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Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Program No. 13229RJ
Learn the story of Mardi Gras in the city that celebrates it best, New Orleans, where you’ll witness grand parades, enjoy expert lectures and revel in this festive tradition.

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Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
Feb 28 - Mar 5, 2025
Starting at
Special Offer

Enroll by Aug. 31, 2024 to take $200 off the price shown!

DATES & starting prices
Feb 28 - Mar 5, 2025
Starting at
Special Offer

Enroll by Aug. 31, 2024 to take $200 off the price shown!

At a Glance

“Mardi Gras” (Fat Tuesday) merges religious and secular in an unrivaled expression of joie de vivre that concludes Carnival season. The one-and-only New Orleans Mardi Gras is a must-see experience at the heart of the Crescent City’s vibrant culture, where families watch parades on the same corner for years. Experience the inimitable mix of royal ritual and joyful excitement as the collective soul of the city rises to reaffirm its tremendous appetite for living life to the fullest. Enjoy access to private parade stands, special musical performances and instruction by local experts who will lead you on this journey of learning and celebration.
Activity Level
Easy Going
Walking a few blocks a day.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Learn from experts about the unique history of Carnival in New Orleans and its many krewes from Bacchus to Rex to Zulu.
  • Watch spectacular parades from a privileged vantage point right in front of your hotel and see the differences in each krewe’s floats, costumes and themes.
  • Learn how kings and queens of Carnival are chosen and what the unique Mardi Gras Indians are all about.

General Notes

Private parade seating for Road Scholar. Due to the nature of this program, listening devices are not available.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Masking and Madness: Mardi Gras in New Orleans
by Kerri and Cynthia Reece McCaffety
The dazzling masquerade of New Orleans' Mardi Gras opens its arms wide, dances, and flaunts, full colour and full page, in this book. McCaffety takes the art of portrait photography to North America's biggest costume party. A photographer with an anthropology degree who has recorded cultures all over the world, she returns to her hometown to capture the spirit of New Orleans' masquerade with a sharp wit, fresh vision, and profound sensitivity. The celebration in the streets, with a backdrop of lace-iron balconies and old oaks, combines with stark portraits of costumed citizens photographed in a Royal Street courtyard-turned-studio on Fat Tuesday. Accompanying the parade of images, a wry introduction by Cynthia Reece McCaffety explains the history behind this tradition of costuming and indulgence that goes back thousands of years. Winner of the 2003 GOLD Benjamin Franklin Award from Publisher's Marketing Association, 'Masking and Madness: Mardi Gras In New Orleans' is the only book devoted to the costumes of Carnival, a luminous portrait of the celebration that defines America's most profanely spiritual city, by New Orleans' pre-eminent photographer. Over 170 photographs capture the stunning spectrum of Mardi Gras, New Orleans style.
Mardi Gras: A Pictorial History of Carnival in New Orleans
by Leonard Huber
In this pictorial study, the author recounts the history of Carnival in New Orleans, bringing to life in photographs and in text the color, the pulse, and the pageantry that have earned for this annual extravaganza the distinction as "the greatest free show on earth!" Author Leonard Huber traces the evolution of carnival from its modest beginnings, including: Lavish balls during the American regime under Governor William C.C. Claiborne; The first masked parade in 1837; The first torchlight parade by the Mystick Krewe of Comus in 1857; The coming of Rex and Momus in 1872; Participation of royalty, including Alexis, Grand Duke of Russia, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor; The fiercely anti-Republican themes during the bitter years of Reconstruction; Modern innovations and the establishment of new krewes; Creation of the Rex doubloon in 1960. More than 160 photographs and drawings, many of them old and rare, illustrate the fast-moving narrative. One of Louisiana's leading historians, author Leonard Huber was a lifetime observer of Carnival and Mardi Gras. Many of the photographs and memorabilia reproduced in this volume are from his extensive private collection.
All on a Mardi Gras Day: Episodes in the History of Carnival of New Orleans
by Reid Mitchell
Moving through the decades, Mitchell describes the city's diverse cultures coming together to compete in Carnival performances. We observe powerful social clubs, or krewes, designing their elaborate parade displays and extravagant parties; Creoles and Americans in conflict over whose dances belong in the ballroom; enslaved Africans and African Americans preserving a sense of their heritage in processions and dances; white supremacists battling Reconstruction; working-class blacks creating the flamboyant Krewe of Zulu; the birth and reign of jazz; the gay community holding lavish balls; and of course tourists purchasing an authentic experience according to the dictates of our commercial culture. Interracial friction, nativism, Jim Crow separatism, the hippie movement--Mitchell illuminates the expression of these and other American themes in events ranging from the 1901 formation of the anti-prohibitionist Carrie Nation Club to the controversial 1991 ordinance desegregating Carnival parade krewes. " All on a Mardi Gras Day journeys into a world where hope persists for a rare balance between diversity and unity.
Mardi Gras in New Orleans: An Illustrated History
by Arthur Hardy
Written for the casual Carnival observer as well as the veteran Mardi Gras fan, "Mardi Gras in New Orleans: An Illustrated History" is a concise and comprehensive pictorial account of the celebration. With 325 vintage and contemporary illustrations and 60,000 words of text, the hardbound volume is the ultimate resource on the celebration, past and present. This updated fourth edition features an expanded reference section that provides details on nearly 600 Carnival organizations, including the identities of 5,000 kings and queens.
Mardi Gras…..As it Was
by Robert Tallant
Mardi Gras in New Orleans is an annual explosion of tumultuous celebration. It began among the French Creoles of New Orleans, and after the Civil War developed into a city-wide event with the visit of the Russian Grand Duke Alexis in 1870. In this reprint of the classic work by one of Louisiana's most notable authors, Robert Tallant examines the history and customs of Mardi Gras. He depicts the glittering balls, the ragtag marching clubs, the hilarious satires of the Zulu parade, and the grandeur of Rex. The volume tells how Mardi Gras has grown from a simple celebration to become the soul of the city. Robert Tallant (1909-1957) was one of Louisiana's best-known authors, and participated in the WPA Writers Project during the 1930s and 1940s. Besides Mardi Gras . . . As It Was , Tallant also wrote Voodoo in New Orleans and The Voodoo Queen . With Lyle Saxon and Edward Dreyer he co-authored the famous collection Gumbo Ya-Ya .

Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.