The History of Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras is celebrated around the globe in different ways—but we think it’s celebrated best right here with Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

Mardi Gras season begins with Twelfth Night, which is on January 6th each year. The holiday is rooted in Christianity, and you may also hear this night referred to as The Epiphany. As soon as that day rolls around, Carnival season (or Mardi Gras season) officially kicks off, and we all welcome the reappearance of King Cakes. These doughy confections are iced with purple, green and gold sugars to commemorate the official colors of Mardi Gras. You’ll get to enjoy a slice during your visit to Mardi Gras World!

After Twelfth Night, smaller parades begin to roll each weekend. The activities build up week after week until the citywide celebration reaches its peak on Mardi Gras Day, also known as Fat Tuesday (which is the literal translation of “Mardi Gras”). The date of Fat Tuesday changes year to year, but it always precedes Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent in Christian faiths. Hence all of the celebrating and revelry: once Lent begins, it’s time to behave until Easter!

Each Mardi Gras parade is run by a krewe (pronounced like “crew”), which can be anything from a small local group to a massive organization. The oldest krewe is the Mistick Krewe of Comus, which first marched in a New Orleans Mardi Gras parade in 1857.

Today, Mardi Gras World helps to build the fantastical float features for super crews like Bacchus, Endymion and Orpheus, among many others. Some of these floats are staggering in size—the longest to date was Endymion’s 365-foot long masterpiece from 2013’s Mardi Gras celebration—and they roll through New Orleans neighborhoods with hundreds of masked riders aboard. Each krewe chooses a new theme for its parade every year, and the pieces that we create at Mardi Gras World explore those themes spectacularly.

Want to learn more about the history of Mardi Gras? There’s no better way to do it than to come visit Mardi Gras World and take our Mardi Gras tour: you’ll get to see these amazing floats being constructed, learn the whole backstory of the holiday and get the real scoop on how locals celebrate Mardi Gras in New Orleans, year after year.