Carolyn Heneghan

Mardi Gras may be a notorious party season in New Orleans, but local residents and community leaders have worked to preserve a more family-friendly side of these Carnival traditions as well. One such annual event, Family Gras, caters specifically for families, especially those with young children, who want to enjoy the season’s parades and special events in a quieter and safer environment for the little ones.
What to expect from Family Gras

The three-day Family Gras festival features live musical performances from a host of local and national artists, an arts market, kids’ zone, and access to the evening Mardi Gras parades that roll through Metairie, a suburb west of New Orleans. And when the family gets hungry, the Flambeau Food Court caters for a wide range of tastes, thanks to participation from several Jefferson Parish restaurants, caterers, and businesses.

This free celebration takes place on the ‘neutral ground’ (local phrase for the median of a major street) of Veterans Memorial Boulevard across from Metairie’s Lakeside Shopping Center. While not located in New Orleans proper, the event is just a quick cab or rideshare away, and may be worth the effort if younger children are in tow.

Why families love Family Gras

The Mardi Gras season tends to attract a plethora of musical and artistic talent to the city, but many families with younger children may not be able to partake in such events depending on the venue and its age restrictions. Many parents may also choose to shield their children from the partying atmosphere that can permeate the city, particularly at this time of year.

While you certainly can find children enjoying Mardi Gras parades and related events throughout the city, Family Gras offers a dedicated space for these parents to create memories with their children and enjoy their own fair share of the season’s excitement. Plus, a free price tag on the entertainment means parents can shrink their spending needs or add more to their food and souvenir budget for the trip.

Even individuals or families without young children can enjoy a quieter, more downtempo version of Mardi Gras in Metairie if they prefer to avoid the crowds and debauchery that Mardi Gras festivities may invite elsewhere in the city. If this type of experience seems more in line with your own definition of fun, consider Family Gras a viable alternative to the Mardi Gras hype.

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