel Monteleone ($$$$) – This hotel is a historic and more luxury one. Located only one block from Bourbon street, it also offers a charming rooftop pool, fantastic Carousel Bar, and serves tasty food in Criollo Restaurant. So if you prefer such a luxury style and are ready to pay more for enjoying New Orleans, choose this hotel clicking here to book it!

Where to stay in New Orleans with Motorhome?

If you are traveling to New Orleans as a part of your more extended road trip and use your motorhome for it, we would like to give you some hints about where to stay. Actually, it’s not easy to find a place for your motorhome in this historic city. If you have a smaller motorhome (up to 22ft), you can try parking in the lovely New Orleans Courtyard Hotel (it will fit a small motorhome or camper truck up to 22ft), and it’s not very expensive to park there.

Mardi Gras New Orleans Itinerary 2020

In case your motorhome is longer, probably the best option is to stay at the rather expensive French Quarter Rv Resort. Everything else is far from downtown.

Mardi Gras New Orleans Itinerary 2020
bourbon street new orleans
Mardi Gras New Orleans Itinerary 2020

If you don’t plan to sleep in your motorhome and just would like to park somewhere in the city, try French Quarter Parking Lot (GPS 29°57’38.2″N 90°04’18.3″W) – it’s not cheap but might be one of the limited options to park your RV.

Where should I stay in New Orleans for Mardi Gras?

If you are heading to New Orleans for Mardi Gras for sure, you plan to see at least one parade. And from our experience, the best idea is to observe the parade from the balcony of your hotel. If you can’t find a hotel with a balcony, you can try to identify one with specially-prepared platforms in the front. In such a case, access is limited to the people staying in the hotel only or keeping tickets. This is why we prepared you some maps of the three selected parades and listed the best hotels to see them from the balcony.

Mardi Gras New Orleans Itinerary 2020

Ancient Druids and Krewe Of Nyx

Ancient Druids and Krewe of Nyx will happen on Wednesday, February 10, 2021, beginning at 6:15 PM. Planned route of the parade is shown below (please be aware that it can be changed without notice):

  • The Krewe of Druids parade will start at the intersection of Magazine Street and Jefferson Avenue in New Orleans.
  • The parade will proceed east on Magazine until Napoleon Avenue, where the krewe will turn north (left).
  • The parade will stay on Napoleon until St. Charles Avenue, where the krewe will turn east (right).
  • The Krewe of Druids will follow St. Charles all the way to Lee Circle, around the circle and back on St. Charles northward to Canal Street.
  • At Canal, the parade will turn east and proceed to the intersection at Tchoupitoulas St., where the parade will take a right turn.
  • The parade ends on Tchoupitoulas and Poydras Street.
  • The Krewe of Nyx parade will start immediately after the Krewe of Ancient Druids.
  • The krewe will start at the intersection of Magazine Street and Jefferson Avenue in New Orleans.
  • The parade will proceed east on Magazine until Napooleon Avenue, where the krewe will turn north (left).
  • The parade will stay on Napoleon until St. Charles Avenue, where the krewe will turn east (right).
  • The Krewe of Nyx will follow St. Charles all the way to Lee Circle, around the circle and back on St. Charles northward to Canal Street.
  • At Canal, the parade will turn east (right) and proceed to Tchoupitoulas Street, where they head south (right).
  • The krewe then heads to the intersection of Tchoupitoulas and Poydras Street, where the parade will end.

Recommended hotels:

Pontchartrain Hotel St. Charles Avenue ($$) – The hotel is very well located to see the parade from your room’s window or the platform. Just make sure to have the right room while booking. You can book this hotel by clicking here.

Hotel Indigo New Orleans Garden District ($$$) – However, located in Garden District, it is an excellent choice for watching Mardi Gras parade from your window. The parade is rolling through St. Charles Avenue just in front of Indigo. You can book this hotel clicking here.

Lafayette Hotel ($$) – Our favorite hotel for watching Mardi Gras parade without moving far from your room. There would be an exclusive platform in front of the hotel if you missed booking a room with a view. The hotel itself is very comfortable and the staff friendly. Please check availability and book your room here.

Mardi Gras New Orleans Itinerary 2020

Endymion

Endymion parade will start on 4:15 PM on Saturday, February 13, 2021. Planned route of the parade is shown below (please be aware that it can be changed without notice):

  • The Krewe of Endymion parade starts at the intersection of City Park Avenue and Orleans Avenue.
  • From there they travel southeast down Orleans Avenue to the intersection with N. Carrollton Avenue.
  • They take a right onto Carrollton and continue until it intersects with Canal Street.
  • The Krewe then takes a left and travels down Canal Street through Mid City until they reach Elk.
  • At At Elk they continue onto Loyola and take a left on Poydras.
  • They continue down Poydras and take a right on St. Charles Avenue, and follow it until the intersection with Julia Street.
  • Left on Julia Street to Convention Center Boulevard.
  • Continue to the Endymion Extravaganza at the Convention Center.

