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Where to Celebrate Mardi Gras Besides New Orleans
Mardi Gras is known as one of the biggest parties in the U.S., yet the celebration is often ignored. “Why do I care? I’m not going to go to New Orleans.” Yes, New Orleans is the headquarters for all things Mardi Gras, but there are plenty of other places in the world that celebrate the French holiday. If you don’t want to wait until St. Patrick’s Day to chug a beer and watch parades, maybe look into the underappreciated celebration of Mardi Gras.
What’s Mardi Gras All About?
Mardi Gras is usually associated with inappropriate, alcohol-fueled parading, but this celebration has some historical and religious history.
Mardi Gras is related to the Christian celebration of Lent. Lent often meant giving up luxuries or vices while fasting for 40 days. Lent is still practiced today, often to a lesser extent. Since Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, people often overindulged in what they’d be giving up for 40 days. This typically meant gorging on enough food and alcohol to hold you over until Easter. That’s why the day before Ash Wednesday is known as “Fat Tuesday,” which is the exact translation of “Mardi Gras.”
During the early years of Mardi Gras, party-goers often wore masks so no one would know who you were or what class you belong to. This allowed the rich and the poor to rub elbows for at least one week a year. This is a tradition that has stuck through the ages, much like the celebration itself.
Where to Celebrate Mardi Gras Besides New Orleans
If you think New Orleans is where Mardi Gras started in the United States, you would be wrong. Contrary to popular belief, Mobile, Alabama is the birthplace of Fat Tuesday within the states. It began when a gloom-ridden Civil War soldier, Joe Cain, broke through his misery by having an impromptu parade through the city’s streets. 314 years later, it’s one of the biggest Mardi Gras celebrations outside of New Orleans. They boast family-friendly parades and brightly-colored floats. Aren’t interested in Mardi Gras beads? Grab a moon pie instead when you visit Mobile’s celebration!
Australians know how to have a good time, and Mardi Gras is as good a time as ever. Their Mardi Gras festival is also their LGBT Pride Parade. For over a month, there are different festivities to choose from. See their fashion or comedy show. Hear a speech by Olympian Greg Louganis, listen to Melinda Schneider’s tribute to Doris Day, dance on Madonna Tribute night, or check out one of their many art exhibits and plays.
Sydney’s Mardi Gras deviates from normalcy with over 80 events unique to their celebration of Mardi Gras.
If you’ve never heard of a Mardi Gras celebration in Venice, that’s because it has a unique rendition of Fat Tuesday. Venice’s version of Mardi Gras is called the Carnival of Venice. Although their celebration has a different origin and purpose than Mardi Gras, it is still a multiweek masked celebration that ends when Lent begins. You can find traditional Mardi Gras floats and parades all over neighboring cities. Venice, however, is where to go to see the most intricate masks and costumes. Attend their masked ball dedicated to famed-lover Casanova.  Their strict dress code will allow you to truly party like it’s 1799.
We should all know by now that anything Texas does is going to be big; their Mardi Gras celebration is no exception. See up to 10 different parades during the weekend before Mardi Gras. Then, celebrate Fat Tuesday by watching their main parade. You can also catch several bands and DJ’s playing throughout the weekend.
If you’re up for the athletic challenge, you can take place in their annual Jolly Jester Jaunt marathon! Pick from 5k or 10k and get your sweat on in a jester t-shirt.
Universal Studios in Orlando knows how much fun Mardi Gras can be. They love it so much, they’re celebrating it for 50 nights! Each night has its own bead-throwing parade. Get the full experience by grabbing a plate of cajun food to chow down on while catching one of their musicals acts. This year, guests include X Ambassadors, Jason Derulo, Toby Keith, Olivia-Newton John, Fifth Harmony, and more!  After the concerts end, the party is restricted to 21+. Looks like Universal Studios isn’t just for the kids anymore.
St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis wants you to come to their Mardi Gras festival…and bring your dog! Missouri’s largest Mardi Gras party is also one of the largest dog parades in the country. The Beggin’ Barkus Pet Parade is recognized as the largest animal parade in North America.  Watch dogs (and a few less conventional pets) strut down the street with fresh coats or costumes. It’s sure to be fun for the whole family.
They also hold a Dachshund derby, 5K marathon, and Cajun cookoff! More than 20 DJs will rotate throughout the day, each giving their own spin on Mardi Gras jams.This may be the best New Orleans party west of the Mississippi.
San Diego, California
This California Mardi Gras celebration is anything but laid-back. See an over-the-top parade with costumes that are just as outlandish. San Diego’s festival takes place in the evening but will be lit up by floats, costumes, and stages. Brush up on your dance moves because this celebration is all about that bass. If you’re not one for DJs and dancing, take part in their food and booze tour. You’ll be able to try a variety of food and drink, all while collecting beads! Collect 10 and gain access to a private rooftop party.  San Diego is sure to celebrate Mardi Gras in a way only the West Coast can.
You Would Be a Fool Not to Go!
We hope you realize that Mardi Gras is not just limited to New Orleans. People from San Diego to Australia know that Mardi Gras is one of the best times to party. Mardi Gras parades give all kinds of entertainment, whether you want to see a puppy parade with your kids, or drink all night. Mardi Gras 2017 is on February 28th, leaving you only 6 days until this exciting event. Mardi Gras is on its way….are you?