US Mardi Gras events are held throughout the country, with some of the best-known celebrations being held in New Orleans, St Louis, and New York City. The largest and one of the oldest Mardi Gras festivals is held in New Orleans, with the second-largest event being the St Louis Mardi Gras held in the historic Soulard neighborhoods.
A big part of the celebrations in any city are Mardi Gras parties where participants dress in creative costumes and masks and enjoy food, music, and dancing. Some Mardi Gras parties are privately held events, such as pageants and fancy dress balls, while others take to the streets where musicians, dancers, and street performers share in the celebration.
New Orleans began celebrating Mardi Gras in the early eighteenth century, and the parties have gotten better over the years. While strolling through the French Quarter, you can see the sights, sounds, and smells of Cajon and Creole food, music, and the unique costumes and masks. The parade and revelry on Bourbon Street are also second to none, if you’re looking purely to party on Fat Tuesday.
Mardi Gras parties in New York City are an example how other cities around the US carry on the tradition of the Big Easy. Local bars participate by providing contests and prizes for the best costume, mask, or most beads along with live music, and drink specials. Revelers can carry on the party atmosphere by participating in the 2nd Avenue Mardi Gras Stroll, which lasts from early afternoon until late at night.
Another location to add to the best Mardi Gras celebrations in the US is Universal Studios in Orlando. This family-oriented theme park in Florida has the best of both worlds with nightly Mardi Gras events combined with the parks thrill rides, shows, water rides, and concerts. Mardi Gras is typically more an adults-only party than a kid-friendly event, but the celebrations at Universal Studios allow family members of all ages to take part.
The St Louis Mardi Gras event can count their annual Weiner Dog Derby and Beggin’ Strips Pet Parade as reasons to be included as best Mardi Gras celebrations in the US. Hundreds of properly attired canines, along with their owners, walk the parade route where thousands of revelers watch the procession. The Beggin’ Strips parade celebrated its seventeenth anniversary in 2010 at the St Louis Mardi Gras.
Texans know how to celebrate, too, and at the Galveston Mardi Gras, which is near Houston, the festivities last for twelve days, with a king and queen coronation parade, a children’s parade, fireworks, street parties, and the ever-popular tossing of the beads found at every Mardi Gras celebration.
Other US Mardi Gras celebration locations are found from coast to coast including the sun-drenched city of Panama City, Florida. Other cities to consider when planning a Mardi Gras inspired vacation include Kansas City Missouri, Detroit Michigan, Breckenridge Colorado, and the city of Mobile Alabama, where the first Mardi Gras celebration took place in the US.
Mardi Gras celebration schedules vary by city. Traditionally, preparations for the event begin on the twelfth day after Christmas, the Epiphany, though the scheduled parties, parades, costume balls, and special events may not begin until closer to Fat Tuesday, depending on where you are, so it’s best to plan ahead if you have your heart set on celebrating in one particular city.