MARDI GRAS FUN FOR FAMILIES: Parades, Camps & Safety Tips

Is your house decked out in purple, gold, and green? Have you pulled out your huge assortment of costumes and wigs? Is brass band music blasting in your car?
Yes, Carnival season is in full swing, y’all. Aren’t we lucky to get to share this fabulous tradition with our kids? From parade schedules to safety tips to camps, we’ve pulled together some helpful information to help you plan your family-friendly Mardi Gras festivities.



New Orleans, Northshore, West Bank… parades are happening everywhere! It’s time to start the difficult task of selecting which parades to attend on which days. Click here to start the selection process — get those calendars organized!


FAMILY GRAS (Metairie)

In case the name didn’t give it away, Family Gras is one of your best bets for guaranteed family-friendly Carnival fun. Taking place on February 17-19 in its usual spot on Veterans Memorial Boulevard near Causeway in Metairie, this event boasts concerts, parades, the Fabulous Flambeau Food Court & Beverage Zones, kid-friendly activities, an arts market, and more.


This year’s concert lineup includes Fifth Harmony, Imagination Movers, Tony Orlando, The Cowsills and The Association, among others. Click here for more information and a full schedule of events and performances. 



Next to locating the nearest bathroom facilities and packing enough food and beverages, safety is the biggest concern of most parents parading with kids. The crowds can get pretty intense and chaotic, especially later in the day/evening, so here are a few safety tips to consider.
–Decide on a rendezvous spot, in case anyone gets separated
–Train your kid(s) find a police officer if they get lost and can’t find the rendezvous spot (many are on horseback — easy to spot!)
–Write your name and cellphone number on your kid’s arm with a bold marker
–Make sure your kids maintain a safe distance from marching bands, but especially float and tractor tires!
–Always designate an adult as ladder attendant anytime kids are in their perch


Most camps are closed on Mardi Gras day, but open on Lundi Gras, and Wednesday through Friday of that week. So, whether you want to reserve Lundi Gras (and the Lundi Gras Festival) as an adults-only day, or if you’re returning to work and need childcare for the days following Fat Tuesday, there are multiple camps taking place on both shores. Just click on the camp locations for links and registration information.


Adventure Quest Laser Tag (Harahan)
February 27, March 1-3, 7:30am-5:30pm
Cost: $50 a day. Additional Siblings $35/day; $60/$45 add’l siblings after 2/26/17
Overview: Excitement, adventure and celebration for ages 3-13. Campers will enjoy laser tag, bumper cars, mini golf, and the arcade every day, plus outdoor activities and other Kidcam-certified fun.


Art Time (Mandeville)
March 1-3; times vary according to age
Cost: $35 – $45
Overview: Ages 4-8th grade. An array of themed workshops has been planned for various age groups. Visit their website for specifics.


Audubon Zoo Mardi Gras Camp (New Orleans)
March 1 – 3, 9am-3pm
Cost: $35 per member; $45 per Non-member; Before care at 7:30am $7, after care until 5pm
Overview: Campers get close-up encounters with our animal ambassadors, tour behind the scenes and spend time outdoors in free play.  Kindergarten to 4th Grade


Belle Chasse YMCA (West Bank)
February 27, March 1-3, 7am – 6pm. No early drop off/late pick-up available.
Cost: YMCA Members: $25/day or $90/full camp registration Non-Members: $40/day or $150/full camp registration; Single day rates available..
Overview: The kids play indoor and outdoors, weather permitting, throughout the day. There are also arts and crafts. They are separated by age groups depending on the number of kids registered. They have a snack twice a day as well as lunch. For kids age 3-14.


Brushworks Academy of Art (Covington)
March 1, 2; 9am-noon, 12:30-3:30pm
Cost: First camp is $35 – 2 or more camps are $30 each
Overview: Ages 4-10. Each morning and afternoon camp will feature different Mardi Gras and Spring themed art projects in a variety of mediums. Sign up for any combination of camps. Supplies and snacks included in price. Pack a lunch if attending both morning and afternoon camps.


Culinary Kids Northshore (Mandeville)
March 1-3; 9am-3pm (before and after care available from 8 am – 5 pm)
Cost:$75 per day plus tax, which comes to $82.69
Overview: Ages 5 -14. Along with the meals, dessert, crafts and games, they also do crazy, messy kitchen science experiments.


