Mardi Gras 2018 is around the corner. While this year’s holiday has technically been ongoing since Jan 6., it’s Fat Tuesday — the last day to feast before Lent — that is mainly associated with the festivities.
This year, Fat Tuesday is Feb. 13, and you’re probably wondering where you can celebrate in the Mardi Gras colors: purple, green and gold. While the city of New Orleans – particularly the French Quarter – has been the Mardi Gras capital for centuries, the Big Easy is not the only city in America that puts on parades and events for the revelrous holiday.
It’s widely believed that Mardi Gras first began in Mobile, Alabama just after the turn of the 18th century. With that in mind, there a number of cities across the country where the holiday, also referred to as Carnival, has spread. Here are some of the best Mardi Gras celebrations around the U.S., other than New Orleans.
Mobile did not let its Mardi Gras traditions die down over time — it still has one of the biggest Carnival celebrations in the country.
According to the Mobile Press-Register, at least 40 Mardi Gras parades are scheduled from Jan. 26 to Fat Tuesday on Feb. 13, with an additional 80-plus parties and balls hosted by the city’s “krewes” — secret-ish organizations that put on galas and parades during Mardi Gras season.
Not only does the entire city turn out, but Mobile draws thousands of visitors from around the world who are perhaps seeking the “original Mardi Gras celebration,” as the local newspaper describes it.
St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis is roughly 700 miles away from New Orleans, but the Midwest city shares a common connection with NoLa: a French founding.
In the mid 1700s, fur traders Pierre Laclède and Auguste Chouteau settled in the city. French customs like Mardi Gras have flourished ever since, particularly in the Soulard district, home to the Bud Light Grand Parade. St. Louisans claim it’s the largest Mardi Gras parade outside of New Orleans, with nearly 100 floats and more than 10 million strands of beads thrown along this year’s route.
The island city of Galveston may be detached from the Texas mainland, but it’s said to play host to the largest Mardi Gras celebration in the Lone Star State and the third largest in all of the U.S.
This year, Galveston is celebrating its 107th annual Mardi Gras with 22 parades, 20 balcony parties (not unlike New Orleans’ French Quarter balconies) and five masked balls. All in all, approximately 300,000 people are expected to show up, according to Galveston’s Mardi Gras website.
Just about an hour and a half driving towards the east of the Gulf Coast, you’ll find one of the more lively Mardi Gras celebrations in the country.
Fat Tuesday festivities can be found all along Interstate-10, but Biloxi is the center, as it’s home to the Gulf Coast Carnival Association and King d’Iberville and Queen Ixolib, local residents selected every year to reign over Biloxi’s parades as royalty. The city even has a Mardi Gras Museum located inside a historic hotel that displays traditional costumes, memorabilia and photos of the holiday’s 100-year history in the region.