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Fat Tuesday, which falls on February 13th this year, is right around the corner, and many Mardi Gras festivities are just starting to begin. So gather all of your friends and family, gear up in your favorite purple, gold, and green attire, break out the bead bag, and prepare for a weekend jam-packed with the absolute best Mardi Gras celebrations right here in Lafayette, Louisiana. Unsure of what to put on your agenda? Stick around for a helpful guide outlining how to spend your free-time this 2018 Mardi Gras season.

Hit all the parades you can!

Below are some of my personal favorites…
Youngsville Parade, Youngsville, Saturday, February 10th 11:00am
Children’s Parade, Lafayette, Saturday, February 10th 12:30pm
Krewe of Bonaparte Parade, Lafayette, Saturday, February 10th 6:30pm
Church Point Mardi Gras Parade, Sunday, February 11th 1:00pm
Queen Evangeline’s Parade, Monday, February 12th 6:00pm
King Gabriel’s Parade, Lafayette, Fat Tuesday, February 13th 10:00am
Townsquare Media Independent Parade, Lafayette, Fat Tuesday 13th 2:00pm

Alexis Cortez, senior at Ascension, commented that Queen Evangeline’s Parade is her favorite because “all the Krewes just know how to have fun.”

If you really want to be extra, make a sign to bring to the parades you plan on attending… I guarantee you will catch more throws than your friend who didn’t!

These people really went the extra mile to get all the best throws.

Eat some King Cake (It’s okay to let yourself indulge… Mardi Gras only comes once per year!)

Take advantage of this sweet delicacy while you still can; Mardi Gras wouldn’t be quite the same without it! At this time of the year, you can find a King Cake to purchase in just about every bakery/grocery store in town, but if you were to ask me, you can never go wrong with a classic King Cake from Keller’s. The standard, plain cake is pretty good on it’s own, but if you’re into filling, the cinnamon butter, chocolate pudding, buttered pecan, and cream cheese are delicious. Meche’s, Cajun Donut Co., Great Harvest, and Whole Foods (I recommend the berry chantilly) are also great options!

Hang a bead (or two) in the wishing tree.

The tree is located downtown at the corner of Cherry St. and Calder St. and the general idea is to leave a bead/ribbon along with a wish. The tree isn’t necessarily Mardi Gras themed, but what better do you have to do with all of those beads you just caught in excess? Instead of just hoarding a bag of beads somewhere in your house or garage, head down to the Saint Streets to help beautify the tree and put those beads to use.

Decorate your front door or make a festive Mardi Gras wreath for the season.

Many people choose to hire someone to create and assemble their Mardi Gras swag, but making your own can be a fun project. You can explore Pinterest to get ideas, and many you will come across will have directions for construction included. If the whole door garland get-up seems too daunting of a task to put together on your own, opt for a Mardi Gras themed wreath. These are much smaller and DIY friendly.

Try out some fun Mardi Gras recipes, put on a gumbo, cook up some jambalaya, or have a crawfish boil.

Of course gumbo, jambalaya, and crawfish are Mardi Gras staples, but consider trying out some new recipes. Mardi Gras roasted squash & parmesan, cajun shrimp dip, and pecan pralines are a few recipes I have had my eye on cooking/baking for awhile now. Of course, Pinterest also makes a great source to find Mardi Gras oriented recipes suited to your liking.

Go to your Ash Wednesday Service.

Yes, Mardi Gras in all of its glory is one of the best, most flamboyant/rambunctious/sensational celebrations of all year, but it goes without saying that it is also important to keep in mind the significance of all the partying we partake in throughout the Mardi Gras season and on Fat Tuesday. Ash Wednesday, which marks the first day of the Lenten season, also marks the beginning of the 40 days in which Christ fasted and faced temptation from the devil in the desert. Just as Christ fulfilled his intent to remain pure and resist temptation over the course of these 40 days, the Ash Wednesday Service reminds us that while are human and subject to the same temptations that Jesus faced in the desert, we should try our best to model our lives after His commitment and strong will.