Official Mardi Gras day may not be until March 5th, but Mardi Gras season is very much upon us all. Between all the silly Walmart decorations in the stores and the many king cakes sold all over Oxford, it's hard to ignore the fact that it is time to celebrate. Of course, there are a million ways to be festive this Mardi Gras season, but the king of the crop (or cake) is going down to New Orleans for some authentic fun. If that's your destination this year, you need to make sure you plan the best weekend possible. Even if you won't be on Bourbon for Fat Tuesday, New Orleans has so much to offer this time of year.
Stock up on some festive outfits
Of course, the beads are an important accessory during Mardi Gras, but that's just the tip of the ice burg. Get yourself a purple, green and gold shirt. Buy some fun headbands, sunglasses, and maybe even a wig! If there's ever a weekend you can get away with looking a little foolish, it is for sure this one.
Eat as much crawfish as you can handle
If you think there's nothing like going to the bar on a sunny Oxford Saturday for some crawfish, you will die over crawfish in New Orleans. It's fresh, seasoned, and honestly just to die for. It'll change the way you eat crawfish forever.
Take a million pictures with your friends
Some people will never have a Mardi Gras experience in their whole life. If you're lucky enough to even go to New Orleans during this time of the year at least once, it's something you're going to want to remember. Snap some candids of your friends doing stupid things and really make sure you capture the moment. You'll want to remember it.
See at least one parade
It will be very crowded. It will be a little warm. You will be doing a lot of standing with nothing really happening around you at some point. All of that is worth it for the feeling of catching the beads that fly off the float and feeling like Santa Claus when you get to hand out the big plastic bag of them to the little kids around you.
Get off Bourbon for a while
If you're really feeling like an ambitious parade-watcher, take some time away from Bourbon street and head Uptown to get a more local experience. You'll find a different crowd that's more made up of college students that might seem a little less overwhelming. Still expect the same crowds, though.
Just have fun
This seems like it should go without saying, but the main point of the celebration is to just let loose and have a little fun. Don't worry about what anyone thinks. Wear the crazy outfit. Keep every single bead on all weekend even if you think it looks silly. Be a total tourist and just love it. It's all part of the experience.