By Jacob Aldridge

Today’s Itinerary

We’re about to find out what makes America’s biggest (and best) celebration even bigger … and bester. This week, New Orleans is hosting two of the most massive events on every American’s calendar – as Super Bowl XLVII touches down on Sunday, and the party flows into the New Orleans Mardi Gras.

Super Bowl XLVII Montage

Super Bowl XLVII. Montage by RMTip21, CC License

Oh yeah – those Super Bowl tickets that can set you back thousands of dollars? We’ve got some for you already, so let’s go!

Don’t worry if you’re new to NFL (or sport, for that matter). The Super Bowl – whether you’re at the stadium in New Orleans, or part of the traditional Super Bowl Sunday celebrations at homes around the USA – is an experience first and a sporting event … well, the sports is probably top 5.

TOP 5 THINGS ABOUT THE SUPER BOWL

  1. The cultural experience – it’s a party atmosphere across the country
  2. Super Bowl Ads – the most expensive spots of the year, and an opportunity for companies to make a splash
  3. Half Time Show – This year it’s Beyonce! We’re secretly hoping for a wardrobe malfunction
  4. The actual Football match – It’s the running and tackling and stuff in between the ads and the singing
  5. Beer and Nachos – Two finer words were never spoken
Team Cheerleaders

Leading the Cheers! Baltimore Ravens on the left (Photo by Keith Allison) and San Francisco 49ers on the right (Photo by Rajiv Patel, Both CC Licensed)

This year the Super Bowl kicks off at 5.25pm on Sunday afternoon. (Want to see something nerdy? Here’s Google’s history of searches for the phrase “What time does the Super Bowl start?” For two months, every year, it’s one of the most competitive phrases in search engine marketing.)

But the Super Bowl party has already begun when our flight arrives in New Orleans (aka, the Big Easy) on Friday afternoon. You can tell the diehard fans on the streets – they’re already dressed in either the Gold and Purple of the Baltimore Ravens (who won the American Football Conference) or the Gold and Scarlet of the San Francisco 49ers (who won the National Football Conference in an amazing come-from-behind effort – without boring you with all the details, the Super Bowl is essentially a Grand Final between the two divisions of NFL).

Unlike most major cities who place their stadium waaaay out of the way, the Superdome in New Orleans is right in the middle of the business district. That makes it easy enough to get to on Sunday, and also means we don’t have to decide between accommodation close to the Superdome or a hotel closer to The French Quarter (where we plan to celebrate afterwards).

New Orleans Superdome by Night

New Orleans Superdome by Night. Photo by Pat (Cletch) Williams, CC License

We’ll spend Saturday exploring the city. It’s now almost 8 years since Hurricane Katrina devasted this community. Sadly, many people left never to return, but the majority who remain (just like in Christchurch, site of the 2011 Earthquake) encourage you to come to their city and support the ongoing growth. If that means frequenting the clubs and cajun or creole restaurants along Bourbon Street or beside the Mississippi River … then it’s a plan we can support!

Sunday lunchtime arrives, and we’re on a streetcar out to the Superdome. There’s a tension in the air – but it’s not from rivalry (in fact, the coaches of the Ravens and the 49ers this year are … brothers! Mom Harbaugh must be so proud, but I bet she’s glad Thanksgiving is 9 months away). It’s simply the tension of waiting for the game to start – imagine what it must be like inside the rooms for the players involved.

And the Super Bowl Champions are ...

Will the Ravens be Super Bowl Champions again this year? Photo by Keith Allison, CC License

Here are the basics to help you scream along with the die-hard Super Bowl fans:

  • Each team is trying to score a Touchdown by moving the ball into the opponents ‘end zone’. They’re worth 6 points (plus one if they kick the conversion afterwards, which they usually do). Look for the umpires raising both arms above their head – that means it’s a Touchdown and you can go crazy!
  • When you have the ball, you have 4 chances (called downs – as in, First Down, Second Down etc) to move forward by 10 yards. If you can make it through those 10 yards, then your 4 downs begin again.
  • You can do this by running or passing the ball – the quarterback is the most important player, as he receives the ball at the start of each play and decides what to do with it. Usually, the quarterback calls a play BEFOREHAND, so the team know where to run / block etc.
  • A game is made up of 4 x 15-minute quarters. But don’t think that means it lasts for an hour! With breaks between quarters, time-outs, advertisement breaks, umpire discussions, and just general faffing around the Super Bowl normally lasts for about 4 hours.

Want our hot tip just before the players run out onto the field here at the Superdome? We’re confident Coach Harbaugh will bring it home.

Want something more definitive? Here’s the prediction from everydaydreamer (and one-eyed 49ers fan) Nix:”49ers have been consistently improving each season and this is their year to take home the big bowl! Though I reckon is will be close.”

Now pass me some nachos and start yelling…

Inside the Superdome

Inside New Orlean’s Superdome. Photo by David Reber’s Hammer Photography, CC License

Want to go? Need to know!

  • The Super Bowl host rotates from year to year. New Orleans now becomes the most popular host city (tied at 10 with Miami). Next year New Jersey’s MetLife stadium will be the first Super Bowl hosted anywhere near chilly New England.
  • This is the first Super Bowl New Orleans has hosted since Hurricane Katrina, and an opportunity for the Superdome in particular to revitalise its image as a sporting venue not home to so much tragedy in 2005
  • The easiest way to buy tickets is the annual ballot – in fact, given the high resale value, you’d be crazy not to enter the ballot every year even if you have no intention of going yourself. (If your team makes it through, they will also have tickets available the week before the game.)
  • The large gap between game time (1 hour) and game time (4 hours) means NFL can be likened to a game of Chess. Lots of tactical movement you don’t understand, the occasional big play that you do, and far too much time in between (unless you like beer).
  • If you made it this far without liking the football talk, then we reckon you’ll probably love this article by the fabulous Rob Cockerham about the Super Bowl Prank at Super Bowl XLI in Miami !
  • And if you want more Mardi Gras, stick around – we’ll be back here next week!

So is Superbowl Sunday part of your dream holiday? If not, tell us all where you’d rather be this weekend!