Recommended hotels:

B on Canal ($$$) – This hotel is located on the Canal Street just along the parade route. Please make sure you can book a room with a Canal Street view to admire the parade through your window. You can book the room clicking here.

TownePlace Suites by Marriott ($$$) – This hotel is also located on the Canal Street along the parade route. It has a fantastic rooftop bar. Try to book a room with a Canal Street view and please make sure to book a right Marriott hotel on the Canal (there is more). You can check prices and availability clicking this link.

Drury Plaza Hotel ($$$) – This hotel is located on the Poydras street along the parade route. It offers free breakfast and drinks. You should be able to find a room with a view to the Poydras street and admire parade through your window. Please check the availability and prices of clicking this link.

Mardi Gras New Orleans Itinerary 2020

Zulu and Rex

Zulu and Rex parade will start at 8:00 AM on Tuesday, February 16, 2020. Planned route of the parade is shown below (please be aware that it can be changed without notice):

  • The Krewe of Zulu begin at S. Claiborne and Jackson Avenue.
  • They parade down Jackson to St. Charles Avenue where they take a left turn.
  • They follow St. Charles Avenue around Lee Circle and then continue back down St. Charles to Poydras Street.
  • At Poydras Street, the Krewe takes a left turn.
  • They follow Poydras until Basin Street where they take a right turn.
  • The continue on Basin Street to where it becomes Orleans Avenue.
  • The parade follows Orleans Avenue until it concludes at Broad Street.
  • The Krewe of Rex parade will start at the intersection of Napoleon Avenue and S. Claiborne Ave. (Highway 90) in New Orleans.
  • The parade will proceed south until St. Charles Avenue, where the krewe will turn east (left).
  • The Krewe of Rex will follow St. Charles all the way to Lee Circle, around the circle and back on St. Charles northward to Canal Street.
  • At Canal, the parade will turn southeast (right) and follow the road to the intersection of Canal and South Peters Street where the parade will end.

Recommended hotels:

Drury Plaza Hotel ($$$) – This hotel is located on the Poydras street along the parade route. It offers free breakfast and drinks. You should be able to find a room with a view to the Poydras street and admire parade through your window. Please check the availability and prices of clicking this link.

Hotel Indigo New Orleans Garden District ($$$) – However, located in Garden District, it is an excellent choice for watching Mardi Gras parade from your window. Parade is rolling through St. Charles Avenue just in front of Indigo. You can book this hotel clicking here.

Lafayette Hotel ($$) – Our favorite hotel for watching Mardi Gras parade without moving far from your room. There would be an exclusive platform in front of the hotel if you missed to book a room with a view. The hotel itself is very comfortable and the staff friendly. Please check availability and book your room here.

Mardi Gras New Orleans Itinerary 2020

Is New Orleans Safe?

One thing to consider before selecting the place to stay in New Orleans is your safety. New Orleans is very often included on the lists of the world’s 50 most crime-filled cities. It, unfortunately, means NOLA is not among the cities considered entirely safe for tourists. However, there are no official warnings or travel advisories. Like with many cities in the world, it just depends on the area you are visiting or the security precautions you take to reduce the risk.

So is French Quarter New Orleans safe? As in most such places, you must be careful. It means you don’t walk alone too far from well-lit streets, don’t show your gear, and try not to leave area limits. The French Quarter itself is considered to be somewhat safe, but neighborhoods have a higher crime rate.

Below we put the list of parts of the city considered as the most dangerous. Try to avoid those areas after dark to reduce the risk.

  • Michoud
  • Warrington Drive / Robert E. Lee Blvd
  • Cleveland Avenue / S. Johnson Street
  • St Bernard Street / Buchanan Avenue
  • Port Street / Urquhart Street
  • Saint Roch Avenue / N Galvez Street
  • Tchoupitoulas Street / Jackson Avenue
Mardi Gras New Orleans Itinerary 2020

Mardi Gras New Orleans 2021

What is Mardi Gras?

Mardi Gras (also known as Fat Tuesday) history reaches to medieval Europe. It is the name of the events of the carnival celebration. It starts on or after Three Kings Day and is progressing toward Ash Wednesday (Shrove Tuesday). The idea of the Mardi Gras is to eat lavish last night before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season.

On March 2nd of 1699, French-Canadian explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville arrived at a plot of ground 60 miles directly south of New Orleans. He named it “Pointe du Mardi Gras” when his men realized it was the eve of the festive holiday. The first celebration of Mardi Gras in America had place in Fort Louis (currently Mobile) in 1703.

Mardi Gras New Orleans Itinerary 2020

How long does Mardi Gras last in New Orleans?

Officially Mardi Gras begins on January 6th and runs until Fat Tuesday. But in New Orleans, the majority of events are held in the two last weeks before Fat Tuesday.

What date is Mardi Gras 2021 and following years?

In 2021 Mardi Gras falls on Tuesday, February 16. Fat Tuesday is the last day of the carnival season and is always the day before Ash Wednesday – the first day of Lent.

