Questions I get asked every year, plus some you should ask!
Any veteran parade goer knows that finding a place to use a restroom is an important part of planning your parade festivities. During parades the Pub bathrooms are only open to customers. We use a ticket system. You buy a drink (or food) and you get a ticket to use the bathroom! During the busy parades there is often a line so don’t wait till the last minute. We do not sell bathroom passes or all day bathroom wristbands. We want to keep our bathrooms available to customers who are buying food and drink from us.
When to arrive?
The crowds start building about an hour before the parades reach us, which is about the same time the parades start uptown. On the big days like Bacchus Sunday the crowds are building by 10 am for the days parades even though Bacchus doesn’t roll until 5 pm.
How can I get on a balcony or can I book a table for a parade?
Most of those balcony pictures you see are actually French Quarter balconies during Mardi Gras and the parades don’t pass in front of them. There are a FEW balconies on the major parade routes and some viewing stands. 95% of the folks that watch parades (or higher) watch on street level. You don’t need (and usually won’t be able to make) reservations for a parade. You will want to see the parade from the sidewalk or neutral ground not from INSIDE a bar or restaurant. You will want to get drinks from a bar and food from a restaurant but then you’ll want to go right back on the street to crowd and parade watch .
Can you bring your own booze to a parade?
Certainly and many locals do, but remember most, if not all bars will require a purchase to use their bathrooms and most won’t let you inside with a drink you haven’t bought from them.
Mardi Gras Is A Marathon, Not A Sprint.
The crazy drinking on the street is so different for many non locals that its common for folks to overindulge their first night in town. There are 10 days of parades and if you are sleeping it off in bed you will miss things!
How to get faster service in a bar…
We and every bar on the route are going to be crowded so we beg your patience!
Always bring your legal ID. Every bar is going to card you and most will card you even if you look like you are 60 years old. The best time to order a drink or go the the bathroom is to dash in while the parade is passing! Usually you won’t miss much if you do this. If you wait till there is a break in the parades you are likely to encounter a longer line. Know what you want before you approach the bar so you can order quickly and help the folks in line behind you get served faster.
How to get home from a parade (or back to your hotel)
If you aren’t within walking distance then the best option is just to relax at a bar until the streets have opened back up and surge pricing has dropped. If you are watching from the Pub plan for an hour after the parade finishes passing. If you are watching on St Charles and staying the the FQ you can follow the end of the parade on foot all the way down to Canal street.
Mardi Gras Parade Tips
Wear comfortable clothing and shoes!
Mardi Gras is not a red carpet event. Wear items that you can easily move around in aren’t afraid to get dirty. Stillettos and flip flops are not Mardi Gras friendly!
Bring a Jacket!
Expect highs in the mid 60’s and lows of 50. Winter humidity = damp cold
If you decide to wear a costume…
Can you fit through a door? Can your face be seen? Can you maneuver a bathroom or port-a-potty stall? Can you easily reach your I.D?
Bring a tote bag or backpack.
Yes, you will catch beads, cups, doubloons and…
Bring a blanket or folding chairs.
Something light weight you can carry easily. There’s a lot of standing and waiting for parades to start. Sit, relax, eat, drink and be merry!
Bring some cash!
Most street vendors don’t take credit cards and you want to tip the Flambeaux when they perform
Don’t stand with your back to the Parade!
Heavy plastic beads are flying through the air! Save yourself a headache or injury and pay attention! (Besides, you might miss something really awesome!)
** SHARE! **
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of catching throws. Remember to share your throws with those around you…especially children!
Don’t EVER cross the street in the middle of a marching band!
Do we have to explain why? Just don’t!
To-Go Cups are your friend!
While not eco-friendly, plastic cups only! Glass on the streets and on balconies is prohibited! Yes, you may walk the streets with your adult beverage…
Mardi Gras is a marathon, NOT a sprint!
Yes, you’re going to consume alcohol. Drink plenty of water and make sure you eat!
If you need more, check out the official City of New Orleans Mardi Gras Safety Tips