It’s that time of year when winter doldrums turn to revelry and fun in New Orleans. Considered to be the biggest free show on earth, Mardi Gras or “Fat Tuesday”, signifying the last celebration before Lent, will be held this year on February 21.
But Mardi Gras is not the only day of festivities. The Carnival Season in New Orleans actually began on January 6 and continues with celebrations each week culminating to the main Parade Krewes (complete with floats, music, and beads) starting on February 4. The experience provides a wonderful vacation break for the entire family.
If you are participating this year or perhaps making your plans to attend next year, here are some eco-travel tips for an eco-Carnival or Mardi Gras to remember.
- Bicycling in and around Carnival events may be the best transportation mode as New Orleans traffic grinds to a halt during the festival due to street closures. Click here for a listing of bike rental shops. Another option is to take public transportation. However, schedules are known to change during the Carnival Season, so be sure to plan ahead or pack some patience.
- Stay in a green hotel like the Creole Inn located in the heart of the French Quarter. The inn incorporates green practices such as utilizing bulk soap & amenities, cotton towels & sheets, durable service items, energy & water conservation practices, environmental cleaning products, and non-smoking rooms. Lastly, the staff prides itself on providing you with local information and restaurant suggestions.
- Sign up for a Pearl River Eco-Tour around the Honey Island Swamp, which purports to be one of the least altered river swamps in the United States and is also a premier cypress tupelo gum swamp. Daily tours through the White Kitchen Nature Conservancy will educate you about the area’s ecosystem and bring you quite close to Bald Eagles, American Alligators, Louisiana Black Bears, deer, herons, owls and others – make sure you don’t forget your camera!
- Dine “green” at Tout de Suite Café where fair trade coffees and teas, organic ingredients and local flavors meet in this neighborhood café or Meltdown for some delicious sweets.
- Don’t forget to take in the culture while in New Orleans. Generally, for Carnival and Mardi Gras, families tend to go to St. Charles Avenue, Napoleon Avenue and Lee Circle to avoid the lewdness of Bourbon Street within the French Quarter. There are picnics and the floats usually will throw stuffed animals and other special treats for the kids. You can click here for a listing of mobile apps that will help you see the best the area has to offer and if you do make your way to Bourbon Street – please recycle the beads!
Check out our eco-certified trips through North America!