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Floats, beads, king cakes, and plenty of adult beverages are all part of the Mardi Gras experience in New Orleans. However, one thing that has not been part of the fun and festivities is a tourism campaign. That’s all changing this year, as the state of Louisiana is throwing out some cash in hopes of getting a few more visitors to check thing out.
For those who are interested we’re a little more than two weeks away, as the festivities reach their finale on Tuesday, March 4. So even if you don’t have plans to attend—there’s still time to change things.
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If you're going to Mardi Gras in New Orleans next month, why not balance out all of that debauchery with some more meaningful volunteer work?
Hands Up Holidays is offering an 8-day volunteer trip to New Orleans that includes refurbishing homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina, sorting out clothing donations at a homeless shelter, or teaching computer skills to the unemployed.
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Around this time of year, most talk of Mardi Gras parties primarily in The Big Easy. If you are lucky enough to travel a bit further south and take part in Carnival celebrations in Brazil, we will happily admit our envy. Either way, you're pretty much assured to have experiences of a lifetime...plus brags all over Facebook.
On the other hand. Let's just say you have some frequent flyer miles to burn and desire to celebrate Mardi Gras in an English-speaking country. Australia is the answer to your travel conundrum. More specifically, Sydney. The city plays host to a full month-long schedule of events culminating in a colorful parade and high energy dance parties.
As if Mardi Gras in New Orleans wasn't going to be crazy enough, the Saints' Super Bowl victory will likely make this year's party ridiculously insane. There's still time to book your flight to the Big Easy so that you can join the drunken fun.
Obviously, booking less than a week to the big event isn't going to come cheap. But if you're willing to shell out to party hard, CheapOair has some doable deals.
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Mardi Gras in St. Louis
Mardi Gras is as New Orleans as beignets. But in case you can't make it to the Crescent City for Fat Tuesday, or want to avoid the rowdy drunks and ladies flashing their business, we have some Mardi Gras alternatives for you. Whether you're looking for an option with the kiddies or straight-up debauchery, you'll still party hard in these cities.
Check out other places where you can live it up for Mardi Gras after the jump.
[UPDATE: Gunfire broke out along the parade route today towards the end of the last parade. Two suspects are in custody. Crazy.]
Mardi Gras festivities are in high gear today and we wish we were there. If you happen to be local, check out our taxonomy (with apologies to Mitch Albom) between parties -- not that you need us to tell you where they are. See if you can spot them all in the photograph above:
The Woo Girl! As brilliantly explained last fall by the CBS comedy "How I Met Your Mother," these customary bead recipients often travel in packs making high-pitched noises. On a different day they might make an eloquent defense of why this environmentally unfriendly practice should continue, but not today. Oh, not today.
Yes, you're the only one for miles and miles around.
With so much travel news raining down on us, we don't always have time to give every story its own forecast. Here's more of the day's news, in brief.
· Naycations on the Rise: Chris Elliott warned us that the year of the Naycation was upon us and he might be right. According to a new travel research report says, "Americans could spend $30 billion less on leisure trips this spring and summer." Eeeeee. [USA Today]
· But Budget Ski Trips Are Still Possible: And as the ski season winds down, the prices go down as well. [Concierge]
· Mardi Gras Revelers Are Like the Energizer Bunny: One dude says he's "been at it" since Friday night and by "at it" he means drinking (and blacking out, we presume.) [AP]
· Seriously Ryanair WTF: Ryanair has announced they will get rid of all check-in desks. From the CEO:
"All we will have is a bag drop where passengers can drop off their luggage, otherwise everything will be done online. Ultimately, we want just one in five people to check-in luggage."
This spells disaster to us. People are not going to know where to drop off this luggage, despite signage. They are also going to want to know who's making sure their luggage gets on the plane. Does Ryanair just not want to be in business anymore or what? [M-Travel]
What’s the deal with Mardi Gras beads? Every year there is new footage of drunken ladies baring all just to get their hands on a string of cheap plastic beads. That got us thinking: how did it all start, and how do we get in on the action? More specifically, what do we have to do to get the best beads. After all, Mardi Gras is only a week away.
With a little diligent research, here’s what we found out. Apparently the cheap trinkets thrown from various floats at Mardi Gras rack up millions of dollars in sales each year, with individual float riders disbursing nearly a thousand dollars worth of junk each. That means everyone in the crowd is sure to go home with something—even if it’s just a hickey and a bad hangover.
Besides a lack of star power out for this year's parade -- really, Jim Belushi? -- a continuing dispute about French Quarter cleanup may dampen the numbers who turn out for this year's festivities.
Mayor Ray Nagin's agreement with the New Orleans City Council about continuing to seek private help to clean out the city's most touristed areas has fallen apart again over a dispute in funding. Since one of the first cuts Nagin made was to private garbage pickup, restaurants and bars which failed to hire their own pick-up are piling up the trash on city sidewalks.
Despite that big stink, New Orleans business are still optimistic that this year's celebration will draw, if not more attendees than last year, at least the same crowd. The official season, which kicked off Jan. 6, is expected to bring in some $840 million in revenue -- and 200,000 of those plastic beads. We say hang in there for a last-minute discounting frenzy; airlines with empty seats will start getting jittery around the beginning of next week. For those who can't make it, there's always the Crappy Mardi Gras Gifts Facebook application, developed by a jaded city resident.
· Hotel Rooms in NOLA Are Still Under 200 For Mardi Gras [HC]
· French Quarter Denizens Decry Proliferation of Trash Under New City Hall Mandate [New Orleans Times-Picayune
· Earlier: Near Miss For French Quarter Cleanliness [Jaunted]
· Businesses Predict Busy Mardi Gras Despite Economy [WDSU]
· Facebook application makes light of annoying Mardi Gras situations [C'est La Nola]