This yearly celebration is known by many different names Mardi Gras, Carnevale and Carnival, and is all about letting go of inhibitions and having a good time prior to the solemness of the Easter season. Mardi Gras is celebrated in many cities all over the world and may go on for several weeks prior to it’s end on Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day which is the day before Lent. People celebrate with masked balls, parades, theatrical plays, songs, entertainment, folk dances and other activities. It is an old Christian tradition and is the last celebration before Ash Wednesday and the restrictions to come during the 40 days of Lent.

Verona, Italy (Carnevale)

Located an hour outside of Venice, Verona has one of the longest running celebrations of Carnevale in Italy if not Europe, and has been celebrating since 1615. The celebration started when the people of Verona were starving due to a shortage of grain. A rich nobleman came to the peoples rescue by providing them with grain to make gnocchi, which are small boiled dumplings. The man did this until his death and the celebration has continued ever since. Verona is a great place to visit in itself during Carnevale, but may also be a cheaper alternative for those interested in seeing how other nearby Italian cities, such as Venice celebrate before the Lenten season.

Stay just outside of town at a Best Western Hotel starting at $77.
Stay close to downtown at an Ibis Hotel starting at $60.

Pont St. Martin (Carnevale)

Pont St. Martin in the Val d’Aosta region of northwestern Italy knows how to celebrate carnevale with a style typical to that of the Romans. There is plenty to eat during the festivities with a public offering of bean soup as it was traditional to offer it to the attendees for free, during the traditional celebration. See nymphs and people dressed in togas, there’s even a chariot race between districts with volunteers used as the horses. On Shrove Tuesday, festivities culminate with a carnival parade complete with floats, food and drink. The final night is brought to an end with the hanging and burning of a puppet representing the devil, and symbolizes the end of the carnival and evil being defeated.

Stay in Turrin only 40 miles away with Best Western Hotels starting from $85.

Pensacola, Florida (mardi gras)

Looking for a family friendly Mardi Gras celebration, well you have come to the right place then. Pensacola, Florida is known for being one of the most kid friendly parades out there. While most celebrations feature lots of drinking and the earning of beads for doing an anatomy flash and run. This Florida celebration focuses on candy and family fun with prizes for the most outrageous costumes. So bring the whole family, because this is one Mardi Gras celebration they can all enjoy.

Looking for a hotel. There are lots of choices by Marriott and IHG starting at $120.

St. Louis, Missouri (Mardi Gras)

This festivity is not steeped in old tradition like other well known celebrations, and it probably isn’t the first place you would think of when the words Mardi Gras come to mind. It does however offer visitors something unique and different that is simply St. Louis. See pets on parade, a 5k fun run and party tents in the heart of all the action. So, come for the parade and stay for the beads and merriment that accompany it.

Stay close by at a Hilton or IHG starting at $110.

Galveston, Texas (Mardi Gras)

The city of Galveston has been celebrating Mardi Gras since the late 1800’s. Known for their night parades and beautiful location, the event has continued to grow to this day, with an excess of 300,000 expected to attend. The celebration takes place over two weekends and continues in the traditions of old with festivities divided into entertainment districts complete with masked balls, parades and more. Want to join in on the festivities, be sure to leave your worries at home and enjoy the fun.

Looking for a hotel. Choose from Best Western and IHG starting at $130.