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Floats, beads, king cakes, and plenty of adult beverages are all part of the Mardi Gras experience in New Orleans. However, one thing that has not been part of the fun and festivities is a tourism campaign. That’s all changing this year, as the state of Louisiana is throwing out some cash in hopes of getting a few more visitors to check thing out.
For those who are interested we’re a little more than two weeks away, as the festivities reach their finale on Tuesday, March 4. So even if you don’t have plans to attend—there’s still time to change things.
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It may be Mardi Gras/Carnaval today, but the party gets started much earlier in some countries. Take Argentina for example, where the celebrations are usually several days full of dancing, music, and...fake snow fights? Yep, totally true, and actually true for other South American countries as well, where aerosol cans of foam make the party.
Last night in Mendoza, we headed into the Parque General San Martín for some lomos (sandwiches) and some getting seriously soaked with nieve artificial (fake snow), not to mention the full water bottles and water balloons being tossed with abandon by little kids and teenagers, further up by all the cheering and taunting that is just as much a part of the experience as the foam.
Happy Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, or anything else you want to call it. Today’s the day to live it up, as the fun runs out once tomorrow arrives. Of course there’s always next year for bead collectors; however, it sounds like the fun is ending forever at one Mardi Gras museum.
Down in Kenner, Louisiana the Mardi Gras museum has been doing its thing since the early 1990s, but unfortunately it just hasn’t been bringing in the cash. That means it’s closing down and all the stuff is going up for auction. The thought was that a last minute influx of cash from city officials would save the museum for the time being, but it looks like all that purple, gold, and green will be up for sale as of March 8.
Happy Fat Tuesday...or Mardi Gras, or Shrove Tuesday, or regular old Tuesday depending on where you are and what you're into. Tucking into big meals and giving into gluttony is the order of the day, and in the spirit we've swung by a bakery to pick up a box of Polish Paczkis (pronounced like "poonsh-skee") because this year we aren't heading to New Orleans or Rio or any of the other Carnivale capitals.
If you too can't make it to the Big Easy or even one of our six other, international Mardi Gras celebrations, then Paczkis are a reliable way to join in the fun. The only thing is that whether you're eating a Paczki or revelling in N'awlins, you're gonna get sticky.
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While in the States the eve of Lent is marked with a profusion of beads, booze and general debauchery, our cross-the-pond counterparts celebrate in a considerably innocent fashion. The English observe Shrove Tuesday, not Fat Tuesday, choosing instead to indulge in copious pancake consumption rather than Girls Gone Wild-worthy antics.
Why pancakes? Requisite Wiki-ing informed us that the thin, flat eats (as pancakes in the UK aren't nearly as fluffy as in the US) were singled out long ago for being a convenient, buttery way to use up "rich foodstuffs such as eggs, milk, and sugar before the fasting season."
If you happen to be in London tomorrow, consider attending one of these three Shrove Tuesday happenings around town:
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Okay you may be totally aware that New Orleans Mardi Gras is coming up very soon...on March 8 in fact. But did you also know that a whole range of other cities around the world also let down their inhibitions to celebrate the final few days before Lent? It's true! We've rounded up six of biggest Mardi Gras alternatives, just to get you thinking about last-minute trips or next year's plans...
· Carnaval de Barranquilla, Colombia: March 4.
Hot Carnival Queen? Check. Mass sexy dancing and general revelry? Check. Loud and live body-shaking music? Check. But there's one thing the Barranquilla Carnaval has that others don't, and that's a designation as a "UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity." Boo-yah.
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It's that time of year when Americans start wondering how they're ever going to come up with the motivation to stay positive through two more months of winter, and for many of us, the answer becomes two crystal clear words: Mardi Gras.
For most, the words now evoke an over-the-top, Girls Gone Wild party scene, and while we don't have any particular problem with that, true Mardi Gras fans know that Fat Tuesday is just the culmination of six weeks of Carnival celebrations, and the parties leading up to the big event are some of the most exciting (and less tourist-y) times in New Orleans.
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Come Wednesday morning, Mardi Gras will be over, and beads, streamers and beer bottles will be the only reminder of the fun. (Apart from that hangover, of course.) Somewhere in the mix, you were probably pretty naughty.
Luckily, New Orleans has just the cure for guilty partiers: Ash Wednesday! To kick off the Lenten holiday, during which Catholics give up at least one vice, we've got three recommendations for your post-Mardi Gras detox: church, fried food and spa treatments.
We're in disbelief that it's already time to plan for Mardi Gras, but Easter--and thus Fat Tuesday--comes early next year. And instead of simply guzzling hand grenades on Bourbon Street, maybe you could lift a finger or two to help rebuild New Orleans?
Hands Up Holidays makes it easy with a nine-day trip from January 28 to February 6 that includes an invite to the black tie ball at Mardi Gras. You'll earn it by working at Habitat for Humanity's Musicians' Village, a development in the Upper 9th Ward designed to lure artists back to the city. Even President Bush has chipped in on the project, so you should be able to hack it.
You'll also have time for fun on the trip, with plantation and swamp tours and a flight-seeing excursion. Accommodations are at the Hotel Monteleone, which is a great place right in the French Quarter. While the price tag for the trip seems steep at $2,500, booking a hotel for nine nights on the run-up to Mardi Gras will cost you close to that. Might as well have some fun and do some good while you're at it.
· Hands Up Holidays [Official Site]
· New Orleans Field Trip [Jaunted]
· New Orleans Travel coverage [Jaunted]
· Video Tour of the Hotel Monteleone [HotelChatter]
· Volunteer Travel coverage [Jaunted]
Due to Katrina, Fodor's never released its 2006 guide to New Orleans even though it had already been printed. Its 2007 edition won't be ready for months, but in the meantime my former colleagues have put up on the web a free 32-page PDF guide for Mardi Gras and beyond.
Mardi Gras itself is still a couple weeks away, but the parades began this past weekend. The first, run by Krewe de Vieux, is famous for its wit and raunch -- Fleshbot blogger Jonno's photoset makes us sorry we missed it.
· Mardi Gras page [NOLA.com]
· How big will scaled-down Mardi Gras celebration be? [USA Today]
· NOLA: Krewe du Vieux parade snapshots [Boingboing]