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Colourful float at a Mardi Gras Parade in New Orleans Colourful float at a Mardi Gras Parade in New Orleans

Where to celebrate Mardi Gras

Looking for one last blowout before Lent? Look no further. Celebrate your last chance to indulge in style with our top destinations to celebrate Mardi Gras around the world.

Mardi Gras translates from French to 'Fat Tuesday', which is apt given it's the last chance to indulge before the period of Lent, where many Christians fast or give up certain luxuries in the build up to Easter. Nowadays, celebrations can last weeks and include dancing, lively music, indulgent food and elaborate street processions.

Here's a selection of just some of our favourite places to celebrate Mardi Gras around the world…

New Orleans | USA

Two men in costumes celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans

French settlers brought Mardi Gras traditions with them when they arrived in the USA in the late 17th century. While it was in Mobile, Alabama where the first celebrations took place, New Orleans is now widely considered the country's Mardi Gras Mecca.

Expect two weeks of wild parties and torch-lit parades organised by rival 'krewes', who paint the streets purple, green and gold with outrageous costumes and floats. Look out for the Mardi Gras beads thrown into the lively crowds from processions and balconies – not only will you come away with a great souvenir, tradition says you'll also get a year's worth of good luck if you catch one.

USA Travel Guide

Thinking of heading across the pond? Read our USA travel guide first for everything you need to know before you travel.

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Venice | Italy

Person showing off their costume at the Carnival of Venice

When you think of a masquerade ball, it's most likely the elaborate masks and regal costumes donned at the Carnival of Venice that come to mind. First held in the 11th century, the celebrations usually start two weeks before lent, with the main masquerade event taking place on Mardi Gras itself.

It may have something to do with the fact that the carnival was outlawed for almost 200 years that Venetians take the festival so seriously. Competition is fierce in the most beautiful mask competition, which is open to anyone and judged by the public and a panel of international costume and fashion designers.

From the spectacular processions down the Grand Canal to the 'flying angel' who theatrically glides over the Piazza San Marco, Venetians have been more than making up for lost time.

Venice Travel Guide

From the iconic canals to the delicious Venetian cuisine, here's everything you need to know for your trip to Venice.

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Sydney | Australia

Motorcycles carrying Pride flags in parade at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is one of the world's largest Pride events, attracting hundreds of thousands of like-minded partygoers. It's impossible not to get swept up by this euphoric celebration of diversity, and this year is a big one. Not only is it Sydney Mardi Gras's 45th anniversary in 2023, they're also teaming up with WorldPride, which promises 17 days of art, music, comedy, talks and a lively party with purpose.

Must-see events include the Mardi Gras Parade, an LGBTQIA+ protest alive with fireworks, motorcycles and rainbow flags, and the Mardi Gras Party, where crowds have in the past been treated to extravagant performances from the likes of George Michael, Cher and Kylie Minogue.

Rio de Janeiro | Brazil

Procession at the Sambodromo during the Rio Carnival, Rio de Janeiro

If there's one place synonymous with the carnival season, it's Rio de Janeiro. And it's no wonder why – it's undoubtedly the largest carnival in the world, attracting around two million people every year.

And why do they go? It could be the colourful processions filled with impressive floats and glittery characters losing themselves to infectious samba beats, the daily 'blocos' taking over entire neighbourhoods with live music, dancing and revelry, or that first sip of Caipirinha on Copacabana Beach under the beating tropical sun.

Whatever the reason, 2023 is the first time in three years that the carnival is taking place, so there's all the reason to believe this could be the best carnival season yet.

Port of Spain | Trinidad and Tobago

Lady dressed in extravagant purple costume at the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival

When islanders aren't celebrating the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival, they are preparing for it, which is probably why the festivities are such a spectacular triumph year after year.

Locals wear colourful costumes known as 'mas', which are traditionally meant to mock upper-class masquerade traditions, and move to the pulsating beat of calypso, soca and steelpan music in celebration of their cultural heritage. Top tip: don't wear your best clothes to J'ouvert, where crowds take to the streets on Monday morning covered in oil, mud and grease and dance until the sun comes up.