10 Places in the World (Outside of New Orleans) Where You Can Celebrate Mardi Gras

By Michele Herrmann, POPSUGAR

While New Orleans rightfully gets attention for its Mardi Gras festivities, other locations within the United States and around the world also know how to enjoy a few last indulgences before the season of Lent begins.

Across the globe, Mardi Gras celebrations take on different names (think Carnaval or Carneval) and meanings, and even carry on longtime traditions or adopt new ones. From the Americas, to Europe, and through the Caribbean, go on a global journey to discover how destinations spend their days ahead of Ash Wednesday in truly colorful splendor.


Mobile, Alabama

When: From January 26 through February 13, 2018

[post_ads]Sorry, New Orleans. This port city along Alabama's Gulf Coast is said to be the birthplace of Mardi Gras in the United States. The story goes that the first Mardi Gras celebration happened in 1703, but then a man named Joe Cain got it going on again after the Civil War by putting on a spur-of-the-moment street parade. Since then, Mobile's Mardi Gras has grown to encompass a festive scene that's also family-friendly. Beginning two and a half weeks before Fat Tuesday, the busy schedule includes a ton of grand parades led by various organizations. And of course, Joe Cain gets his due; Sunday is known as Joe Cain Day, and he gets his own procession!


Venice, Italy

When: From January 27 through February 13, 2018

Head to Venice during Carnevale di Venezia — a two-week celebration that turns this waterside city into a circus spectacular. What makes this party so magical that carnevale-goers wander around dressed in elaborate masks and clothing replicating nobility and attend masquerade balls and events including processions and a best masked costume competition.

The origins of this festival are said to date back to 1162 when Venice won a major victory over the Patriarch of Aquileia, and the locals gathered to celebrate and dance within San Marco Square. This occasion became a Venetian tradition that would continue on until being strictly forbidden in 1797. But luckily, it was fully restored in 1979.


Barranquilla, Colombia

When: From February 10 through February 13, 2018

Held in this port city near the Caribbean Sea, El Carnaval de Barranquilla can hold its own against Rio in attracting visitors with its four-day extravaganza. In honoring Colombia's indigenous folklore and African culture, this carnaval puts on different types of events that bring out people from all walks of life and talents, incorporating dance, singing, and even comedy. Its first day, called Batalla de Flores (Battle of Flowers), features a grand procession of floats led by an appointed Queen of the Carnaval, plus folk and dancing groups. Its last day is marked by Joselito se va con las cenizas (meaning "Joselito leaves with the ashes"), when a character named Joselito is given a funeral procession; his passing marks the end of the occasion.


Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

When: From February 9 through February 13, 2018

While carnivals are held throughout Brazil, the Carnival in Rio De Janeiro gets much attention as ash visitors from around the globe come to watch colorful processions. Watch street celebrations happening all over the city, in which everyone gathers to enjoy the pulsating music and dance. Then samba schools, which consist of dance groups, perform on the Saturday and Sunday portions of the festival at the Sambadrome, a stadium where these routines take place. It's definitely a show you don't want to miss — with an impressive combo of color and sound, vibrant costumes, and gigantic parade floats. So, how did this party get started? Its origins go back to Brazil's colonial period with the arrival of the Portuguese, and initially was influenced by the entrudo, a Portuguese festivity preceding Lent.


Cologne, Germany

When: From February 8 through February 13, 2018

Known as the "fifth season of the year," the Cologne Carnival is listed as kicking off on November 11, but apparently gets a resurgence on the Thursday before Lent. It's also got a nickname: the "crazy days." Perhaps it might be due to people celebrating within public squares with festivities. Held on a Thursday, Weiberfastnacht (or translated as Women's Carnival) is a day for the ladies in which they show that they're in charge by wearing fun outfits and cutting off men's ties. Guys who remain good sports about their sudden loss get rewarded with a kiss (or also known as Bützchen). Another major day is Rosenmontag, or Rose Monday, in which a huge parade starts off in the morning from the Severinstorburg, a city gateway, with marching bands and participants on floats throwing small tokens such as flowers and sweets to crowds while en route.


Binche, Belgium

When: From February 11 through February 13, 2018

This southern Belgian town has an approach to Mardi Gras dating back to the 14th century that gets a bit peculiar. Known as the Carnival of Binche, the main characters of this pre-Lenten celebration are the Gilles, a clown-looking, waxy masked bunch of males that are seen on a day known as Shrove Tuesday wearing tunics, trousers, and clogs. These guys parade around on the afternoon of that day and give out oranges to onlookers. Along with having some precarnival festivities six weeks before the actual event, including marching and musical performances, the Carnival of Binche welcomes other noteworthy costumed groups, known as societies such as the Arlequins and Pierrots.


Galveston, Texas

When: From February 2 through February 13, 2018

This Gulf Coast city goes Texas big on Mardi Gras festivities, apparently stating to have the third largest celebration of its kind in the United States. With the first event happening in 1871, and put on by two rival Mardi Gras societies, this tradition went up and down in planning over time until 1985 when it was resorted to its full splendor. Galveston's 2018 edition will feature about 30-plus concerts, 22 parades (with three catering to families), 20 balcony parties, and five elegant masked balls. Just check on the festival schedule to see if you need to buy tickets, and then dress up in fun and flashy attire.




When: From February 11 through February 14, 2018

Part of the Lesser Antilles, this French Caribbean island carries on its Carnival all the way into Ash Wednesday. While beginning in January, with parties and a Carnival queens parade happening every weekend, the full festivities start on Fat Sunday, or Dimanche Gras. On this day, Martinique is full of daytime parades, with marchers in costume and carrying fancy-dressed puppets known as bwa bwa. Monday is a day for "mock weddings" in which men and women trade places in wearing wedding attire. Then Tuesday gets a bit devilish; known as Red Devils Day, groupings of red-wearing figures dance about until sundown. Finishing up on Ash Wednesday, revelers wear black and white to mourn the end of this festive period.



When: February 12 and 13, 2018

Known as "Mas Domnik," the festivities happening within this commonwealth in the Caribbean are a feast of calypso music, carnival competitions, and activities all leading up two days of what's known as street jump-up. About a month prior to these festivities, Carnival formally starts with an official opening parade and ceremony, with the noted — and final — dates being on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Started by Catholic Europeans in the late 1700s — then with freed slaves getting engaged in celebrations through masquerades, dancing, and singing in the streets — present day highlights include Afrikulture Stilt Walkers and parades such as a large street party known as J'ouvert.



Nice, France

When: From February 17 through March 3, 2018

What makes Mardi Gras different for this carnival in the South of France is that it runs a 12-day span on various days of the week. Each year, a special overall theme is chosen (2018 is known as "The King of Space") for Carnaval de Nice, and artisans design 17 floats that will roll along in six different types of carnival parades held both day or night. A particular feature in this showcase are the flower parades, in which exquisitely dressed models toss tons of blossoms to onlookers. For more evening-minded fun, the "Carnival Parade of Lights" happens at a historic square called the Place Masséna. This light show gives featured floats a magical aspect.



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Travel Magazine: 10 Places in the World (Outside of New Orleans) Where You Can Celebrate Mardi Gras
10 Places in the World (Outside of New Orleans) Where You Can Celebrate Mardi Gras
Travel Magazine
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