Category Archives: New Orleans Traditions

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Luck of the Irish: Irish Pubs in New Orleans

Catch a cabbage at a St. Patrick's Day Parade!

Catch a cabbage at a St. Patrick’s Day Parade!

 

 

Whehter you knew it or not, the Irish culture is alive  and well in New Orleans, with a large portion of the population able to claim an Irish heritage. As a result, many Irish establishments, particularly pubs, have popped up over the years, and there are plenty to visit on your visit to New Orleans this St. Patrick’s Day. This is not at all an exhaustive list of the many Irish pubs located throughout New Orleans—they are merely a few in a sea of the Irish culture of New Orleans.

Finn McCool’s (3701 Banks St)

Located in Mid-city, Finn McCool’s, also known as simply “Finn’s,” always celebrates St. Patrick’s Day in a big way. This year they have everything from the “Kilts of Many Colour’s Pipes and Drums Band” to a school of Irish dancing on the Friday before St. Patty’s. On the actual day, the pub throws a block party with music, free food, Irish karaoke and a mini float parade where revelers don boxes and march around the block.

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New Orleans Attractions New Orleans Events New Orleans Traditions

Best Spots to Catch Mardi Gras Parades

mardi gras4 (2)The Mardi Gras parade routes are long, and you can find plenty of places to stand—some more crowded than others. Depending on your age, whether or not you have kids and your parade-watching preferences, there are various parts of the route that might be best suited for you. Here are a few of the best spots you can try on your visit.

Grandstands on St. Charles Ave

Depending on the parade, tickets to the grandstands on St. Charles Ave can be fairly cheap and absolutely worth it. When the floats pass, they are just a few feet from where you can stand. And instead of competing with huge crowds on the ground, you can have a place to sit and be more comfortable. Just bring a huge bag for all the beads and trinkets you’re likely to get! Prices range from as low as $5 to $50 a pop depending on the parade, and they can be purchased at https://www.neworleansparadetickets.com/.

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New Orleans Attractions New Orleans Events New Orleans Traditions

History of Mardi Gras

MardiGras2smWhile Mardi Gras has become a fixture of New Orleans culture, the holiday does not have its earliest roots in the city. The Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday tradition began centuries before in Rome as a religious holiday that marked the last day before Lent, or Ash Wednesday.

The custom spread to France where it then traveled to the French American colonies at the tail end of the 17th century. On March 2, 1699, French-Canadian explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville set up camp about 60 miles south of New Orleans. Knowing that March 3 was being celebrated as a major holiday back in France, Bienville named the spot “Pointe du Mardi Gras.”

In 1703, the first Mardi Gras in America was celebrated in what is now Mobile. In 1704, the secret society Masque de la Mobile was founded as a precursor to today’s Mardi Gras krewes. In 1710, the Boeuf Gras Society was established and paraded from 1711 through 1861.

New Orleans was founded in 1718, and by the 1730s, Mardi Gras was celebrated openly in the form of elegant society balls, which became the basis of today’s Mardi Gras ball tradition. In 1781, the Perseverance Benevolent & Mutual Aid Association was the first of hundreds of New Orleans’ carnival organizations.

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New Orleans Traditions

New Orleans-Themed Halloween Costume Ideas

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Halloween is just around the corner, and it’s time to buy or make a costume for the holiday celebrations. Whether you’re going to be celebrating in New Orleans or simply want to honor the city, you can try one of these New Orleans-inspired Halloween costume ideas.

 

Mardi Gras Krewe Member

If you can get your hands on an actual Mardi Gras krewe member’s costume, this is a great and simple costume idea. If not, try to find something colorful, maybe of shiny material and patterned to resemble some of the traditional costumes. The costumes are usually pants and long sleeves. If you want to resemble someone on the krewe’s court, assemble a large rounded backing out of cardboard or other straight, sturdy material (though not too heavy—you have to wear this all night) and cover it in feathers, fake jewels and other colorful accoutrements. You can go crazy or stick with one color or theme.

