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. The Carnival celebrations date back hundreds of years.
A visit to Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World allows visitors to see the work that goes into the stunning floats year after year. Kern’s studio is responsible for many of the most lavish floats, as they have been since 1947.
What Will I See at Mardi Gras World?
After your group is gathered at the museum, you watch a short film on the history of Mardi Gras. You are then allowed to try on authentic Mardi Gras costumes and pose with float designs from the past. It gives you a glimpse into the celebrations.
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. They also work year-round.
But it doesn’t stop there. The team creates floats for parades and events all over the country, as well as special projects like the cows you see on Chik-fil-a billboards.
Celebrating Mardi Gras Year-Round
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!
Tips for Visiting Mardi Gras World
Mardi Gras World offers a free shuttle pickup from the French Quarter and Downtown at various locations, including Café du Monde, so leave the car back at the hotel. However, if you’d rather drive, there is onsite parking for $20. If you’re not along the shuttle route, you can also take the streetcar
Tickets cost $22 for adults, $17 for seniors over 65, and $14 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 through our preferred partner.
Where to Eat Near Mardi Gras World
Located in the Lower Garden District, there are many great restaurants near Mardi Gras World. Bakery Bar is known for its weekend brunch and happy hour. Fat Boy Pantry offers artisan sandwiches, breakfast, coffee, and ice cream.
The Commissary is both a market and restaurant with hearty bowls, sandwiches, and salads. Sidecar Patio & Oyster Bar in the Warehouse District is also nearby, with tropical cocktails, fresh seafood, and outdoor dining.
Where to Stay Near Mardi Gras World
For convenient access to Mardi Gras World, choose a hotel along the shuttle route in the French Quarter or Downtown. Among the options are the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans, the Roosevelt Hotel, Hotel Mazarin, and the Bourbon Orleans Hotel.
Alternatively, you can walk from hotels in both the Warehouse District and the Lower Garden District neighborhoods. A few options include the Higgins Hotel at the National World War II Museum and Travelers New Orleans.
I received a complimentary tour thanks to the New Orleans Convention and Visitor’s Bureau but all opinions are my own.