The Mardi Gras Doors of New Orleans

Carnival celebrations are ramping up around the globe, and for North Americans, New Orleans, Louisiana is ground zero. Locals and tourists alike are donning their finery for the party, and this notorious Mardi Gras revelry reaches a crescendo this week on Fat Tuesday.

New Orleans has the best collection of 18th and 19th Century architecture in America, so it only makes sense that homes would be gussied up for the celebration as well. And as you’d expect, the party starts at the front door.

Fleurs-de-lis and feathered masks of purple, green, and gold adorn leaded glass doorways of grand mansions and humble cypress doors of tiny shotguns. When it comes to Carnival, everyone gets in on the action.

There will be more parades and parties than your body can tolerate, but don’t miss the chance to wander the streets of the Garden District, stroll Magazine Street and the Irish Channel, then weave your way through Uptown. And if you’re intrepid, head on down to The Quarter. Savor the ambience and the details of a town in full-on Mardi Gras mode.

And as always, Laissez les bons temps rouler!
James & Terri


We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at

37 thoughts

    1. Thanks for the comment Aiva and for dropping by the blog. Everyone should experience Carnival at least once in their life. It is lots of fun, but honestly, takes stamina and planning. ~James

    1. Hey Joyce. Aren’t these doors the best? The colors are unlike any other holiday. No we aren’t going to make it this year. NOLA during Mardi Gras takes lots of advance planning, and extra $$. I hope all is well in BG with you and Dascal. Love, JH

    1. Lexie, we lived in NOLA for a couple of years so we’ve had a full dose of Mardi Gras. “Under controlled conditions,” it can be lots of fun, but most locals are probably glad to see the back side of it. But, the city wouldn’t be the same without it. ~James

    1. Natalie, I lived in NOLA for a couple of years so I admit to a bit of bias, but given its historical influences, architecture, food and overall vibe, New Orleans is one of the most unique cities in the US. Admittedly, it has its warts, but it certainly is a fun place to visit. ~James

      1. I do know that tradition, and I also know that some of the bakeries now leave the responsibility of putting the baby in the cake up to the one who purchases it. I guess at one time there was a lawsuit somewhere when someone crunched the plastic baby and had to see a dentist!

  1. Fabulously beautiful. Gorgeously outrageous. Flaunting fabulous. The joy of Mardi Gras – an invitation on every door to be part of this historic celebrations.

    1. Virginia, Mardi Gras is unlike any of the other holidays in the year, and because so many of the parties are costume-based, the door decorations can be just about anything the imagination can dream up. The doors are great fun and an excellent tradition. ~James

    1. Kelly, the purple, green, and gold colors of Mardi Gras are a unique combination, and are said to represent justice, faith, and power. But, as you can see from the photos, not all decorators adhere to the standard, which is fine by me. ~James

  2. How colourful. We had planned to go to Carnival in Venice this year but the plans fell through, and now they have cancelled it due to the coronavirus. I would love to visit New Orleans at any time actually.

    1. Darlene, NOLA is a year-round destination, and truthfully, if you really want to see and experience all the interesting options the city has to offer, it’s probably better to visit when Mardi Gras isn’t going on. The city has a deep history and culture and is unique in the US, so there’s lots to see. ~ James

  3. My dad’s family is from NOLA and, as a youngster, I’d been to Mardi Gras many times. I still have some doubloons and other trinkets. I don’t know if I’d enjoy it as much as an adult. The older I get, the less I like crowds.

    1. Laura, anyone who’s been to Mardi Gras knows about crowds for sure. When we lived there our apartment was Uptown and many of our friends had houses close to the St Charles parade routes, so we had easy access, and could walk (and had the all-important bathroom close by) so we generally had a fun time. But I know what you mean about crowds. ~ James

  4. It’s always a joy to read your posts about my old stomping grounds! I chuckle about the Mardi Gras time in New Orleans; people from New Orleans would book a room for ‘repeat’ visits in order to get away from the Marti Gras crazies in their city!

    Hope you’re staying well and way ahead of that stealthy virus…

    1. Lisa, I’m glad that the post brought back fond memories of NOLA for you. We lived there for a couple of years in our early days and it’s one of our favorite places as well.

      As for the virus, the US is in full panic mode and it’s wacky. The country is like a complacent bear that’s suddenly awakened to the reality of a threat and doesn’t really know which way to run first. We’ve just cancelled a big trip to South Africa, and are trying “Social Distancing” without being manic about it. How are things in Ecuador? All the best and hope your are well. ~James

      1. Great description “complacent bear suddenly awakened” – – – yes, and some of us saw this approaching long ago and wondered, ‘so what if we’ve over reacted.. it’s better to be pro-active than finding oneself in the defensive mode…’
        I watched several of the news conferences yesterday via youtube, and it seems that our country is no longer slinging mud — but working collectively to do whatever is possible.

        Here in Ecuador there have been two deaths in the past two days. .. the first two, and tonight at midnight the country is closing borders and closing for all international flights.. and tomorrow is the last day for citizens to get home/cross the borders… I think/hope that the warmer climate will be helpful – we’ll soon seem.

        friends of mine cancelled a trip to Europe and are surely glad that they did… ditto for you, even though you were surely looking forward — but later you can resume!

        Yes, it’s time for social distancing and being smart…

  5. I love the door pictures. Even though I live in Missouri, picking up a mask whenever you go to New Orleans and displaying it on your door during Mardi Gras is such a great idea. Thanks.

    1. Thanks for the comment Geri and for dropping by the blog. One of the things that I enjoy about these door decorations is the unusual combination of colors. Mardi Gras colors are unique, and they aren’t normally seen anywhere together outside the Gulf Coast. But if you know NOLA, they just scream carnival. ~ James

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