What is Mardi Gras?
Mardi Gras actually means Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday in Latin. Mardi Gras in the USA is the same celebration as carnival. It is a last chance to indulge in food, drink and other debaucherous activities before the onset of Lent, which is a period of fasting for 40 days before Easter.
When Mardi Gras in 2021
The Mardi Gras season officially begins on the Twelfth Night (of Christmas) which is always the 6th January, and continues until Mardi Gras Day (Fat Tuesday/Shrove Tuesday) on the 16th February 2021.
Most people have heard about Mardi Gras in New Orleans but the United States has lots of awesome places to celebrate Mardi Gras. It doesn’t matter where you celebrate Mardi Gras because you are guaranteed to see some amazing costumes, witness an extravagant parade, listen to catchy music and have the time of your life!
New Orleans, Louisiana
What is Mardi Gras in New Orleans?
Mardi Gras is the party that put New Orleans on the map! Every year about 1.5 million visitors flock to New Orleans to watch the Mardi Gras celebrations. New Orleans’s Mardi Gras has lots of unique customs and traditions that make the city’s celebrations so world renowned! Parades, parties and exclusive Masquerade Balls…..New Orleans Mardi Gras has it all!
More then 70 parades occur during New Orleans Mardi Gras Season complete with amazing floats and costumes. The major Mardi Gras parades start about two weeks before Mardi Gras day. The New Orleans Mardi Gras parades are known for throwing things from the floats to the crowds during the parades. Throws include the famous colorful plastic beads, candies, cups, coins, toys, coconuts and more.
All the celebrations culminate on Mardi Gras Day which is the biggest day of partying. The most popular parades occur on this day and all the streets of New Orleans are packed with carnival goers, drinking, socializing, dancing and having a good time! New Orleans Mardi Gras is for everyone from kids to grandma, there are events and fun to be had for everyone!
You might be interested: Read our Essential Guide to the New Orleans Mardi Gras!
What is Mardi Gras in Lafayette?
There are several other cities in Louisiana that host amazing Mardi Gras celebrations including Lafayette. Mardi Gras kicks of two weeks before Mardi Gras Day. It features 17 different parades and is almost as popular as the ones in New Orleans, but not as widely known. Lafayette Mardi Gras also hosts lots of parties, masquerade balls and other cultural traditions.
The locals call Lafayette Mardi Gras the “greatest free party on earth,” but the celebration isn’t actually as debaucherous as New Orleans. Lafayette Mardi Gras has some unique traditions including the “Courir de Mardi Gras,” or Mardi Gras Run, which sees masked men riding around on horseback, singing songs and begging for ingredients to make a gumbo, while people throw them chicken.
You might be interested: Read our Essential Guide to the Lafayette Mardi Gras
Lake Charles, Louisiana – Mardi Gras of Southwest Louisiana
What is Mardi Gras in Lake Charles?
Lake Charles Mardi Gras is actually the second largest Mardi Gras in Louisiana and its official name is Mardi Gras of Southwest Louisiana. It begins a couple days after New Year’s Eve on the Twelfth Night, which is the 6th January. Lake Charles Mardi Gras features parades and parties that begin in January and don’t stop until Lent.
About 150,000 celebrants come together for the parade, music and food. Lake Charles Mardi Gras is famous for the incredible carnival costumes. The city even has a Mardi Gras section in their local museum. The Imperial Calcasieu Museum hosts the world’s largest display of Mardi Gras costumes and other regalia.
One of the most famous Lake Charles Mardi Gras events is the Cajun Extravaganza and Gumbo Cook Off. This event is world famous and it gives you a chance to eat all the delicious local cuisine and Mardi Gras specialities.
What is Mardi Gras in Mobile?
Mobile Mardi Gras that takes place in Mobile, Alabama and is actually the oldest Mardi Gras celebration in the USA. That’s right! It is actually much older then New Orleans Mardi Gras and first occurred back in 1703. Mobile Mardi Gras begins two weeks before Mardi Gras Day and is full of parades, marching bands, parties, balls and more.
Mobile even has a museum that is dedicated to its Mardi Gras history. Mobile Mardi Gras attracts huge crowds to its celebrations and what is unique about it is that it a mix of many different cultures and even religions including the French, African, British, American and Creole and Catholic faiths.
St. Louis, Missouri
What is Mardi Gras in St. Louis?
The St. Louis Mardi Gras self-proclaims to host the biggest Mardi Gras celebration outside of New Orleans. St Louis Mardi Gras does attract over 200,000 people to their celebrations. But there are loads of Mardi Gras events including parades, parties, Cajun cook-offs, a pet parade, fireworks and more.
Most of the celebrations occur on Fat Tuesday when a large parade occurs through downtown Saint Louis’s. The parade is the Bud Light Grand Parade but another popular parade is the Beggin Barkus Pet Parade that is actually the largest pet parade in the whole of North America.
What is Mardi Gras in Galveston?
Galveston hosts the most popular Mardi Gras celebration in Texas. On Fat Tuesday, over 300,000 come out to see parades complete with floats, sporting competitions, costumes and awesome music. The Mardi Gras celebration is over 100 years old.
The Galveston Mardi Gras features 25 parades, 30 concerts featuring big stars, 20 balcony parties and 5 large masquerade balls. They also throw coloured beads and the organisers claim that over 3 million beads are thrown during Mardi Gras.
What is Mardi Gras in Biloxi?
Biloxi is centre of Mardi Gras celebration in the Gulf Coast. It even houses the Gulf Coast Carnival Association. Biloxi has been seeing Mardi Gras celebrations for over 300 years, so its celebrations are filled with heritage and tradition. Biloxi hosts over 24 parades which attracts large crowds of party-goers.
San Diego, California
What is Mardi Gras in San Diego?
San Diego Mardi Gras is another popular destination to celebrate Mardi Gras, particularly if you live on the West Coast and don’t want to travel to far for a Mardi Gras party!
It is a young Mardi Gras celebration and only began in 2005 but it offers two massive parades that feature wild costumes and elaborate floats. There is also lots of wild parties and live music. San Diego Mardi Gras attracts 20,000 strong crowds.
Orlando, Florida – Universal Studios Mardi Gras
What is carnival in Orlando?
Orlando Mardi Gras is one of the most popular Mardi Gras parties in the whole USA. It is actually hosted by Universal Studios and lasts for over 50 nights! Every single night there is a parade filled with fantastic performers. Universal Studios claims they throw a celebration better than the original one in New Orleans.
Universal Studios Mardi Gras features dazzling Mardi Gras colourful street parades, authentic Cajun food, festive floats, incredible performers, dancers and also puts on lots of concerts featuring big name musicians like Fifth Harmony.
La Crosse, Wisconsin
What is carnival in Wisconsin?
La Crosse Mardi Gras is one of the biggest in Wisconsin. It is a family oriented celebration that is all about uniting families. La Crosse Mardi Gras features lots of parades, parties and is all about food and fun. The Mardi Gras hosts a spectacular ball as well for Mardi Gras that is all about raising money for Catholic schools, boy scouts and the YCMA.