When you think of Mardi Gras, your mind certainly jumps to that famous celebration in New Orleans, Louisiana in the United States. Did you know that NOLA isn’t the only city that puts on the dog for “Fat Tuesday?” Check out these other cities that celebrate this winter holiday.
What is Mardi Gras?
Mardi Gras is a French phrase that is literally translated to mean “Fat Tuesday.” Fat Tuesday is traditionally celebrated as a parade and carnival (carnival celebrations are usually held for several days with the final celebration culminating in a parade on Fat Tuesday) leading up to Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Lenten season.
The idea is to have a time of revelry and feasting prior to the Lenten season of repentance and self-denial. Mardi Gras has long been a celebration that is popular among European Catholics and Anglicans. Each year the date of Mardi Gras is different as it is dependent upon Ash Wednesday and Lent, which lead up to Easter Sunday.
Mardi Gras is usually celebrated with parades, the wearing of masks, dressing in flamboyant costumes, and a lot of debauchery.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
It is estimated that two million people celebrate Carnival in Rio de Janeiro and the celebration culminates in a parade on Mardi Gras. Several Brazilian cities celebrate Carnival and hold parades and other celebrations on Mardi Gras, but Rio de Janeiro is perhaps the most famous and well-known celebration in that country.
Quebec City, Canada
The Quebec Winter Carnival is considered to be the world’s largest winter carnival and can certainly rival the New Orleans Mardi Gras celebration. The typical Mardi Gras festivities of eating, drinking, and getting a little crazy are part of the Winter Carnival but this city has a few unique traditions including canoe races along the icy St. Lawrence River and the building of giant snow sculptures.
While it is more common for smaller villages in France hold Mardi Gras celebrations rather than larger, cities Mardi Gras is celebrated in Nice, France with a large, colorful parade filled with costumed revelers, floats, and plenty of flowers.
The festival celebration of Mardi Gras is one of the most important days of the year in the Belgian city of Binche. The Carnival of Binche coincides with the holiday and culminates in the Mardi Gras celebration. Celebrants dance throughout the city from morning through dusk.
New Orleans isn’t the only U.S. city to make a big deal out of Mardi Gras. Mobile, Alabama actually turns Mardi Gras into a several-month celebration that begins in November with Mardi Gras-related social events, balls, and parades that lead up to a huge celebration just before Ash Wednesday.
Many small towns and villages worldwide hold Mardi Gras celebrations on a much smaller scale than the city celebrations. As this list proves, though, you aren’t limited to New Orleans when it comes to celebrating Mardi Gras in a big city!
Have you experienced Mardi Gras? Where, when and what was your favorite memory?