Despite the devastating hurricane season in 2005, New Orleans is once again hosting the world-renowned annual Mardi Gras, a carnival that was first celebrated in its present form in 1856 and has earned a reputation for being the most scandalous and sensational annual event on the world's festival calendar. The origins of the carnival can be traced back to Roman times, but the date is based on the Christian calendar. Traditionally Mardi Gras day falls on 'Fat Tuesday', the day before Ash Wednesday, usually occurring during late February or early March each year. The history and traditions of the New Orleans Mardi Gras are confusing and complicated, but what it all means to revelling visitors is a series of ever-more exciting spectacular street parades through the French Quarter starting about 10 days before Fat Tuesday, building up to the big day. The whole affair turns into a major street party, with traditional strings of beads being exchanged in return for favours.
Venue: Throughout the city, especially Bourbon Street
Date: 12 February 2013