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New Orleans Traditions

Shaved Ice

 

Summertime refreshment

Summertime refreshment

 

 

Shave Ice.  It all seems so simple, but it wasn’t always so.   Where elsewhere they’re all screaming for ice cream in the summer, in New Orleans we scream for snowballs-which are, of course, only possible because of shaved ice.   Very, very finely shaved ice, almost to a liquid state, melting on your tongue with a refreshing sensation.   In Baltimore, we hear, they claim they invented snowballs because they also use shaved rather than crushed ice—but it’s not as fine as ours, and here we pour not just syrup but toppings on top of that shaved ice, like condensed milk.   But it all began with the shaved ice.  Legend has it that Ernest Hansen, of the original Hansen’s Sno-Bliz now on Tchoupitoulas, invented the first block ice shaving machine in 1939; before that, the “snowballs” were made of hand-shaved ice, none too sanitary.   Ernest’s wife Mary started making her own syrups, and there we have it—something else New Orleans does better.   Apart from the Hansens’ contribution, it’s not a far stretch to connect the Sicilian immigrants to New Orleans, who knew about such treats from the old country, to the love of snowballs here.   They’re almost like gelato, really, with the delightful array of snowball flavors available—like Satsuma, or nectar cream, or frozen mint   Everyone has their favorite stand, like the venerable Hansen’s, or Plum Street Snoball uptown, or Pandora’s by City Park. read more »

New Orleans Traditions

New Years Resolutions – A To-Do List for Your Next New Orleans Trip

Two green streetcars heading downtown on St. Charles Ave. with church steeple in background.

Taking a ride on the streetcar

For their New Year’s resolutions, some people vow to eat less or exercise more. Others vow to perform more acts of kindness or to work even harder to get that big promotion. And some people’s New Year’s Resolution is simply to visit New Orleans in 2013.

Whether you’re traveling for the Super Bowl, Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, or New Orleans’ fall food fests, your next visit to the city should include a few of New Orleans’ favorite eateries and attractions. We’ve compiled a list of some of the traditional and lesser known sights, tastes, and sounds that should be on your to-do list the next time you visit:

1.       Eat oysters. Various restaurants around the city shuck some of the biggest and best tasting oysters in the world—sure, we’ll a little biased—so you’ve got quite a few options on this one. Whether its happy hour or dinnertime, you should check out places like Acme Oyster House, Felix’s, Royal House Oyster Bar, or Bourbon House in the French Quarter, Drago’s or Lüke in the CBD, or Casamento’s or the Blind Pelican Uptown. And just about all of them are accessible via the St. Charles streetcar line just steps from Southern Comfort B&B.

2.       Live music on Frenchmen St. Bourbon St may be a top destination for many tourists. And while the strip admittedly has a few decent jazz clubs, Frenchmen St is one of New Orleans’ hidden treasures. The Blue Nile and d.b.a. consistently host some of New Orleans’ favorites of all genres, and you can catch other up-and-coming acts at the Maison (check out their huge window showcase of the musicians performing on stage) or the more intimate, acoustic atmosphere at the Apple Barrel. Located at the far edge of the French Quarter from Canal St, just follow Decatur St all the way down past Esplanade Ave.

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New Orleans Traditions

New Years Eve 2013 Celebrations in New Orleans

 

Like any holiday, New Orleans celebrates New Year’s Eve in a big way, from fireworks over the Mississippi River to parties at hotels, bars, restaurants, and homes across the city. Downtown, Uptown, Mid-City, or the Marigny—all of New Orleans’ neighborhoods will be alive with partygoers, including natives and those visiting the city for the holidays.

One of the most popular and memorable New Year’s Eve traditions is to go down to Jackson Square for the famous Fleur de Lis drop at 9pm. People flood the square and the streets in anticipation and enjoy light shows courtesy of both the drop itself and the midnight fireworks show over the Mississippi. The event is free and open to the public, and the French Quarter and surrounding areas’ establishments stay open after long into the night for continued late-night merriment.

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