For many not native to Louisiana, Mardi Gras means a jubilant French Quarter, street fetes with bead tossing, and masquerades. While New Orleans does throw one unforgettable carnival party, the celebratory spirit reaches to cities and towns across the entire region, and there are plenty of festivities not to be missed. Most recognize the carnival season’s more traditional celebrations, but each offers its own unique traditions.
It should come as no surprise that the self-proclaimed birthplace of “King Cake” throws quite the Mardi Gras celebration. During Courir de Mardi Gras, locals opt for bells over beads, horses over floats, and a whole lot of chicken-chasing. Adorned in homemade costumes and masks, the revelers race from house to house to collect ingredients for a communal pot of gumbo, dancing and drinking along the way. Oftentimes homeowners will toss a large chicken in the air, and participants will chase after it. Eventually the group makes its way to the gumbo-making destination, where they enjoy plenty of boudin and sweet treats with family and friends.
To close out Carnival each year, the Krewe of Highland puts on one of the largest and most eccentric parades in Shreveport. The city is decked in purple, green, and gold and the food is flying—literally. Beads will be tossed, but be prepared to also catch grilled hot dogs, ramen noodles, and moon pies at this parade.
A few barks may ring out among the cheers when the Mystic Krewe of Mutts takes to the streets in February. This four-legged-friendly parade has marched through the streets of the capital city for nearly two decades.
Paraders take to the water and dozens of ornamented boats light up the shoreline during the Lake Charles Lighted Boat Parade. Locals and visitors alike come each year to watch the spectacle from dry land.
It’s four days of Cajun food, festival rides, and live entertainment during the annual Le Festival de Mardi Gras a Lafayette. All of the scheduled parades are routed through the festival grounds during the celebration, adding to the excitement.
In the heart of Acadiana, a Taste of Mardi Gras offers étoufée, jambalaya, and other Cajun favorites that give festivalgoers a taste of joie de vivre.