How to Pack for Your Trip to Mardi Gras
Here’s what to bring for a fun, safe Carnival celebration.
If it’s your first time coming to Louisiana for Mardi Gras, you already know you’re going to have a good time. You may not know exactly what you need to pack, though. Don't worry. We’ve got you covered with this list of essentials.
- A Festive Costume: Mardi Gras celebrations are replete with fantastical costumes. Anything goes here – and we do mean anything – but if donning an extravagant ensemble isn’t your thing, wear the traditional Carnival colors of purple, green and gold to fit right in. Either way, be sure to wear comfortable shoes. This is not a short party, and that’s a good thing!
- All the Beads? Nah: There's no need to bring beads or buy them at all unless you've got your heart set on something special. Free beads – so many beads – and other “throws” (trinkets, doubloons, cups, stuffed animals) are generously thrown from every parade float.
- Chairs, Coolers and a Ladder? Maybe: All can come in handy and they're a staple for many locals along parade routes. Whether you plan to find a public area and set up camp for the day or do lots of walking, portable chairs for resting and a cooler for drinks and snacks can be lifesavers. Likewise, portable ladders (to help you take part in the action from the back of crowds) can come in handy as well.
- An Easy-to-Carry Bag: A decent-sized shoulder bag or backpack provides a handy place to store your parade cache. If you don’t plan to take the throws with you, a small fanny-pack for your cash, keys and phone may be all you need.
- Tissues & Hand Sanitizer: Private bathrooms are hard to come by, no matter which parade you’re attending. You’ll find porta-potties along most parade routes, so a pack of tissues and hand sanitizer may end up being two of the most prized possessions on your Mardi Gras packing list.
- Cool-Weather Clothing: Although temperatures during Mardi Gras in Louisiana usually average in the comfortable 65- to 70-degree range, it can be significantly warmer or cooler. Dress in light layers you can easily put on and take off as needed. Consider bringing a light jacket or sweater for evening celebrations.
- Rain & Sun Protection: That being said, it’s still Louisiana, so you can usually count on plenty of sunshine. If you plan to be outside throughout the day, be sure to pack and use plenty of sunscreen. A hat might be helpful and sunglasses are essential, too. Fancy umbrellas are a common parade prop during carnival festivities, but they may not be practical rain protection on crowded sidewalks. Opt for a poncho or raincoat instead so Mother Nature doesn’t, well, rain on your parade.
- Cash & Change: You'll meet plenty of food, drink and other street vendors along the routes and some don’t take credit cards. Be sure to take cold, hard cash and coins – but tuck them in a front (preferably enclosed) pocket or money belt to be safe.
- A “Laissez le Bons Temps Rouler” Attitude: That’s French for “Let the Good Times Roll,” and it’s more than just an expression here – it’s a battle cry, a way of life. Here, we love living life to the fullest, so come to Mardi Gras with a free spirit and you’ll fit right in with the locals!