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The Best Places to Celebrate Mardi Gras—Besides New Orleans

Mardi Gras is a special time of revelry that has become so associated with New Orleans that many people don't realize that it is celebrated in many places around the country.

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Mobile, Alabama, USA downtown skyline.Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Mobile, Alabama

Mardi Gras was first celebrated in the United States in 1703, in Mobile, Alabama—not the Big Easy—and the revelry continues in a big way every year. Huge crowds of all ages gather to see the themed Mardi Gras parades with elaborately decorated floats as they wind through downtown or one of the surrounding towns including Foley and Orange Beach. While the parades are open to all, most of the Mardi Gras balls are invite only. Can’t make it to Azalea City during Mardi Gras season? You can learn about it year-round at the Mobile Carnival Museum. Find out about weird museums around the world you never knew existed.

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St. Louis skyline panorama including the Gateway ArchSemmick Photo/Shutterstock

St. Louis

St. Louis has a large and long Mardi Gras celebration every year, which the city claims as the second biggest in the United States outside of NOLA’s. Mardi Gras season starts on Twelfth Night, January 6 and runs through Fat Tuesday, aka the day before lent starts. Events throughout the season include a Snowman Softball Tournament, Family Winter Carnival., a pet parade and numerous balls. It all culminates with the Bud Light Grand Parade that starts at Busch Stadium and ends at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. This year’s parade is on March 2 and the theme is 40 Years of Magic, Music, and Memories.

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Sunrise Galveston Pleasure PierRamiro Reyna Jr/Shutterstock

Galveston, Texas

Head to southeast Texas for the third biggest Mardi Gras celebration in the United States, and a chance to catch a strand of one of the more than 3 million beads that are tossed each year during the city’s carnival season. You can even join in and ride a float with your own krewe, for a fee, of course. Or dress up your golf cart and get in on the Annual Zaniest Golf Cart Parade; all participants are rewarded with free entry into the Entertainment District. Other highlights include Electric Mardi Gras, country music concerts, and a Jolly Jester Jaunt 5K run, where costumes are encouraged. Don’t miss the most popular tourist attraction in every state.

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Burlington, Vermont, USA at Church Street Marketplace.Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Burlington, Vermont

When you think of this quintessential New England town, you may be more likely to think of picture-perfect fall foliage and maple syrup than Mardi Gras; however, picturesque Burlington celebrates Mardi Gras in style. There’s usually an annual Mardi Gras parade in downtown Burlington. However, there will be no parade for 2019. Instead, a weekend-long celebration of Mardi Gras will be held from Friday, March 29 to Sunday, March 31, 2019. These festivities will be at the Church Street Marketplace and nearby businesses, and entertainment will include everything from live musical acts to a visual comedian. Read on to find out 17 surprising facts about Mardi Gras.