Mardi Gras lives on year-round at Mardi Gras World

The spectacle of Mardi Gras in New Orleans is an annual event that plays out over 47 days. However, anyone heading to the Big Easy at any time of the year can experience some of its wonder by visiting Mardi Gras World.

The venue is basically a warehouse-turned-exhibition space that gives visitors willing to pay $14-$22 per person a close-up look at the floats and larger-than-life props that turn Mardi Gras parades and revelry into over-the-top spectacles.

The warehouse, located on the riverfront next to the New Orleans Convention Center, is where old floats and props are housed and new ones are created.

I felt like I had been miniaturized while walking among the towering creations, some of which are likely 10 times my height. Among the giants I observed were replicas of Wonder Woman, actor John Wayne, football player Reggie Bush, King Kong-size gorilla as well as court jesters, Egyptian and Greek gods, vicious three-headed dogs and assorted ghouls and monsters. There are also plenty of characters to delight children such as Buzz Lightyear, Mr. Potato Head and McGruff the Crime Dog.

A short video provides background information on Mardi Gras traditions and the Kern family’s involvement in building floats and props since 1947. They create and supply floats for more than 40 parades worldwide, according to Mardi Gras World’s website. Visitors are given slices of King Cake before embarking on self-guided tours of the warehouse and studios.

One can also learn about the creative process of transforming ideas into reality at the site. Glass windows allow visitors to see designers working on computers, and if one is lucky to pass by the Robot Room when the robot is operating, one can see how the Pixie digital fabrication machine creates a 3-D model. Studios in the warehouse include construction, sculpture, and paper mâché areas as well as a painting area and flower shop. Again, if one’s timing is right, observation of artisans as they work on props in various stages of completion is a highlight.

Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Mardi Gras World also have a free shuttle, which was unavailable during my 2022 visit. On-site parking is $20. For more information, go to mardigrasworld.com or call (504) 361-7821,

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