Mardi gras, new orleans, nola, mardi gras parades

How To Visit Mardi Gras in New Orleans on a Budget

Mardi gras, new orleans, nola, mardi gras parades
It is always great to dress up. We come prepared

I LOVE to attend Mardi Gras in New Orleans! As a matter of fact, we went 2 years in a row, 2011 & 2012!  I wanted to make a trip again this year and was even going to spontaneously book today, but my hubby has too much going on at work.  Mardi Gras is such a blast and you meet some of the most fascinating people! The locals are super friendly, the food is delicious, and it is one massive party in the streets!  This crazy party can get quite expensive, but I am here to share with you how you can enjoy Mardi Gras on a budget!

Mardi gras, new orleans, nola, mardi gras parades
Madness in Streets from Balcony

First of all, the main thing I can suggest to save money when heading to New Orleans for Mardi Gras; when you are travelling afar is to make sure you book your flight and hotel in advance.  All of the local places that are located in The French Quarter (where all of the main action

Mardi gras, new orleans, nola, mardi gras parades
Courtyard of our hotel, Place D Armes

happens) do sell out fast and the rooms that are left are usually in pretty sketchy areas or they are in the least desirable parts of the hotel…Also the flights book up and the flights that are left begin to skyrocket in price. When I say book in advance, I am talking 6-8 months ahead of time!

Mardi gras, new orleans, nola, mardi gras parades
Random Peeps we met on Bourbon

Once you lock in a flight and hotel package, ( I recommend using They always have awesome deals) it is smooth sailing…Every year I have went, I was stressed I was not going to get the good room, so booking in advance assures you will get a king bed or a courtyard room or whatever your heart desires. 

Mardi gras, new orleans, nola, mardi gras parades
Parade Float 6

The next thing I always do is I go to visit the website, This site is absolutely awesome because you can print out coupons for restaurants and bars, shopping, events and attractions, and they have a tab for hotels, but I always have those booked before I open this site. 🙂  I love this coupon site and I just print a bunch of them that tickle my fancy and then I just keep them on hand when I am walking the streets of NOLA.

Mardi gras, new orleans, nola, mardi gras parades
Prego Decorated bellies

Another thing I recommend doing before leaving on your trip is checking out if there are any balcony parties available.  The first year we went to Mardi Gras, we only caught the beads, toys, and boas as people threw them, but the second year we became slightly wiser to our ways. 🙂  Last time we went I booked a balcony party in advance that was a party for Maxim Magazine. The party was conveniently located on Bourbon Street and it included a full buffet meal all evening (5 hours) with unlimited alcoholic beverages and yes these included premium labels!  This party was not cheap, granted it was put on by Maxim magazine, but it was well worth it considering dinner was included and massive stacks of beads for us to throw at people rather than have them thrown at us. 

Mardi gras, new orleans, nola, mardi gras parades
Maxim Mardi Gras Party

The last thing I recommend before leaving your hometown to go to NOLA is to bring some of your own beads to start off with if you are going to do a balcony party. This way when beads start running low (the whole fun of the balcony party is to throw beads at people) you have your own stash!

Mardi gras, new orleans, nola, mardi gras parades
I have this one framed in my house



I kept the pictures pretty tame in this post in that there are different age groups that could be viewing my post, but please know that nudity is very widely accepted during Mardi Gras in New Orleans.  There are many people giving free peep shows, but I am happy to say I did not see any violent behavior and everyone was quite peaceful when we were there. 🙂

Mardi gras, new orleans, nola, mardi gras parades
Dani in the streets of madness

In using the coupons I recommended above, there are a lot of BOGO Free & discounts on meals which will come in handy when you are walking the streets of New Orleans.  There are also many cheap dining options as you cruise down Bourbon Street, such as pizza, Popeye’s, hamburgers and of course never ending daiquiris and fruity beverages!  Stay together in your group as it is very easy to get lost since the streets are mobbed with people!

Mardi gras, new orleans, nola, mardi gras parades
I love my king

My last piece of advice is to make sure you take a look at the parade routes and times so you can schedule to watch the parades and catch all sorts of loot they throw!  The most handy way to keep track of parade routes is to download an application. There are 2 I suggest.  One of them is WWL Mardi Gras Parade Tracker.  Download links here –> IPHONE & ANDROID The second app is called WDSU Parade Tracker. Download links here IPHONE & ANDROID  I have bags and bags full of stuffed animals, beads, awesome necklaces, feather boas, etc.  Most importantly have fun!  Let me know of you have ever been to Mardi Gras below and share with me your favorite hotels, restaurants, activities, etc!  Enjoy my crazy pictures. Thanks for reading!

Mardi gras, new orleans, nola, mardi gras parades
D Ready to head to Bourbon Street

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17 thoughts on “How To Visit Mardi Gras in New Orleans on a Budget

  1. I have never been there, but would love to go! It looks very interesting and a lot of fun. There is also so much history in New Orleans which would definitely make it an amazing trip!

  2. My husband and I went to NOLA for our first anniversary. We had a great time. It was not during Mardi Gras, though. If you do go visit outside of Mardi Gras season, I highly recommend visiting the Mardi Gras Museum. It is a very interesting place and you learn a bit of history too.

    1. Thanks for the advice about the Mardi Gras museum! That sounds like a fun place to check out:) The only other time I went to New Orleans was when I was a small child, but I would love to go back when it is non Mardi Gras sometime as well:)

  3. I’ve always wondered on what goes on during Mardi Gras. Sounds like a lot of fun! If I ever do go I will be sure to follow your tip and book early and get me some coupons because why pay full price?? lol Also will be sure to bring lots of beads! Sucks you won’t be going this year.

    1. Thanks Marielle:) Mardi Gras is definitely a sight to see and a fun event to attend! 🙂 Thanks for saying you will use my recommendations:) Always best to save money where we can:) What a fun place it is!!

    1. New Orleans is a great place to go on vacation for sure! I love it there:) I need to go sometime when it is not Mardi Gras. I have not been for non Mardi Gras festivities since I was 7 years old.:)

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