If you’re visiting New Orleans, Louisiana any time other than Mardi Gras season, it’s hard to understand what the festival is all about. It’s much more than beads and binge drinking. A visit to Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World allows visitors to see the work that goes into the stunning floats year after year.
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Blaine Kern Studios has been creating the most memorable Mardi Gras floats since 1947, but it doesn’t stop there. The team creates floats for parades all over the country, as well as special projects like the cows you see on Chik-fil-a billboards.
After your group is gathered, you watch a short film on the history of Mardi Gras. You are then allowed to try on costumes and pose with float designs from the past. Then the tour takes you through the studio where the crew works tirelessly to create floats from simple pieces of styrofoam. Every krewe, the members-only organizations that run Mardi Gras, chooses a theme for their parade and gives Blaine Kern Studios the initial concept.
I was surprised to learn how often they are able to reuse and repurpose old floats into new ones, as well as how big they all turn out to be. On the day I visited they were allowing volunteers to help with the float process by gluing beads onto a float.
I visited as a child ten years ago and it was the one thing I definitely wanted to do again, so I can confirm that this activity is designed for all ages! And the best part of the tour is the end, where you receive a free slice of delicious king cake!
If You Go
Mardi Gras World offers a free shuttle pickup from downtown at various locations, including Café du Monde. Tickets cost $19.95 for adults, $15.95 for seniors over 65 and $12.95 for children under 12. Tours run daily every 30 minutes from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm, apart from holidays. Book your New Orleans Mardi Gras World Behind-the-Scenes Tour.
I received a complimentary tour thanks to the New Orleans Convention and Visitor’s Bureau but all opinions are my own.