Within the 6 blocks of the French Market District, you can find whatever it is you are seeking related to Mardi Gras for your mind, body or taste buds! We encourage you to break out the stroller, drive down to the French Market and enjoy the sites, sounds and shopping of Carnival season with the kids in tow!
Boas and Masks and King Cakes, Oh My!
While Mardi Gras is especially beloved for its “free admission,” locals and visitors still like to spend a bit of money on a few key items: hats, boas, beads, and masks – and king cakes. For costumes and accessories to wear to parades, parties, and wanderings in between, it’s up to you and your budget if you want to choose items that will last a day, a season, or a lifetime. Luckily, the French Market offers a diversity of options to suit all ages and budgets.
You can spend three dollars on a mask or a boa in the Flea Market and a few blocks away find a locally designed Mardi Gras t-shirt, fascinator, or tutu at one of our boutique retail shops. For the collector or someone seeking heirloom Mardi Gras items that can be used to adorn you or your walls (or both), you can spend significantly more on a handmade one-of-a-kind mask from one of the several artists selling their wares at the annual French Market Mardi Gras Mask Market, when mask vendors from around the city and country come to the French Market to sell their artistic wares in the days leading up to Fat Tuesday. Note: The Mask Market is a four-day free event filled with live music and plenty of colorful characters, plus festival food booths, so you don’t have to be searching for a mask to attend. It’s a great way to experience a side of Mardi Gras with your kids that you will not get anywhere but the French Quarter!
King Cakes Sold Daily
Why not start a new tradition of getting your king cakes at the French Market, before or after picking out a mask for the kids? This can easily fall into an inexpensive but culturally rich daytime Mardi Gras themed excursion “in place” of parades, if you want a change of pace and scenery.
There’s no end to the variations on king cakes, but if you prefer traditional king cakes, The French Market is a great place to find them. If you do want to try something a bit out of the ordinary, we recommend Loretta’s Pralines king cake, filled with—you guessed it—pralines! You can find these daily in our Farmers Market and retail shops, including:
- Southern Candymakers at 1010 Decatur Street
- Mother Nature’s Cupboard in the Farmers Market
- Loretta’s Pralines in the Farmers Market
Mardi Gras Books – Yes, We Read During Mardi Gras!
Kids can learn about and celebrate Mardi Gras through illustrated books like “Gaston Goes to Mardi Gras,” “Mardi Gras Dictionary,” or “DJ and the Zulu Parade,” all available at A Tisket A Tasket Book Shop, where some of the local authors who pen these tales will sign throughout the season. Like Christmas or Halloween, Mardi Gras has reserved its rightful place on our bookshelves with charming books reinforcing the celebration of this treasured holiday. These make great gifts for relatives out of town who still don’t quite understand what Mardi Gras means. Use a book to introduce them to New Orleans, perhaps along with a gift basket from A Tisket a Tasket or Aunt Sally’s Pralines, that comes complete with Mardi Gras gifts you can’t find anywhere else.