Mardi Gras is undoubtedly the most epic week of the year in New Orleans. With parades, costumes, King Cake and more, this city celebrates nonstop during the official week leading up to Fat Tuesday, and this year, that falls between February 28th and March 5th.  New Orleans turns into one massive party, and it brings people from all over the world to come witness the magic of the carnival season. Even my dad has made it down here to dance on Bourbon with his three best friends in 1988. This holiday has withstood the test of time by outdoing itself each and every year. If you’ve experienced Mardi Gras, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t yet, you’re in for a wild ride. I have a love affair with Mardi Gras, and I will be loyal to this festival until the day I die.

Now for the preparation: I personally have been planning my outfits for months, mapped out all my parade routes, and done my reading on where to be at what times. If you haven’t done that, don’t freak out; I am here to be your guide. Mardi Gras is a hectic week to say the least, but planning is the best way to get the most out of your week. Below are a few unique tips on what to do during these next two weeks to get you ready for the most epic week of the whole entire year.      

1. Plan Your Transportation

Traffic in the French Quarter is taken to a whole new level during Mardi Gras. Most of your frequently used streets are blocked off due to parades and people swarming the roads with beads. If you’re from Los Angeles, like I am, think the 405 freeway on a Friday at 6pm. If you’re not from LA, it’s just really bad traffic. So my advice to you: take advantage of the streetcar! They are cheap and efficient. Be sure to check out the schedules.

2. Bring an Umbrella

New Orleans is known for its beignets and gumbo, but also for its unpredictable weather. It could be 70 degrees and sunny at 11am, and pouring at 11:02am. Here are some weather predictions, but expect the unexpected.

3. Plan Your Costumes

You don’t want to be scrambling on the day of that you don’t have anything to wear to Muses. I recommend your funkiest boots. If you need some outfit inspiration, head over to this article by Danielle Schwartz. And be sure to keep the weather in mind when outfit planning!

Dayna Siegel

4. Know What Parades You Want To See

Hermes and Morpheus and Orpheus oh my! There will never be a dull moment during Mardi Gras without a parade. My favorites include Krewe de Muses(02/28 at 6:30pm), Krewe de Endymion (03/02 at 4:15pm), Krewe d’Athena (03/03 at 5:30pm), and Krewe de Zulu on Fat Tuesday at 8am. That last one is a toughy. It comes right after Tequila Sunrise, but it’s worth it. Click here for the full list of parades.

5. Designate a Meeting Spot

Before the era of iPhones and Find My Friends, my mother drilled into the heads of my sisters and I the idea that if we ever got lost at Disneyland, go to the front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. When I was six years old, I got lost, walked straight to the castle, and there was my mom standing with her Mickey Mouse ears. So, it really works. Pick one with your friends in case you get lost during the craziness.

6. Find a Bag to Carry Your Swag

Whether you like it or not, you will have beads, glittery shoes, and stuffed animals thrown at your head. Of course you want to wear your beads, but bring a bag for the rest of the goodies to catch. Think about getting a handy fanny pack for hands-free help to hold your things!

7. Book Your Reservations

If you have friends or family coming in, and you want to give them a taste of New Orleans cuisine, go to OpenTable and book a table at Meril because they will fill up quickly. Other easy eats around Tulane’s campus that are quick during Mardi Gras are Dat Dog, Good Bird, and The Company Burger. Definitely make sure you plan in advance and keep a lot of preparable foods in your kitchen or dorm room just in case!

The days leading up to Mardi Gras are filled with outfit planning and decorating, but follow these steps to prepare for some of the best days of your life. It’s a time to get a little crazy, have a lot of fun, and get zero sleep. As I’m sitting in my “Music in New Orleans” class listening to Louis Armstrong, I can’t help but smile at how lucky I am to live in this city and take part in a tradition that makes New Orleans so unique. Happy Mardi Gras, y’all!

COVER PHOTO: Rachel Wine