Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and a second wave of high infection rates, Mardi Gras parades and related events have been canceled this year. Traveling and gathering in crowded spaces still poses a significant health risk to our community. Thankfully, there are lots of ways to celebrate Mardi Gras at home, wherever you are, while supporting New Orleans-area businesses and artists. Let’s take a look at some resources and ideas for having your very own virtual Mardi Gras!
Order a King Cake
Order king cakes and other specialty foods from local restaurants in New Orleans and have them shipped directly to most places in the United States! Many of your favorite Louisiana snacks, condiments, and even fresh groceries can be shipped directly to your front door. Make sure to plan ahead when placing orders for fresh food and perishable baked goods. Some retailers have specific shipping schedules or limited quantities of certain high-demand and seasonal items. A few brands we like are Viola’s Heritage Breads, Haydel’s Bakery, and Manny Randazzo King Cakes. You can read more about great places to get king cakes shipped here.
Support your favorite New Orleans musicians, bands, and venues
-Tip your favorite artists and venues via Venmo, PayPal, or subscribe to their exclusive content via sites like Patreon. Most artists will have links to these options, either directly on their websites and social media, or they will share them during live-streamed performances.
–Buy tickets to online live streams of their concerts and shows!
-Order their merch, like vinyl records, CD’s, T-shirts, stickers and more, either directly via the artists’ websites, or other resources such as:
Bandcamp: You’re probably familiar with Bandcamp, a site that has been around for a while now. Best known for being a great place to find indie artists, Bandcamp allows you to stream music as well as buy digital downloads, vinyl, and CDs along with other merch – but most importantly during a time like this, funds go directly to the artists and are paid out daily. The link above takes you directly to a randomly mixed search results for New Orleans-based acts. Browse it to find one of your favorites or discover something new.
Peaches Records: The ubiquitous Peaches Records T-shirts seem to be everywhere – you can buy them on their website along with a limited selection of vinyl records with a heavy emphasis on local New Orleans acts.
Louisiana Music Factory: This French Quarter record shop features a broad selection of genres, including a comprehensive catalog of New Orleans-based artists.
Build shoebox Mardi Gras floats
Those of us who grew up in New Orleans fondly remember building Mardi Gras floats out of old shoe boxes and parading them around the hallways of our schools. You’re never too old to enjoy making your own now, and of course, this is a fun activity that can include children of all ages. If you don’t have shoeboxes, other small cardboard boxes can be modified for this purpose and you can use whatever crafts you have at home! Here’s a great tutorial.
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Make or buy costumes for Mardi Gras selfies and Zoom parties
Whether it’s just you and your boo, your whole COVD pod, or you’re flying solo and posting to Instagram or hopping on a Zoom chat with friends, show off your sparkle and your creative side by putting together a unique costume.
The New Orleans Costume Center has made select supplies, costumes and accessories from local artists available to order online.
Craft your own New Orleans cocktails!
What better time than now to learn how to make your favorite Louisiana libations? It’s easier than you think, though the experts at The Sazerac House have made it even easier. They offer free monthly “virtual tastings” online where you can mix and sip along with a trained bartender, and this calendar and guide has some detailed recipes to get you started!
Watch movies set in New Orleans!
- All Dogs Go to Heaven – This 1989 animated Don Bluth film tells the story of an orphan in peril and the trouble-making mutt trying to get a second shot at a better place in the afterlife. It’s available via both Netflix and Amazon Prime.
- The Princess and the Frog – It’s a great time to revisit the beautifully-animated 2009 Disney feature, reimagining the classic fairy tale in early twentieth-century New Orleans. You can find it on Disney Plus, Netflix, and Amazon.
- King Creole – The fun, classic romp featuring a pre-Army Elvis Presly has some great scenes in the French Quarter and on Lake Pontchartrain. It’s available free with ads via Pluto TV or to rent via YouTube.
If you’re looking for more ideas for a NOLA Movie Night at home, check out this great list by Matt Haines.
And, don’t forget to support some great NOLA nonprofit organizations
And last, but not least, please consider donating to these and other organizations assisting New Orleans artists, performers, front line workers, and those in need:
- The New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic – Founded in 1998, NOMC has served the New Orleans culture community by providing medical and mental health services. During the pandemic, they also started hosting events featuring COVID testing, blood drives, and other health screenings.
- Culture Aid NOLA – This 501(c)3 was formed in March of 2020 to serve the sudden and immediate need to assist with food insecurity in the culture and hospitality community during the ongoing pandemic. They offer public food distribution twice weekly for anyone who needs it. Originally funded in part by the New Orleans Musicians Assistance Fund, they are now an independent organization.
- Feed the Second Line by the Krewe of Red Beans – this organization sprouted in the early days of the pandemic to give business to local restaurants and vendors while getting food to first responders and vulnerable members of the community. You can read all about them in this article by Matthew Hinton
Of course, these are just a few ideas. Take this guide as inspiration, and create a Mardi Gras staycation that’s uniquely your own! But most importantly, stay safe and healthy so we can all see you back here and celebrating next year!