For all its beauty, wonder, and historical significance, North Carolina remains a paradox of seasonal change. Summers in the Tar Heel State are notoriously hot and humid, while winters can be damp, blustery, and freezing. Going from one extreme weather to another is like comparisons in a Dickens novel.
Although Jack Frost’s annual visits are brief, you may already be tired of these dreary, chilly days. The good news is that Mardi Gras is just around the corner, and you can join the festivities. Take a non-stop flight from RDU International Airport to New Orleans this season and be in the heart of it all.
Let the Good Times Roll
Since 1699, New Orleans, LA, has been the epicenter of America’s “Fat Tuesday” Carnival, or Mardi Gras. The iconic celebrations mark the last big hurrah before the fasting season of Lent. It’s a glorious festival of colorful parades, Cajun food, classic jazz, and street dancing.
Each year, the city of New Orleans draws countless people from all over the country to celebrate in style. Are you ready to let down your hair and take in the world-renowned sights and sounds of the Big Easy? There are several things you won’t want to miss, and it’s possible you might be flying from or taking a connecting flight through RDU Airport.
For 2023, Mardi Gras falls on Tuesday, February 21. Many New Orleans residents have been gearing up for the carnival since January. However, the traditional observance is usually two weeks beforehand, with the main events scheduled on the Tuesday of Mardi Gras.
Everyone Loves a Parade
When you think of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, the impressive parades are probably one of the first things that comes to mind. Each year, these parades are grander with elaborate floats, music, pyrotechnics, dancing, and crowds of fans. Fortunately, there are usually several parades on different routes in the cities, so you’re sure to catch one no matter where you stay.
Large groups conduct the most famous Mardi Gras parades called super krewes. While there are about 80 registered super krewes in New Orleans, most people know about the three largest ones:
The Endymion Krewe conducts New Orleans’ largest Mardi Gras parade. It’s named after Endymion, the Greek god of eternal youth. According to a recent news release, this grand parade route will start at New Orleans Avenue and end at Julia and Tchoupitoulas.
Named for the Greek god of wine, this super krewe knows that the wine and spirits flow abundantly during Carnival season. The NOLA website announced that the festivities of the Baccus parade this year will begin at Franklin Avenue, through the Elysian Fields, and culminate at the statue of Beinville in Decatur.
The third top super krewe is named for Orpheus, the legendary Greek poet. As the group’s website noted, this year’s Orpheus parade will hit the streets on Monday, February 20. Their breathtaking floats and special effects will be traveling around Uptown, New Orleans, ending at Convention Center Boulevard.
You’re bound to catch the festivities of at least one of these fabled parades. If not, don’t worry because the city will be booming with smaller parades and countless parties. Plan for the best places to watch the parades, such as balconies in the French Quarters, grandstands, or the route’s main streets.
Other Things to Do While in New Orleans During Mardi Gras
Remember that Big Easy will be in carnival spirits during Mardi Gras. However, there are other things to consider while you’re there besides the parades and carnivals. Some businesses may be closed for the holiday, so check their schedules.
1. The French Quarters
Whether you are a classic Francophile or a fan of Anne Rice’s iconic vampire novels, a visit to New Orleans isn’t complete without seeing the French Quarters. Perhaps the most well-known area there is Bourbon Street. Visit some of its historic bars and cafes and celebrate with the locals.
2. The Garden District
Are you a lover of classic architecture and landscaping? You’ll want to visit the wealthy Garden District of Uptown, New Orleans. See some of the most breathtaking historic homes in the state. You can take a guided street tour or walk around the neighborhood on your own.
3. Take a Cemetery Tour
New Orleans cemeteries are world-renowned for their above-ground vaults, haunting statues, and some of their famous graves. One of them is the oft-visited grave of New Orleans voodoo queen Marie Laveau or the renowned musician Fats Domino. Many tourist agencies offer walking cemetery tours or ghost tours at night.
4. Splendid Plantation Mansions
New Orleans is also known for many stunning antebellum plantation mansions. Revisit history as you tour the beautiful grounds of places like the Laura Plantation, Oak Alley Plantation, or the reputedly haunted Myrtles Plantation. Some of these historic homes have overnight guest services or meals available for purchase.
Getting Ready for an Awesome Trip
Whether you’re planning a New Orleans getaway or one of many US or international destinations, we can help. Our shuttle service provides transportation to and from the RDU International Airport. Let our friendly staff take care of the luggage and drive while you relax and prepare for your flight.