Traditionally a celebration in the lead up to lent, Mardi Gras – a.k.a. Carnival, Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday – is now celebrated as a major holiday around the world. From New Orleans to Australia, Mardi Gras is celebrated in its own unique way, with one thing in common: it’s a party you don’t want to miss. Here are the best cities in the world to put on your dancing shoes, bust out the eco glitter and have fun.
New Orleans, US
While some might debate this as fact, New Orleans was the the first city in America to celebrate Mardi Gras on March 3, 1699. From there parties started filling the streets and over the decades those parties turned into a parade. Now, over a million people take over the famous French Quarter in celebration every year. You can expect beads, birthday suits and stilt walking creatures at the Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
Mardi Gras has a long history in the island city of Venice. The festival supposedly began back in 1162 and has continued to grow in extravagance over the years, with the food, masks and elaborate costumes drawing in more than 3 million visitors each year. It’s a sophisticated celebration of old world splendour and mystery not to be missed.
Sydney has taken Mardi Gras to a whole new level with rainbow flags, glitter and a LGBTQ flair. Known as the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, this pride parade is the definition of a good time. Although it began as a political protest to raise awareness for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community in 1978, Sydney’s Mardi Gras celebration is now the biggest party of the year bringing thousands of the community and allies to celebrate.
Quebec certainly gives New Orleans a run for its money when it comes to Mardi Gras. But it does so with a twist. It’s the world’s biggest après ski party, with ice sculptures, canoe racing and of course, a traditional carnival drink known as Caribou. While you enjoy BeaverTails (a deep-fried, doughy treat topped with peanut butter and maple syrup) you can experience Bonhomme, a giant snowman whose palace takes a couple of months to assemble.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Nicknamed the “greatest show on Earth”, Rio five-day event will have even the coldest of people shaking their hips to that intoxicating Latin beat. Carnival in Rio is a national holiday and brings in over 2 million visitors each year. Since 1984, the parade has been held at Sambadrome where top samba schools compete for the championship title each year. Rio’s Carnival is all about eating and drinking, dancing, partying, costumes and parade-watching.
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