In the U.S., New Orleans is the mothership of all Mardi Gras celebrations, and a trip there in late February would be one to remember. But if you can’t make it to the Big Easy or want to experience the fun elsewhere, here are several locations across the country and around the globe that put on a pretty spectacular Mardi Gras celebration:
1. St. Louis, Missouri – After New Orleans, St. Louis puts on the largest Mardi Gras celebration in the country. Situated in the historic Soulard neighborhood near downtown, this Mardi Gras party includes a Grand Parade complete with floats and bead-throwing, along with a host of festivities leading up to Fat Tuesday, such as a pet parade, free concerts, and a Cajun cook-off.
2. Mobile, Alabama – Home to the country’s first Mardi Gras celebration, which took place nearly a decade before New Orleans’, Mobile offers a truly authentic Mardi Gras experience. With more than 33 parades over a three week period, this Mardi Gras festival is not one to disappoint.
3. Galveston, Texas – Who would have known the third largest Mardi Gras party in the U.S. takes place in none other than Galveston, Texas? Drawing roughly 300,000 people, Galveston’s festivities include five masked balls and more than 20 parades and balcony parties, including the Funky Uptown Umbrella Brigade Parade.
4. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – If you think Mardi Gras is a big deal, you should check out Carnival. Mardi Gras is actually the culmination of the much longer Carnival celebration, and Rio de Janeiro is the Carnival capital of the world. Their week-long festival leading up to Mardi Gras attracts nearly 2 million people each year and centers around the highly anticipated Samba parade, which has its very own stadium, the Sambadrome.
5. Venice, Italy – Trade your beads for porcelain masks at the Venetian Carnival, a tradition dating to the 12th century. Celebrations take place in the heart of the city, St. Mark’s square, which is filled with live music, parades, and people dressed in costumes and masks. St. Mark’s square is also where people gather to witness the Flight of the Angel, a famous event where a young woman zip lines into the square from the top of St. Mark’s Basilica.