Mardi Gras is known worldwide as the largest free show on earth. If you are coming to the Crescent City for Fat Tuesday, expect to catch and see a variety of beads in all shapes and sizes. Beads come in an assortment of shimmering vibrant colors. They come in traditional carnival colors – royal purple, emerald green, and shiny gold along with festive colors of electric blue, ultra red and startling pink.

Beads in New Orleans

Classic transparent beads belong to Mardi Gras just as much as Mardi Gras belongs to the City of New Orleans! You can drive down St. Charles Avenue any time of the year and still see them hanging in the huge oak trees that line the road. If you grew up in New Orleans, seeing those wayward strands was a daily reminder that carnival season was always just around the corner!
A stroll down the French Quarter any day of the year will always reveal many beads still hanging on to the wrought iron balconies. Beads are a large part of life in New Orleans year round.

Here is a little primer on beads and sizes:

First of all, you can’t have enough! The more the merrier, to trade, to collect and to throw. Think the size of Texas when you are thinking about beads!

Standard Bead Sizes

  • 5 mm 3/16 inch or slightly under 1/8 inch
  • 7.5 mm 5/8 inch or just over 1/4 inch (width of pencil)
  • 12 mm 7/16 inch or almost 1/2 inch
  • 18 mm 11/16 inch or almost 3/4 inch (size of dime)

Chart Length (based on 5’7″ height)

  • 24 inches – under the neck
  • 33 inches – middle of chest bone
  • 48 inches – by the waist
  • 60 inches – top of thighs
  • 72 inches – above the knees

Beads are for everyone and everything!

Beads can be used to decorate ourselves, our cars, houses, boats, and sometimes we even decorate our dogs! These are perfect for arts and crafts, too.