A Guide to the Best Carnival Traditions the U.S. has to Offer


Brazil’s Carnival is the biggest and most famous one in the world, but it’s not the only one. Here we give you a guide to the best carnival traditions the U.S. has to offer, starting with Alabama and ending in Wyoming.

Alabama: Mobile is home to one of the oldest annual celebrations in the U.S., dating back to 1703. Their festivities begin on Fat Tuesday, but there are plenty of events happening before that as well. One popular parade is organized by Mardi Gras Indians (and no, they’re not Native Americans). They paint their faces and wear beautiful “Indian” costumes for this occasion. Another event worth attending is Joe Cain Day – it’s a celebration of Mobile’s Civil War history, including a parade featuring residents dressed in 19th century clothing and riding horse-drawn carriages.

Alaska: Technically speaking, Alaska doesn’t really have an official “Carnival.” Even so, many Alaskans celebrate with parades and other activities during Mardi Gras week, so we decided to include them in our list. The city with the most elaborate celebrations is probably Ketchikan – it hosts a parade on Saturday before Mardi Gras, plus a dance party/gathering on Fat Tuesday

It’s not just Brazil that knows how to celebrate Carnival. This year, the United States is hosting a multitude of festivals that are sure to get you in the mood for a good time. From New Orleans’ Mardi Gras to Los Angeles’ Carnaval, here are the most exciting, over-the-top carnivals taking place across the country this year:

The Original: Mardi Gras

When: Tuesday, February 28

Where: New Orleans, Louisiana

Why You Should Go: Each year, New Orleans parties hard to welcome in Lent. The festival has many traditions, from parades and krewes to king cake and beads. To learn more about this party-centric celebration, read our guide on how to do Mardi Gras like a local.

The Parade: Carnaval San Francisco

When: May 20-21

Where: San Francisco, California

Why You Should Go: While Carnaval San Francisco isn’t as old as some of its Latin American counterparts, it’s still packed with plenty of fun. The parade is one of the highlights; it features more than 100 community groups and 50 music and dance acts.

The Carnival season is upon us, and for many travelers that means it’s time to start planning your annual trip to a far off locale for a week of drinking, dancing, and debauchery. But why spend all that money to party on a beach in Cancun or the Caribbean when you can have just as much fun here in the States?

Here are some of our favorite Carnival celebrations right here in America. Whether you’re looking for a full-on Mardi Gras experience or something a little less crowded, we’ve got you covered with these amazing U.S. Carnivals.

With Carnival season in full swing, there is no better time to take a closer look at the many ways in which U.S. cities celebrate this festive tradition.

While some choose to escape the cool temperatures and enjoy the festivities in warmer locales, others prefer to stay close to home and soak up the joys of Carnival season without leaving the comfort of their own city. Whether you’re traveling or staying put, here’s a list of some top Carnival celebrations from around the U.S., each with its own distinctive flair and tradition.

Mardi Gras — New Orleans

You’ve heard of Carnival in Brazil, but the U.S. has its own version of this colorful, festive celebration. Though popular in many countries around the world, it only takes place in a few cities here in the states. These five American cities know how to throw a party, and you’ll want to be there when they do!

Carnival is a holiday that usually falls during the forty-day period before Easter, known as Lent. The word “carnival” comes from Latin and means “to remove meat.” During the Middle Ages, Catholics were not allowed to eat meat until Easter Sunday, so they feasted on meat and other foods during Carnival. While the holiday no longer holds religious significance for many people, it is still a time for eating, drinking and celebrating all over the world.

New Orleans

Looking at New Orleans today it seems impossible that this city was once nothing more than a swampy swamp populated by alligators, snakes and other reptiles. As luck would have it, French settlers came along and turned this land into one of America’s most unique culinary destinations!

But food isn’t all New Orleans is famous for; it’s also home to one of the biggest Mardi Gras celebrations in the country. What started as

Carnival season is officially upon us! The festivities start January 6th and last through February 13th, culminating in the main event: Mardi Gras. Carnival is definitely known for its spectacular parades and parties, but there are dozens of traditions that vary from city to city.

If you’re going to be celebrating Carnival this year, here are some things to keep an eye out for:

KING CAKES

A Mardi Gras tradition since the 1870s, King Cakes come in a variety of shapes and sizes throughout different parts of the country. They’re typically oval-shaped and covered with icing or sugar in Mardi Gras colors (royal purple, green, and gold). If you’re lucky enough to find a small plastic baby inside the cake, it means you’ll be hosting next year’s King Cake party!

THROW ME SOMETHING, MISTER!

This phrase is heard often on the streets during parades, as locals try to catch beads, stuffed animals or other trinkets thrown by people on floats. The custom is said to have started when local businessmen began throwing coins into crowds during New Orleans’ first recorded Mardi Gras parade in 18

Mardi Gras – New Orleans, Louisiana

Mardi Gras is the most popular and well-known Carnival celebration in the United States. Up to one million people attend every year, and it’s known for its fun and festive atmosphere. The date of Mardi Gras varies every year, but always falls between February 3rd and March 9th.

The main event takes place on Fat Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday), but there are events all through Carnival Week, which begins on the Sunday before Mardi Gras. Long ago, Mardi Gras used to be a more religious celebration associated with Roman Catholicism, but today it’s a week-long party full of parades, picnics and colorful beads.

There are multiple parades every day during Carnival Week, with most of them taking place in the French Quarter in New Orleans. For example, the Krewe of Zulu parade is one of the most popular. In addition to parades, attendees also enjoy other traditional activities such as bead throwing and mask-wearing. Many people also go to parties at local bars that offer live music and dancing.


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