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  • Where to celebrate Mardi Gras in 2011

    photo by Infrogmation

    The winter months are full of interesting festivals, which is just as well for those travelers who are not the adepts of winter sports and outdoor activities in January and February.

    And if we’re speaking of festivals, we can’t possibly forget the explosive Mardi Gras, originally a religious holiday that blew out of proportions (in a good way) and now qualifies as one of the most intense, colorful and massive festivals in many parts of the world. Mardi Gras celebrations start on the Epiphany and end a day before Ash Wednesday, which leaves you all the time between January 6 and March 8, 2011 to celebrate (but most of the largest parades are on March 8th). Here are the top spots to celebrate Mardi Gras in 2011.

    New Orleans

    Probably one of the largest, and definitely the most well known Mardi Gras festival in the world is celebrated in New Orleans, Louisiana. This year, Mardi Gras in New Orleans in celebrated on March 8th, so you still have plenty of time to get your costumes ready.

    The official colors of the celebrations are purple, green and gold, chosen back in the 19th century. The parade features a variety of floats, dancing and music in the street, and the unavoidable showers of colorful beads from the balconies of the French Quarter.

    San Diego, California

    The Mardi Gras parade in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter has a well established tradition, and it is known for its well organized (and heavily funded) events.

    The San Diego festivities feature all the irreverence and pure fun of the French Quarter, combined with a Californian flair. Performances, street artists, carnival dancers and DJ’s on every block from E Street to J Street.

    Saint Louis, Missouri

    photo  by InfrogmationThe largest Mardi Gras celebration outside Louisiana takes place in Saint Louis’s Soulard Park. Unlike other Mardi Gras parades, the events in Soulard start weeks before the big party: snowman softball tournaments in February, winter carnivals, wine tastings, Cajun cook-offs and masquerade balls. The biggest party takes place on March 5th, when thousands of revelers flood the streets of Soulard.

    Lafayette, Louisiana

    photo by KungPaoCajun

    The Louisianans have a knack for organizing Mardi Gras parades, so the second largest parade in the state is well worth checking out. The balls are a true feast for the eyes, with all the glitter and sequins and rhinestones you can imagine, and most often they are organized by various krewes (in Mardi Gras talk, that’s a sort of club that usually has its own float, and its own royalty and leaders).

    Mobile, Alabama

    What makes the celebrations in Mobile different is the fact that you can bring your kids without worrying that they might see something they ought not. The Mardi Gras carnival in Mobile is purportedly the oldest one in the US, and while not larger then the one in New Orleans, it certainly is a lot of fun.

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