1. This isn’t insider-y, but everyone must go to the Zulu Parade! It’s on Fat Tuesday and there’s so much build up to the big day and this is the parade to go to if you only go to one!
2. After the Zulu Parade, you have to go under the bridge to watch all the second line bands — the Mardi Gras Indians. What we refer to as “under the bridge” is actually not a bridge — it’s the I-10 Claiborne Overpass where crowds of people gather to continue celebrating. And “second line bands” are the people who follow behind the main parade bands dancing, singing, chanting, and basically just having a good time! And as for “Mardi Gras Indians,” those are people who dress in Native American tribal costumes. Some say the costuming is in honor of the alliance between African-Americans and Native-Americans that helped slaves from New Orleans escape to freedom. It’s a very important part of Mardi Gras culture and you can see it in all the parades here.
3. Every block/neighborhood has DJs who hold block parties — I call them Hood DJs. You can go to the 6th Ward or the 7th Ward, wherever. You really get a feel for the local neighborhoods by going to the different block parties.
4. When you’re ready to hit up a bar, Republic is a great place to go for a drink and some entertainment.