Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday,” falls on March 4 this year, and Travel Agent is counting down the minutes. Also known as Carnival, Mardi Gras is celebrated in various ways around the world, but eating a lot of food is a common theme. In the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions, Mardi Gras is considered the last day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Travelers can begin planning now and arrive in February or the beginning of March in order to experience a full weekend of festivities. Dates are different for every country, but before throwing strings of beads from floats, have a look at how other Carnival-goers worldwide are celebrating this season:
Mardi Gras! Galveston – The third largest Mardi Gras celebration in the U.S., Mardi Gras! Galveston returns February 21 through March 4, offering the unique chance to experience beach sunsets while taking in the revelry and parades known to dominate Galveston Island during carnival season. This year’s event includes 24 parades, 20 balcony parties, five masked balls and 38 concerts, including headlining performances from popular music artists.
2014 Mardi Gras in New Orleans – Parades start February 15 and continue until Mardi Gras day on March 4. Kicking off Mardi Gras celebrations is the Krewe du Vieux of 17 “sub-krewes,” each presenting interpretations of satirical and adult themes. The parade will begin at 6:30 p.m. Seventeen bands will accompany the procession. Visitors can book The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans’ “Lundi Gras Ride of a Lifetime,” starting at $25,000. The package includes Club Lounge Access, daily breakfast, concierge assistance, round trip airport transfer, complimentary high speed internet access and more.
Rio Carnival (Carnaval in Portuguese) – Celebrated throughout Brazil and other Catholic countries, Rio Carnival 2014 starts February 28 with the Samba Parades in the Sambodromo, and ends on Fat Tuesday, March 4. Rio de Janeiro also offers a selection of Carnival balls, the most famous one being the Copacabana Palace’s Magic Ball. Tickets to most balls cost around US$70 to $300, which includes buffet dinner and free open bar. Clube dos Caicaras and the Hard Rock Café’s “Kid’s Folia” also organize costume balls for adults and children.
Carnival 2014 Nice, France – The Mardi Gras on the French Riviera, or Carnaval in Nice, is a celebration that takes place from February 14 to March 4 that offers daily parades, concerts, street theater and more. The carnival processions will include 18 floats. Also part of the carnival is the “flower battles” during the Flower Parade, with costumed models tossing 80 to 100,000 flowers to parade goers, including gladioli, tokyos, mimosas, gerberas, daisies, roses, and carnations. A traditional carnival venue, the Place Massena is also a departure point for parades.
Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras – Travelers should begin planning and booking, with festivities launching February 7. Fair Day, the biggest community event takes place February 9 at Sydney’s Victoria Park, offering picnic, entertainment and rides for all ages. On February 22, Harbour Party will be set in the Royal Botanic Gardens, with dancing and performances by DJs. Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mard Gras Parade begins March 1 with a procession of more than 9,000 people, floats, costumes and dancing. A gay and lesbian party in the Southern Hemisphere will be held on March 1 with music and performances. The Laneway will host the official closing party on March 2.