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Mardi Gras 2023: Everything You Need to Know About Fat Tuesday

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Mardi Gras: Fat Tuesday

Mardi Gras Fat Tuesday is one of the most vibrant and exciting cultural celebrations in the world. This annual carnival event is steeped in tradition and has been celebrated for centuries in the Big Easy. Mardi Gras, which means “Fat Tuesday” in French, is a time of revelry, excess, and indulgence before the Christian season of Lent. From colorful parades and dazzling floats to masks, costumes, and beads, Mardi Gras is a feast for the senses.

Whether you’re a longtime local or a first-time visitor, Fat Tuesday in New Orleans is a time to let loose, have fun, and experience the magic of one of America’s most vibrant cultural traditions. So come on down to the Big Easy and join in the celebration – laissez les bons temps rouler! 

What is Fat Tuesday?

Mardi gras 2023 krewe of rex parade float

While Fat Tuesday is now celebrated among both secular and religious communities, it is rooted in the medieval Catholic calendar. On this calendar, Mardi Gras designates a day of decadence before Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. This means that Mardi Gras does not have a fixed date on the modern calendar, although it does always occur on a Tuesday. This year, Mardi Gras falls on February 21st. Celebrations such as parades, dances and feasts highlight this special occasion as people come together to enjoy one last feast before Lent begins. 

Today, this annual Festival has grown into a massive celebration that deluges the streets of central New Orleans. The festival is led by vibrant, colorful parades down St. Charles Avenue and Canal St. which are organized and produced by the Krewes. Masked riders adored with extravagant costumes circle the streets throwing a bounty of treats such as beads, cups, doubloon coins, and other “throws” to eager partiers below. Amongst the plethora of parades that take place annually, the Krewe of Rex and Zulu leads one epic final parade on Fat Tuesday before Ash Wednesday calls an end to the festivities. 

Most Krewes host a costume ball for their members and guests during the weeks before their parade rolls. Most balls are private, but some are public. Costumes are also popular among parade goers who wish to attract the most prized throws, but beyond all of the artistry lies an array of delectable food and drinks. All kinds of delicious food and drink are enjoyed during the Carnival season, but the most popular Mardi Gras food is called King Cake. This doughy pastry is most often found covered in purple, green and gold frosting with a special flavor inside – no matter which kind you choose, it’s sure to be delicious! So the next time you’re ablaze in colorful attire awaiting the parade floats passing through, make sure you enjoy a slice of King Cake along with your favorite beverage.  

History of Fat Tuesday in New Orleans

Vintage floats showing the history of mardi gras 2023
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The first Mardi Gras to be celebrated on American soil took place on March 2nd, 1699. French-Canadian explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville and his men celebrated while searching Louisiana’s swamps for a location where they could build a settlement. Bienville later founded New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama. Mobile was the original home of popular Mardi Gras traditions such as parading and masking. 

It wasn’t until the 1740s when Mardi Gras balls were introduced in New Orleans, and over the course of the 18th and 19th centuries, carnival clubs and associations began sponsoring dazzling parades for public spectacle. Like many of today’s Krewes, most of these parades kept their members’ identities secret. In the second half of the 19th century, “throws” were introduced as part of these festivities.  

As the New Orleans tourism economy blossomed in the 20th century, Carnival traditions evolved to accommodate larger crowds. Floats have since grown in size by incorporating modern lighting and vehicles. Celebrities have also added an extra dimension to the festivities, appearing as part of Carnival Royalty for this special occasion. Even though many aspects have changed, the spirit of Mardi Gras remains unaltered – it is still a day filled with joyous celebration and unparalleled camaraderie. As we prepare for Mardi Gras 2023, it’s exciting to think about how Fat Tuesday will embrace both new and old elements alike.  

Swamp Tours New Orleans

Get ready to experience an unforgettable expedition like no other with a New Orleans swamp tour! By signing up for ones of these tours, you’ll get an up-close look at the amazing features of the incredible bayou – from cypress trees to native wildlife, it’s easy to see why this is the place Louisianans chose for their first Mardi Gras celebration. 

Take in the breathtaking cypress trees, exotic wildlife, and tranquil marshes that have mesmerized locals and visitors alike for centuries. Let Cajun Encounters be your guide on your next tour of the unbeatable bayou! With knowledgeable tour guides, unparalleled experiences, and unmatched beauty, you can look forward to an enjoyable and enriching journey through a Swamp Tour in New Orleans. Book your trip with ease today and slip away into a world full of natural wonder. 

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