Mardi Gras is a variable holiday, in terms of both weather conditions and the date if occupies on the calendar (Fat Tuesday can fall anywhere between February 3 and March 9). Some days you can be comfortable in short sleeves and catch a sunburn. But if the weather fairy isn’t smiling, you can get hit with freezing rain.
Be prepared for variable conditions
Weather in New Orleans during Mardi Gras can vary considerably, so pack accordingly. Some days you can be comfortable in shorts and short sleeves, and maybe even catch a sunburn. Or if the weather fairy isn’t smiling, you can get hit with freezing rain. Nights are typically cool, with temperatures in the 40s or 50s, and occasionally even frigid. (The Krewe of Proteus couldn’t parade on its traditional Mardi Gras eve slot in 1899 because it was so cold the mules wouldn’t pull the floats.) So pack earmuffs, a warm hat or at the very least, a hooded sweatshirt or jacket. Also, gloves can come in handy for night parades.
While you can usually get by with a long-sleeve shirt during the day, you’ll probably need at least one extra layer at night. A lightweight raincoat is a must, and if you plan on seeing parades, so is a comfortable pair of shoes (you’ll probably end up walking and standing a lot).
If you plan on more than just a cursory tour of Bourbon Street, consider the need for extra pants and an extra pair of shoes — or better yet, leak-proof boots. The city’s most famous thoroughfare can get incredibly filthy during Mardi Gras, especially as the night wears on. Wading through piles of sticky go-cups and other malodorous detritus can quickly befoul your shoes and the bottoms of your pants. So, try to plan head and bring shoes or boots that can easily be washed or wiped clean after a night in the trenches. Or just bring an old pair of shoes that can be trashed after party is over and the city’s sanitation brigade has completed its Midnight Sweep of Bourbon Street on Fat Tuesday, making the street safe once again for shoes other than combat-style boots.