There’s no one right way to celebrate Mardi Gras or Carnival (or Carnaval). Traditions and events vary by country, but colourful parades (or krewes), lavish parties, concerts, pageants and elaborate costumes aren’t hard to find — and neither is feasting and drinking.
If you’re looking for some festivity — or perhaps some inspiration for your own celebrations — here’s where to look.
If you’re thinking Mardi Gras, the French Quarter in New Orleans may be the first place that comes to mind. After all, the city’s parties, parades and Cajun flare are legendary. Celebrations are getting back into full swing after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and some events still raise funds for relief efforts.
However, it’s Mobile, Alabama that was the first place in the U.S. to celebrate Mardi Gras — way back in 1703. Those from Alabama are very quick to correct you if you dare give New Orleans credit for this tradition driven celebration (this includes my mom).
Today, the celebrations are geared more towards family fun than other carnivals, and aim to be an event for all ages.
Many other cities through the U.S. also get in on the act, such as the San Diego’s Mardi Gras in the Gaslamp Quarter, the Cajun Mardi Gras in Lafayette and Mardi Gras! Galveston in Texas. Carnaval Miami, lasting two weeks starting the Saturday before Ash Wednesday, is known as the biggest Hispanic festival in the U.S. Events include a golf tournament, a cooking competition and a grand finale street party.
Even cities you wouldn’t expect — like Seattle, Chicago and Philadelphia — have events.