The Best Things to do in New Orleans This February
February might be my favorite month on the New Orleans calendar. It’s usually the last month of really nice temperatures and weather, which makes enjoying things like Mardi Gras and the outdoors, in general, so much more pleasant. I expect this year will be particularly fun for carnival-goers because it’s New Orleans’ 300th birthday. Personally, I’ll be celebrating New Orleans’ existence, the only way I know how: gorging myself on king cake and king cake flavored vodka.
If you’re looking for activities and cultural immersion outside of Mardi Gras, there are a variety of things to do in New Orleans ranging from Valentine’s Day to Vietnamese New Year and Black History month.
>>What to Bring
If you’re visiting New Orleans in February, it’d be good to bring some costumes for Mardi Gras parades, and any reusable bags you don’t mind getting dirtied or messed up. If you expect to spend a lot of time outside, you should bring a light jacket or sweater because Mardi Gras is frequently plagued with cold snaps.
Average High: 65 F / 18 C
Average Low: 46 F / 8 C
The Best Things to do in New Orleans This February
1 | Mardi Gras
During Mardi Gras, New Orleans comes out of its winter slumber with dozens of King Cake interpretations, beautifully and intricately decorated floats, and an endless stream of parties. It’s my favorite time of the year because I think it really brings out the best in New Orleanians. Mardi Gras puts them in their most creative, charitable, and buoyant states.
While the exact date changes from year to year, the biggest dates to remember are Lundi Gras (Monday) and Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday). Parades this year will be happening throughout the first two weeks of the month, and the festivities will conclude on Tuesday, February 13th.
The best places to find the Mardi Gras official cavity-causer, King Cakes, include Dong Phuong (my favorite), Manny Randazzo’s, Sucre, Haydel’s, and Gambino’s. However, because are truly the most popular, you might have a hard time getting your hands on them. If you’re looking to nab one “just to say you did” you can pick up a pretty good one from Rouses grocery store, or a Joe’s Cafe, both of which have multiple locations throughout the city. You can also try your luck at King Cake inspired sweets like milkshakes, doughnuts, lattes, beers, and snowballs from various business.
Each parade has its own personality, so it’s best to do some research on which one best suits your interests. The most popular parades are always Endymion (the largest), Zulu (coconut throws), and Muses (shoe throws). Some of my other favorites, though are Krew du Vieux (which was in January this year), Chewbacchus (Feb 2nd), Barkus (Feb 4th), and Nyx (Feb 7th). Most of these parades will have a designated after-party, but unofficial ones will also be going on throughout the city, including a number of great shows going late into the night at places like the Howlin’ Wolf.
For a full Mardi Gras schedule, click here.
2 | Valentine’s Day
New Orleans is already quite romantic French city, it’s also a great place to spend Valentine’s Day. We’re basically the capital of free activities like strolling through City Park or listening to street music, which frees you up if you want to splurge on a nice meal. French restaurants like Antione’s, Lilette, and Cafe Degas are, in my opinion, are some of the most charming and beautiful spots to grab a deliciously amorous bite. They’re all French, and they’re all guaranteed to make a girl (or guy) swoon. Afterwards, you and your date might want to stop at the Spotted Cat on Frenchmen or Fritzel’s on Bourbon for a romantic swing.
3 | Black History Month
If you’re wanting to get more acquainted with the cultural impacts African Americans had on New Orleans this February, there are a variety of museums that are open year round. If you’re interested in Mardi Gras and other New Orleans traditions, you might want to check out how they were influenced by the African American population at The Backstreet Cultural Museum, The New Orleans African American Museum, or the Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum. Alternatively, you might want to drop in for a panel discussion at the McKenna Museum of African American Art. Or, if you’re interested in learning more about the history of the Civil War and slavery you might want to check out The Confederate Memorial Hall downtown or The Whitney Plantation, which is a short drive outside of New Orleans.
4 | Tet Fest
New Orleans has a surprisingly large population of Asians, including the Vietnamese who are mostly settled in, coincidentally, New Orleans East. They arrived here after the communist takeover of Vietnam in the 1970’s and have, thankfully, maintained and shared many of their traditions with the culture-hungry residents of New Orleans.
One such example includes Tet Fest, which is a festival celebrating the Vietnamese New Year. Attendees can enjoy church services, fireworks, games, traditional dancing and music, and Vietnamese cuisine, and the best part is, entry to the Vietnamese New Year festivities are absolutely free! I’ve been multiple times and it’s really a lot of fun (and worth the drive).
5 | Watch Balls Fly With The Pelicans
Unfortunately, New Orleanians might not even be able to distract themselves from the recent eipic, horrifying, demoralizing, soul-crushing loss of the Saints with the hope of a promising season from the Pelicans. Just as they were gaining ground, found his achilles in, well… his achilles. We made a good trade for a new player, so it might be worth checking out if they can still pull through. Home games include Pelicans versus: Jazz (Feb 5th), Pacers (Feb 7th), Heat (Feb 14th), Lakers (Feb 23rd), and the Suns (Feb 26th).
6 | Enjoy The Arts
If you, like me, enjoy some artistic expression, there are a few options for you in New Orleans this February. In addition to the great galleries that are open year-round on Royal and Magazine street, here are some of the neat events happening this month.
Mardi Gras World is technically also open year round, but I thought it was worth mentioning because… well, it’s Mardi Gras.
Prospect 4’s art installations will be sprinkled throughout the city from a variety of respected artists throughout the month.
The Houston Chinese Consulate will host The Chinese Opera (which I understand is really more of a theatrical number) at Harrah’s Casino on February 23rd. Admission is free.
So however you choose to enjoy February in New Orleans this year, just make sure it's delicious (whatever that means to you).