Mardi Gras is one of the most celebrated holidays within the U.S. – but where are the best places to celebrate Mardi Gras?
When you hear the words, Mardi Gras, there are likely a few things that come to mind: New Orleans, partying, beads, and debauchery. Sound about right?
Believe it or not, there are many places that have Mardi Gras celebrations within the United States and abroad. And, while they don’t all only include a lot of debaucheries, the holiday is about celebrating – hence why it is referred to as Carnival.
If you are looking for a reason to get away this month, perhaps attending a Mardi Gras celebration will give you the opportunity you are looking for.
Why don’t we take a look at what Mardi Gras is all about and where you can go to indulge in various traditions? Let’s count down the best places to celebrate Mardi Gras. Are you ready? Grab your calendar and start planning.
What is Mardi Gras, Anyway?
Interested in why we celebrate Mardi Gras? Here’s the short version.
You may find it hard to believe that Mardi Gras has roots in Christianity. Yet, it is. See, when Christianity was brought to Rome, the Romans decided they didn’t want to give up their local traditions, though they still wanted to follow Christianity. So, Mardi Gras was their way of incorporating the two.
Leading up to Lent (starting on Ash Wednesday), the Romans would begin celebrating in excess – and this included a lot of debaucheries and the consumption of fatty foods. It was a way of releasing wants and desires just ahead of the Lenten season that calls for 40 days of fasting.
In fact, Mardi Gras is French for Tuesday (Mardi) Fat (Gras), or, in other words, Fat Tuesday. This is the day directly before Ash Wednesday – the beginning of Lent for Christians. Carnival, on the other hand, refers to the time from the twelfth night (January 6th) to Ash Wednesday.
Mardi Gras began spreading among Europe and made it to the U.S.
The Best Places to Celebrate Mardi Gras: A Countdown
So, now that you know why you’d be partaking in all the excitement, you may be wondering where you can find it, right? Well, here’s a countdown of the top five best places to celebrate Mardi Gras.
5. Port of Spain, Trinidad
Trinidad and Tobago are two sister islands located in the West Indies, just off the coast of South America. Here, Mardi Gras is simply referred to as Carnival. It is a time of dancing, music, parades, feasting, and fun. There are:
- Elaborate, brightly-colored costumes
- Non-stop music
- A continuous festival that lasts well into the night.
Those who have attended Carnival in Trinidad will tell you that it blows away those parades and festivals located anywhere else in the world. The island has an all-in approach to the festivities.
Choosing to visit Port of Spain during Carnival can present you with opportunities to enjoy various concerts, attend private parties, and even join a band, which is a group of like-dressed individuals who dance along the parade route as a group.
Good times to be had, that’s for sure.
4. Mobile, Alabama
Bringing it a little closer to home, you have Mardi Gras as it is done in Mobile. In fact, did you know that the first-ever U.S. celebration was held in Mobile, Alabama? That’s right – and it holds tight to that title.
If you are looking for a family-friendly Mardi Gras celebration, you will find it here. The parades bring lots of fun – and lots of throws – treats thrown from floats. Kids love this part. Of course, you will also want to make a stop at the Mobile Carnival Museum to learn how it started and how it got to what it is today.
For adults, attending the Mardi Gras Ball is the perfect reason to get dressed up. It is a formal, masquerade event and can be exciting and unforgettable.
3. Venice, Italy
Venice claims to have had the first-ever Mardi Gras celebration. And, for this reason, they do it big. You will find costumes, masks, balls, parades, feasts, and other celebrations. They even have festivals in the water – unique boats sailing through the Canal Grande.
Visiting Venice can be an incredible experience. Visiting during Carnival is an entirely enhanced getaway – one that others may never see. It is not to be missed.
2. Saint Louis, Missouri
Looking for the largest Mardi Gras celebration in the United States? You will find it in Saint Louis. See, here you will find events all throughout Carnival. Some are family-friendly, others not so much. This means you will have an opportunity to look for the events you wish to attend and plan accordingly.
So, why is Saint Louis one of the best places to celebrate Mardi Gras? Well, you will find things such as:
- A Cajun cookoff
- A 5K race – Run for Your Beads
- A pet parade
- A couple of masquerade balls
- A wiener dog derby
- Parades, parades, and more!
Plan your trip right and you may be able to ride on a float in the biggest parade! There is always something for everyone to do here – and it is spread out so that you have time to recuperate a bit before the next event.
1. New Orleans, Louisiana
Finally, taking the number one spot of the countdown is, of course, New Orleans, Louisiana. Just as Saint Louis has their events spread out, so does New Orleans. In fact, up to two weeks prior to Mardi Gras, the partying will begin.
While here, you can don an authentic costume, indulge in the local cuisine, learn about the rich cultural traditions at local museums, listen to some incredible blues, and take a cruise on the river. Of course, you can always attend the largest parades and catch beads galore. You may even get the opportunity to climb aboard a float.
New Orleans has made a name for itself when it comes to Mardi Gras – it won’t disappoint.
Carnival and Mardi Gras celebrations are found all around the world. If you are looking to let loose, then now is the time to book your private jet to the celebration that will leave you with memories for years to come.