Below you will find dates for next years Mardi Gras:

  • 2021 – Feb 16th
  • 2022 – Mar 1st
  • 2023 – Feb 21st
  • 2024 – Feb 13th
  • 2025 – Mar 4th
bourbon street live music new orleans
bourbon street art new orleans
Mardi Gras New Orleans Itinerary 2020

How expensive is Mardi Gras?

The answer to this question isn’t simple – it depends. And it depends on when you book your travel tickets, how do you like to dine, where you would like to stay and what events are interesting to you and you would like to participate in them.

Our estimated costs based on previous years:

  • Airfare from US – 400-700 USD
  • Airfare from Europe – 1200-1500 USD
  • Lodging – 100+ USD/night/room
  • Transportation from the airport to the city – 30 USD (in the city we recommend to walk – it doesn’t make sense to rent a car)
  • Food and drink – it depends on you – from 30 USD/day
Mardi Gras New Orleans Itinerary 2020

Must See in New Orleans

If you are coming for Mardi Gras to New Orleans, you probably would like to see more tourist attractions of this beautiful city. There is a lot of things to do in New Orleans. Except for visiting the French Quarter, you can stop by New Orleans cemeteries, take a tour at night or walk on famous streets in New Orleans.

Things to do in New Orleans

Hop-On, Hop-Off Sightseeing Tour – The hop-on, hop-off sightseeing tour will give you access to enjoy and take in this beautiful city at your leisure. Hop on to the double-decker bus as many times as you want within the chosen time period and experience everything that makes this musical city so fantastic. The live onboard tour commentary will make your sightseeing experience even more enriching. It’s easiest to book your tickets here.

Day Jazz Cruise on the Steamboat Natchez – Spend 2 houers on the Steamboat Natchez and be transported back in time! Journey along the graceful current and learn why New Orleans was founded on the beautiful crescent of the lower Mississippi River on this two-hour jazz cruise. Book your seats here.

Things to do in French Quarter

French Quarter, Cemetery, and Voodoo Tour – You can do it yourself or go for an organized tour. It combines 3 tours in one and lasts 2 hours. You will explore the French Quarter and Armstrong Park in the district of Treme. You will visit the City of the Dead, the oldest cemetery in New Orleans (access is only with a guide, so it will be complicated to organize it on your own). On tour, you will learn burial customs and see the Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau’s tomb. You can book the tour here.

French Quarter Walking and Storytelling Tour – Join the fun on a 2-hour, story-filled stroll through the French Quarter, the oldest, most famous, and most unpredictable neighborhood in New Orleans. This tour has history, culture, architecture and is great for shopping and dining. Book here.

Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes & Culture Tour – It will take you less than an hour. If you are here for Mardi Gras, you must join this one of the most fun and unique tours in New Orleans to the Mardi Gras Museum. Learn about the history of Mardi Gras and dress up in the vast collection of Mardi Gras costumes. You can reserve your tickets here.

St Louis Cathedral New Orleans

Things to do in New Orleans with kids

Spooky Family Ghost Tour – If you came here with the whole family and would like to spend 2 hours with them, there is an excellent idea to visit spooky city. This fascinating ghost tour designed for both children & adults. You will learn historical facts that make the outing both educational & fun. You can check prices and book tickets here.

Audubon Zoo & Audubon Aquarium of the Americas – There is plenty of attractions for kids in the city. One of the favorites is the zoo and Aquarium, but you can also consider the butterfly garden and insectarium. All those attractions you can have on one multi-pass together with over 25 other places. Please check the price and list of attractions here.

Mardi Gras New Orleans Itinerary 2020

Day Trips from New Orleans

If you are visiting New Orleans for Mardi Gras, it’s also a great idea to extend your stay and go for two trips to amazing places near New Orleans: Swamps and Plantations. We are sharing two best tours below.

Swamp Tour

Best swamps near New Orleans are located on the Pearl River bayou. You will need at least 3 hours to enjoy the tour, and it takes some time to get to the river itself. On the excursion, you will admire not only swamps with magnificent cypress and tupelo tress, but also a lot of wildlife like alligators, turtles, birds, and even raccoons. You can also see the houses of people living on the river. It is an incredible experience. We can recommend you 2 hours tour – you can check it’s details and pricing here.

Plantation Tour

Oak Alley and Laura Plantation are two of the best. You can also consider visiting Whitney that focuses on slavery. On this tour, you will experience two of the most beautiful and historic homes in the Mississippi River Valley. The whole tour will take about 8 hours, and you can be picked up and dropped off in front of most of the hotels. Please check the pricing and details of two plantations combined tour here.

750*350


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the van escape

Hi, we are Agnes & Chris! Welcome to The Van Escape! We are travelers, photographers, and bloggers. Our goal is to share travel & photo experience and inspire you to outdoor adventures through America. We love wildlife, off the beaten path places, soaking in hot springs, and van life. We also like cities by night and tasting local food & wine. We give you ready itineraries, hints, and essential tools to prepare you for your unforgettable lifetime journey. We only describe the places we have been, which we know and recommend without hesitation. All photos are also ours. We are so glad you’re here!

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