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Event Inspiration/Articles/Planning/GigMasters' Guide to Mardi Gras: Party Ideas, Recipes, Music and More

GigMasters' Guide to Mardi Gras: Party Ideas, Recipes, Music and More

Terri Zimmer


For most of the world, February 12, 2013 will be just another Tuesday. But for the citizens of the great state of Louisiana, and for anybody in a New Orleans state of mind, it will be Fat Tuesday aka Carnival aka Mardi Gras!

Not interested in fighting the crowds down on Bourbon Street? No problem. With GigMasters’ Mardi Gras Party Ideas you can have an amazing Mardi Gras party anywhere, even from the comfort of your home. Let the good times roll! Before we jump into our Mardi Gras party tips, here’s a way too brief summary of what Mardi Gras is all about:

  • Fat Tuesday comes the day before Ash Wednesday. Traditionally it marks a last chance to celebrate and indulge before beginning a fast the next day for Lent.
  • In New Orleans, Mardi Gras season takes place over the two weeks or so leading up to Fat Tuesday with dozens of parades and celebrations taking place before Mardi Gras day.
  • You might think of Mardi Gras as all booze, beads and girls gone wild but it’s got a long and storied tradition. Mardi Gras as we know it got started when French settlers began to show up in Louisiana along with their Catholic traditions.

So that’s why you’re celebrating Mardi Gras but let’s get to how to celebrate Mardi Gras this year:

King Cake

King Cake: King of All Cakes

Let Them Eat (King) Cake 

One Mardi Gras tradition held sacred to folks in the Crescent City is King Cake. As a life-long Yankee, I wouldn’t begin to try to explain what King Cakes are all about let alone tell you how to make one. Instead I’ll just point you towards a King Cake recipe from the great Louisiana chef John Besh.

Fat Tuesday? How About Fat Saturday? 

Mardi Gras day might just be the biggest day of the year for many folks in and around New Orleans. You can bet that most employers in the area are pretty forgiving of those employees who show up to work at a little less than 100% the next day. The rest of us folks who don’t live in New Orleans probably aren’t so lucky. That’s why to avoid Fat Tuesday leading to a Hangover Wednesday, don’t be afraid to plan your Mardi Gras party for the weekend before or after the actual date (again, Fat Tuesday comes on February 12 this year).

crawfish boil

Crawfish boil

Put the ‘Fat’ In Fat Tuesday 

New Orleans and the whole Gulf coast is known for amazing food. Cooking New Orleans style can be a little intimidating but you have to give it a try or it just aint a Mardi Gras party. Think gumbo, jambalaya, cochon de lait, po boys and other heart stoppingly good grub. And, if all that sounds a bit unhealthy - a crawfish boil might be a little advanced but it's actually quite a healthy option. Anyway, here are a couple foodie links to get you started: The Gumbo Pages NOLA Cuisine New Orleans Menu – Recipe Index

Live Mardi Gras Music

Here’s something GigMasters can really help you with: Mardi Gras music. It’s just not Mardi Gras without music. New Orleans is, after all, one of the great musical cities of the world and the birthplace of jazz. But there’s more to Mardi Gras music than jazz. FunkyR & B or soul can get your guests onto the dance floor. Same goes for Zydeco, a really fun, lively option and a genre we’ve showcased on the blog before.

Mardi Gras Playlist

Clearly I prefer live music for my Mardi Gras entertainment but you can’t always get what you want. Sometimes there’s just no room in the house or budget for live musicians. That’s when it’s time to create a killer Mardi Gras playlist (like we did last year). Make sure to fill it out with classic New Orleans acts like The Meters, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, Lee Dorsey, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band…and the list goes on…

Another great option for Mardi Gras music is my favorite radio station in the whole world, New Orleans’ own WWOZ, streaming great New Orleans and Louisiana music on the web 24/7/365!

New Orleans parade music