Why You Should Go To the Red Dress Run Instead of Mardi Gras in New Orleans
I was fortunate enough this year to visit New Orleans for Mardi Gras AND the Red Dress Run, and I have come to the conclusion that the Red Dress Run is the way to go. I will admit that it is awesome to be able to say that I did Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and I am happy to have experienced that, but chances are I will not go back for it in the future. I would choose Red Dress Run over Mardi Gras any day.
What is the Red Dress Run?
The Red dress Run is a yearly event that originated in Southern California in 1987. A woman went to visit her friend who introduced her to a running club, the Hash House Harriers when a man in the club judging her by her gender and the fact that she was wearing a red dress told her she should “just wait in the truck” until her friend was done with the race. Instead she decided to run with them wearing her red dress and high heels, and a year later the San Diego Hash House Harriers sent her an airline ticket to return for the same race, that became an annual (and now even global) event and fundraiser.
Red Dress Run proceeds go to charity.
I did not run in the red dress run, but it is actually a run through the French Quarter for the Hash House Harriers, a non-competitive running club, and the proceeds from race registration go to charity. It is now a global event, but New Orleans made it their own and I can guarantee that you will have an experience like none other in NOLA. The New Orleans Hash House Harriers (NOH3) have now raised over 1 million dollars to more than 100 charities thanks to the Red Dress Run. If you register for the event you can run in the race, and they also provide you with breakfast, lunch, beer, and concerts, what else could you need?
Men in dresses.
Never in my life have I seen so many straight guys so excited to wear a dress. If nothing else go to the Red Dress Run to people watch guys of all shapes and sizes proudly strutting around in a red dress. I actually had a conversation with a guy on my plane there about where we bought our dresses. Classic.
Red Dress Run is less crowded than Mardi Gras.
There are a lot of people at Red Dress Run, you will be in a huge mass of people, but it’s not terribly and miserably crowded like Mardi Gras. When I was on Bourbon Street, the last Saturday night of Mardi Gras, around midnight it became so crowded that you could not move on the street. They suddenly had a $20 cover at every bar which was the only place you could go to try to get out of the madness. I mean I expected a crowd, but I could not have predicted this. I was not able to get across the street from one place to another without being pushed 2 blocks away. It was like the rip current at the beach, but instead of the ocean I was in a sea of human beings. I ended up paying $10 to get into the Bourbon Cowboy just to retreat from the masses, only to find it was equally as crowded in the bar. Within an hour or so I was over it so one of my new friends walked me back to where I was staying. The street was crowded during the Red Dress Run event, but you could easily walk into pretty much anywhere for a break.
The Red Dress Run isn’t anywhere near as popular as Mardi Gras, and you know what that means? Cheaper flights and cheaper hotels. When I went to Mardi Gras the hotel prices were astronomically higher than when I had gone just a month before in January. The place I first stayed for $60 had gone up to around $200, it was insane. For the Red Dress Run the hotel prices are relatively normal, and the whole reason my friend and I went was because we got round trip flight tickets for around $100.
Coolinary New Orleans
The entire month of August is Coolinary New Orleans. New Orleans is known for its unique and authentic food which is why Coolinary Month is the perfect time to visit. For the whole month of August you can have 2 or 3-course lunch menus from $20 and 3-course dinner menus from $39 at tons of award winning restaurants, this year over 40 restaurants participated! Coincidentally, the Red Dress Run also happens every August, it works out perfectly!
I hope that you can visit New Orleans as many times as your heart desires, but if you want to go to an event and have to choose just one I highly recommend the Red Dress Run. Yes it was hot in August, but it was fun nonetheless, and everybody I ran into was in good spirits, unlike the frustrated crowds of Mardi Gras. You can feel good knowing you contributed to a charity, and you will save a lot of money skipping Mardi Gras. Also, just when you thought the people watching in NOLA couldn’t get any better they convinced EVERYONE to wear a red dress, and you would never believe the dresses some of these people come up with! It’s a fun experience and I would recommend it to anyone ready for a good time!
You can watch my video from Mardi Gras this year here !