Whether you're a Mardi Gras pro or new to the season, this guide dedicated to the holiday will be your companion through and through. Created by the New Orleans-based bloggers of Traveler Broads, the pocket-sized book will help you not only survive, but thrive in between parades.
Jessica Fender and Kerry Maloney are the travel journalists and Carnival experts behind the Interactive Field Guide. Small enough to tuck into a pocket, the purple book offers over 150 prompts, activities, and tips for experiencing Mardi Gras the right way.
"Sometimes I hear people say, 'I'd love to go to New Orleans, just not during Mardi Gras.' And it breaks my heart, because you know they're just thinking of beads, boobs, and Bourbon Street. If people saw our Mardi Gras—the local Mardi Gras—they'd fall in love with it," Fender told Adore. The guide is aimed to challenge visitors and locals alike to actively participate in the holiday like an insider. "We hope the 'interactive' aspect of our guide inspires some shenanigans folks wouldn't have otherwise gotten into."
The two did a test run in 2019, but overhauled the design, rethought the sections, and updates all recommendations and parades for the big 2020 debut. They also turned the guide into a game with points to be earned for a secret "prize." Points can be earned in a variety of ways including receiving high fives from walking groups, catching sought-after throws, and drinking classic cocktails that were born or perfected in Nola. Also included in the guide is a "Pick Your Nola Homebase" quiz, a parade schedule, crawfish recommendations, a street art map, and a maze.
The two moved to Louisiana in the early 2000s (Fender is a writer and Maloney is a photographer) and fell under the spell of New Orleans. As Fender explains, "How can you not love a place so full of art, music and amazing people? Mardi Gras, for us, was the height of that. It felt like this incredible party that just coalesced out of thin air. Even when we'd moved on to jobs elsewhere, we came back every year for Mardi Gras." They eventually made their way back to the Big Easy: Maloney moved to the French Quarter in 2009 and Fender and her boyfriend moved to the Marigny in 2014.
The duo frequently updates their website with events and guides to New Orleans and beyond. They also host headdress making workshops throughout Mardi Gras season in their studio, and can be found costumed in Mardi Gras regalia on the parade route.