It’s Time for Mardi Gras, Let’s Pick a Parade!

It's Mardi Gras, Let's Pick a Parade! Tours by Isabelle. You'll Love Louisiana!

It’s Time For Mardi Gras, Let’s Pick a Parade!

“Krewe du Vieux” kicked off the 17-day long Mardi Gras parade season on Saturday, January 27th. Then, everything culminates on Mardi Gras day, Tuesday, February 13th, with a slew of “truck parades.” With so many parades taking place, first time New Orleans Mardi Gras visitors need to figure out the parades they want to see.  Specific “krewes,” each with a unique identity, special throws, and certain followers, lead each parade. You won’t be able to see ALL of the parades, so here are a few highlights you won’t want to miss:

Truck Parades

If you’re lucky enough to stick around for Mardi Gras Day, check out the Truck Parades! Simple decorations adorn trucks full of thousands of male and female riders of all ages. No one holds back when it comes to “throws.”  That’s the reason these parades are really fun for the whole family.

Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club

The Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club also “rolls” on Mardi Gras day. They throw one of the most sought-after throws in all of Mardi Gras. Coconuts they have decorated! Being an African American krewe, Zulu celebrates the culture and history of our African American population and their ancestors.

Endymion and Bacchus

Endymion and Bacchus are two “super-krewes”  that schedule their parades the weekend before Mardi Gras Day. The Krewe of Endymion rolls on Saturday and the Krewe of Bacchus rolls on Sunday.  Not surprisingly, both parades feature “super-floats,” and they really are a sight to behold. Both krewes construct magnificent monster floats that light up the streets. The thick crowds that come out to see these two parades are evidence of their acclaim.

Muses

Thursday before Mardi Gras Day is one of the most anticipated and unique parades called Muses. This krewe is comprised entirely of women. Their special throws are THE MOST coveted of all of the parades. They are hand-decorated shoes, often stilettos, adorned with lots and lots of glitter. Will you be lucky enough to catch one of these prized commemorative shoes? If so, you can consider your Mardi Gras a success!

Barkus

Barkus is a favorite parade among locals. “Floats” in this parade are the size of wagons and men and women pull them along. The riders in this krewe? Dogs! This might just be the best dog parade you will ever see. Dogs and owners who are not participating in the parade line the streets of the French Quarter waiting to catch treats thrown by the riders’ humans.

For details on these parades and to see the full 2018 Mardi Gras parade schedule click here.

New Orleans is 300 years old! Celebrate with us!

New Orleans Tricentennial

Tours by Isabelle blog. NOLA turns 300!

The Past

New Year’s Eve celebrations have ended, but 2018 has many more celebrations in store!  2018 marks the 300th anniversary of the founding of the city of New Orleans.  We plan to celebrate this new year more than any other New Years of the past.  The Tricentennial, or 300th anniversary of New Orleans is not only a time to reflect on the past. It is also a time to think about the future.

Spend a day wandering the streets of the famous French Quarter or Vieux Carre. You may think that not much has changed in 300 years, and you’d be right! New Orleanians take pride in the historic homes, districts, and traditions of our founding fathers. Our community works continuously to preserve those aspects of the city that make New Orleans so special. New Orleans is all about history and tradition. That is what keeps visitors coming and why the locals never want to leave.

The Future

However, we are also looking to the future and implementing changes that can improve our city going forward. If you are visiting NewOrleans this year, you can expect to see an increase of cultural events in honor of the Tricentennial. The city has also initiated new infrasctructure projects, including an addition to our airport and the restoration of the historic Gallier Hall. There will also be a variety of concerts from international artists, fireworks, parties, symposiums and more!  Be sure to check out the list of Tricentennial events here to see what’s going on during your stay!

How to Celebrate the Holidays in New Orleans

New Orleans is a city full of history and traditions and Christmas time is one of the best times of year to take advantage of the celebrations we are so well known for. We invite you to partake in some of these memorable customs with us this Holiday Season!

Celebration in the Oaks: a 31 year old family friendly tradition held annually in City Park. This is one of the most spectacular light festivals in the country and runs from November 24th to January 1st. 

Reveillon dinners: Feast at some of New Orleans finest restaurants with special holiday fixed price menus, a practice inspired by our French ancestors’ Christmas Eve feasts. A few restaurants have gone beyond the Reveillon dining tradition and developed their menus based on the Italian tradition of the Feast of the Seven Fishes. Notable amoung these are – Josephine Estelle, Avo, and GW Fins.  Unlike the Reveillon dinners which are available all month long, the Feast of the Seven Fishes is only offered on particular days so make your reservations now!