East Jefferson YMCA (Metairie)
February 27, March 1-3, 7:30am – 3:30pm
Cost: YMCA Members: $25/day or $95/full camp registration Non-Members: $35.50/day or $140/full camp registration; Single day rates available. After care available for additional $5/day
Overview: Activities include themed stories, songs, crafts, and holiday decorations. For kids grades K-5.


Louisiana Children’s Museum (New Orleans)
March 1-3, 9am-3pm
Cost: Available by the day for $40 per day for members and $45 per day for non-members. Curbside drop-off is available from 8:45-9am, free of charge. Before care is available from 7:30-8:45 am for a fee of $8 per day. After care is available from 3-5:30pm for a fee of $15 per day.
Overview: Make it bubble, make it fizzle, make it turn blue. At this mad scientist-themed camp, campers will conducts safe, kid-friendly experiments done every day. Lab coats not required. Geared to children ages 5-8.



Mandeville Sports Complex (Mandeville)
February 27 and March 1-3; 9am-3pm (before and after care available)
Cost: $30; Before care (7-9am) $10; After care (3-6pm) $10
Overview: Ages 4-12. Campers will enjoy fun activities, participate in group games, enjoy supervised free play & much more.


Pelican Athletic Club (Mandeville)
February 27, March 1-3 9am-1pm for ages 18 mos-4years; 9am-3pm for ages 5-13 – camp closes at 1pm on Monday, March 1. Before and aftercare available for additional fee.  
Cost: $35/day for ages 18 mos-4 years; $48/day for ages 5-13
Overview: Activities include arts, gym, games, and indoor/outdoor play (depending on weather).


Pony Tales (St. Rose, just west of the airport)
February 27, March 1-3, 9am-3pm; Early drop off/late pick-up available for additional fee 7:30am-5:30pm
Cost: $225/week if paid in advance; Single day rates available: $55/day, 2-4 days $50/day
Overview: For ages 4-12. They offer daily riding lessons for beginners and up, all sorts of horse and pony related activities and learning about them and caring for them. Other games, some crafts and activities. Meet and care for Molly the 3 legged pony.


Posh Paint Pub (Metairie)
March 1-3;  9am-12pm and 1-3pm
Cost:   $65 and up
Overview: Campers will have fun doing crafts, canvas painting, clay building, pottery painting and more.  All Materials, snacks and drinks are included.  However, if you sign up for the afternoon session bring a bagged lunch for the break in between. All Materials, snacks and drinks are included.


St. Tammany YMCA (Covington)
February 27, March 1-3, 8am – 6pm (No early drop off/late pick-up available.)
Cost: YMCA Members: $35/day; Non-Members $45/day plus a one-time non-member registration fee that is good for the entire ’16-’17 holiday camp school year: $30/one child or $40/family. Single day rates available.
Overview: Kids ages 3-13 can enjoy indoor and outdoor play, weather permitting, throughout the day, as well as arts and crafts. Campers must bring two snacks (morning and afternoon), a bag lunch, and a water bottle for each kid.


Upturn Arts (New Orleans)
March 2-3, 9am-4pm
Cost:$65/day, or $125 for both days.
Overview: Ages 5 – 12. Campers will repurpose parade throws into one-of-a-kind creations and choreograph original dances. Barman’s Fun will craft healthy drinks and share techniques for juicing, muddling, and artistic garnishes.


Vamonos NOLA! (New Orleans)
February 24, 27, March 1-3; 8am – 3pm (before and after care available)
Cost: Contact for rates
Overview: For ages 3 – 10, this is one of the only places offering camp on the Friday before Mardi Gras, Vamonos NOLA! offers days packed with art, games, music, carnival crafts, theater, soccer, exploring Audubon Park, and a Vamanos parade.


Xfusion (Covington)
February 27, March 1-3; 7am-4pm (aftercare available)
Cost: Daily $35, 3 days $99, 5 days $135; After care from 4-6pm $10/day.
Overview: Ages 4 & up. Activities include obstacle course, zipline, group skill building, outdoor activities, arts & crafts, and more.