Mardi Gras float © New Orleans CVB/Jeff Strout
Mardi Gras, the world-renowned festival with a reputation for being the most scandalous and sensational annual event on the world's festival calendar, has been celebrated in New Orleans in its present form since 1856. 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: 9 February 2016