As we’ve explained in our New Orleans Mardi Gras article, most people seem to think Mardi Gras and Carnival are the same things. Carnival is actually a longer event. In 2020, Carnival goes from February 20th to the 25th. And, Mardi Gras is just one of those days, Fat Tuesday.
However, you will find lots of great carnivals, parades and festivities occurring all over the world on the specific day of Mardi Gras. The best part? You don’t have to brave the crowds in New Orleans or even in Rio de Janeiro just to experience all of the wonderful festivities that make this holiday so popular.
So, laissez es bon temps rouler, or let the good times roll. Here’s where you can head to indulge in some bead-filled festivities and lots of fantastic good and drink. Visit any one of the seven best US cities for a great Mardi Gras carnival this year and enjoy.
Best Mardi Gras Carnival In The US
Orlando, in typical fashion, throws one of the best Mardi Gras parades in the entire country. You’ll find it right in the heart of Universal Studios. And, the best part is that you don’t even have to be there for actual Mardi Gras to enjoy it. The lively, thumping carnival runs every night from February 1st through April 2nd. Eccentric street performers, thousands of beads and live music are all standard at this celebration.
If you’ve ever spent Spring Break in this Southern Texas island city then you’ll undoubtedly understand just how fun the festivities can be here. A few weeks before Spring Break, however, Galveston also throws one of the best Mardi Gras carnivals in the United States. Stage shows and parades begin taking place on Friday, February 21st this year and go on through to Tuesday the 25th.
It’s hard to argue that the Mardi Gras carnival in St. Louis isn’t one of the best in the entire country, if not the entire world. The Bud Light Grand Parade draws thousands of spectators each year who are eager to get a glimpse of the fantastic floats and dressed up dogs. Expect to enjoy thumping music, lots of great music and even the chance to grab a prize or two. This year, they’re throwing 4,500 prizes off the floats during parades.
Few places put on such a spectacular show as any parade you’ll find in San Francisco’s Mission District. This year, the city of San Francisco will kick off Carnival season with over 20 free Mardi Gras celebrations in various venues across Mission District. Head here with lots of energy, ready to join the groups of samba drummers, dancers and lively salsa, cumbia and rumba music. It’s a celebration you simply can’t miss.
When you think of Mardi Gras celebrations in the US, you might not immediately think of this tiny town in Wisconsin. However, La Crosse is home to one of the country’s most intriguing Mardi Gras carnivals. They host a Mardi Gras Ball a few weeks before the Fat Tuesday celebrations. You can, as they put it, “rub shoulders with royalty on the dance floor” and enjoy a sumptuous Cajun buffet. It doesn’t get much better than that.
It’s becoming increasingly more evident that, if you’re not going to spend Mardi Gras in New Orleans then you can find lots of other great spots in the South to indulge in some fun festivities. And, as the birthplace of America’s original Mardi Gras, there’s really no better place than Mobile, Alabama. Here, there are lots of family-friendly options as well. Prepare to catch Moon Pies, throw some beads and join in on the fun.
Whereas Mobile’s Mardi Gras celebrations are family-friendly, the San Diego Mardi Gras celebrations get a little wilder. It all starts with the Gaslamp Mardi Gras Big Easy Bites & Booze Tour on Saturday, February 22nd. You can treat yourself to tons of New Orleans-inspired food and Carnival-themed cocktails. It’s a truly delicious tour of one of San Diego’s coolest districts. And, it’s weekend-friendly fun you can enjoy without going all out on Fat Tuesday before work the next day.