It’s kind of a given that if you are thinking about taking a trip to celebrate Mardi Gras, the first place on your list is New Orleans, Louisiana. It’s where the main festivities take place for the holiday (which is also known as Carnival) every year, and the top place to go is always New Orleans due to the city's seriously amazing festivities. But New Orleans isn't the only place one can go to celebrate the holiday! There are loads of unique Mardi Gras trips to take outside of New Orleans if you’re looking for an alternative location for your Mardi Gras celebrations.
First, let’s dive into why we celebrate Mardi Gras in the first place. Mardi Gras, otherwise known as Carnival, is a celebration that actually spans a few weeks following Epiphany, also known as Three Kings Day or the Twelfth Day of Christmas, which is on January 6. Although dozens of cities celebrate carnival at different times, the reason Mardi Gras is special is the association it has with Fat Tuesday. Fat Tuesday is the day where people feast and celebrate until the start of the Lenten Season the following day (Ash Wednesday), which lasts 40 days until Easter.
These festivals did pass on through medieval Europe, starting in Rome and Venice then heading to France. Although a French-Canadian explorer did establish a piece of land the “Pointe du Mardi Gras” 60 miles south of New Orleans in 1699, you’ll be shocked to find out that the first Mardi Gras celebration didn’t take place there but in Mobile, Alabama in 1703. Since then many different places around the country, and even the world, host extravagant Mardi Gras celebrations.
So although you may be enticed to head over to New Orleans for celebrations this year, consider checking out one of these unique places to enjoy Fat Tuesday on Feb. 28, 2017.
Like I said before, Mobile, Al. was actually the original birthplace of the Mardi Gras festival within the United States. Over the next few weeks of February, Mobile is actually having dozens of parades along six different routes within their city.
Trinidad And Tobago, Caribbean
Carnival in the Trinidad & Tobago, Caribbean is a serious culturally colorful matter that spans a two day period. Starting at 4 a.m. on the Monday before Ash Wednesday, people will completely paint the streets and get ready for the street parades and festivals taking place later that day. Full of competitions and performances, the party doesn’t stop for two whole days.
For an even longer celebration, the Carnival hosted in Barranquilla, Colombia actually spans a four-day period. There’s tons of music, salsa dancing, and street performances that keep the party going all nightlong.
Celebrating Mardi Gras in Nice, France is like stepping into a fairy tale. Along with colorful parades and parties that span a two-week period, Nice hosts “flower battles,” which are floral compositions that have vibrant characters that throw our flowers to the public.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Who wouldn’t want to head to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for a carnival celebration? Rio’s celebrations look a bit different than others. Samba is the main music genre played throughout their four days of events, and on the second day the Carnival King (otherwise known as the Momo) is crowned by the mayor and given keys to the city.
Now if you aren’t into street festivals and the famous tradition of Mardi Gras throws, then take an elegant approach to Mardi Gras in Venice, Italy. The events that take place include balls, art festivals, performances, and other unique events that are vastly different then the Mardi Gras festivities you are used to. Venice also honors a Festival Angel, who “flies down” from the bell tower and onto the San Marco stage.
San Diego, California
Not able to make a Mardi Gras celebration during the week? Along with usual parades, San Diego, California hosts a Big Easy Bites and Booze tour theSaturday before Mardi Gras. This tour will have you tasting 20 different MardiGras inspired small plates and 20 different cocktail sips during a self-guided tour in their Gaslamp Quarter.
St. Louis, Missouri
Instead of the usual parades and street festivals, St. Louis, Missouri hosts a series of unique events including a pet parade along with a Wiener Dog Derby, a Missouri Lottery 5K, a family winter carnival, and even a Bud Light Party Tent.Let’s put it this way – if you’re looking for a tame celebration with your family, St. Louis has more options for kids to enjoy Mardi Gras without being scarred for life.
The Mardi Gras celebration in Sydney, Australia is actually a huge LGBTQ+ celebration festival! Eighty different events take place starting Feb. 17, including comedies, excitations, music, theatre, parades, and tons of singing and dancing in the streets.
For those who are country music lovers at heart, but still want an escape for Mardi Gras, the celebrations in Dallas, Texas are for you. Tons of country music performances taking place on Feb. 18, along with Mardi Gras celebrations with a Texas twist.