Running of the Santas: Taking place on December 9th, this is a younger tradition for the young and young at heart! You will find a massive street party, a lot of Santa costumes, live music, drink specials, food and fun!

NOLA Christmas Fest: This indoor family Christmas celebration takes place from December 21st to 31st at the Convention Center and includes everything from ice skating to gingerbread houses to Santa himself! 

Miracle on Fulton St: The place to take in all the sights and sounds of Christmas from December 1-23.  Lights, giant gingerbread house, music, and even a daily snow shower will be sure to put you in the holiday spirit!

Bonfires on the Levee: Light the way for Cajun Santa Claus with this old Southern Louisiana tradition that has actually grown in popularity over the years with more than 100 bonfires in St. James Parish! (30-40 miles from New Orleans)

St. Louis Cathedral free concert series: Every year St. Louis Cathedral, the beacon of Jackson Square, hosts a variety of musicians, their genres ranging from Classical Opera to Jazz to Latin, in their Christmas Concert series. Performances are Sundays – Thursdays at 6pm. The last show will be Sunday, December 17th at 5:30. 

Visiting New Orleans in September?

Although September is technically still hurricane season, which might deter some visitors, here are several reasons TO visit New Orleans in September!

1. It's not as hot and humid as June, July, and August.

2. It's not as crowded as October so you can get better hotel rates and not fight too hard for a tourist-free shot of the famous alley of oak trees at Oak Alley Plantation!

3. The Saints Football Season starts! 

4. There are a plenty of food festivals to entice the tastebuds of almost any traveler. Here are just a few current and upcoming September fests: New Orleans Restaurant Week (Sept. 11th-17th), 2nd Annual Fried Chicken Festival (September 23rd – 24th), NOLA on Tap Beer (and food) Fest (September 23rd), Treme Fall Festival (music, art and food!) (September 30th – October 1st). 

All Aboard the American Duchess!

Yesterday, Monday, August 14th 2017, the newest and arguably best vessel cruising the Mississippi disembarked from the Port of New Orleans on her maiden voyage! The American Duchess is the newest addition to the well known American Queen family of domestic paddlewheelers.  The American Duchess is the first all-suite paddlewheeler on U.S. rivers! Tour the antebellum south aboard this luxurious riverboat and enjoy the following amenities:

– Private Veranda Suites to Loft and Owner’s Suites rande from 240 to 550 sq. ft.

– Included boutique hotel stay before most voyages (includes breakfast, taxes, porterage, and vessel transfer)

– Single-seating dining and entertainment venues

– Regionally inspired, epicurean cuisine tailored from the finest, local ingredients

– Complimentary wine and beer with dinner

– Complimentary cappucino, espresso, bottled water, and soft drinks throughout your voyage

– Included shore excursions in every port of call

– Dedicated fleet of deluxe motorcoaches

– Broadway-calibur entertainment each evening and spotlight guest performances

– Daily lectures by the Riverlorian (a history and culture expert)

– Gracious service from a friendly, all-American staff

We highly recommend adding an extra day or two to your trip and experience all of the wonderful sites, sounds, smells, and tastes of our beautiful port city!

New Orleans Water Management At Its Finest!

The pumping station at the West Closure Complex in Belle Chasse is located just outside the city on the Westbank and is recognized as the LARGEST pumping station in the world!! It’s no surprise that New Orleans is the home of the largest pumping station in the world.  The whole country and even the world received an education on the geography of New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina and the numerous levee failures flooded 80% of the city.  New Orleans is below sea level so we are basically living in a bowl protected with natural and man-made levees all around us that keep the surrounding water from flowing into the city. Since the city is below sea level, the Sewerage and Water Board developed an extensive network of levees, canals, and pumping stations built in the early 20th century to drain water from the city, so that new housing developments and infrastructure could be built on solid ground.  The soil here is like pudding or jello but it’s more solid than water!  The water management system in New Orleans has been a topic of discussion worlwide following the devastation that occurred in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy in New York City. The Army Corps of Engineers has been working to improve the drainage system so that New Orleans will be protected from future storms like Katrina. One of the new facilities that has been constructed to improve the system is the West Closure Complex just south of Harvey, LA. Its 225 ft sector gate and 11 bay pumping station have taken the burden of flood protection off of 26 miles of flood walls and levees that line the Harvey and Algiers canals. The massive pumping station has a capacity of 19,140 cubic feet per second; at this rate it could fill an Olympic sized swimming pool in less than five seconds! To understand  just how impressive this engineering feat is, we recommend seeing it for yourself! They even offer FREE tours to interested parties, and are incredibly generous educators.